Bladesmithing

Our approach to making blades focuses on the forging techniques needed to produce sharp-edged tools of high-carbon steel. These classes cover blade design, understanding of steel grain structure, hardening and tempering methods, steel finishes and handle construction. Our primary emphasis is on teaching the fundamental skills needed to forge and finish good blades.

As with all programs, these offerings will continue to evolve and grow with time. It is our hope and intention that our students will likewise improve their skills by methodically working through the various classes offered and most importantly, practicing those skills in open forge sessions or at their home forges.

In order to make the most of our classes, it’s very important for both students and instructors alike that students enroll in classes that are matched to their skill levels. To help you determine which classes are appropriate for you, we’ve adopted skill level guidelines. Please read them before registering for a class.

Skill Level Guide

Beginner: Little if any experience hammering hot metal. Inconsistent hammer control, limited stamina and uneven results.

Seasoned Beginner: Having taken a few basic classes, followed by frequent practice in open forge sessions, proficient with all basic blade forging processes and the use and operation of the standard tools and equipment of the trade. Having made a few full tang or stick tang knives and knowing basic handle construction. Starting to feel confident in heat treating and metallurgy.

Intermediate: The above plus 2-3 years of part-time to full-time in the forge and a good working knowledge of guards, confident in forging full tang and stick tang knives and producing clean handle fit ups as well as confidence in layout and design. Able to make laminated construction blades cleanly and predictably. Competent in heat treating and metallurgy with consistent results. Familiarity with Damascus processes and patterns. Have a shop to work in or attend open forge sessions on a regular basis.

Advanced: The above plus 4 years of more serious detailed work, making small production runs, working with Damascus, having made a folder of some sort, perhaps experimenting with inlay, engraving or file work.

Program: Pathway to Prowess

This information is provided to give our students a clear path toward reaching their bladesmithing goals. We recommend that you take the classes in roughly the order listed here. Please note that it’s not enough to just take the class; in order to progress, practice is essential. We provide open forge sessions expressly for this purpose.

Bladesmithing I

These classes develop the ability to forge blade-shaped objects using mild steel:

  • Letter Opener Discovery Class – Required, prerequisite to all others
  • Iron Age Knife
  • Friedrich’s Split Blade

These classes introduce harder types of recycled tool-grade steel. Here, you’ll learn more about fire control, how to forge tougher steel within a more limited heat range and the use of traditional heat treatment techniques.

  • Railroad Spike Knife
  • Bowie Knife
  • Railroad Spike Tomahawk

In these classes we’ll introduce high-carbon tool steels, an in-depth presentation of heat-treating theory and in some cases, utilize a commercial heat-treating oven.

  • Introduction to Bladesmithing: Full Tang Utility Knife
  • Straight Blade Carving Knife
  • Blacksmith’s Knife

Prerequisites to Bladesmithing II classes:

  • Letter Opener Discovery
  • Blacksmith’s Knife or Iron Age Knife
  • Full Tang Utility Knife

Exceptions are subject to administrative approval.

Bladesmithing II

  • Bolstered Whittling Knife
  • Higonokami (folding knife)
  • Hidden Tang Knife with Hot-fitted Guard & wood handle
  • Ono Axe (Japanese)
  • Integral Bolster Paring Knife
  • Full tang Chef’s knife
  • Survival Knife
  • Cannister Damascus
  • Fittings Clinic: guards, bolsters, scales, burn-in tangs, pommels