Kevin Riddle
P. O. Box 40, Eagle Rock, VA 24085

History - The advantages of using copper have been known since the Bronze Age. The current methods of "sheet metal working" are only about 300 years old – having been developed here just after the American Colonial period. Often a tradesman worked with more than one type of metal, such as copper, tin, pewter, and silver. Paul Revere was most well known to his peers as a silversmith.

My shop - I focus on working copper into early american style apple butter kettles, and flat-bottomed pans. One starts with a flat sheet of copper. Pieces are cut out, hand-hammered, and brazed together with high-temperature silver solder. Each kettle comes with a heavy duty four leg steel stand – sometimes called a "spider". Two styles of handles are available - the traditional bail loop, or the more practical "pot" type handles. The pot handles are more practical because they extend out to the side and below the top of the kettle so they do not interfere with the stirring.

As an option, traditional style stir paddles of poplar wood mounted to a hardwood beam with cross handle, are available. My design results in a very strong stir paddle that does not wobble. I offer the stir paddle separately because many folks like to make their own. With reasonable care, a copper kettle will last for more than a lifetime. Start your own family or community tradition.

Gallon size Physical size Kettle Price Stir paddle price
15 19w x 15d $670 $150
20 21w x 16d $770 $165
30 24w x 18d $890 $180
40 26w x 19d $915 $195
50 30w x 20d $1135 $210
60 32w x 22d $1260 $225
For Kettles with “pot” style handles, subtract $20 from above prices.

Copper pans - I make several sizes of flat-bottomed copper pans shaped as wash pans and wash tubs. Pans are for those seeking rustic copper wares for period correct décor or re-inactor use. After the pieces are cutout, the shapes are rolled and formed on hundred year old hand crank machines. Pans are soldered to be water tight. Several 19th century beading styles are available. Pans normally come with the traditional hang-up loop. For pans with handles, add $15

Size Measurement Price
Small 13 1/2w x 4 1/2d $85
Medium 16w x 6 1/2d $95
Large 20w x 8d $110
Washtub 21w x 11 1/2d $140

Custom Work - I will gladly consider custom work within the normal range of my shop. However, until the state law changes, if you want a moonshine still, I will have to see your ABC permit first.

Blacksmithing - By the 1970's, blacksmithing as a trade was all but forgotten. A handful of old timers carried on the trade, usually as a part-time retirement business. I was fortunate to know and learn from several of the old masters. Today, blacksmithing as an art is thriving. I focus on the more basic and practical uses of forging steel.

Each kettle requires a certain amount of blacksmith work. A kettle has a steel ring at the top edge of it to create a frame for the copper to be rolled over. On this top ring is where the pot style handles, or traditional bail loop is welded onto. All of this shaping requires old-time forging and fitting. To hold all this, and the weight of the apple butter, is a very heavy duty four legged steel stand. The old-timers called the stand a "spider" because the look of it without the kettle appeared to be some sort of spider. With my stand design, the stand ring cradles the kettle by the top edge of the kettle using the kettle ring. The stand does not touch the kettle on the sides which would create undesirable hot spots. Hot spot can easily burn the sugar in your cooking food.

In addition to the heavy duty steel stands I make for my copper kettles, I can fabricate most any item that require steel loops or rings. Occasionally, I will have some metal folk art made from odd leftover pieces, on hand – inquire what is currently available.

Helpful Hints -
Cleaning and maintenance of copper kettles and pans -
To keep your copper container clean and shiny, wash it soon after use, and then dry it COMPLETELY, immediately. A paper towel will get a kettle dryer than a cloth towel. Storing in a dry place will help prevent tarnishing. I recommend using "Wright' Copper Cream" when you need to remove any tarnish – it is available in grocery and hardware stores.

Preventing mosquitoes in rain barrels -
To prevent mosquitoes larva from growing in standing water such as rain barrels, place a piece of copper in the water. The equivalent of an 18 inch section of household copper water pipe will be enough for a barrel size container.

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Demonstrations and Programs

I offer informative talks and demonstrations on Appalachian folk life and crafts for schools, conventions, and resort groups.

Programs can be tailored to your group's needs and interests.


Using a drawknife, shaving bench, and other traditional tools, I rough hewn green logs into benches, ox yokes, pitchforks, and related custom work.


Using old "tinsmith" techniques, I fashion copper into pans, washtubs, and apple butter kettles up to 60 gallon size. Custom work is available unless you ask for a moonshine still.