Tack & Gear / Western Art

The Making of a One-Piece Spur

Hottish spurs made by Barry Guillory

Louisiana bit and spurmaker Barry Guillory uses metal pins out of bulldozers to craft sought-after one-piece spurs.

Outside of his workshop next to his house in Pine Prairie, Louisiana, about 80 miles west of Baton Rouge on the Crooked Creek Reservoir, Barry Guillory heats coals in his driveway using a hoodless forge until the coals are a glowing, molten red.

He keeps the forge outside, which he says keeps his workspace cleaner. He doesn’t take a temperature of the coals—everything he does when building a set of one-piece spurs is done by feel. He estimates the temperature to be 1700 degrees, but he determines when the forge is hot enough by reading the color of the coal.

Guillory taking torch to make spurs
Barry Guillory starts to hot split a flattened bulldozer pin, which will become a one-piece spur when finished. Photo by Christine Hamilton

Guillory started making spurs in 1998 when he was loping horses for local cutting horse trainers. He couldn’t afford of pair of Billy Klapper spurs, which at the time were running for $400.

“I told myself, ‘I’m going to learn to build some one-piece spurs.’ I got the [Adolph] Bayers books, and I went through all the pictures,” he says. Bayers was a custom bit and spurmaker from Gilliland, Texas, from the 1930s until the ‘70s. He was known for his one-piece spurs in which the heel band and shank were formed from a single piece of metal, as opposed to two pieces welded together. Klapper uses Model T axles and the same method to craft his spurs.

Using pins for the base of the spurs wasn’t by choice; it was out of necessity. ““It was the only thing I had,” he says. He and his partner, C Cee Elliot, often rummage and pry for pins in a bulldozer graveyard. It’s hard work that leaves them with tired, greasy hands and clothes.

Hottish Spurs made by Barry Guillory
Barry Guillory made these pair of one-piece spurs for Dustin and Deena Adams, the owners of cutting horse stallion Hottish, who was the 2017 National Cutting Horse Association Leading Freshman sire. Photo courtesy of Barry Guillory

“You have to forage for them because it’s getting to where they don’t make solid ones [to use] in bulldozers anymore,” he explains. “Now they use what they call wet pins. They’re hollow in the center and have grease in them, so they last longer in the bulldozer.”

But the pins make an ideal medium for one-piece spurs, he says, because the metal can be transformed into a durable, wearable piece of equipment.

Once the pins are “a molten temp,” he says he uses a power hammer and starts “knocking them down” into a flattened piece. Then, he hot splits the flattened metal about halfway down using a wedge, which creates the heel bands. The unsplit part will be the shank.

Guillory flower spurs
The detailed flowers on Guillory’s spurs have become a trademark.

Guillory cleans and sands the unfinished spurs, fine-tunes the shape of them, then drills holes in the shank to hold the handmade rowels. After all that, he engraves and silver to them with intricate artistry.

“I’ve always wanted to build something that was considered junk iron from the start, but it’s good metal, and I wanted to turn something that was being thrown away into something that nobody else can do,” he says.

3 thoughts on “The Making of a One-Piece Spur”

  1. Barry definitely does flawless work.
    Such an amazing artist, he has an unique style of doing things. His pieces are one of a kind gorgeous. ♡♡♡

  2. That’s one cool trick, not only is it unique, but he does some really beautiful work too! When we opened our custom bit & spur shop in the Napa Valley, in N. Ca., 30+ years ago, after a stint at “Millers Bit & Spur”, in Nampa, Id. , we decided to only charge $175.00 a pair, for the local working “day cowboys” that we’d once worked with, since we were “still working all the kinks out”. I saw a pair of spurs from our 1st batch for sale at an auction in Texas last week. They’d held up well, but the price now? Starting bid, $775.00! I’d better look for some old tractors!


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