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  • Jan Vaterlaus

New England School of Metalwork

I just returned from a two week blade smith class at the New England School of Metalwork. The class was taught by Master Smith and American Bladesmith Society hall of famer Jim Crowell. The class taught forging, heat treating, and grinding skills associated with knife making. We also made competition choppers equal to what is expected for the ABS Journeyman test. In short the test is as follows:


1. The knife cannot exceed 15” overall, 10” blade, 2” height

2. It must chop through a 2x4 two times and still be able to shave hair off your arm

3. Cut through a free hanging 1” hemp or sisal rope in one swing

4. After putting the blade in a vise 3” from the tip it must bend 90° without breaking.


Though it did not count toward a real journeyman test it was amazing to see the knives accomplish tasks that they would never encounter under normal use and how the types of heat treating and drawing the temper allowed them to be successful in sharpness and strength.

The class put me on a fast track to achieving my goal of attaining my Journeyman stamp from the ABS but more importantly taught me many new skills and refined some of the skills I had already learned. After two weeks with Mr. Crowell I returned home exhausted but well-armed with a higher expectation of myself and the knives that I want to produce.

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