Anthony “Tony” Wallace was working as a welder in the Texas oil fields when a fire nearly took his life.

During his recuperation, he made spurs to occupy his time. Before long, people took notice of his exceptional craftsmanship, and collectors began calling. Wallace never returned to the oil fields.

Today he enjoys a healthy business refurbishing antique spurs inside a metal workshop he built on his property outside Medill, Okla.

“Repairing old spurs depends on what needs to be done,” says Wallace, 46, about the research required to make sure that his work keeps to the original design and regional influences.

His most common fix are broken tines. First, Wallace must determine the length and width for a correct match, then he cuts and files a new piece from a sheet of metal and fuses the new tine to the rowel.

Inlay work, however, is more involved. Wallace must first dig the cavity with a chisel and then dovetail or undercut the cavity around its edges. He then pounds melted silver into the undercuts, which bonds with the metal as it cools and expands.

Wallace charges $300 a day for restorations that can take hours, days, or even weeks. But when he’s finished, Wallace and his customers know that his authentic, quality work will last a lifetime.

In the skilled hands of an artist, everyday objects are elevated to the extraordinary. Meet three craftsmen who keep western traditions alive.

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