# Re-use in the (unofficial) Kenyan Ironworks Industry

September 17, 2010, 7:07 pm
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Gikomba is a part of Nairobi that is well known for metal working. I had been meaning to come this way for a while, and today afforded me the perfect opportunity to drop down into Gikomba and see what kind of enterprising activities Kenyans were up to.

bicycle ironworks bellows

I ran into a George Odhiambo, a bulk fabricator of everything from wheelbarrows to chisels. The chisels caught my eye, primarily because one of them looked a lot like a shaft straight out of a Land Rover. It turns out that they reuse multiple types of iron for their goods, including leftover pieces from old vehicles. Nothing goes to waste here.

Vehicle rod becomes a chisel

Even more interesting to me (probably because it moved and did stuff with fire), was the bicycle-turned-to-bellows that kept the fire going that would heat the metal rods. It’s a fairly simple, yet ingenious contraption that utilizes old materials with a little bit of engineering. The thing runs all day, every day too, so it’s made to last.

Old bicycle turned into ironworks bellows

The chisel pictured above is a stone chisel, used in quarrying and squaring stones in the quarry’s dotting the country (most houses in Kenya are stone). They cost about 350/= ($6) to make, and sell for about 650/-= ($11).

Fundi creating an iron hammer head

Glossary