Forking out— Groningen


In the Netherlands, a fourth generation of blacksmiths has cottoned on to the fact that dedication and getting the simple things right can go a long way. Monocle meets the men from DeWit, digging deep for the garden tool industry.

Gardening, Spade, Tools

A one-off gardening implement is mounted behind Sietse DeWit’s desk in the office he shares with his older brother Derk and their cousin Derk-Klaas. A sort of mutant three-headed spade, with two heads at one end and another at the opposite end, it symbolises the trio’s decision-making process. “If two of us vote in favour of something and the other votes against, it’s clear which direction we’re going in,” says Sietse. “You’re not going to catch us having a four-hour debate about it.”

Hailing from Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands, if ever…

  1. Metal shapes are laser cut
    Previously performed by hand. Now you can switch between product lines with the touch of a button. Offcuts are recycled.

  2. Forging
    Metal is heated to between 900C and 1100C to ensure its tensile strength. The socket is welded by hand.

  3. Refining the shape
    After cooling, the metal pieces are tapered by hand, making them thinner and sharper.

  4. Tools are checked
    Quality checks are done by hand. Wooden handles are then attached and laser-printed with the DeWit insignia.

Other market leaders


Bulldog has been producing quality tools at Clarington Forge, Wigan, England, since 1780 (several employees can trace their family ties to the company back through four generations). The company celebrated its 230th anniversary by creating the world’s largest spade, a 3.6-metre-high implement verified by Guinness World Records.

Red Pig Tools

Offering everything from barbecue meat-turners to custom branding irons, husband and wife team Rita and Bob Denman ran an advertising agency before turning their hand to the production of tools in burnished steel, which gives them the appearance of traditional English tools from the Edwardian era (despite the US provenance).

Fisher Blacksmithing

Tuli Fisher is a full-time blacksmith in Bozeman, Montana, who’s been forging the finest tools since 1999, using heavy gauge steel and hard-wood handles made from walnut to create all of his products by hand (he’s a horseshoer with over 12 years of experience). He favours hand rivets over welding.


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