Welder's care for detail sets steel firepits apart

Welder's care for detail sets steel firepits apart

August 26th, 2011 by Casey Phillips in Business Around the Region

Carbon steel firepits made by Bill Phillips Ironart.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

• What: Carbon steel firepits

• Company: Bill Phillips Ironart

• Address: 51 Maple St., Dunlap, Tenn.

• Email: billphillipsironart@yahoo.com

• Telephone: 618-0523

• Owner: Bill Phillips

• What's special: Welder Bill Phillips builds his firepits out of carbon steel he acquires by salvaging reclaimed gas and air cylinders and tanks. While other welders create similar items, Phillips said his lower price and attention to artistic details sets him apart. "It gives them a whole lot more of an artistic look, instead of being something with three pieces of pipe welded to it," he said. "I put curl on the legs to make it look like old furniture you used to see. There are some other guys who build them, but they don't put the detail in them that I do."

• The origin story: Phillips has worked as a welder for more than 15 years. For years, he used welding to create artistic gifts for friends and family members. In 2010, he was invited to the Market, and after applying as a seller, he said he was immediately accepted. "There was no one out there making them," he said. "As soon as I can build them, they're gone."

• How long does it take to make: About eight hours. "It's not an easy job," Phillips said. "I build each one individually so I can set it up how I like it. There's a lot of blood and sweat in them."

• Where it's sold: The Chattanooga Market. Custom orders available via phone or email.

• What it costs: From $200 (30-inch pit) to $1,000 (44-inch pit).

• Plans: Earlier this month, Phillips was invited to Varnell, Ga., to the biannual Prater's Mill Country Show, one of the biggest of such events in the Southeast. Phillips said he is happy to be a one-man operation, but he expressed interest in having more of his work displayed in regional art galleries and could see living solely on sales from his firepits.

• Lessons of the trade: "The biggest thing I've come to see over the last year or so is that I've learned that I had all these artistic abilities I didn't know I had," Phillips said. "My family and friends saw it, but I didn't."