Ryan Drobatz (IG: @r.d.blacksmith)

April 16, 2022

Welcome to this week's #weldershowcase - we had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan from @r.d.blacksmith 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:  Ryan Drobatz

Business Name:  R.D. Blacksmith

Location: SoCal Mojave Desert

Socials: IG:  @r.d.blacksmith

Websites:  https://rdblacksmith.com/

Specialties: Blacksmithing, Bladesmithing, Pattern Welding ,Metal Fabrication, Woodwork

Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade? And how long?
In general, all of the trades and skills I’ve learned over the years have all been, at one point or another, learned out of necessity. I’m really into being self sufficient and doing everything on my own. Household repairs, remodeling, tools I need or other useful items, even sewing and making clothes. I’ve always just had to learn to make or fix things myself. Interest in the trades full time sort of evolved from there.  I’ve been doing Metal work for about 3-4 years now.. wood before that.
 
 
What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
I have a hard time with this. I usually bounce around between one of the various projects I have on my plate at a given time . When I lose motivation for one, there’s always a bunch of other works in progress laying around and usually one of them will motivate me enough to get fired up again and I’ll chip away at that until I’m either done or needing to change gears again.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
aw man, all of them! I love tools. I’d say it changes frequently but right now I’m pretty excited about another tool that I just finished forging/fabricating. It’s a blacksmith's post vice, also called a leg vice. I needed another one in my shop and I’ve been thinking about trying to make one for a while so I took a shot at it. Turned out really nice, I’m happy with it.
 
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
I’ll include some pics of the vice and also I recently built a large steel fence at a buddies place that turned out pretty nice. Doing his guesthouse kitchen right now as well, all steel open shelving units with butcher block and that’s in progress currently.
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
I have it!  I spend every day in my shop making things. Whether it’s fabricating furniture or  storefront signs or light fixtures, making hand tools,  making Damascus billets (pattern-welding) and then forging knives out of those billets, I’m doing what I do so there’s no “would” to it, I just do what I like to do and never second guess it.
 
 
What BA product is your favorite and why?
I spend a hell of a lot of time on a 2x72 Ameribrade Fastback Belt Grinder and BA belts are the best I’ve come across. I’ve tried most all of the belts available and the Ceramic Belts in 36up to 120 grit are my go to. They last a ridiculously long time, especially for fabrication in mild steel, you almost can’t wear one out.
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
again, the ceramic belts, I just get way more working life out of these  than any others I’ve tried. Zirconia Flap discs are great too. And can’t leave out the BA SnapBack hat that’s also a flexfit! It rules. Super comfortable, my go to for welding, totally wearable under a hood.
 
 
What tips and tricks do you have for us that might be different or eye opening for others to try with BA product?
one thing I do is once a 2x72 belt starts to feel worn out on the belt grinder, I’ll put those aside for my surface grinder that I’ve converted to run belts . It runs 1x72 belts so I’ll take a worn out 2x72 belt , split it into two and have two belts for the surface grinder. Because the surface grinder presents the belt to the work on a wheel with a radius  instead of a flat platen, it exposes more usable grit and works great to double the use of a belt .
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
I’m not sure I could answer that in terms of a single person. But I love collaborating and I learn a ton each time I do. I’m open for collaborating with anyone. There’s always something to learn from another maker minded person and hopefully they can learn from me as well and it’s a mutually beneficial endeavor. That’s the best possible outcome, speaking in terms of collaboration.
 
 
Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
Heck no don’t listen to me I don’t know what I’m doing! All I can say is, speaking for myself of course, and this is true of all the trades but markedly so in blacksmithing and knife making.. sometimes people just getting into something like knifemaking, for example, will see a complex Damascus pattern on a big beautiful blade and say things like, ‘unreal, magic, unbelievable, sorcery, I wish I could make a blade like that” and so on. These are appreciated complements but what they don’t know is that every Damascus pattern and every blade forged is held up by the pile of failures that came before It. So I guess the message is, failure is not defeat, it is just an opportunity to learn and improve on the next one.
What are your future plans for your shop?
Full machine shop, bronze casting setup,  more 3 phase power, skylights, learn how to organize so I don’t lose my mind :)
 
 
Thanks for sitting with us and sharing your story with the community - is there anything you'd like to add?  
Do what you want and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise..

 

A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Ryan! Great answers bud, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Cheers!



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