I officially started T.K. Smith Design and Fabrication in Oct. 2008, but I have always been fortunate in being able to make a living through various creative endeavors. Growing up in Los Angeles, I had all of the quintessential Southern CA. hobbies, and I was able to turn many of my hobbies into a business (or at least a job).
Through my love of surfing, in the mid 1990’s, I created a small company, Smitty’s Custom Surfboards, where I focused on shaping and glassing 60’s style long boards. I used heavy 10oz. volan boat cloth, pigment in the resin for the color of each glass job to get an authentic 60’s style board and always used Clark foam.
I’ve been a musician since I was in seventh grade. I played professionally for years in various bands; Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Trio, The Smith’s Ranch Boys, Golden Hill Ramblers and others. When I played full time, I would practice eight hours a day, take my amps apart, put them back together, build my own guitars and spend days looking for vintage equipment to get the sound that I wanted. I guess you can say I was obsessed, and I still am. Having to resort to fabricating my own parts over the years when I couldn’t find them elsewhere, I decided to start “TK Smith” guitars and accessories. We’re now offering Custom Builds, Pickups, Pickguard Inlay, Set Up, Modification and an array of guitar parts that I make and recommend. Once this bug bites, you’re infected for life!
While growing up in suburban L.A., my dad was always tinkering with various cars in the garage and I would hang out and watch until I could figure out how everything worked. My grandfather had a business called “Summertime’s Carburetor and Electric”. I loved the smell of his shop. He had the coolest equipment leftover from opening right after WW ll. Years after he died, my wife and I found the “53” Buick that was made expressly for him for sale at a swap meet. This was over 20 years after my grandmother had sold it; his mail still under his seat, her cigarette butts in the ashtray, original bill of sale with the car. Of course we had to buy it. We finally shared that story on our Blog. I am also just finishing up building a roadster pickup project that has taken more than ten years. I have never profited from my car habit, but it has given me the opportunity to hone my skills, and in addition, much personal satisfaction. Did I say, once this bug bites, you’re infected for life?
Among various other jobs, I worked as a Disney “Imagineer” for a number of years. All of these experiences have made me a better woodworker, carpenter, welder, fabricator and craftsman. I’m proud that TK Smith® guitars and accessories are 100% made in America in our shop on mostly vintage tools and machines. Everything I’ve done in the past has been in preparation to what is now my dream business. We’re located in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree, CA.