Randy Kiser is an artisan, a highly skilled craftsman in the truest sense of the word. The exterior of Kiser’s blacksmith shop, located in the small town hamlet of Paint Rock, looks exactly like something you’d see in the old west. The building, with its beautifully curved roof, vintage masonry work and tin is well over 100 years old. It harkens back to a time when products and equipment weren’t mass-produced, when the labor intensive and time-consuming work of a smith required dedication and attention to detail as a mistake might mean starting over completely.
Kiser is a dedicated smith, a man who works hard and whose metal work has been showcased in magazines across the country. He’s also a very humble man and his religion and wife are the most important parts of his life, “We wanted a simple name, a name that would tie in with our faith and we came up with 3 Nail Ironware to represent Jesus on the cross.”
Kiser moved here from El Paso and prior to 3 Nail Ironware he worked for architects, building everything from iron four-poster beds to iron staircases. A quick look around his shop shows that he is truly a master of his craft. His work is as efficient as it is beautiful with the tables and other furniture begging to be used so you can truly understand and appreciate the craftsmanship. Exquisite wine racks that would look naked without the accompaniment of bottles of quality wine to compliment their beauty, tables with legs with varying degrees of twist are topped by marble or elegant and rustic hammered iron, and his handmade pan stands that hold a sample of the pans he began creating just a little under 2 years ago adorn the room.
Kiser started the company about 18 months ago he when he and his wife, Margie, started 3 Nail Ironware and he began making carbon steel cooking pans. His repertoire of pans includes everything from paella pans to large skillets down to 9” sauté pans.
When it came to starting his own business, Kiser and Margie, sought out advice, “When we came up with the idea, we worked with San Angelo’s small business development center. They helped us out a lot.”
Starting his own company offers Kiser more freedom than he had while contracting with architecture companies, “I was building custom wine racks, iron cellar doors, gun cabinets, bed frames and tables, even down to door handles and latches.” He shows me a set of 4 door handles that he built for one custom home. The craftsmanship is exquisite and holding it gives you an appreciation for the piece. It’s heavy; it’s forged in his shop, its perfect down to the smallest detail. The pieces screw together snug and there are no weak points. Kiser’s work takes a great deal of time, no matter the size of the job, “When I was working for architects, all I did was stay in the shop. I rarely had a chance to get out.” Getting out of the shop was important to Kiser since he volunteers with a prison ministry in Snyder. He is a man constantly in motion.
It was important to Kiser that Margie became part of the business, “She’s as much a part of this business as I am.” Margie has a blog titled, “Margie The Blacksmith’s Wife Blog”. The blog keeps visitors to the website updated on what they’re currently working on, some of her thoughts and ideas and where they’ll be showing off their pans. Some of the recent blogs have been “What’s going on in the shop today,” “The sweet by and by,” “My favorite month” and “Passions that I have.” The blog entries are as entertaining as they are informative and they read easy, with a smooth flow and have an graceful style.
Kiser’s cookware has taken off since he started his company, becoming much sought-after across the Agriplex. The pans cook evenly and are as efficient as Kiser himself, “These pans are carbon-steel which cooks better than cast iron. They heat up evenly. When I made my first one, I took it home and cooked breakfast with it. Cooking with it was like the difference between driving a station wagon and a Ferrari.”
Kiser has a press in his shop and a die that he uses to create the pans. The pans themselves begin life as a flat piece of carbon steel. Kiser puts the plates into a forge the he built for the carbon steel plates. Once he removes them from the forge he puts them on the die in his press and in one motion the body of the pans are created. Kiser does some finishing work on the pans, builds the handles and then attaches them to the pan. He had to create a mechanism to center the plates and using his own ingenuity created the device that he uses when creating each of the plates, “I needed something to center them and so I started working with an idea and ended up creating the tool to do what I needed.”
Creating and selling the pans isn’t the only way that they find their way into homes and restaurants throughout the area. You’ll find many of them at local auctions for benefits such as Catholic parish fall festivals, the Ballinger Memorial Hospital District’s Boots and Bling fundraiser along with other causes and fundraisers.
Kiser and his work, both as an artisan and as part of the ministry are founded on integrity, hard work and dedication. His work possesses beauty, grace and style and his pans can take cooking up a level. They are becoming more popular every day, both at the home and in restaurant kitchens.
Kiser’s website is www.3NailIronware.com. His shop is located at 151 E. Moss Street in Paint Rock and their phone number is 325-732-4740.