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Christopher Price

Knifemaker Interview Series, a biography workshop

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I hear you, Jol. I have the feelers out now. Good luck picking up your pieces and getting back on your game.

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Alright, ladies and germs.

 

Our next victim is David DelaGardelle, of the Mad Dwarf Workshop.

 

David, you're one of the younger members of this forum. For those who have not visited your most excellent website, please tell us how you and your partner Andy made the transition from thinking about blades, to actually making them. What was your inspiration? What did you have to do in order to carve out the physical space, gather supplies, and organize your time to make your craft so successful? How does your bladesmithing fit into your plans for the future, be it career, education, or relationships?

 

(that oughtta keep you busy for a bit. :P)

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Alright, ladies and germs.

 

Our next victim is David DelaGardelle, of the Mad Dwarf Workshop.

 

David, you're one of the younger members of this forum. For those who have not visited your most excellent website, please tell us how you and your partner Andy made the transition from thinking about blades, to actually making them. What was your inspiration? What did you have to do in order to carve out the physical space, gather supplies, and organize your time to make your craft so successful? How does your bladesmithing fit into your plans for the future, be it career, education, or relationships?

 

(that oughtta keep you busy for a bit. :P)

 

 

 

 

First off thanks so much Chris for inviting me to do this!

 

It's an honor when looking at all of the amazingly gifted guys who have already shared their stories on this thread.

By no means will I be able to top any one of those stories... And mine may not be as deep and profound since I'm still a younger guy. But I will do my best to honestly and genuinely share what got me into the craft and what drives my work.

 

 

I guess I really have to start from the beginning and summarize it up as best I can...

I come from a really creative, artistic, ambitious, crazy family. Everyone on my moms side of the family in Wisconsin is either studying or practicing some form of art or music. And everyone on my dads huge side of the family in Iowa is extremely self motivated, hard working, really hands on mechanical, and entrepreneurial. So my family is a mixing pot of those two mindsets.

Right from the age of 4 and up all I wanted to do was draw crazy monsters and trolls or build my own puppets like the ones I watched on the Muppet's and the Dark Crystal. By age 6 my Dad was introducing me to embracing the great outdoors, learning to love camping, fishing and all the rest while our family would spend our summers on the beautiful peninsula of Door County Wisconsin where my grandparents have their private lakeside cabin as well as backpacking and camping in Canada with my dad and other guys from my church. So with my love of creativity and experiencing the outdoors it was only a matter of time until the mind blowing works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis found me and took my 7 year old brain captive. I was completely hooked. After reading the Hobbit, LOTR, and the Narnia series I never looked at art, mythology, and the wilderness around where I grew up in the same way. And it didn't stop there, I hunted down every heroic epic involving swords that a 10 year old boy could possibly read. The Redwall series by Brian Jacques, Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress, Sir Gawain and the green knight, and countless more... By the age of about 13 I started to go deeper into the really ancient folktales and myths of cultures. At this time my mom was homeschooling my siblings and I, and on Tuesdays I was taking a really great class from a friend of ours who was teaching the basic list of classic mythic literature. We covered the Odyssey, the Kalevala, the Celtic and Norse myths, and of coarse my favorite Beowulf!... (which sadly has been butchered repeatedly by modern entertainment...) But that is what set me off in my passion and love of classic myths and epics, which of coarse and uncontrollably led to a love and respect of the sword, both as a symbol and what it stood for.

 

Around this time when I was about 13 and was taking this awesome class on myths and legends I met this weird grubby kid named Andy Davis... Our moms were good friends and thought we should hang out while they visited because we apparently had so much in common. Being the stupid stuck up self centered 13/14 year old kids that we were at that time we obviously were unsure and about the other at first... But when one summer afternoon came along when we both realized we were weird like minded grubby creative hands on artistic right brained thinkers who liked to tromp through the woods, make loud noises, build things and then blow em up, I knew I had met a new brother!... :) hahaha

From that time on every weekend we had some new crazy ambitious plan we were convinced we would achieve. First it was building a cinder block castle out of the left over bricks from their garage. Then it was building our own wooden claymores to reenact the battles from braveheart... Along with countless other genius ideas only a stupid hyped up grubby 14 year old kid could imagine... Until finally we had a crazy ambitious idea that actually went somewhere!... Bladesmithing.

It started Around the time when Andy and I were seeing some blacksmith demonstrators at Conner Prairie here in Indiana, just the first sight of this seemingly epic ancient scene of a blazing fire and big bearded grubby guy shaping steel seemed so cool to us. Not long after we ended up going to a local Renaissance fair here in Indiana. Of coarse they had the typical guy forging away with an extremely basic setup, So we stared to pick his brain. We didn't mention to him the fact that we already had a good basic understanding of the craft and actually ended up asking him things we already knew just to test him... :) sadly this poor gentleman was making up some of the most interesting outlandish stuff just for the sake of entertaining a few dumb kids not realizing he is selling himself out. After that humorous situation we decided there was officially no reason we could not do it. And so it began!... we were officially doomed... haha

 

When it came to actually beginning and setting up our shop we were EXTREMELY blessed and fortunate!... Andy's awesome family owns acres of beautiful farm land in New Castle Indiana. His dad at the time was keeping care of horses and had 3 barns for different uses, though there was one particular barn that was not used as much. So we craftily two young guys stealthily snuck our way into using part of it. one of the biggest tolls needed was already there! a forge. Or what soon would be a forge. Andy's parents had an old antique wood burning stove, painted puke green, laying on its side rusting, and inside a family of barn cats were living. It needed some work obviously, but with a few modifications we knew it could be a working charcoal forge, and today it is the forge you first see when you get on our site today. And we still use it just as much as our propane forge.

 

As well as things were seeming to work out, obviously though the parents weren't to keen on this whole idea of teenage guys playin around with hot steel. after some persuading and explanation our Dads got supportive and interested, but insisted we get some proper training from guys who actually knew what they were doing first. So we hunted down some local smiths and ended up joining the IBA, Indiana Blacksmith's Association. IBA website To this day we are still members and try to attend their meetings whenever we can. They are a great group of guys, mostly retired gentlemen who do ornamental Blacksmithing as a hobby. It was there that we met John Zile, a really great smith who took the time to help teach us young guys the basics and get our tools and shop in working order. John is not a bladesmith, but he has such a wealth of knowledge and a sharing spirit that you can learn just about anything from him. Plus he does some amazing work! check out this article about him here: John Zile - Blacksmith

After John helped us get a real start with the basics in the winter of 2004 we went full speed ahead and officially started to seriously think about our dream of one day bladesmithing, The Mad Dwarf Workshop was born. And it was in 2006 while my family and I were up in Door County Wisconsin visiting my grandparents in their cabin that I decided to hunt down a great guy that we all here know!... Ric Furrer. I briefly saw Ric's site and thought it was cool, read that he did amazing pattern welding and wootz work and thought I might as well try to hunt him down and pick his brain. What I didn't realize at the time was how much of an inspiration and big of an encouragement Ric would end up being. Visiting his shop was awesome! he got us started on our first real forge welding and helped us weld up a wrought iron and tool steel san mai knife. As well as teaching us how to correctly heat treat our work to the best of our abilities.

After meeting with Ric we stopped fooling around, we realized we were serious about this and put all of the free time we could into it. We took down the dumb cheesy half joke website we originally had up online (which some of you unfortunately saw...) and started to design a site that truly portrayed who we are and what we are about. At this same time was when we first stumbled upon Dons great forum here! And like all of you guys know this is a resource that is priceless and seeing other peoples work and progress is amazing!

We were also completely blown away the first time we ever laid eyes on some of your guys work!!..

But seriously, finding this site helped us push our work to a gear we didn't realize we could reach, and we are extremely grateful for that!!!... :D

 

But that is our story thus far up to this point! There is still a long road ahead and we still have so much we want to achieve and not enough time to do it!...

We are not exactly sure what the future will hold for MAD. without a doubt we want to carry it on for as long as it can. Right now We are both in college studying different things. Andy is going to Ball State university here in Muncie Indiana studying architecture. He is living on campus but we still fight to squeeze time in the shop on weekends.

I am attending Ivy Tech university where I am now just getting my prerequisite stuff done before I transfer over as well to Ball State where I will be studying Graphic Design and Illustration. Its pretty clear now that swordsmithing will not be putting food on the tables of our future families. But no matter what happens, we have no doubt in our mind that we will be forging swords until we are old geezers who can barely lift a hammer one way or another!.... :)

 

Just depends on where the good Lord takes us.

But as of now we are loving life and chasing our goals!

 

A few photos of our journey thus far...

 

 

the first EVER MAD forged blade! blugh... :rolleyes:

 

BladeWP.jpg

 

 

Jim from the IBA (with his trusty barbarian axe he made)

 

100_4009.jpg

 

 

Me when I was at least 15 (looking like a dweeb...) forging for the first time

 

100_3120.jpg

 

 

One of my first swords, Vidgand, on the Lake of Door County Wisconsin.

 

Picture587.jpg

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Clearly you've had a solid beginning, with your blacksmith associations, and Ric's tutoring.

 

How many blades have you yourself forged now?

 

Describe the feeling, please, when you hold one of your own make.

 

And, if you would, please tell us about working with a partner. Most of us are solo craftsmen; what's the process like for you and Andy, when you're working on a piece together?

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Clearly you've had a solid beginning, with your blacksmith associations, and Ric's tutoring.

 

How many blades have you yourself forged now?

 

Describe the feeling, please, when you hold one of your own make.

 

And, if you would, please tell us about working with a partner. Most of us are solo craftsmen; what's the process like for you and Andy, when you're working on a piece together?

 

 

 

Yeah we have been so blessed and really fortunate with the awesome people who have helped and encouraged us along the way!

 

 

Oh man… How Many blades so far? Well, not counting the dozens I have ruined or looked to ugly to display to the public… Only counting the good completed quality work; I think it would be about 8 swords and 6 knives/saxes as of now. That includes a few not shown on our site.

 

But man, the feeling of holding your finished work is I’m sure something not unique and something most if not all of you guys have experienced. I remember how satisfied I was with my first sword, only for a few days later to start realizing things I should have done differently. It always does seem to be a love/hate relationship. I finish a sword and I truly am pleased and proud with it, but I know I can do better and want to push myself harder to make better quality work on the next one.

But no matter what it is in the end, it’s always amazing to hold a finished and complete true hand forged sword in your hand. It always wakes you up and brings your mind to amazing places and heroic tales. (At least it does for me!..) haha :)

 

 

But yeah, working with a partner really is an awesome thing. It is not easy by any means, and not everyone can do it. But it is well worth it and we love it. Plus Andy and I have known each other for so long and we are practically brothers, we know how the other thinks and compliment the other really well when working on a project. That doesn’t mean things are always peachy in our shop!!... hahaha

Sometimes we pretty much purposely ruin the other persons work just to annoy them, or bicker over who is working on what. I do a pretty awesome job at getting Andy ticked off and its always hilarious to me… :D But it’s all in good fun.

Honestly one of the reasons we work well together is because we are really different, but love the same things and always seem to be in agreement on what we want to achieve and shoot for in a project.

We also are a kind of perpetual motion machine. We keep each other working in different ways. Andy is really mechanical, fast paced, and intuitive in the way he works, which is really cool! A lot of his best work came out of no prior thought to what he is forging. He just lets the hammer and the hot steel do the thinking and something sweet always ends up being the end result. While as I take FOREVER on projects… I’m extremely prior planning, with sketching our and designing the piece before its made. Both of those things have their pros and cons. Andy’s fast paced work ethic is great but there are just some things that need to be taken slow and steady. While with me planning is great, but it also can be a hold back from creativity and letting the materials do what they want to do on their own.

 

But that’s just a few elements that makes working together a really awesome and always fun task. I just don’t think I would be in the same place I am right now with my work if I didn’t work with Andy. He’s a brother that I can rip and tease at and still have an awesome time and get great work done at the end of the day.

 

But that’s just my perspective, Andy might want to briefly add his perspective on working with me. (and provide more evidence as to how I can be a pain in the @$$ to work with…) hahaha :D

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What was your inspiration?

 

 

I just realized I didn’t fully answer this first question. I showed one of our inspirations, History and Mythology, but not places and things...

 

Another huge element that inspires our work is some of the places we have grown up and visited.

 

 

I mentioned my family every year spent our summers in the beautiful Door County Wisconsin. The cedar woods there look like none other I have ever seen, set against the beautiful cold lake and jagged cliff faces my mind has always been able to get lost and inspired by the scenery in that area. Here are a couple examples of what I am talking about:

 

My Opa (Grandpa) and I on a hiking trail. And one of my favorite spots near my Grandparents cabin:

 

DSCN0594.jpgDSCN0445.jpg

 

 

Andy has been able to experience Door County with my family and I but he has also had the amazing opportunity to travel to England and study the lives of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis first hand, as well as the history of the land and historical arms armor and battles of England’s past.

 

here are a couple shots he took while on the trip:

 

Picture387.jpgPicture3568.jpg

 

We have also taken serious effort in the past couple years to studying historical arms extensively at some awesome museums. One being the Frasier Arms museum in Louisville Kentucky. http://www.fraziermuseum.org/ We have been there countless times and enjoyed it every single time we visit and always learn something new to add to our work.

Edited by David D3

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I wish my photography was that good, pre- or post-photoshop. One thing young men of your generation seem to do better than some of us older guys, is take advantage of technology. How does modern computing play into your work at all? As an example, when Jake Powning documented his work on the Black Uljake, it was clear that a wooden bench, some pencils, and paper, were his only tools. Very old-school. Do you use computers to refine your designs? Do you sketch by hand, scan, and touch up... or are the sketches on your website afterthoughts to the sword-making process and there for our enjoyment only?

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I wish my photography was that good, pre- or post-photoshop. One thing young men of your generation seem to do better than some of us older guys, is take advantage of technology. How does modern computing play into your work at all? As an example, when Jake Powning documented his work on the Black Uljake, it was clear that a wooden bench, some pencils, and paper, were his only tools. Very old-school. Do you use computers to refine your designs? Do you sketch by hand, scan, and touch up... or are the sketches on your website afterthoughts to the sword-making process and there for our enjoyment only?

 

 

Hahaha Thanks :)

 

Yeah the internet is obviously our #1 outlet to reach like minded people who enjoy our work, though we love doing business with people in person and on the phone. It is really great fun to use our cameras and video editing software to document the process of crafting some pieces. This is something we are doing a lot more of and soon will have a few more step by step making of's on our youtube page. But Yeah absolutely, it is a huge helpful tool but we don't completely depend on it at the same time. When it comes to actually planning out and crafting our work we are pretty old fashion. I mean I am studying photoshop graphic design and digital poaibting, but when I am designing a sword I would much rather sketch it out by hand. I know some guys do 3D conceptual modeling of a sword before they start, and that is really cool, but its just not our thing. Any sketches of swords you see on our site or elsewhere are usually done before making a project, just to brainstorm and get ideas before trying stuff at the anvil. This one in particular:

BattledBlades.jpg

Was done really just to try and mesh historic designs with original ideas. prior to one of my early swords. the finished product obviously drastically different from anything seen there, but I just had to sketch to get the right ideas.

 

In terms of my personal sketching and artwork I don't hold back at all in the mediums and methods I use.

I do a lot of mixed media be it sketch in pen, scan and then touch up in photoshop to achieve really cool affects. I am constantly learning new techniques as its the kind of thing I want to do for a living. But all in all knowing how to do these kind of things have helped me make use of our website and other media to the best of our abilities and really helped us out so much!

 

Everyone should check out this amazing video clip:

It is NOT done by me but was done by a great artist and friend of mine, Justin Gerard. He illustrated the book Beowulf - Grendel the Ghastly. a short book we love. But its the exact sort of thing I would love to gear my future work towards.

 

Here are a few examples of my own personal work:

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v296/Lin...175895_2004.jpg

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v296/Lin...hegreatuh21.jpg

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v296/Lin...trengthir21.jpg

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v296/Lin...esy46824006.jpg

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v296/Lin...reeBeard001.jpg

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v296/LinkD3/THEBURIAL.jpg

 

 

But all in all I love doing the work I do and hope to never get a "real job" and find a way to do this stuff for a living and put it to a good positive purpose.. :)

 

 

 

 

I guess unless there are any other questions from anyone else I will wind it down and begin torture of our next victim!.... hehehe :lol::P

 

 

But Thanks sooo much again Chris for letting me be a part of this!!

Edited by David D3

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Not so fast, sir.

 

While at the beginning of your smithing career, you have some clearly defined goals. However, I think everyone here agrees that it's impossible to do the same thing forever. How do you see, at this early stage, your tastes and focus changing? Is there a pinnacle to the mythic sword that you look for, that "perfect blade" that you're almost afraid to start too soon? Is there another style that you'd like to explore in the future?

 

If you could make a living doing this full-time, would you choose to do so, seeing what it takes in terms of personal committment, and in the face of someday raising a family? Or would you choose a more conventional lifestyle, making bladesmithing your hobby instead of your vocation?

 

 

After this, I have one more for you... then we'll hand it off. :D

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Not so fast, sir.

 

While at the beginning of your smithing career, you have some clearly defined goals. However, I think everyone here agrees that it's impossible to do the same thing forever. How do you see, at this early stage, your tastes and focus changing? Is there a pinnacle to the mythic sword that you look for, that "perfect blade" that you're almost afraid to start too soon? Is there another style that you'd like to explore in the future?

 

If you could make a living doing this full-time, would you choose to do so, seeing what it takes in terms of personal committment, and in the face of someday raising a family? Or would you choose a more conventional lifestyle, making bladesmithing your hobby instead of your vocation?

 

 

After this, I have one more for you... then we'll hand it off. :D

 

 

 

 

Hahahaha :D Ok if you really want me to ramble more I will!... ;)

 

 

 

Wow, I am almost not even sure if there is a pinnacle to swords of any sort, mythic or historical. I think a lot of other smiths would agree with that as well. There almost is no end to refining your work and the level of perfection you theoretically could put into it. In terms of our mythical swords, probably our most clear obvious and attainable goal in the near future is to begin true pattern welding work and get to the level where we can experiment with patterns and try our own unique things. We are actually in the midst of that now, working on 4 damascus swords at the moment. Nothing viewable on our site yet but soon will be and posted here!

But yea absolutely we want to push our boundaries of styles and types of work we do. I mean, we are by no means afraid to try our hand at historically accurate exact reproduction of pieces as well. We just haven't got around to it and have not had any customers commissioning us to do work in that area yet, Mythical original designs have seemed to just natural become our nitch. The "Cawood sword" might be our only exception thus far in that area. But we will no doubt be venturing outside our usual styles.

 

I think if I felt led and confident that I could do it, I absolutely would do swordsmithing as my full time job. Its just that at this time I honestly don't feel that its my calling and that the good Lord has plans for me in other areas of life to use my creative abilities and put them to use. But I have absolutely NO intentions of ever leaving bladesmithing for good! I realize I may have to take a break from it in some seasons of life, be it later in college or when I get married to some awesome girl and have kids to care for, but either way I know that one day when I am an old geezer Andy and I will Lord willing still be out there poundin away at steel and hopefully teaching our grand kids to!.. :) haha

 

The other great thing is that even if bladesmithing wont be Andy's and mine main occupation, there is a good chance we both will be able to connect it and marry it in a sense to what we do for a living. for example... Andy is studying hands on architecture and drafting. he has some awesome classes now where he is in the shop and really doing great manual labor work, So I can easily see him using his basic blacksmithing abilities to forge wrought iron or something of the sorts into his work. And as for me, I hope to get into some form of traditional illustration art or graphic design, and who knows how I may be able to use my smithing skills in that area.

 

So we are definitely optimistic about the future and the work ahead of us.

 

 

 

*By the way if anyone wants to ask me anything no matter how random it is please feel free to jump it!!! :)

Edited by David D3

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Okay, David, last one.

 

Who is your current, living, inspiration, and what would be the one thing you would say to them?

 

 

 

 

That's it, thank you for playing! Can't wait to see who you have lined up next for us.

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Okay, David, last one.

 

Who is your current, living, inspiration, and what would be the one thing you would say to them?

 

 

 

That's it, thank you for playing! Can't wait to see who you have lined up next for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow... Chris, this is an amazing, huge, powerful, deep, and immediately meaningful question. Because my 1# living inspiration who I was planning on writing about passed away today Thurs Oct 16th.

 

His name was Tom Odell and he is my hero and role model.

 

 

 

Tom was a ball of fiery thunderous loving energy, a force to be reckoned with, and a young soul even until his old age who inspired and changed countless lives, and he changed my life for the better and set me on a path that I am steadily treading on now and will never leave thanks to him.

 

 

The first time I met Tom I had to at least be 7 years old. My family had just moved from Iowa to Indiana and he was one of the warm welcoming souls who made us feel at home at our new church. You knew right off the bat Tom was not content doing what most geezers do with their time, reading the paper napping and playin golf. No he had a love for the wild and experiencing Gods art through nature to its fullest. He and two other elderly gentlemen owned a small secluded beautiful old cabin in the middle of the Canadian wilderness that they fittingly named “Camp Swampy”. He had owned this cabin since his mid 20's when his wife and he bought it, and ever since spent months up there enjoying the wilderness and fishing on the lake.

At the time when my family came to the church he had already been running a program for the past couple years where he would take three dads and their three sons up to the cabin to spend a week up at the cabin to fish, hunt, hike, and grow closer to the good Lord through brotherhood and fellowship. When I was 12 years old I was finally old enough to go on the trip to Canada with my Dad, and that week alone profoundly affected the person I am today. Experiencing the beauty of creation like I had never before, living without modern annoyances and electricity, learning what being a man truly meant, and most importantly growing closer to my awesome Dad and learning from fiery old warm hearted Tom.

He taught me the lesson of humility and humbleness, how to value the human heart and true morality, how to love and respect people no matter who they are and what they believe, and most profoundly how to NOT live by religion but instead a relationship with God through Christ in a passionate real way. That lesson has so strongly changed my life I cannot even put it into words... Just seeing Tom’s face while we would be fishing out on the calm lake at sunset and seeing his awe and wonder at Gods handy work through creation.

Tom was also one of the most hilarious down to earth gritty guys you would ever meet in your life. He was never at a shortage of crazy stories of his life to share while sitting around the campfire. He was real, honest, understanding, and respectable to everyone he met. The week spent with him at his cabin in the Canadian woods was one I enjoyed at the time, but treasure and cherish more than words can describe now when I look back on it.

 

A few years later my younger brother Noah was finally old enough to go on the trip with my Dad to Camp Swampy, and before they went I sent a gift along with them to give to Tom. This was when I was first getting into real woodworking and I made him a one of a kind custom quality hiking staff with a carved bass head on the top. It was beautiful and my Dad and brother reported that when they presented it to him he was blown away and absolutely loved it. When they got back he especially thanked me and shared how much it meant to him and that made me so happy. Around 2001 our church started to grow and change, and Mr. Odell and his wife began going to another congregation where their children and grandchildren were attending so we saw them less and less but we and all the other guys at our church who had been to Camp Swampy kept closely in touch still.

 

Last year though when I graduated I was so happy to have him come to my Graduation party where I got to show him my handiwork in the area in bladesmithing for the first time, and he absolutely loved all of my work which meant so much to me.

It was also around that time to though that he and his wife found out the sad news that he was in the early stages of cancer and only had a year or so left. My Dad and other great guys from my church really started to pray and be with Tom in that time, and of course being the fighter he is it didn’t faze him at all. His passion and love for life only grew and he didn’t waste time when it came to spending time with his family.

 

 

Finally it was about a week ago today when I was at our shop working when my Dad called me and gave me the news that Tom was in the hospital. He still had some time and his family brought him home to spend the rest of his time with family and cherish his presence until the good Lord took him to his true home.

A couple days later my Dad myself and my brother stopped by their beautiful farm house to visit with him. And sure enough there was the fiery old warm Mr. Odell I always knew laughing away and telling stories sitting in his chair. It was so great to see him and we were all so happy and filled with joy. I brought along with my most recent sword project to show him, my first Pattern welded sword. The second I brought it in the room his face lit up and immediately couldn’t wait to see how it felt in his grip and look at the carvings up close.

And one of the things I loved most about Tom was how he just GOT exactly what I am about and the work I do. That is just so rare… There are just some people that I show my work to and they just completely do not get it at all, just a black face of confusion and ask “But why do you need to make a sword?”. That was never the case with Tom at all! There is no explanation needed! He picked up that sword, saw the pattern in the blade, the runes, the carvings of antlers on the grip and instantly understood the feeling and mindset that had inspired it… :)

He was so psyched up and glee with giddy joy to be wielding that thing he immediately said “Boys!.. on ye’r knees, its about time you be knighted and become true warriors!” :D hahaha

So right there and then in his living room with everyone cracking up laughing my brother and I got knighted by a TRUE knight with a sword that I forged.

 

I had planned on selling that sword but after that event there is just no way I am ever parting with it. So I gave it to my Dad as a gift.

 

After being knighted we circled around Tom and my Dad and I prayed. I have never felt that kind of absolute confidence and unbreakable joy in the midst of sadness in my entire life and I know that everyone else was feeling it as well. Tom was the picture perfect image of a life NOT wasted. He lived it in service to others and in complete love with God.

 

When we left he gave us each a big bear hug and told us “Don’t worry bout me, soon I’ll be out on the calm lake fishin with the good Lord!” His happiness and sheer joy at the end of his life was contagious and all you could do was thank God for a gift like him.

 

 

 

I will miss him for now, but see him again one day out on that lake… :)

 

 

 

 

Tom and I during that week in Canada:

scan0004.jpg

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I think the only adequate response to that, is Thank You.

 

May Tom rest in true peace.

 

Thank you, David, for sharing so much with us. Feel free to start the next interview at your leisure.

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David,

 

I just wanted to say thanks for sharing.

 

Guys like you really are refreshing for us old farts.

 

I really look forward to seeing your next vision become steel.

Edited by Kerrystagmer

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Alright guys...

 

our next victim is a bladesmith that I really admire! Ive loved his work ever since I found this forum so now I get to pick his brain and learn something. :)

 

Raymond Richard.

 

 

Mr. Richard I've read your "about me" page a couple times and I really love it, your background and love of the craft is really inspiring and awesome to read about.

The fact that you are a fourth generation knife maker really interests me.

How much of an influence do you think your grandfather and fathers involvement with knife making had an affect on you? Do you think that sort of thing gets into blood and carries down through generations, or is it just an obvious shared interest?

As a youngster did you see them working firsthand and instantly want to be involved in it or was it a slow process of finding a love of the craft on your own elsewhere?

 

You also mentioned you first started dabbling in knife making of your own at age 14. How much did you accomplish at that age and what were you most interested in doing as well as what drove you to do it?

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Alright guys...

 

our next victim is a bladesmith that I really admire! Ive loved his work ever since I found this forum so now I get to pick his brain and learn something. :)

 

Raymond Richard.

 

 

Mr. Richard I've read your "about me" page a couple times and I really love it, your background and love of the craft is really inspiring and awesome to read about.

The fact that you are a fourth generation knife maker really interests me.

How much of an influence do you think your grandfather and fathers involvement with knife making had an affect on you? Do you think that sort of thing gets into blood and carries down through generations, or is it just an obvious shared interest?

As a youngster did you see them working firsthand and instantly want to be involved in it or was it a slow process of finding a love of the craft on your own elsewhere?

 

You also mentioned you first started dabbling in knife making of your own at age 14. How much did you accomplish at that age and what were you most interested in doing as well as what drove you to do it?

 

Dave, Glad you like reading my about me page. I never knew about the book "New England Cutlers" until a few years ago. I hanged out at the "Outpost" several years ago. I can't remember for sure but I think it was Christopher Price that had spotted one of my knives on ebay. I was surprised to see that knife but what interested me the most was the family information the seller had. I contacted the seller and told him who I was and that I would like that information. He photo copied 6 pages from the book and sent it to me. In the meantime I mention that book to my long time friend Bruce Evans. Bruce said he had the book and that he would send it to me.

My grandfather was dead long before I was born and I think my dad had past away about 6 years before I rekindled the interest to get back into making knives as an adult. Actually when I got back into making knives it started as a fluke. After I got home from Nam and discharged from the army I was in some form of construction or another. I ended up being a carpenter for close to 30 years. If you have ever know anyone in the construction trades there's a fare amount of time between jobs. One of those down times I went to the library and found it it was closed so I headed to a local book store just to look around. I happened to spot a Readers Digest how to do it book called "Back to the Basics". There was a chapter in that book on blacksmithing. It also told how to make a coal fired forged out of a brake drum. I ended up purchasing that book and shortly had my first forge. I forgot to mention how I came about my first anvil. I was up on the roof of my old house starting to work on the chimney when a neighbor yelled up and asked if I had any need for an anvil. I told him no but if he wanted to get rid of it that I would take it. The only time I used that anvil is when it snowed. I put it in the back of my pickup for extra traction. I think I had that anvil a good 10 years before I started using it as an anvil.

When I first started to forge blades I was really discouraged. I had a hard time finding any information back then on forging knife blades. I'd go out and pound awhile and give up. I gradually purchased a few tools that I thought would help. About the only use my forge and anvil got was to straighten leaf springs. I had bought a few good files and a 7" angle grinder. It was a slow process but I was finally started making some progress. The forging started to get a little better but most of what I produced was more ground to shape than forged to shape. At times when I first got the interest in knives I did feel like there was a presence looking over my shoulder. I really don't think my knowing my family history made much of a difference in me learning the trade. I do think being part of the gene pool works in my favor.

 

As a teenager the interest in making knives was short lived. My dad had few tools back then that could be used for making knives. Not much more than a hacksaw and files but he did have a cheap angle grinder that I found pretty useful. Can't remember for sure but I'm guessing I cut the steel as close as I could with the hacksaw and used the angle grinder to true up the profile and to also start the bevels. Come to think of it the main reason I made those knives was for something to throw. Pretty sure I made a total of 5 knives. Several years later I had my dad send me one of the larger knives when I was in Nam. I carried it for a little while before I tossed it off a chopper when being moved to another location. Large knives just weren't needed over there and one less thing to carry made more sense.

Edited by Raymond Richard

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Sorry for the long wait for the next question!... :(

College and part time jobs are evil and killin me.... <_<

 

 

But anyway, you mention on your about me page that after your heart attack and surgery that you finally decided to take on bladesmithing full time around 2002? And it sounds like that was a decision that you are now glad you made. What was making the decision like at the time? And in what ways did you initially try to improve your work and in what specific areas?

 

You also say at one point "The more I do the forging, the more I find that it is a never ending learning process." I can really relate to that. Do you think that forging is the sort of thing that can never fully be understood and mastered or do you think that most smiths can get to the point where they can forge in a way that’s comfortable and perfect for them each time?? (Because I've met them! they claim to never hit the steel wrong) haha :)

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Sorry for the long wait for the next question!... :(

College and part time jobs are evil and killin me.... <_<

 

 

But anyway, you mention on your about me page that after your heart attack and surgery that you finally decided to take on bladesmithing full time around 2002? And it sounds like that was a decision that you are now glad you made. What was making the decision like at the time? And in what ways did you initially try to improve your work and in what specific areas?

 

 

You also say at one point "The more I do the forging, the more I find that it is a never ending learning process." I can really relate to that. Do you think that forging is the sort of thing that can never fully be understood and mastered or do you think that most smiths can get to the point where they can forge in a way that’s comfortable and perfect for them each time?? (Because I've met them! they claim to never hit the steel wrong) haha :)

 

 

Three months after the medical problems I was back at work on the same construction job I had left. The job had changed a bunch not to mention my attitude. Fortunately I was able to go back to work with the same company and ended up going to a smaller job after that. After that job was over it was back to the union hall to get on the out of work list. A few months later I got a call from a company I had avoided for more than 20 years and decided to give it a go. It was at this job that I had had my fill of being a union carpenter. Making the decision to go full time wasn't real difficult but did have to learn how to survive without any health insurance or any steady income.

 

About the only major change as far as my knifemaking went was to come up with a style I could work off of and would be different than most makers. There were two things that had triggered the change. First was Wayne Goddard giving a talk during a banquet that followed my first knife show. His talk was about all the great knives at the show. He went on to say that two or three makers could have made them all. That got me thinking. In 2001 I did the SOS Show in Texas. It was my first show that wasn't local. It was 2 weeks after 911 so I'm guessing that had something to do with how bad the show was. Anyway there was a fellow that kept coming by and visiting the maker next to me. Finally he came by and this other maker wasn't there so I asked him to take a look at my knives and tell me what he thought about my work. He said, "there wasn't anything on my table that tripped his trigger". Basically he said the same thing that Wayne had said. Thoughts of making a change of style were really going threw my head. It wasn't till one morning while sitting on the can that I opened up a Blade Magazine and my eye was attracted to Daniel Winkler's knives. I knew then this was the direction I was wanting to head. It wasn't Daniels style I was after but more of the modern primative look. Things just kind of fell into place after that. Got interested in leaning how to forge tomahawks, wrought iron became my fitting material of choice and a deep love for stag.

 

I'm really glad that my forging abilities just didn't come all at once. It was probably close to 10 years where I felt I had absolute control over the hammer and I still find that is not always true. I do think that most smiths that really pursue hand forging do get comfortable with there abilities but with anything its always nice to move onto something thats more of a challenge. There's a lot that can be done with a hammer. I have been forging and really gotten in the groove that the hammer almost turns into a pencil. Those are few and far between. On occasions I do hit the steel wrong but it doesn't take much to correct it. My main problem now is arthritis. When I forge now the time periods are much shorter. Very seldom will I start forging a knife and finish forging it the first time. 3 and sometimes 4 forging sessions of maybe a half hour or less is what I usually need to get the blade ready for grinding and heat treating.

Edited by Raymond Richard

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Since David seems busy, I'll step in with a couple more quickies.

 

You mentioned your arthritis... does that affect your choice of tooling at all? And, when using the hand hammer, do you find yourself more focused since you know you have limited time per forging session? I would think any physical limitation would make one consider more carefully how we'd work.

 

Have you considered investing in a press, or power hammer, to retain efficiency in the face of a physical limitation like arthritis? And, do you think you could turn out the same work with heavy power tooling as you do by hand?

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Since David seems busy, I'll step in with a couple more quickies.

 

You mentioned your arthritis... does that affect your choice of tooling at all? And, when using the hand hammer, do you find yourself more focused since you know you have limited time per forging session? I would think any physical limitation would make one consider more carefully how we'd work.

 

Have you considered investing in a press, or power hammer, to retain efficiency in the face of a physical limitation like arthritis? And, do you think you could turn out the same work with heavy power tooling as you do by hand?

 

Chris, The arthritis is something that just seems to get worse with time. When the arthritis is bad it just stops me. Do you remember me ordering a press from Bowie 4 years ago? I waited a year for that press since Bowie was having heart problems and then I finally got it. Two weeks later I had the fire. The main reason I got the press then was because Wayne Goddard suggested a press might prolong my bladesmithing and save my hands. I still have the frame out in the shop. Something I need to get rebuilt but who knows when. The little time I had the press I really didn't enjoy it that much. Just tried to figure out some dies that would help me forge shapes and didn't have it long enough to where I felt comfortable with it. It was just to modern for me. Hand forging has been a great enjoyment for me plus it warms me up on these cooler mornings. Each year the forging sessions are shorter and shorter. What I use to do in one session now takes me 3 or 4 sessions. I think what I turn out now is better and that maybe because I just spend more time at it.

 

before and after pictures of my press That bottom picture is pretty darn depressing........

PDRM1351.JPG

PDRM1372.JPG

Edited by Raymond Richard

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AGH!... sorry again for my slow response abilities.... :(

 

Your awesome answers have a lot of good rich stuff to ask about so I took to long pondering my next question and got sidetracked in the process... haha

 

 

But my next question is one that I imagine is a tough one, so I will try to treat lightly with sincere respect, something that I have fortunately not had to deal with and cant even begin to imagine dealing with!.. But the loss of your of your shop in the fire. It obviously had to have been a big blow but how hard of an immediate hit was it? how long did it take to get things back on track? what did you learn from the experience (both tangibly and intangibly), and what advice would you offer to us guys who want to be wise with the shops and equipment that that we have been blessed with?

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AGH!... sorry again for my slow response abilities.... :(

 

Your awesome answers have a lot of good rich stuff to ask about so I took to long pondering my next question and got sidetracked in the process... haha

 

 

But my next question is one that I imagine is a tough one, so I will try to treat lightly with sincere respect, something that I have fortunately not had to deal with and cant even begin to imagine dealing with!.. But the loss of your of your shop in the fire. It obviously had to have been a big blow but how hard of an immediate hit was it? how long did it take to get things back on track? what did you learn from the experience (both tangibly and intangibly), and what advice would you offer to us guys who want to be wise with the shops and equipment that that we have been blessed with?

 

David, Sorry to have taken so much time with this reply. It was 4 or 5 months after the fire that I finally figured out that I could work out my attached garage where I first started making knives. The main reason I left the garage and moved out to the barn was the fear of burning the house down and here I was once again. I was down to Zero after the fire as far as tools went. My big fear was that all 3 of my anvils had lost there temper and had become boat anchors. I decided to give my demo anvil a try so that was my first step to coming back. The big question then was what to use as a anvil base. I had several sheets of 3/4" plywood just outside the shop at the time of the fire so there was enough that hadn't burned that I was able to cut several 12" square piece and stack them together to make the base. I then gave the anvil a test drive and found that the fire had not hurt it. Big sigh of relief. After I found that out I ordered a grinder and set it up so I could move it in and out of the garage. One of the main problems after the fire was everytime I wanted to do something that required a tool I'd have to stop what I was doing and go get the tool I needed. Slowly but surely I got what I needed and found the love of bladesmithing was still there.

 

My biggest surprise came shortly after the fire. Several makers got together and through the forums and organized a fund raiser for me. Many donated some mighty fine knives to be auctioned off to help raise funds. I got several care packages of supplies from others. I was really shocked by the out pouring of support by the knife community.

 

I'm going to talk about the press now. The main reason for getting the press was to help save my hands from all the hand forging I was doing and not to mention the 30 years of being a carpenter. One of the reason for not getting a press sooner was I had no where to put it in my little shop at the time so once I ordered the press I enclosed 600 sq feet of my open pole barn. I got that job finished about 8 months before the fire. Here's a photo of me finishing up the work on the roof and a picture 8 months later.

 

Funny how but just a day or two before the fire I remember myself telling myself there wasn't anything I needed.

 

As far as shop fire safety goes just be aware of whats going on around you. When I started the fire I was working on a new quench container. Later that afternoon I had a wedding to go to and wanted to get it done before I left. I lost time on that project having to get welding rods. I thought it was the grinding I had done after the welding that had started the fire but I'm sure now it was the welding. A minute or two before I realized there was a fire I kept feeling a lot of hot air around me. If something doesn't feel right stop and look to see if there is a problem. I was so wrapped up with the grinding that I didn't look sooner. By then it was to late. Only you can prevent shop fires.

PDRM0904.JPG

sc000080da.jpg

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Alright, final question from me... And anyone else who wants to pick your brain for more knowledge and awesome insight can feel free to chime in.

 

But I will ask what Chris last asked me, who is your current, living, inspiration, why are they your inspiration, how have they affected you, and what would you say to them (or what HAVE you said to them) if given the chance?

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