Mike Rizzo (IG: @muffin.man.metal)

September 04, 2021

Welcome to this week's #weldershowcase - we had the opportunity to sit down with Mike from @muffin.man.metal and talk a little shop.
 
If you would like to be featured in our weekly showcase (100% FREE) please send us an email to leo.benchmarkabrasives@gmail.com to get you scheduled in an upcoming week. These showcases are intended to highlight your skill, your business, and your tips and tricks.  Most of all it's to have a little fun!
Enjoy and Grind On!
 
Name:  Mike Rizzo

Business Name:  Muffin Man Metalworks

Location: Danbury, CT.


Specialties: Blacksmith/Bladesmith, Welder/Fabricator, Scrap Metal Artist
Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade? And how long?
I'd say it all started about 17 years ago now. I started out working an apprenticeship program through and out of high school at a truck and heavy equipment repair shop. We also had a welding and fabricating division that built and repaired all sorts of truck bodies, attachments, and jobsite necessities. That's initially where I learned how to weld, and was eventually a full fledged technician and fabricator there. I was always drawn to the welding side of the shop. It fascinated me, and I was always eager to build or fix something. Fast forward years later, I was out of the trade, figuring it all out and always had the desire to fix, design, and tinker in my workshop. Slowly I started to accumulate bigger and better tools, as well as a nice collection of scrap metal. I just started messing around with things and the next thing I knew, I had a creative outlet that I'd never had before. Posting my work on social media eventually led to an audience gaining interest and now, it seems like overnight. But that's how Muffin Man Metalworks was born.
 
  What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
I'd have to say imagination keeps me motivated the most. I've never been fond of the idea of a standard "career." I'm constantly learning. Constantly gaining interests in all different areas of craftsmanship. So just the thought of waking up each day, creating something new and different. Or figuring out a way to do something better and faster is a great driving force to have.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
As of right now, I'd say my favorite shop tool is my new Clay Spencer Tire-Power Hammer that I recently built in a 5 day workshop at the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing. It's entirely mechanical, made from readily available materials that anyone can purchase, or repurpose. It's design is professional and built to last. I just have a lot of pride in the fact that I, built it for one, and it's also dramatically increased productivity and eliminated a lot of my work fatigue.
 
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
I'd say my favorite piece I've worked on to date is this custom knife and stand pictured here. I made this for a local food truck. I just really think this piece sums up the versatility that is me. The blade is clean and complex. Stainless steel san mai construction, with a custom resin handle in the food truck's colors. Then I took some old nuts and bolts and welded up a display figure, kneeling to present it. I think it holds together "creative" and "craftsman" and that's really everything I want to be.
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
If I could have any job, I'd say it would have to be just a relaxed, freelance metal artist. The stresses of business and daily life can really be a hindrance to imagination. So if I had a scenario where I could comfortably design and build what I want. I'd say that would be the life.
 
 
What BA product is your favorite and why?
My favorite BA product definitely has to be the surface conditioning flap discs. They've just been an incredible thing to have in the shop when you want a piece to look like it just rolled off of an assembly line. Just an incredibly clean finish.
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
In terms of quality, I think I've been the most surprised by the BA carbide bits. I think at this point, I own every single one that's available. They've held up to everything I've thrown at them. I can honestly say they've sped up my detail and finish work twice over.
 
 
What tips and tricks do you have for us that might be different or eye opening for others to try with BA product?
Never underestimate the capability of a BA file.
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
If I could collaborate with anyone right now, I'd say Neil Kamimura. I've been following his work and his story for a few years at this point, and I'm just really in awe of his work ethic, style, and capability. What he has done, and what he has learned in such a short amount of time is incredible.
 
 
Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
My advice for the next generation would be DON'T NEGLECT THE TRADES! Hang tough, start young, and hold onto it. They're the backbone of everyday life.
What are your future plans for your shop?
My future plans for my shop are actually expansion. I'm rapidly outgrowing my two car garage and hope to build a bigger shop on a larger piece of property soon!
 
 
Thanks for sitting with us and sharing your story with the community - is there anything you'd like to add?  
Everyone just keep a sharp eye out for bigger, badder "baked goods" from the Muffin Man!

 

A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Mike! I love that you just kinda collected scrap until a moment presented itself and now the rest is history.



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