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Coping with what we do


Jesse Frank

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I have been struggling lately with the fact that someone at some point may use one of my pieces to do harm to someone. I have struggled with it in the past, I specialized in kerambits at one point, and decided not to make them any more. Too vicious, too easy to conceal. Unfortunately, very easy to sell.

 

I have reconciled swords with myself somewhat, even though they are purely weapons, they are not easy to conceal, more expensive, and so less likely to be used for the purpose they were historically intended.

 

I have been fooling around with jewelry, I like the idea of it.... less physical labor, wider market, higher profit margin. I just can't get away from the love of making blades..........

 

How do you all deal with it?

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Rósta að, maðr!

 

http://jfmetalsmith.com/

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Knives were one of mans first most usefull tools.I think thats the reason most people at least most men have an ingrained need to have one.It's like racial memory. I feel the same thing about bows and arrows maybe that's because my ancestors come from England.

As far as guilt about making a deadly weapon ? Knives don't kill people people do.

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I have been struggling lately with the fact that someone at some point may use one of my pieces to do harm to someone. I have struggled with it in the past, I specialized in kerambits at one point, and decided not to make them any more. Too vicious, too easy to conceal. Unfortunately, very easy to sell.

 

I have reconciled swords with myself somewhat, even though they are purely weapons, they are not easy to conceal, more expensive, and so less likely to be used for the purpose they were historically intended.

 

I have been fooling around with jewelry, I like the idea of it.... less physical labor, wider market, higher profit margin. I just can't get away from the love of making blades..........

 

How do you all deal with it?

25216[/snapback]

 

It's good that you are thinking about it. It shows you have a conscience. Some people probably don't care at all. I've thought about it, and the job is to make the best knives you can and sell them. What people do with the knives after that is totally out of your hands and not your responsibly.

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It isn't always wrong to harm people. I have a black belt. I know how to fight in the hope that I will never have to. Knowing is half the battle. I have avoided confrontations by demonstrating confidence I might not have had without the training, but if someone physically attacked me or a loved one I would unquestionably harm them. I would be remiss if I did not. Weapons are tools. Tools for harming people. You're much more likely to be harmed by weapons if you don't have one yourself.

 

A prevalence of weapons prevent, or at least complicate, tyranny.

 

An armed society is a polite society.

 

Knives are largely useless in the practical sense of self-defense. Get a gun. But the *symbolism* of the blade as a weapon reminds us of the responsibility that comes with the ability to harm others. When using a blade to do harm one must directly confront the reality of what one is actually doing.

 

I am philosophically proud to make them.

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Not to be flip, because it is a good question/concern, but this would stop people from making baseball bats, screwdrivers, tire irons, etc. Make jewelry, etc. if you are compelled to do so, financially, spiritually, or otherwise. If not, make knives.

 

John Frankl

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I have mostly reconciled myself with it. What I am asking is how other people have dealt with it.

 

I have taught various martial arts for several years. I am fairly comfortable with my own ability to defend myself or my loved ones, and have had experiences similar to what you describe, Aurthur (that's what you want to go by now, right? :) ). I am not concerned with its' legitimacy as a modern tool for self defense, that is another discussion completely, but more in the way people in our profession deal with this issue in their own mind ;)

Rósta að, maðr!

 

http://jfmetalsmith.com/

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I don't think it's a problem for most of the makers who post on this forum, mostly because we tend to make things that will be cherished as art first, tool second. High-end customs are rarely used in stabbings. There's been an upswing in stabbings here in Johnson City lately, with the preferred weapon being a kitchen knife, followed by the cheap Pakistani lockbacks.

 

If you made gray stealth turds (tacticals to some folks <_< ) you might be justified in worrying that someday someone was going to use your work in an act of violence you don't approve of. I just don't see someone using, say, that pattern-welded seax you're working on for either crime or self-defense unless it were the only thing ready to hand during a home-invasion robbery; in which case you'd probably support its use as a weapon by the homeowner, eh? B)

 

That's how I work through it, anyway. Not that my stuff is by any means high-end, of course! :) I primarily serve the reenactor market, and they don't often do real violence upon one another anyway. I have not been worried about the karmic effects of producing items that are used for the simulation of violence. ;)

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Hmmm.. never thought of it that way. Try this,

 

I'm so curious of a persons smile 300 years from now when or if one of my knives is passed down in the family. Wouldn't that be neat! "my grand dad used this.. "

 

That would be Cool to still be creating smiles long after I'm gone!

 

 

Rik

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Wasn't it Tom Maringer who stoped making swords because someone had used one of his swords to kill?

 

In any case, I agree with most people above - I suspect it one of the rare cases I'm going to agree with Arthur in matters that relate to political philosophy. I raise my cup .. well, my coffee mug ... to that. ;)

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Ive had to deal with this for a long time.....

 

First off I should state, I do *NOT* repress it anymore. Repressing things only invites an explosion of everything bottled up all at once. I envision the act even more now, vividly..usually to the point of keeling over trying not to vomit. I don't let Myself forget the reality of violence, with any weapon, so that I may better learn to accept and compromise with this reality.

 

how I deal with it? balance.. I view a knife or weapon as one of the ultimate symbols of "yin and yang", if you will. It can help. It can hurt others. It can hurt others for the "wrong" reasons, or it can hurt others for the "Right" reasons. As cliche as it sounds, I do believe that a balance between "good" and "evil" is nessicary... I create knives with intent as weapons as it helps attune Me to this balance and accept the responsabilities It demands.

 

Another thing a knife represents to Me, is survival...And ultimately with regards to survival, I've learned that "right and wrong" don't much matter UNLESS you survive to be able to debate them with yourself...and as someone who's had the horriffic task of using them to survive in regard to what we're talking about, using them on another living person, each knife I make forces Me to think over and re-affirm the personal morals, beliefs, and codes of behavior that I set for Myself.

 

Aside from reminding Me that I have had to stab and cut with them, They also remind Me that I've BEEN stabbed and cut with them. This reminds Me once again, I am still alive...and its helped Me cherish My life and more importantly those I love. I don't take them for granted, anymore, and nor do I take life for granted.

The beautiful yet potentially lethal things We create help Me re-affirm My will to survive, not by violence, but by peace unless violence deems itself absolutely nessicary. They keep My dual-natured spirit in check, and help Me reach to try and grasp My spiritual balance between two extremes.

 

Ultimately how I deal is not justifying the knife's right to exist or be made into existance, but to reflect inward and realize that on THIS occasion, It is in fact, "All about Me". And once I realize that, I can encourage it in My clients and others to accept this responsability. No one's gonna convince Me that My "babies" dont have a right to be, cuz That's saying *I* don't have a right to be, and anyone that says that to Me can bugger off. :-) Plus, knives are cool and useful 8-)

 

(End-rant...damn, I could use a smoke now.)

I have suffered for My arts... Now it's your turn.

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A lot of good discussion here about an important topic. I asked this same question on another forum years ago when I first started making knives and most of the answers here pretty much parallel the responses I got (I will however put forth that the responses here seem a bit more thoughtful!)

 

Reading through the posts though I'm not sure we are getting at the "kernel" of the pschological knot that Jesse is talking about. The word "knives" keep coming up, I don't think anyone here has the slightest qualm about a tool they have made being used in a wrong fashion. Even a certain wondrously beautiful trowel would be a deadly weapon in the right hands! Any tool can be used to the wrong ends and a maker is not to blame. Weapons however enter an entirely separate realm I believe. Not long ago, with some valuable input from Jesse, I designed a weapon along the lines of a kerambit only with what I hoped would be a stabbing point that wouldn't totally render the curved ripping edge useless. I found it fascinating but also deeply disturbing as well. I wasn't designing a "knife", that is to say I wasn't designing a tool that could be used in everyday life. I was designing a weapon whose sole purpose was to render another person incapacitated in a rather gruesome way. I'm not squemish about that however, I was squemish about designing a cutting implement that could not be used for any other function but the one it was designed for. That blade never made it off the paper it was drawn on but I still think about returning to it.

 

Swords now, obviously designed with but one purpose. Many blades that can be called swords also had/have utility purposes as well, but the true martial blade such as the katana, the viking blade or the true knightly sword of the middle ages were products of many generations of design for the art of killing and maiming. I happen to agree with Jesse's argument about making swords, that they are expensive, hard to conceal and unlikely to be used for their purpose. The purpose though is the exact same mundane butchering chore that the kerambit was made for. You would no more use a katana by choice to split coconuts than you would a kerambit to slice tomatos.

 

Thus the conundrum I think, a sword is a weapon but it has also been mentioned that it has taken a place in our hearts and imaginations as something much more than a mundane weapon and that I think is the saving grace here. While we must consider the ultimate use of a sword in the design and construction (what's the point in making a sword if you aren't making a "real" sword anyway?) we are also mainly making a functional work of art. Ultimately the maker must make what is in his heart without fear.

 

Now then, i'm not even sure about what I've said in my ramblings!

Guy Thomas

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Cheers, Joss!

 

The right to disagree is intimately connected with maintaining one's liberty; which is only lost by means of apathy or force.

 

Here also is one instance in which I bet we all agree on the existence Ju-Ju: if a blade of yours was used for violence and returned to you, would you sell it? Keep it? Destroy it? Secret murder, justifiable self-defense, accidental maiming... it would be different. Would you give it away and say nothing if you had 100% proof that no one would ever know?

 

I have a kitchen knife that I was sharpening once. I slipped and sliced open the palm of my hand to the point of seeing large portions of muscle when the doctor lifted up the 1 cm-thick portion of flesh to show me. I still won't cook with it.

 

When I am in a museum looking at historical swords I often pause a moment to reflect upon all the lives that have been lost upon them. Holding a Viking age sword once sans gloves was pretty moving that way, actually.

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You hit it right on, Guy.

 

I agree with you, Aurthur.

 

I had a similar experience with a knife that I accidentally sheathed in my left hand. It was kind of funny, I was looking all over the ground for it.... Thought for a moment, turned my hand over, and there it was, sticking out of the meaty part of my thumb :blink: Luckily, it missed all the good stuff. I took it to a walk in clinic the next day, they botched it up so bad that I had to go back in and redo the patch job. :rolleyes: I can't even look at that thing without seeing it sticking out of my hand....

 

That must have been an amazing experience, handling that ancient sword.........

Rósta að, maðr!

 

http://jfmetalsmith.com/

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Guest German

Although I have a connection with a blade that I have made, that I don't have with a butter knife in the kitchen drawer, I still view them as inanimate objects. A knife that has injured someone would make no difference to me but I know not everyone sees it that way so I think I would not sell or even give it to someone else. If I had bad feelings about a knife that I have injured myself with I think I would be angry with about every third knife that I have made. Seems knifemaking and healing have a constant relationship.

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Hmmm.. time to get into more of a ::grunt-smash: mindset for this one.

 

Guy - I do and Don't have qualms about what I make being used in that way... On one side, I'd be honored if they used it in a responsable way..on the other hand, I would be *DISGUSTED* to learn that some Mugger, which by defenition means they're lazy and STUPID, used it.... same with someone using it to avenge their pityful wounded pride in a heat of the moment murder, etc etc....It'd be an insult...To the BLADE. Hence why I encourage thought and responsability. indeed, I feel the same way about non-knife/"weapon" tools that i have made, Or even ones I didnt make. Any well made tool deserves respect, if not to the tool itself, at least to who made it.

 

Though more on making "weapons"...in the end, I think that There is no such thing as a weapon, except a person's will, intent, mind, and heart. I've seen lots of knives "designed" as "tactical fighting uber warrior killer" knives that would really, really suck in that role... on the other hand, I've seen many kitchen and utility knives that were not designed with violence in mind, that would fit the bill *WONDERFULLY* -- It's not the physical tool, it's the intent. This is why We can't carry nail-files and clippers on planes anymore :-) Take away all physical tools, and the "weapons" then become hands, feet, and teeth. Hence why I focus on the "its all about Me" mindest, with THAT regard. Not the tool, It's what I choose to do with it, and -why-.

 

Arthur --As a student of occultism, I definately know Ju-Ju is real.. :-) and it does tend to stick around on a "used" blade as well as the blood it shed. Ive held quite a few oldies in My day, and I *seldom* have to ask if its been used or not...the blade tells -Me-. Best explanation I can come up with is that the intent/mindset/energy patterns of the person using it at the time get transplanted into it, as they are conciously/unconciously focusing on the blade/tool... So if they're in a KILL KILL KILL mindset at the time...I think That's what the blade's gonna have in it Ju-Ju wise...same for the person it's getting used ON.. Unless It's Tai's ju-ju...That just appears randomly and magically, and MAY indeed be the most horrifying energy of all. Lord save Us from the goo-ju! :-X

 

Would I re-sell a knife that was "used"? If I didnt wanna keep it Myself, Sure, provided the client knew, UNDERSTOOD, and agreed too it. I know many people have no problems buying Antique weapons that HAVE been USED, so why would modern blades differ? There are some that even get a kick' out of the fact. Naturally though, Some don't.

 

As for selling/using and carrying blades that have blood on em from them biting you on accident? I'll go with German on this one..I'd never have any knives to sell, or carry and use. To Me it just adds to the personal history. Where there is pain and bleeding, there's a lesson to be learned... Usually in the form of (Learn how NOT to do that, next time, ya moron.). I appriciate a blade giving Me good advice like that :-)

 

May seem creepy, but I actually like the idea of every blade I make cutting Me at least once during the process. The ultimate "Maker-stamp" isnt hot forged in, It's your own essence infused into it...blood is one way to accomplish this...Or goo-ju-juice...whatever float's yer boat :-)

I have suffered for My arts... Now it's your turn.

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Guest Perkins

Jesse, I'm really in the same boat as you.

 

As for the reason that we feel bad about making knives and not swords, I think Christopher Makin touched upon it when he mentioned "racial memory".

 

The sword comes from a time of honor and chivalry. Sure, when in wars, it was used in battle to kill the enemy - but it was used to kill an enemy who was willing to die for his belief. Swords killed and maimed, but their victims were other men brandishing swords who willingly risked their lives.

 

The knife was/is used to kill silently in an environment without rules. It can be concealed, and it can therefore also be used to kill the innocent.

 

There is some glory to being killed by a sword, and only pain when killed by a knife.

 

Edited

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honor and chivalry? although there where examples of these qualities, they hardly exemplify the fudal period in medieval europe. many a medieval sword was used for slicing pesants, from horesback. the vikings commited their fair share of attrosities with swords as well. The sword, being an implement of war, must hold some of the darkness of human atrosity. I don't really subscribe to the romantic image of the sword. What fires my sillinders is taking an object whos sole perpose is as a weapon, and useing it as a vessel to tell the story of human mythology. It is a powerfull vessel and people have a visseral reaction to a sword. I do have mixed emotions about producing powerful artefacts that are deadly weapons, but it's what I do, I can't seem to get around it. This is what I have always been compelled to do. I make them and then they go away into the world and start being part of their own stories; a finished sword holds little interest to me once I know there is nothing more for me to do to make it.

If one of my swords was used to harm someone I honestly don't know how I would feel about it.

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honor and chivalry? although there where examples of these qualities, they hardly exemplify the fudal period in medieval europe.  many a medieval sword was used for slicing pesants, from horesback. the vikings commited their fair share of attrosities with swords as well.  The sword, being an implement of war, must hold some of the darkness of human atrosity.  I don't really subscribe to the romantic image of the sword. What fires my sillinders is taking an object whos sole perpose is as a weapon, and useing it as a vessel to tell the story of human mythology. It is a powerfull vessel and people have a visseral reaction to a sword.  I do have mixed emotions about producing powerful artefacts that are deadly weapons, but it's what I do, I can't seem to get around it.  This is what I have always been compelled to do.  I make them and then they go away into the world and start being part of their own stories; a finished sword holds little interest to me once I know there is nothing more for me to do to make it.

If one of my swords was used to harm someone I honestly don't know how I would feel about it.

25319[/snapback]

 

I agree completely, Jake. 100%.

 

I think you're right about the whole racial memory thing, Perkins.

 

I would have to say that the manner that the weapon was used would have a lot to do with how I felt about it. I can't really say, though. I've never been in that position

Rósta að, maðr!

 

http://jfmetalsmith.com/

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I have been struggling lately with the fact that someone at some point may use one of my pieces to do harm to someone.

 

Jesse,

 

Basically, if you have just some skills with weapons, you can use a darn chopstick as perfectly lethal weapon... believe me :)

 

a knife's purpose of course is a bit shape-depending... but you can use any kind of blade as weapon or tool...

 

however, to my knowledge comes that the sword is the only weapon of the old, whichs sole purpose was to kill only humans... (if you skip all the philosophic parts about swords)... no other weapon of the old really was designed for that "specific purpose"...

often throughout the ages gardening tools, farming stuff and other simple "tools" have been converted into weapons to kill...

 

what I want to say, is an old saying but still true to me: it's not the weapon, it's the "user" who kills.

 

I personally am not troubled by the fact that I may make weapons... however I would be troubled to sell them to an obvious psycho (I would not sell).

but any groceries store has kitchen knive, cheaper, easier to get rid of, and as good a killing weapon as the ones I make... so I believe that most who are willing to spend big bucks on a custom knife are not the usual knife-killer-psycho... at least I hope so.

 

and I would not be troubled if my blades would be used for the purpose of self defense either... as I believe anyone has the right to defend himself in a serious life threatening situation, with anything he/she may have access to in such a moment.

 

 

 

just my opinion of course...

 

daniel

Edited by DGentile

FERRUM - Daniel Gentile

custom knives & forging classes

http://www.ferrum-d.com

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The sword is an archtypal object. Its function has always been a mix of symbol & weapon.

 

What fires my sillinders is taking an object whos sole perpose is as a weapon, and useing it as a vessel to tell the story of human mythology.

 

That vessel *is* mythology. :)

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It's bad enough when the press assigns 'fault' to a tool /weapon where a loss of life occurs. Has enough propaganda been forced into the noggins of the population that now we are at the point of pinning such bogus crap on ourselves?

 

From a strictly barbarian viewpoint:

 

My friend, Mack, is walking around my yard, fiddling with one of my knives. He trips in a hole and falls... impaling himself and expiring on the spot. Do I weep and beat my breast and burn my shop down? HELL no. I get a shovel and fill in the hole... kick Mack's cooling corpse in the short ribs for his having disturbed my harmony (briefly)... and lean him up against the side of the shop with a sign round his neck that reads, "If ya can't walk and play with knives at the same time, don't attempt to".

 

Damned yard holes!!

 

If even a portion of the stories that filter back to me can be believed, my knives / jungle honeys have been used to dispatch quite a few individuals. Did they need dispatching? Depends on who you ask. Do I feel badly about all this? My thoughts boil down to...

 

Damned wars!!

 

Good blades, though.

 

Jimmy

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