I entered the metallurgy industry in 1974 with Chesney's Sheet Metal Shop. Chesney's was an ideal choice, with a history dating back to 1912. While working with Chesney's, I met the original owner of Tony's Sheet Metal - Master Metal Worker Tony Szabo. The scope of Tony's work was such that he needed some additional help, and since it did not interfere with my duties at Chesney's, I came to work evenings and weekends for Tony. It proved to be a fortunate and valuable experience because in 1988, I went to work full-time for Tony's Sheet Metal.
Canadian tinsmiths are taught very rough skills in trade school, but the real substance of their craft can only be gained through experience. I proved to be an apt pupil, so after Tony's intention to retire was fulfilled, I assumed ownership of Tony's Sheet Metal and renamed it Hammersmith Custom Metal Crafting in 2003.
We are well-equipped to enjoy a long and prosperous presence serving the high-end marketplace.
There are two things I love about my trade. First, I love to have a husband and wife come in to talk about what they really want. That way, we can design something totally unique - something reflective of their desires. Second, I love being able to go to the shop afterwards and actually create the product for them.
One day I hope to find someone who has a passion for metal crafting and be able to help the person achieve his or her goals of becoming a renowned artisan. At the same time, I am limiting the size of my business in order to maintain tight control over the quality of work done by Hammersmith.
Insights for the Client
The best way to find a quality tinsmith is to find one who takes pride in how his or her creations are put together. For instance, how does the artisan hide the seams, or blend the seams in where they cannot be hidden? This is the single most challenging aspect of the craft. Look at the front of a hood fan, for instance…in particular at the fasteners. Has someone taken the time to ensure aesthetic integrity?
Although it can be difficult to build something that is not to one's own personal taste, a quality artisan will go to great lengths to ensure your piece looks the way you envisioned.
Above all, do not buy something off the shelf - make it your own! Don't be afraid to have something unique; often, you will find you can have exactly what you want without breaking your budget.