MAHOPAC, N.Y. -- By Hammer By Hand owner Bill Fitzgerald is a seventh generation blacksmith whose trade's origins stem from his Irish ancestors in the county of Limerick.
Since 1973, the Katonah native, the first generation American in his family to carry on the tradition here, has worked as a blacksmith.
He started out caring for horses and ran a horseshoe business for 30 years, catering to clients at farms and stables in Putnam, Westchester and Fairfield Counties.
Today, Bill and wife Phyllis own the business in Mahopac where not a day goes by in Bill's shop when he's not behind the anvil making everything from a handmade nail, to a one-of-a-kind fireplace tool, custom iron gate, table, lamp or chair.
He's been a demonstrator at Muscoot Farm in Somers and at Van Cortlandt Manor, among places, and was part of a documentary film on blacksmithing.
Phyllis Fitzgerald is the designer for the business, and also runs Hammer By Hand Gift Shop, at 293 Route 6 in Mahopac.
The shop features handmade items by local artisans and others, all made in the United States.
"His grandfather had a shop in Mount Kisco and as a kid he would turn the crank," Phyllis Fitzgerald told Daily Voice. "After college, he worked in shoeing horses and he learned a lot about forging things from the Irish and other workers, then opened his own business. As he was getting ready to retire from that business, we opened the shop,"
Iron work offers something new and challenging all the time, she added. "He's not sitting and making the same product every day. It's always something different. This week he's making a tower to display wine corks for a client. It's something you can't buy in a store. Not an every day item."
The business is never slow. In fact, Bill is always meeting deadlines, according to Phyllis.
The work is rewarding with few challenges. One is helping customers understand that iron work cannot be produced in an hour, she noted.
With virtually no competition in the area, clientele come from all over.
"Anybody who wants something made out of iron that you can't find in a store are our customers. We do a lot of railings, curtain rods for designers in Manhattan and ship all over the country, to the Bahamas, other places."
Click here for more information about By Hammer By Hand. Contact By Hammer By Hand at (845) 621-1725.
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