About Michigan's Blacksmith John Rayer of Waterloo Metal Works.

About Michigan's Blacksmith John Rayer of Waterloo Metal Works.

Waterloo Metal Works is owned and operated by John Rayer, Blacksmith. John began his career as a smith in 1993, serving a 3 1/2 year apprenticeship under Master Blacksmith Scott Lankton: thus graduating from the Lankton School of Charm and Blacksmithing. He then began a classic journeyman period, working for various smiths throughout the United States and taking classes at folk schools in the southern US. During this period he worked on projects ranging from simple "S" hooks for sale at regional art fairs to fulfilling the architectural metalwork needs for the Atlantis Casino, Paradise Island, Bahamas. In 1999 he formed Waterloo Metal Works LLC, located in the beautiful Waterloo Recreation Area in Southeast Michigan. Since then he has been involved in projects small and large, both residential and commercial. 

John's work can be found throughout Michigan, Alaska, New York, Virginia, The Bahamas and Ecuador. In November 2010 he was honored to assist in the replication of the late 1920's work of Samuel Yellin at the Federal Reserve Bank of Manhattan. 

Waterloo Metal Works specializes in custom forged architectural metal work, but also does production furniture, custom tooling and repair work. John works in steel ("wrought iron"), stainless steel, bronze, aluminum and copper.

The design process for custom work begins with the initial meeting. The client discusses their desires for functionality and style, often bringing pictures or drawings of work they have seen, either in person, in catalogues or design literature. John then returns to his studio and begins the artistic process by drawing up plans for the project. Depending on the size and scope of the project he may then produce a "sketch in iron", a full scale example of a portion of a stair railing, or samples of elements to be included in the project. After approval of these samples a deposit is taken and work begins.

Commissions include, but are not limited to:

Stair and balcony railings
Gates: vehicle and pedestrian
Lighting, interior and exterior
Liturgical items (Baptismal fonts, crosses etc)
Hearth tools
Fireplace doors/screens
Pot racks


Mirror frames
Towel racks
Drapery hardware
Garden sculpture
Cabinet hardware
Display cabinets (vitrines)
Blades, sais and other weaponry
Tools for industry and home

For those interested in the art of blacksmithing, classes are available. Please contact Waterloo Metal Works for more information. References available upon request.