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The JS Stamp

I’m back. What a trip.

I flew down to Charleston, SC early last week and was greeted at the airport by my friend, ABS Master Smith Jason Knight. We had a quick lunch, then drove out to his home and shop in Harleyville where he graciously hosted me for a few days of working, learning, talking, sharing ideas, and preparing for the annual Blade Show in Atlanta. Jason is a true master of his craft – an artist and an innovator – and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to spend some time in his shop with him. He’s also a wonderful person with a big heart and a beautiful family that I’m proud to call my friends.

While I was there, Jason also administered the performance portion of my Journeyman Smith testing. In this test, using a knife that I made, I had to sever a free-hanging one-inch rope in one cut, then chop through two two-by-fours without sustaining any damage to the edge, then shave hair off my arm with the portion of the blade used for chopping (to test edge retention), and finally clamp the blade in a vise and proceed to flex it 90 degrees without it breaking. This series of tests is designed to check for proper heat treatment, flex, edge retention, and blade geometry.

js_performance_test

I passed the test without incident; my blade performed extremely well.

The next morning we packed up and drove from Harleyville to Atlanta to attend the annual Blade Show. This is the largest knife show in the world, attracting thousands of custom makers and collectors from all over the globe. It’s also the site of the annual meeting of the American Bladesmith Society and the judging of submissions by new Journeyman and Master Smith candidates. In the judging, prospective candidates who passed their performance tests and meet the eligibility requirements must submit five knives to a panel of judges who then evaluate the knives on various criteria such as design, construction, balance, symmetry, fit and finish. Those makers whose knives are judged to meet or exceed the standards are then awarded their stamps.

Here are the five knives that I submitted

jsknives

From top to bottom, I had a stag handled guide knife with 1084 carbon steel and stainless fittings, an ironwood handled fighter also with 1084, a blackwood handled camp knife with differentially hardened 1095, a curly koa handled fighter with differentially hardened W2, and a small olive handled hunter with 1084.

The judges took about an hour and a half to evaluate all the knives in the room, and when I was called in I was informed that I had passed, with all seven judges giving me the nod. I had achieved the rank of Journeyman Smith. I had told myself going in that, pass or fail, just going through the process would make me a better maker, and it certainly has, but I have to admit I’m grateful to have passed.

The show opened a few hours later and was followed by three days of meeting old friends, making new friends, visiting with other makers, and a bit of buying and selling of knives, axes, and supplies. I met some really great people, learned a few new things, and found plenty of inspiration in the work of the artists who were there. I’m also very grateful to my customers, patrons and benefactors that encourage and support me in my craft. It’s always a pleasure to place my work in the hands of someone who truly appreciates it.

Before I wrap this up, let me share one last shot of the koa handled W2 fighter

koa_fighter

And now that I’m back home in Vermont I plan on wasting no time in getting back to the shop to complete some overdue projects and catch up on customer orders.

As always, please don’t hesitate to call or email if you want to talk about knives or just catch up. I’m here.

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