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 2019 demonstrators and lecturers include:

Alex Gilmore

I have been using the Japanese natural stones for sharpening tools and knives beginning in 1979 when I worked as a carpenter in Japan. These stones have continued to fascinate me and I have traveled to Japan over these past 40 years collecting and studying the stones, visiting miners and trekking to the ancient mine sites in the mountains near Kyoto. The story of steel in Japan must include the history and appreciation of the stones that sharpen them. The marriage of stone and steel is not just a static concept. That last bit of umph that a professional uses to polish a blade is exactly the same motion that can up the keenness on an edge as added value in terms of beauty and utility if the abrasive is tuned into the steel. The tennen toishi/natural stones of Japan are singular in the world, and being natural, each is unique in and of itself. Because of singularities some stones will add particular polishes to certain steels that other stones cannot, highlighting grain in figured patterned steels that are not reveled with the use of synthetic stones.

Alex Gilmore prospecting in Japan.

Dan Maragni-

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. 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, the next one coming up in 2020, co-planned with master bladesmith Kevin Cashen. 

Dan's lecture this year will draw from his research on historic swords found in bogs. In the first half of the first millennium, thousands of items were sacrificed in lakes  in Demark and southern Sweden.  Fortunately for us many of them were swords and they were often found in very good condition when excavated.  This presentation will be primarily of finds from Illerup Adal in Denmark and will focus on some interesting characteristics of swords of that period.  Any student of the sword, and particularly European swords, should be aware of these finds and this presentation will be a brief introduction to this vast horde of information.


Greg Cimms-

I’ve always been passion driven. Food, art, music. I was a cook for 10 years at Charlotte’s in New York’s Hudson Valley. Cooking gave me a respect and a passion for knives. You work with them every day. That’s your tool, and I wanted to make better tools for the industry.

Greg Cimms Journeyman Smith Line

There are plenty of places on the web to read detailed descriptions of how to make Damascus. I don’t see the need for that here, even though each smith ends up with their own process for it. It’s an ancient skill and a highly demanding one.

It’s a more difficult process because you’re actually making the steel. The time and craft involved in folding and forging the steel to make a blade makes for a different result entirely, and that shows in the beauty and individuality of the piece.

It’s like Christmas morning for me when I finally reach the etching stage and see what’s going on, how it takes on its own organic form. Like marble shows the sculpture where his art must go, the Damascus shows me how each knife’s personality will come to the surface.

It took me only four years to achieve my Journeyman Smith certification in the American Bladesmith Society – as some of you know I’m sure, there aren’t very many of us. Now I’m working towards my Master.



Emiliano Carrillo-

Emiliano became a bladesmith after being exposed to the works of artists like Jake Powning and Owen Bush. He began by working in the Viking tradition and focused on the forms of the historical seax and Viking sword, eventually moving into creating his own steel in order to better match the originals he was studying. His fascination with steel making eventually led to studying Japanese blademsithing and trying to emulate the metallurgical effects seen within traditionally made Japanese work. He will be talking about modern and historical techniques used in forge welding and pattern welding as well as doing a practical demonstration.


Herb Kettle-

Herb Kettell has been making knives since high school.  At 17 he saw s blurb in a knife magazine about  the first "Sword Ashokan". Having heard of the seminar before, bought a bus ticket to Kingston and hitchhiked from there.  All the while making knives in his spare time he worked at Freeport Knife Company for a number of years, eventually settling into a career as a marine fabricator and welder.  "My focus cycles through different hard use and kitchen knives, as well as choppers and fighters.  I have had many opportunities to help with beginner and youth bladesmithing events at the nearby New England School of Metalwork.  I am excited to bring that experience to an event that is so special to me."


Pavel Bolf-

I was born in 1973. My interest in Japanese swords began when I was like 14, firstly as a user when I started to practice Iaido. I was more and more fascinated with the production of the swords itself. In the beginning, I only collected basic information about the technology of the production but later I tried to make some swords. Making Japanese swords became my profession in 2000. In the beginning, I made swords only for Iaido and tameshigiri practice from homogenous modern steel. However, a deeper study of the subject and technology of the traditional making process of Japanese swords led me to melt and process my own steel.

I got more and more interested in swords made 11th to 14th century. The way the steel of these swords is processed and metallurgical activities on Japanese swords from these times eventually led to my focus on the production of swords of Ichimonji School. The main focus of my study and transition of the results into practice became discovering original methods of making steel, its processing and technics of hardening. My goal is to find processes allowing origination of metallurgical effects typical for works of the Heian period through to the early Muromachi period - finding procedures which would allow me to reproduce effects, such as utsuri, koshiba, nie and techniques enabling hamon line in the style of Ichimonji School. During the past few years, I started to experiment with techniques of other schools in old Koto style, mainly Soshu, Yamato and Gassan. I repeatedly visited Japan to study traditional schools and Koto swords. My friends in Japan allowed me to study excellent works of old masters. In 2013 I was invited to Ichinoseki district in Iwate province to make sword in Mokusa style and tanto in Ichimonji style. These works present in Japan my effort to understand Japanese swords and the journey of the swordsmith to making a perfect blade.

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.

Micheal McCarthy- 

The son of a sheet metal worker and fabricator, Michael McCarthy has been interested in metal sculpture from his earliest age. At age 12, a family friend who worked as a farrier exposed Michael to the experience of blacksmithing. In High School, Michael participated in a group that built, maintained and worked a forge. Upon graduation, Michael toured the country to study with smiths. Michael has continued pursuing experience based processes with trips to Asia, Africa and Europe throughout his career. In 1996, Michael opened his own forge in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY. He focused on art until 1998, whereupon he began an apprenticeship with Paul Spaulding at The Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, NY. Michael's exposure to the historic record shifted his focus to pre- industrial methods of forging. After a three year apprenticeship, Michael took over the shop.  In 2003 he founded Early Iron, an international group devoted to the study of bloomery smelting.  In 2008, Michael left the museum and started a metal fabrication, art studio and blacksmith shop in the Mohawk Valley.

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.



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.