Steel is real for FosterWeld’s custom furniture, merchandise, and signs

Idaho metal fabrication shop honors steel in products big and small

Fabricated metal signs for Boise, Idaho

Idaho-based FosterWeld specializes in making small and large products out of steel, including custom furniture, merchandise, and signs. Images: Fosterweld

FosterWeld may be based out of Garden City, Idaho, and the Boise area, but its origins have a Midwest connection.

Owner Chris Foster moved to Indiana in the early 2000s. There, his welding skills and career grew as he became a welding instructor and worked in sales for a welding supply company.

It also was in Indiana where he sold items for the first time—mirrors, furniture, and art he made for an art gallery. He described the feeling of selling them as “awesome.”

Later that decade, he launched FosterWeld in Indiana, hundreds of miles away from where it is now. He wanted his own small business, and he wanted to spend more time with his growing family.

“I knew that I couldn’t keep working like this,” Foster said of his work schedule at the time. “I don’t want to exaggerate, but it was probably 80 hours a week, seven days a week, all day every day. I wanted to have a family/life balance. I’m never going to know unless I try this. So, I basically quit my welding sales job, but I continued to teach. I started doing FosterWeld full time in ‘07.”

At the start, inspiration came from some nearby cities.

“Cities like Chicago or Indy were taking old buildings that were falling apart and making them cool again, making them into lofts where you’d get a lot of exposed brick and exposed beams,” he said.

“That was kind of like the original inspiration we had, of using rivets in furniture so that it would mimic a bridge or, like, a connection with the steel beams inside the buildings. We'd take that and put that in a mirror or into furniture.”

Foster said the original inspiration for his business was for its products to honor “old-school steelwork.” That inspiration can still be seen in FosterWeld’s work today, which includes things big and small.

Steel Is Real

FosterWeld’s lineup of products includes custom signage, furniture, belt buckles, merchandise like keychains and bottle openers, and larger-scale projects for breweries, wineries, and hotels.

Welder working in a metal fabrication in Idaho

While FosterWeld is based out of Garden City, Idaho, the shop’s origins date back to the 2000s when owner Chris Foster started the business in Indiana.

The handmade, solid-steel belt buckles have been a mainstay for the company since its inception, said Foster.

“We use a unique process to create the layering you see, using laser-cut, cold-rolled steel and welding the layers together, and then finished with a patina or hand-painted color,” according to FosterWeld’s description of the belt buckles.

The buckles are one example of the style and design Foster said differentiates his company’s products from others.

“We’re not super polished, super clean. There's clean lines, but then it also looks a little worn,” he said.

Whether it’s something small like a belt buckle or something bigger like custom furniture, FosterWeld prefers steel over stainless steel or aluminum. “Steel is real,” Foster said of the preference.

“We’ve tried some stainless stuff,” he said. “Part of it is the price; stainless is about twice as much as steel, and aluminum is about 30% more than steel. We've gotten pretty good with price points over the years and knowing what to charge. By adding stainless, it nearly doubles the price of a buckle. We're just trying to keep a consistent price.

“And aluminum just takes way longer to fabricate anything out of it.”

Leaving a Mark

Some of FosterWeld’s work can be seen close to its shop, with Boise-area establishments Payette Brewing Co., Telaya Wine Co., and Split Rail Winery among the businesses it’s worked with.

“We did just so much work in there for them,” Foster said of the Payette Brewing Co. project.

“Telaya and Split Rail are really different from one another. One is really rustic and [has] reclaimed barn wood tabletops with raw steel. The other one is hot pink with fluorescent green powder-coated tables with super-crazy artwork everywhere.

FosterWeld metal fabrication shop in Garden City, Idaho

Idaho-based FosterWeld honors old-school steelwork through its diverse lineup of products, ranging from small items like keychains and belt buckles to larger products like custom furniture.

“Locally, if people want to see our work, I would say go check these places out,” Foster said. “It's not that we created the environment, but we got to be a part of creating the entire aesthetic for these places. You can walk in and sit on our work and look at our displays. What we made helps complement the rest of the buildings.”

Much of the work is done in the shop, where the FosterWeld team has access to equipment including MIG and TIG welding machines, fixturing tables, shop press, paint booth, and hand tools.

“When you build it in-shop, there’s so much more control,” Foster said of working at the shop versus out in the field. FosterWeld’s custom signs can be found all over the country, from ice cream shops to tech giants like Facebook and Google to the San Francisco Giants. The company’s signs, belts, buckles, and other merchandise can be purchased through its website. Prospective customers can also inquire about custom projects through the site.

One of projects the company currently is working on is for a hotel in the Boise area. The work includes accessories, bedside tables, vanities, toilet paper holders, towel racks, signage, merchandise displays, coffee tables, and a reception desk.

“It just seems like there’s always something kind of cool and important going through here,” Foster said.

About the Author

Rafael Guerrero


2135 Point Blvd.

Elgin, IL 60123


Rafael Guerrero. was named editor of The WELDER in April 2022. He spent nine years as a journalist in newspapers in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, covering topics and communities in central Illinois, Washington, and the Chicago area.