Metal can be cold, rigid and unforgiving. However, in the hands of a skilled craftsman it can also be quite malleable and transformed dramatically. In that respect, the attraction of working with metal to a soldier makes a lot of sense. After tours in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including hundreds of live-action combat missions, Henry “Hank” Robinson found himself back stateside, bewildered as he adjusted to a civilian life given the past decade consisted of the United States Army and little else.
Unfortunately, locating gainful employment became a cumbersome task. Thankfully, with the help from the GI Bill, Hank attended welding school and fell in love with metal, and more importantly, the manipulation of it. After working as a welder for some time, he stumbled upon his true passion when it was suggested that Hank attempt something different. “I was making a steel mini-surfboard for my son and the instructor told me to write my name on it with the Dremel [machine],” he says. “That’s when I began engraving.”
A Dremel is a rotary power tool that can perform a multitude of household and hobby tasks with its vast array of available extensions - yet it’s a machine not usually synonymous with automotive customization. After the simple act of engraving his name on a piece of metal, a light bulb went off in Hank’s head as he was instantly attracted to this uncharted art form. This newfound infatuation for manipulating metal spawned a respectable side hustle at first, customizing Yeti tumblers, small home décor pieces and automotive parts.
After dabbling in truck hoods, motorcycle fenders and even bed covers, Hank decided to challenge himself with his biggest job to date - an entire vehicle he would dub “Freedom Blues.” He yearned to create something that not only showcased his craft, but also highlighted both fallen soldiers and those still battling today. “I really just wanted to pay homage to my era of war fighters and honor the fallen everywhere I go,” Hank proclaims. The decision to virtually tattoo the body of a brand new truck wasn’t an easy one as it was equal parts expensive and permanent.
The next step in the process was to completely break down the new Ford F-150 to be properly prepped for paint. FX Auto Body of Avondale, AZ, laid down an attractive House of Kolors hue: Stratton Blue with a matte clear over top. Hank began the project in the rear, starting his artwork on the tailgate. What’s important to note is that there are no stencils laid on the truck and no other machines were used to create the extravagant engravings; everything is done free hand by Hank.
Even though Hank had a rough idea of where certain images would be placed, the application was truly freestyle. The images depicted were a combination of representations of his experiences, personal photos and a few submitted via social media that echoed his vision.
Like a tattoo, engraving the body of a new truck is a lifelong commitment, which was Hank’s intention. “My philosophy is that it’s pretty much the same as a tattoo; it’s on you forever, ” he explains. “I wanted to do the memorial so it could be forever - a permanent thing.” The permanency of the engraving is far more impressive than graphics printed on a wrap that can be easily discarded. This technique ensures the truck will always embody the initial intention regardless of who owns it. In total, the engraving process took just under 900 total hours, a feat Hank completed live at the 2016 SEMA show in Las Vegas to the amazement of show attendees.
In addition to the artwork, Hank’s 2016 F-150 was also the recipient of some of the top equipment in the industry. The truck, which Hank has dubbed the “H150,” received an altitude adjustment via a McGaughy’s 6.5” lift kit, while perched under the fenders is a set of 22x14 American Force wheels wrapped in 35” Nitto Trail Grappler tires. Fab Fours Vengeance Series front and rear bumpers keep the truck protected while a Fab Fours roof rack provides additional storage and lighting options above. Inside, the truck is about as ’Merica as it can get with a custom American Flag headliner and airbrushed American Flag graphics in the door jams.
On top of the pure skill and ingenuity, there’s also an entrepreneurial aspect to Hank’s path that is certainly commendable. He took his passion and turned it into a career, creating himself a cozy niche that will no doubt be fruitful. Today, in addition to being the owner and operator of Hanro Studios, Hank is also an official Dremel Maker and brand ambassador for the Dremel brand, traveling the world displaying his talents. As for what the future holds, it’s safe to say more completely customized trucks are in Hank’s future!
- 22x14 American Force Special Forces CODE Wheels
- 375/45R22 Nitto Trail Grappler M/T Tires
- R1 Brake Rotors
- McGaughy’s 6.5” Lift Kit
- SCT Livewire Tuner
- K&N Filters Blackhawk Induction Air Intake System
- Gibson Cat-back Engraved Split Dual Exhaust
- Royalty Core Grille
- Fab Fours Vengeance Series (front and rear) Bumpers
- Fab Four Roof Rack
- Amp Research Power Steps
- Peragon Truck Bed Cover
- House of Kolor Stratto Blue
- Anzo Headlights/Taillights
- (2) 50-inch Vision X Light Bars
- (2) Vision X Dual Cube Fog Lights
- (1) 17-inch and (1) 21” Vision X Light Bars in grille
- (2) Vision X Cubes on each side of roof rack (2) cubes in rear bumper
- Bedrug in Bed Carpet
- Cargo Glide XL 1500
- Dual Odyssey Batteries
- HornBlasters Outlaw Train Horn
- EGR color-matched Spoiler
- Install and Custom Headliner by Kevin Kinsey of Scottsdale Auto Upholstery
- Custom match Roadwire interior
- Custom American Flag Headliner
- Installed by Andre Sebastien and Status Auto Gallery
- Samsung 9” Tablet as source unit
- 1 pair VO-B3 Tweeters
- 1 pair VO-M6X9 Speakers in front doors
- 1 pair VO-M6.5 Speakers in rear doors
- (1) DD Audio D4.90 Amplifier for mids and highs
- (1) DD Audio DMF2800 Monoblock Amplifier for subs
- (3) 1508A 8” Subwoofers w/ custom dust caps (red, white, blue)
- DD Audio Z-Wire RCA Cables
- DD Audio RCA Connectors
- DD Audio Z-Wire 4AWG Power Cable
- DD Audio Z- Wire 12G Speaker Wire