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Hey, newbie here, and I was wondering if you may have any tips for me.

 

My thing is, I'm very much into bladesmithing, I've got a bit of a feel for the metal, but I've had NO teaching besides this wonderful place and youtube. Yeah. However, there is a local bladesmith who just passed his Master Smith testing and is now an MS of the ABS. I e-mailed him shortly before he took the test to see if he had open-shop demonstrations or that sort of thing. He asked my dad to call him, and long story short, I got an awesome (two-hour long :D) tour of his shop. So he was talking a bit how he got started, and how his teacher told him to buy equipment and forge about five "throwaway" knives, to show his dedication. He was basically hinting this me.

 

Since then, I've built a propane forge (it's not two million degrees, but it gets my steel about orange-yellow XP), forged two knives (technically about four, but the others I messed up, as in snapped), found a sledgehammer head for an anvil, and saved up about $400 for a grinder (he recommended starting with a disc sander).

 

So my question to you: what can I do to "get on his radar", show him that I'm dedicated, and that lessons would be worth his time?

 

And as a side question, what do you think a two-four hour lesson would cost?

Trying to make each knife just a little better than the last

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I could be completely wrong, but since the ABS testing for your journeyman's stamp involves making 5 knives of varying styles and sizes and constructions that may be ultimately destroyed by testing, he could be "testing" your potential a similar way. If you can accomplish making a small collection of simple, well put together blades, that might be all he needs to see you're dedicated. Something else that couldn't hurt. Make something other than knives. Spend some time learning to to shape some simple steel you get from the hardware store into various decorative items. Brian Brazeal and his apprentices have excellent videos on youtube on forging techniques, making handtools, and countless decorative iron pieces.

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I could be completely wrong, but since the ABS testing for your journeyman's stamp involves making 5 knives of varying styles and sizes and constructions that may be ultimately destroyed by testing, he could be "testing" your potential a similar way. If you can accomplish making a small collection of simple, well put together blades, that might be all he needs to see you're dedicated. Something else that couldn't hurt. Make something other than knives. Spend some time learning to to shape some simple steel you get from the hardware store into various decorative items. Brian Brazeal and his apprentices have excellent videos on youtube on forging techniques, making handtools, and countless decorative iron pieces.

Thank you!!

Also, are there any direct points or conversation tips that could help as well? I'm planning on calling him soon to ask advice on a grinder, so I can use that to my advantage.

Trying to make each knife just a little better than the last

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As an ABS JS I get asked to teach people fairly often. There are several things to keep in mind. First, getting to spend time with an accomplished maker, and anyone who has gotten his MS stamp is certainly that, is a great boon. You need to make sure that he knows that you know it. You need to be respectful of his time, particularly right now. Having gotten his stamp is probably one of the most difficult things he has ever done, he needs some time to take that in and figure out how it's going to affect his life.

 

I have had students from your age to older than I am (hard to believe, but there are people out there older than me :D ). What I expect from them is a respect of my time. I want them to show up when they say they will (or make sure that I know that they can't), I want them to be focused when we are together, I want them to take seriously any projects that I send them home to do on their own time. I don't expect them to produce work at my level, but they should want to do good work. I charge my students more to make them value the class than to pay me for my time and effort.

 

As for the "five knives" he suggested you do, I suggest that you treat that as your first test. Make five pieces, completely finish them, as best you are able. Be ready to defend what you've done, but be willing to see the faults. Don't make excuses. I don't want to hear what you could have done, if your shop was better equipped. Point out places where you didn't get what you wanted and ask for specific ways to fix it. Being able to go to him with some of your work will impress him, not half finished pieces, but pieces that are done. You are not going to impress him, except with your willingness to try, so don't try. Do good work, and strive to do better work.

 

Having someone critique your work is important, and terribly painful, I know. My wife is the first person to see my pieces, and she tears them up, but only because I ask her to. She has at least as good an eye for detail as I do. I have asked her to comment on your post as well, to get a different point of view.

 

I'm Marianne - Geoff's wife. In addition to being that, I'm a Marketing Rep for an Insurance Company. I help businesses create plans, set goals and achieve them. Geoff asked for my thoughts on your post:

 

Part of being a member of the ABS at Journeyman or Master level is a commitment to education and mentoring of upcoming makers. The Mastersmith you've been working with has been very generous in sharing both his time and knowledge with you.

 

I would suggest you put together a letter (a packet really) where you thank the MS for the time he's given you. Describe to him what you've done since the shop tour. Show him pictures of the work you've done to date. Don't be over critical of your work, but don't gloss over the mistakes that you see. Then describe to him in detail how you would like to develop your work going forward. Think both short and long term. Tell him what you'd like to do in the next 3 months and the next 3 years. This is really a cover letter, resume, and training application rolled into one.

 

My recommendation may sound like an extremely 'old fashioned' way of approaching this. And you know what, it is! But this will show the MS that you are very serious about making knives and training with this MS. It shows that you can listen and then use information you've been given. That you can organize your thoughts and set goals for yourself. You know what you want to have happen. Use this letter as a way to help the MS understand that as well.

 

Geoff again. I don't what kind of maker you want to be. I see lots of "wannabe's". For every person who actually shows up and get his hands dirty, there are a hundred who talk about it. If you want other makers to take you seriously, you've got to be serious.

 

Geoff and Marianne

 

PS

 

I don't want you to feel like we dumped on you. You've got an opportunity that most people will never have. If you want to succeed, I'd like to help you if I can.

 

g

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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The actual process for your JS stamp includes one knife you cut & bend test, and 5 knives you make to have judged as to form, fit, and design. I am currently working on my forth practice knife for the cut & bend test. They all cut well, the bends have not been that good.

 

With most ABS members I have met over the past 19 months, I have been doing this, if you show you care they care. In other words, make your knives as good as you can then call and ask if he has some time available to check out what you have done. I have found that they all will help you.

 

So far I have taken week long group classes with Mastersmiths Burt Foster, James Rodebaugh, and about 2 weeks with Jason Knight. All my classes were ABS classes in North Carolina. Cost of class averaged about $700 a week, plus travel, lodging, and expenses. The classes have been very good and a great value. Another good way I have gotten help and information has been at hammer-ins. They cost under a $100 for 3 days and jam a lot of info in over the 3 days.

 

Good luck with your journey, the fun is just beginning!

”Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor!”

 

George Brackett

American Bladesmith's Society,

Apprentice Member

Hialeah, Florida

Blademark photo 375x75BladeMarkPunch-125-sm_zps2e740d6d.jpg

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Back about 1972-3 there was a couple of guys that built the best NHRA drag engines you could buy.....errr...

have them build. They were both uppity,self worshiping masters of their work and considered us "outsiders" parts changers..... just dumb rednecks with too many carburetors.

I rounded up a 406-410 Merc engine, tore it apart and mirror polished the entire inside of the block,ALL OF IT... beam polished the rods to rival silverware, balanced them on a triple beam scale with a home made fixture, took the whole mess over to have the assembly balanced, line bored and the crank turned .010 and rods clearanced. I took the whole mess home, degreed a cam Harv Crane custom ground for the particular rig. Then I went to work on a pair of 352/360hp heads with the same effort.You could floss your teeth from the reflection in the combustion chambers. They saw my efforts and "adopted "me. They helped me assemble the monster at their shop and flipped out on the stroke. The 410 was a very rare engine.

Essentially I made a 625 hp completely off the wall FE Ford engine that was a mind blower.I just talked to Nick on fathers day. He's 69 now.

 

If you want to get "in the door" get crazy and make some serious different stuff and present it to the guy while 'hinting' for some direction.Maybe ask him to heat treat your work and ask if you can watch. You might get adopted too.I hope you do. That type of education can not be bought at any price.

Us old farts are a stubborn bunch. You gotta bare your soul or you get sent home by another type of sole( generally attached to a work boot ! )

Good luck and don't give up ! EVER !

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Visiting the shop of an MS is very helpful and a great way to learn. Just be very respectful when you do and remember that he has work to get done.

 

Another way to pick up techniques on bladesmithing is to attend as many hammer-ins as possible. Everyone does it a little differently and you will learn more every time that you are around it being done. Local blacksmithing clubs is another possibility. They may not be making blades but have much to teach about smithing that will be helpful.

 

There are many posts on the various forums about setting up a shop on a minimal budget and I would suggest that you do some research on this as well. One tool that I would suggest you working toward getting would be a 2" x 72" belt grinder. (There are many posts on the various grinders as well.)

 

Good luck and keep us aware of your progress.

 

Gary

Gary

 

ABS,CKCA,ABKA,KGA

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Understand that apprenticeships are for the most part a thing of the past. They just do not work when done in the traditional manor in the modern economy.

That being said I feel teaching needs to be earned. That can mean paying for classes, or working for the teacher to earn it. A full time smith has enough to worry over in the shop just to make a living. Any student that gets in the way of that will soon no longer be a student.

I have a program in my shop 18 hours of work = a half day class. The work is things I don't have time to do or do not want to do. (cleaning, painting, cutting bars to length etc.)

most of us are welcoming of new smith stopping by for a visit or a shop tour and most welcome being brought work to critique ( assuming it is taken as such) just realize that the smith is doing this for a living and as much as he may want to it may be that he doesn't have the time , respect that.

MP

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Oh, thank you so much everybody!! This is really encouraging as well as the best advice I could get. Thank you!!

Trying to make each knife just a little better than the last

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As an ABS JS I get asked to teach people fairly often. There are several things to keep in mind. First, getting to spend time with an accomplished maker, and anyone who has gotten his MS stamp is certainly that, is a great boon. You need to make sure that he knows that you know it. You need to be respectful of his time, particularly right now. Having gotten his stamp is probably one of the most difficult things he has ever done, he needs some time to take that in and figure out how it's going to affect his life.

 

I have had students from your age to older than I am (hard to believe, but there are people out there older than me :D ). What I expect from them is a respect of my time. I want them to show up when they say they will (or make sure that I know that they can't), I want them to be focused when we are together, I want them to take seriously any projects that I send them home to do on their own time. I don't expect them to produce work at my level, but they should want to do good work. I charge my students more to make them value the class than to pay me for my time and effort.

 

As for the "five knives" he suggested you do, I suggest that you treat that as your first test. Make five pieces, completely finish them, as best you are able. Be ready to defend what you've done, but be willing to see the faults. Don't make excuses. I don't want to hear what you could have done, if your shop was better equipped. Point out places where you didn't get what you wanted and ask for specific ways to fix it. Being able to go to him with some of your work will impress him, not half finished pieces, but pieces that are done. You are not going to impress him, except with your willingness to try, so don't try. Do good work, and strive to do better work.

 

Having someone critique your work is important, and terribly painful, I know. My wife is the first person to see my pieces, and she tears them up, but only because I ask her to. She has at least as good an eye for detail as I do. I have asked her to comment on your post as well, to get a different point of view.

 

I'm Marianne - Geoff's wife. In addition to being that, I'm a Marketing Rep for an Insurance Company. I help businesses create plans, set goals and achieve them. Geoff asked for my thoughts on your post:

 

Part of being a member of the ABS at Journeyman or Master level is a commitment to education and mentoring of upcoming makers. The Mastersmith you've been working with has been very generous in sharing both his time and knowledge with you.

 

I would suggest you put together a letter (a packet really) where you thank the MS for the time he's given you. Describe to him what you've done since the shop tour. Show him pictures of the work you've done to date. Don't be over critical of your work, but don't gloss over the mistakes that you see. Then describe to him in detail how you would like to develop your work going forward. Think both short and long term. Tell him what you'd like to do in the next 3 months and the next 3 years. This is really a cover letter, resume, and training application rolled into one.

 

My recommendation may sound like an extremely 'old fashioned' way of approaching this. And you know what, it is! But this will show the MS that you are very serious about making knives and training with this MS. It shows that you can listen and then use information you've been given. That you can organize your thoughts and set goals for yourself. You know what you want to have happen. Use this letter as a way to help the MS understand that as well.

 

Geoff again. I don't what kind of maker you want to be. I see lots of "wannabe's". For every person who actually shows up and get his hands dirty, there are a hundred who talk about it. If you want other makers to take you seriously, you've got to be serious.

 

Geoff and Marianne

 

PS

 

I don't want you to feel like we dumped on you. You've got an opportunity that most people will never have. If you want to succeed, I'd like to help you if I can.

 

g

I'll try out that packet actually. Thank you both so much!!

Trying to make each knife just a little better than the last

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i use a dead fall and a sack of apples i havent been terably happy with the results so far lots of cider :rolleyes: tho i did get a math teacher last week <_<

 

the hard part is you tend to feel bad when hiding the body :unsure:

Brandon Sawisch bladesmith

 

eagles may soar but weasels don't get sucked in to jet engines

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One more really important thing. If you ask for a critical evaluation from most

ABS Journeyman and Master Smiths, you're going to get it and sometimes it

will hurt. What you thought was great, isn't. PLEASE learn to not take it personally.

Listen and learn. Really critical evaluations will help you grow in the craft. Don't let

your feelings get hurt. Sometimes this can be the hardest part. But, you'll make

better knives each time.

 

Welcome to a lifelong obsession!

 

Bill

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