Rancher Tim Mason has combined his rodeo and metalworking roots into a new business venture
Spurs are an essential piece of equipment for horseback riders, from ranch hands, ropers and barrel racers to cutters, cowboy action shooters and others. Now a Newton County, Mo., metalworker is creating custom spurs that represent each wearer’s unique style.
From running a cow/calf operation to riding bareback broncs and wrestling steers at rodeos and running a welding business that builds pipe fencing, Fairview, Mo., resident Tim Mason has been involved with several different aspects of the livestock industry. It only seemed natural to merge his rodeo and metalworking roots into a new career: making custom spurs.
Working with customers to create individual designs, Mason first sketches out a layout to make sure all the elements work together. Then, inside his metalworking shop, Mason turns raw pieces of metal into handcrafted spurs with silver or copper accents.
Mason’s recent retirement from the rodeo circuit meant finding a new way to stay involved with his rodeo peers. His longtime interest in metalworking led to taking a private spur-making class in with Charles Wendt of Rocking W Spurs in Llano, Texas, last November and launching T/S Custom Spurs. His T/S logo matches his cattle brand and one of his first pairs of spurs is emblazoned with the logo.
With just a few months of business under his belt and only word-of-mouth advertising, Mason is already working on his ninth pair of custom spurs, with almost a dozen more on order.
In addition to being built to the specifications of the wearer (for example, the length of the shank, the type and size of the rowels and the metal finish), custom spurs also allow for a bit of personal flair. Mason can add extras to the spurs, such as a ranch brand, initials or even someone’s full name, as well as a color finish. The beauty of custom spurs is not only in the fit but also in their uniqueness.
“They get to pick out how they look, the style and everything down to the rowel and the size of the shank and shape of everything,” Mason said. “You can do about absolutely anything you want to on it. That is what I think is neat about it. There are just endless opportunities.”
Custom spurs are often awarded at rodeos, and Mason is designing a set of trophy spurs to donate to the 2018 Brianna Lee Walker Memorial Rodeo, a Missouri Family Rodeo Association event on June 9.
From cutting and shaping a heel band to fit just right to adding shanks and various pieces of hardware and personalized elements, the process of creating these works of art requires patience and finesse, along with a lot of grinding, sanding and buffing. Each set of spurs has Mason’s brand and a serial number stamped inside the heel band.
Mason says the most challenging part for him is the small details, which include hand-cutting the rowels and personal elements like initials, tiny lettering, symbols such as a cross or a bucking bronc.
“It’s very intricate. The blade on the saw is so little you have to feel it to figure out what side the teeth are on,” Mason said.
A custom-made pair of spurs is an investment meant to last a lifetime. Depending on the design, a pair of spurs takes Mason about three days to make. Add in the cost of materials, and the price of a finished pair of Mason’s spurs is around $250; the price will likely go up as Mason gains new skills and expertise. His long-term goal is to make spur making his full-time job, taking orders at events like rodeo finals and trade shows.