Brian Smith’s hobby was using a laser to cut out metal pieces and fashioning them into signs, fire pits, wall hangings or other types of artwork, which he then sold at farmers markets and craft fairs.
It became so successful that he and his wife, Nicole Smith, decided to form a company and go into business. B & N Metal Works was incorporated with the State of Florida in early June. Nicole Smith is the company’s president, and Brian Smith is the vice president. It’s definitely a family business — even the couple’s two young daughters are involved, Brian Smith said.
“Business has been really good, so far,” Brian Smith said recently in his shop in DeLeon Springs. “There’s really nobody else in this area doing what we do.”
Smith can make just about anything. He typically cuts the various parts out of 1/8-inch steel sheets, sands or grinds the rough edges, then welds or screws the pieces together before adding a layer of spray paint.
He’s hoping to start powder-coating his works within a year. That process involves binding the coloring electronically to the surface and then baking the object in an oven.
Smith’s artistry can be laborious work. He’s in the process of making a large sign to be placed in front of Louise S. McInnis Elementary School in DeLeon Springs.
The sign is composed of three layers of steel sheet cut into the shape of a bobcat, bolted together and standing about 4 1/2 feet tall and extending about 6 feet long from nose to tip of tail. The bobcat will be painted blue; the name of the school, cut through both outer layers, will have white lettering. The base, composed of 4-inch-square pipe and a pair of flat plates, will be painted red.
Smith hopes to have it finished and installed by the start of the new school year or, failing that, soon thereafter.
There is almost no limit to the kinds of steel artworks that can be cut out by Smith’s laser.
“I have a plasma machine, so I can cut pretty much anything, such as custom signs,” he said. “I want to give customers something that will last.”
For instance, Smith has made a work of art that will be auctioned off in a fundraiser for a disabled veteran. The work consists of a “Betsy Ross” U.S. flag, featuring a circle of 13 stars in the blue union and 13 red and white alternating stripes. In silver along the bottom edge are silhouettes of trees and foliage, and hunting dogs pursuing a bounding stag.
Smith also can make wall hangings that feature a family’s name across the midsection of an artistic silhouette of the name’s first letter.
Another creation is a pickup-truck tailgate frame that features a large space in the center, where a variety of signs can be swapped out.
And while 1/8-inch steel is the most common material Smith uses, he said he can cut materials up to 1/2-inch thick and from 4 1/2 to 9 feet long.
Learn more at the company’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/B-N-Metal-Works-1331562093594731/. You also can call Smith at 386-469-8572 or email him at BandNmetalart17@gmail.com.