The Thirty-seventh Annual Seminar
The New England Bladesmiths Guild’s seminar is one of the oldest and most prestigious hammer-ins in America. This year is no exception, as we have spent the last several months assembling a lineup of demonstrators to live up to this tradition.
Our 2018 demonstrators and lecturers include:
Kevin Cashen –
With a lifetime devoted to the research and study of the history, science, and methods of forged blades, Kevin Cashen is one of the most respected experts in his field. Kevin has been an American Bladesmith Society approved instructor for almost 20 years. He has taught classes ranging from intro to bladesmithing for beginners, to blade metallurgy for master instructors, at locations including local events, international symposiums and colleges and universities. http://www.cashenblades.com
Dan has been integral in the on-going quest of the Ashokan knife seminar to be a leading program in the sharing of information in the field of custom blades. In his own humble words, “Dan was a custom smith of some small talent back in the ancient past before selling out and working in the knife industry. It is a decision he is coming to regret more and more as death approaches.” Having provided leadership in putting together annual programs for the past 20 years, Dan has taken a step back, and now focuses on planning a Sword specific seminar every 5 years.
Dan’s lecture this year will draw on his years of research into sword design and function. “Swords are not just big knives and are a very specialized subset of edged tools and weapons. This lecture is an investigation of the sword from the perspective of the ancient smiths backed by tests and a study of a modern sword replica. I will cover the primary attributes of a functional sword and the ways in which the smiths would attempt to accomplish them.”
Rob “Deker” Dekelbaum-
Gas Forge Design, Safety, and Efficiency:
In this lecture, Deker will discuss current the current state-of-the-art in gas forge design and operation. He will cover forge insulation and refractory materials, ribbon burners and their requirements, forge chamber size and layout, fuel efficiency, and active forge safety systems that will shut the forge down safely in the event of a power outage, etc. There will also be some discussion of advanced topics including automated temperature control of gas forges and the use of recuperators to further increase forge efficiency. Deker should also hopefully(!) have a newly built forge to demonstrate some of these features.
Deker will discuss and demonstrate heat treatment of simple carbon steels using a forge. He will discuss the various phases of steel microstructure and how we as bladesmiths control them to get the properties we want, quenching mediums and how to select them for simple carbon steels, and some strategies for testing your heat treatment in your own shop environment.
Chasing the sharpest edge possible has consumed my time and efforts for the past 16 years. I started making knives in 1973 and have worked diligently to get blades of all types as sharp as possible with a repeatable process that can be replicated by other people. Over the years I have studied whetstones in museums around the world and have amassed a huge study collection of rocks which have been used for various purposes by craftsmen around the world throughout time. All of my work is done under magnification and I have invented tools and processes for sharpening quickly and to a keen edge. I teach sharpening and honing at a number of schools and find joy in teaching someone how to keep their tools sharp. Schools: Adirondack Folk School, New England School of Metalwork, Guilford Art Center, Ashokan Center, Women in the Outdoors program in Massachusetts.
At the end of this presentation, those present will have:
An understanding of how to sharpen a blade
The elements of a sharpness
A better way to understand the intersection of blade steel, heat treatment, blade geometry, stone type and technology, and how it all works together
Howard Schechter works from his home in Shrewsbury, MA. He is also a university professor who is applying his research skills to honing and sharpening and was never on Forged In Fire.
Bill McGrath –
Bill McGrath has over 40 years experience in Filipino Martial Arts and 30 in law enforcement. He teaches classes in edged weapon defensive tactics around the world. Bill is President of Pekiti-Tirsia International. He is certified by the F.B.I. as a Police Defense Tactics Instructor and by the State of New York as a Police Firearms Instructor (pistol) and is a Life member of the NRA. http://www.pekiti.com
Comparing Big Blades: Bowie vs Kukri vs Tactical Tomahawk – Bill McGrath discusses the pros and cons of each tool as a defensive weapon, with an emphasis on design elements blade makers should keep in mind when creating tools meant to be used in the real world.
Nick Rossi –
Nick has been working full time at the New England School of Metalwork since 2011. Nick currently operates Rossi Knives out of his studio in Portland where he creates dynamic, one of a kind cutlery and jewelry. His work is most influenced by Japanese, Southeast Asian, and Scandinavian design as well as literature, fine art, and nature. http://www.nickrossiknives.com
Nick will be demonstrating the forging and grinding of an integral knife; a construction where the bolster or guard is the same material as the blade. This will be done in two sessions; forging and grinding. The forging demonstration will cover material selection, tooling, process and pitfalls as well as the history of this design. This will be done in a coal forge using basic tools and techniques. The grinding session will cover design, layout, how to deal with the transition from blade to bolster and general grinding theory, taking some of the mystery out of this popular and storied knife construction.
Sam Salvati –
Sam is a professional blacksmith and instructor. For him, shaping steel is both therapeutic and inspiring and feeds his passion for blacksmithing and bladesmithing. Sam is engaged by almost all aspects of steel working, from welding and machining to heavy industrial forging to fine artistic forging, but bladesmithing holds a special place for him. http://foundery.com
Delbert Ealy –
Delbert Ealy started making knives and Damascus steel in 1986. After graduating both high school and college he continued to make knives and Damascus part time. In 1995 he learned to make copper alloy mokume, and in 2000 he started making gold and silver mokume. In 2003 he went full time and lives with his wife and four daughters in Indian River, MI.
For the mokume lecture. Delbert will cover the basics of making copper alloy mokume, with tips and tricks accumulated over the years. Construction, forging and patterning techniques will be covered as well as more advanced techniques.
Page Steinhardt: –
Page Steinhardt began making knives at age 14, and worked his way up from polisher to bench goldsmith in a commercial jewelry repair tradeshop in 1987 while on sick leave from RIT where he was working on a commercial photography degree. In the intervening years he has worked professionally as a bench jeweler, fabricator, historic site blacksmith, machinist, metallurgical associate engineer at an aerospace superalloy plant, and photography adjunct professor, in addition to being self employed as a jeweler and bladesmith. In 2017 he won Season 4 episode 6 of the History Channel show Forged in Fire.
In his lecture, Page will discuss lost wax centrifugal casting of bronze and other non ferrous metals, and how lost wax centrifugal casting fits into both the creative and production knife shop. Topics will include production casting of pommels, bolsters, guards, and other knife fittings, one-off and limited run hardware production, basics for getting into casting, and making the transition from outsourcing to in-house, and producing non knife merchandise for extra income. Expect lots of pass-around examples.
Tim Zowada –
In the modern era, Tim was the first craftsman to make custom razors, full time, in the US. He was also the first modern razor maker to use Damascus steel of his own manufacture. Since then, he has continued to innovate by making his “Tim-ahagane”, from iron ore he collects himself. As far as we know, Tim is the only person in the world currently crafting razors from steel made entirely by himself. http://www.tzknives.com
The “open forge” time has been a great opportunity for participants to share and learn forging techniques from some of the most experienced smiths in the business. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.
Don’t forget to bring along any knives, or knife related items, that you may have for sale or just want to show off. The Ashokan knife show and exhibit is always an excellent presentation of a variety of knives and swords. Also, don’t forget the opportunity to obtain equipment, tools, and other items from the tailgate sales surrounding the pavilion on Saturday.