Tuli Fisher is a full time blacksmith in Bozeman, Montana. He has been blacksmithing since 1999 & has been crafting garden tools since 2003. He graduated from Montana State University with degrees in Museum Studies & History.
Prior to crafting garden tools, Tuli operated a horseshoeing business for 12 years. He did this in Montana & California and it was during this time he grew to appreciate the quality & craftsmanship of a well designed tool. He began to build many of the tools he needed for himself & then started to blacksmith tools for woodworking, timber framers & stone masons.
Tuli was inspired to make garden tools after helping a local farmer repair some of farm tools & even making the tools superior to before. Tuli soon learned that many gardeners wanted something not only functional but of long lasting quality. Being familiar with blacksmithing, effects of abrasive soils and toolmaking, designing and building garden tools was a logical next step. He is also a gardener with a fascination for giant pumpkins.
Tulie’s self described, “heirloom quality” garden tools are quality built to withstand generations of time spent digging in the dirt. Each tool is hand forged & signed with an insignia. One of the best parts is they are handcrafted in the United States with all domestically sourced materials.
This is utilitarian art at its best that fits as well in a museum as it does in the garden shed.
“The time and effort I put into my garden tools are really an effort to communicate to the people that are using them...This is something that can be as special as you want to make it...There is nothing better than growing your own really special heirloom tomatoes with a nice hand-forged trowel”- Tuli Fisher
Blacksmithing origins can be traced back to 1500 BC & the Iron Age in 1200 BC. Although a lot has changed since the creation of blacksmithing a lot of the same techniques & thought process are in use today. Blacksmithing is a labor of love that brings us all back to another time.
Tuli uses a forge that heats up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to heat up his metals for blacksmithing. Depending on the forge being used the energy source is either gas or coal but adding air to the fire is what makes the forge burn hotter. The steel starts out as a 1/8” sheet. The steel is pulled out of the forge and shaped with a hammer on an anvil. The anvil consists of three parts: the face (flat part on top), the horn (used for bending & curving), and the “hardie hole” (square hole in the anvil that holds tools). He also adds an insignia to all crafted tools, as many artists do.
After the steel is shaped to its desired form it is quickly quenched in water. To finish the metal work of each tool he puts the tool in an over at 500 degree Fahrenheit for 1 hour. He then seals the tool with wax, oil or a varnish.
Prior to the blacksmithing process Tuli creates hand turned wooden handles. He usually uses Black American Walnut due to its tight grains and ability to hold up over time. Each handle has a hole on one end that is used to insert metal stock.
Tuli then puts the hand turned handles with the metal stock and blacksmithed metals together by using rivets. By using rivets he’s able to avoid any welds that can be susceptible to cracking over time. The last step in making the tool is to tie a piece of rawhide through the handle.
These tools are destined for the hands of garden enthusiasts who worship a simple, tangible and time-honored process of their own.
Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America
British Artist Blacksmith Association