If you arrive at Red Pig Tools in Boring, Oregon and the shop looks closed, just give the barn bell a ring and chances are Bob or Rita Denman will appear to give you a personal tour.
Red Pig Garden Tools are some of the only hand-forged garden tools currently made in the US. On my recent visit west, I couldn’t resist a visit to the storefront. In the barn that Bob built using reclaimed boards from two different 100-year-old barns, shoppers can find more than 1,000 kinds of tools, many of which Bob makes with the help of just one other full-time employee on the property.
As the son of a tool and die machinist, Bob Denman headed off for college to become an English major. But after a long career in advertising, Bob found himself as a product development consultant to Corona Clippers and before long, he was making tools himself. Now in his seventies, Bob began his blacksmithing career relatively late in life, learning the trade some 20 years ago from an older blacksmith. But in case you thought that English major was going unused, there are plans in the works for an upcoming book.
Photography by Erin Boyle.
Above: Follow a rural road in Boring, Oregon, to find Bob Denman hard at work making hand-forged garden tools.
Above: The propane-powered forge where every Red Pig Tool is born.
Above: Bob will tell you that any blacksmith worth his salt makes his own tools. Here, an assortment of tools in Bob’s smithy.
Above: Bob’s forge and workshop are housed in a shop at the rear of his property, but a newer barn next to the retail shop will allow all visitors to see the tool-making process start to finish.
Above: Bob begins the process of making his Fulcrum Weeder; it’s $24 from Red Pig Tools.
Above: Bob hammers the weeder’s forked end.
Above: A vice grips the weeder and allows Bob to ply the hot steel into the correct shape.
Above: Bob attaches the wooden handle to the weeder using a drill that belonged to his father.
Above: If no one’s in the shop when you arrive, just give the bell a ring or head down to the white farmhouse at the end of the driveway.
Above: Red Pig Tools is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 am to 6 pm, or by appointment.
Above: Piles of cultivators and hand rakes ready for sale.
For more information and to purchase tools, head to Red Pig Tools or visit the store for your yourself.