There are countless steel fabricators scattered across the world, from billion dollars firms to your local steel guys – but none have quite reached the level of prominence that Tony Swatton has.
Swatton is a renowned blacksmith from – appropriately enough – Hammersmith, London. He now resides in the US where he spends his time smithing – or fabricating if you will – props for some of the biggest movies and TV shows in Hollywood. If you’ve see anything from The Hunger Games to Pirates of The Caribbean, you’ve seen Swatton’s work.
Tony Swatton is the busiest steel fabricator in the world, charged with the task of smithing some of the most famous steel props in Hollywood, from swords and knives to armour and even jewellery.
A Little About Tony Swatton
Despite his illustrious career in metal fabrication for some of Hollywood’s biggest productions, Swatton’s beginnings are rather humble. When he was young he spent his time cutting small gems and doing some basic silversmithing. Around the age of 15 he met a man named Jody Samson – a fellow enthusiast for smithing who worked on the set of Conan The Barbarian. He and Samson would swap gems and knives (which Swatton couldn’t afford) until eventually Swatton had a crack at forging his first knife out of a file, later asking Samson if he could critique it.
When he was 17 he went to a renaissance fair where was awed by the work of a legitimate blacksmith. From then on he began teaching himself how to forge steel, working from of the techniques and equipment that he’d seen the blacksmith use. By 26 he had opened his own store, The Sword and The Stone – purveyors of high quality, handcrafted weapons, armour, tools, costumes and props.
In 1991 he worked on his first film, Steven Spielberg’s Hook, building swords and the infamous hook itself, which Swatton describes as his “foot in the door for film work”.
Sword and Stone
Although Swatton was born in London, he moved to Vancouver in his early years with his family. His formative smithing years were spent in his mother’s garage until he outgrew it, moving around a few times before settling down in Burbank, Los Angeles where he set up camp – a 3,600-square-foot workshop he named The Sword and The Stone. He’s been there for over 25 years.
A little different to the gear we are used to working with, Swatton has quite the setup. He is a self-professed gear head, investing in some rare and extremely expensive equipment to forge with. Among his inventory is a 200 year old anvil, another anvil that weights 1000 pounds and at least 400 hammers, many of which he build himself. He also uses two forges which can reach up to 1,500 degrees celsius. The materials he uses are generally steel-based for his weapons and armour, such as low carbon steel and Damacus steel, plus jewels, gold and silver.
Since Hook, Swatton has worked on some of the biggest productions in Hollywood. Pirates of The Caribbean features its fair share of swords – all Swatton creations. He also built the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor, props for CSI and Criminal Minds, the Batarangs from Batman Returns, Blade’s sword in Blade; plus he’s had celebrities from Rhianna to Michael Jackson wear his products (the latter which you can see being worn by MJ on a 1991 cover of People magazine).
Check out his entire filmography here.
Man At Arms
Aside from his busy Hollywood schedule, Swatton found the time over the past few years to star in his own series called Man At Arms – a show in which he builds copies of famous weapons from scratch. His creations include Wolverine’s ‘claws’, Oddjob’s hat from James Bond and Jamie Lannister’s, from Game of Thrones, sword. The show has over 30 episodes that feature Swatton and has attracted tens of millions of views. No small feat for a man who got his start carving gems and rocks.
Unfortunately Swords and Axe’s are a little out of our scope (contact Swatton), but if you are in need of quality custom steel, structural steel or steel delivery and installation, contact Steel Fabrication Services today. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable professionals will ensure that whatever you need will be fabricated to the highest standards, according to your specifications, and delivered when you want and need it.
If you’re as interested in steel as we are, have a read of our article on how steel is made.