A few years ago, I had a belt buckle made for me by FosterWeld. My article included an interview with Chris Foster about how the company was founded in 2007 by him and his wife. As part of my article, they supplied me with a custom belt buckle which had my logo on it. I wore it day after day for about six years and decided it was time for an upgrade.
My previous buckle, shown below, essentially had my logo “printed” on to it using a process called stenciling.
Well, considering that I wore the belt every day for years, it got a few nicks and scratches. Because of this as well as because I had received numerous complements on the buckle, I figured it was time to get an upgrade to my belt buckle.
The folks over at FosterWeld said that would do another version (which I paid for) that would be a bit more long-lasting. So I sent them over my vector art logo (it is much better to have vector art like EPS or .AI for them to get extremely accurate). You can send them lower resolution logos as well and they can try to clean it up for you. But if possible, send them an EPS or .AI version.
I asked them to take photos of my buckle being made (note: this is not something that they usually do) because I thought it was important to showcase how the buckles are hand-made and not just stamped out by a product line machine.
Making a Custom FosterWeld Buckle
All of the photos below are from FosterWeld directly. The show some of the hand-making process that went into my buckle.
I’m not entirely sure of the order of these photos. I personally don’t know how to weld, nor would I want to even attempt making something as nice as this. As shown above, it all starts with some surfaces which are later welded together.
There is the back of the buckle and then the custom part is welded on top (in this case, my logo).
Once the surfaces are joined, they can be hammered out to be curved to better fit a “curved” stomach or belt line.
Then once the buckle is roughed out, it is ground down and smoothed out.
You can see how the bezel is created by hand during this grinding process. It also takes away the spot welding marks seen previously. All of the edges are smoothed out here, even the ones of the my logo itself.
The final touches are the belt holder and the nub that goes into the belt hole. These are welded on as well. Also, the FosterWeld logo is stamped on the back.
This is the almost-completed buckle. It still needs to have the spot welds for the items on the back buffed out.
And with some polish and shining, here is the final product, before it leaves FosterWeld.
Thanks FosterWeld for documenting the birth of my custom belt buckle!
The Final Custom FosterWeld Buckle
When I received my new FosterWeld buckle, it was extremely pleased. They paired it up with as dark brown, weathered looking piece of leather, so the belt can be easily worn with black or brown shoes I’m thinking.
On the back of the FosterWeld buckle, you can see how the leather belt folds over and snaps together. This snap allows you to actually change belts extremely easily. The little nub then inserts into your belt holes.
As a nice little touch, FosterWeld “brands” their buckles, literally.
Over the past few years since I first wrote about FosterWeld, they seem to have grown. They are extremely busy during the holidays as well. Giving someone a made-in-the-USA, custom-made buckle, or even a buckle that they simply make and sell that isn’t custom (but that is still hand-made) is a bit more personal than just grabbing something off of the shelf.
There site has steel buckles, leather belts and lighted letters, among other items. The steel buckles go from $15 and up to $35 for these pre-made buckles. Belts are anywhere from $29 to $41. I would definitely take a look at some of their belt and buckle combos!
Regardless of what you choose, getting a custom, hand-made belt buckle is unique and distinct. And I believe it is important to support local, home-grown, family-run businesses when you can, especially if they make some really cool stuff.
HTD says: If you are looking for a unique gift for yourself or someone special, be sure to look at FosterWeld’s wide variety of functional and wearable metal art!