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Where Rugged Vintage Style Meets Modern Design. Proudly Made in America.

23 Apr '15

Where the Magic Happens

Before Metal Shop, I had little exposure to machining and machine/fabrication shops. True, my Grandfather owned Liberty Machine Company of Paterson NJ but that was the late 1970’s and I was very young. My re-introduction came via good timing. While looking to have some welding done I meet a local machinist (since the welder couldn’t do the job). If that chance encounter didn’t happen, Metal Shop wouldn’t be turning out unique machined metal products today.

Developing a product is no easy task, whatever the product may be. Many of us have great ideas, very few actually end up bringing those ideas to market. The most important component is finding the right production partner. One that not only can fulfill your orders but also understands the vision for your brand and its product line. Sure some people actually have the talent, skill and equipment to manufacture on their own. But what happens when demand outgrows the ability to supply? Bottom line, a trusty, competent partner is vital to being successful.

I walked into Dickson Product Development on a whim. I had worked with other fabrication shops in the past, but I was looking to make a change. Right away I knew I had found the right fit. First I met Dick, the owner, an “old timer” with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I knew right away that Dick would understand the vision of making modern versions of vintage inspired products (and heck, may even come up with some good ideas from his younger years). Next, a quick tour around the shop. They had the right equipment and the place was spotless! (A key sign, clean and organized!)

Here is a quick tour around the shop where Metal Shop makes its vintage inspired products with a modern touch.


A manual Bridgeport milling machine. A staple in the machining business for almost 100 years. Founded in Bridgeport CT in 1938, the brand became famous over the following decades for its small to medium sized vertical milling machines. The Bridgeport has become such a standard in the industry that the term “Bridgeport” is often used to refer to any vertical milling machine regardless of make. This particular machine is the primary milling machine used to fabricate prototypes at the shop.

A Compumill CNC. Computer Numerically Controlled machines are used for production of products. CNC machines, like this Compumill, are automated milling devices that make industrial components without direct human assistance. They use coded instructions that are sent to an internal computer. This allows factories to fabricate parts accurately and quickly.

Much like the Bridgeport milling device used for prototypes in picture 1, this lathe is used to manually “turn and bore” metals to develop prototypes. In this process (which is how we developed the Twist Bullet Pencil prototypes) the raw materials are inserted in the chuck to hold them in place. They then spin as the cutting tool is manually applied. A lathe like this can be used to accomplish many things besides turning and boring. A few examples of the capabilities include grooving, drilling, knurling and threading.

The Hitachi-Seiki CNC lathe. Once prototypes are developed they are moved to this machine for production. Once programmed this CNC lathe takes care of all the processes at once. Multiple tools on the machine head can turn, drill and thread the material to create a product. This is the machine that both created the tubes and the bullets for the Twist Bullet Pencil.

A nice close up shot of the control panel on another Hitachi-Seiki CNC lathe. Lots and lots of buttons and knobs!

17 Apr '15

A Few of my Favorite Things

Over the past two years of building Metal Shop I’ve been lucky enough to meet some some outstanding entrepreneurs. Through social media channels and through great events like the American Field Market, small craft makers can come together, learn from each other and develop strong partnerships. This is a highlight of four brands, each distinct in their own right, that embody the vintage meets modern, rugged yet refined image that I strive for with Metal Shop. Each produce cool and unique gifts for men (and women too) and most importantly, each make their product in the USA!

Duke Cannon Supply Co.

The makers of the Big Ass Brick of Soap AKA America’s Most American Brand (or as I like to call it, the coolest gift you can get your brother-in-law). These guy’s not only put a unique tongue in cheek spin on marketing their products but also re-define what a bar of soap is (as you can see below). With each Facebook or Instagram post the fellas at Duke Cannon continue to impress me with their marketing savvy targeting the “manly man” demographic. The product is top notch (I prefer the “Smells like Productivity” bar with its hint of menthol), packaging is A+ and these guy’s put their money where their mouth is donating to a number of veteran and troop charities including Honor Flight. Just remember, Duke Cannon doesn’t dine with Vegans and is no fan of Banana Republic (see what I mean about the marketing)


Jack Donnelly

A fellow American Field vendor and Kickstarter Alum, Greg Donnelly is the driving force behind Khaki maker Jack Donnelly (named for his grandfather). “Kahkis” became popular with civilians after World War II and now are a staple in casual mens apparel. According to Greg, he felt he could do it better. Since most people have little to no idea what they are wearing he felt it was time to create a khaki that you didn’t need to turn and see the label to know what you were wearing. Making the khaki a quintessential piece of the refined man’s wardrobe. Just don’t call them “chinos.”


Compass Rose Apparel

Veteran owned, the guy’s over at Compass Rose Apparel have put together an amazing flannel shirt completely made in America (even down to the buttons). Flannel has been around since the 1500’s and I guess the plaid flannel shirt can be called a vintage item (if the 90’s Nirvana & Pearl Jam look is considered vintage?) Either way, the fellas at Compass Rose Apparel are doing the flannel shirt serious justice and really hit that rugged yet refined sweet spot. They set out to make a shirt tough enough to takes the abuse of a long day on a tug boat but wouldn’t look like a work shirt at dinner that evening. For Compass Rose the idea is simple, its about being yourself and finding yourself....or as they say, Find your true north.


Stonehill Design

My buddy Jason scours the flea markets for vintage items that he breathes new “light” into. From vintage desk fans, typewriters and telephones Jason works his magic and creates amazing industrial style lighting for the home. Jason is a true craftsman and has a vision for creating truly unique products. His work is rugged, his work is also refined enough for any home. Stonehill Design strives to create unique, hight quality lighting and timeless designs.


This is just four brands of many. Four brands which hit on all cylinders, Made in the USA, timeless, rugged, refined product. Vintage flair yet with modern takes. All truly unique gifts for men.