Some beautiful blades from the Arkansas show

KBCraig

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In various threads about knives and bladesmithing, I've commented about how fortunate I was to grow up and live so close to the epicenter of the hand-forged knife revival, at the time that it was happening.

Here are some astounding examples, and I'm honored to have met many of the names shown here, and even banged some hot steel with them (although they probably wouldn't know me from Adam).

55 Beautiful Custom Knife Photos: Highlights from The Arkansas Knife Show 2018 - Blade Magazine

Jerry Fisk had a humble little lean-to forge when I first met him. J.R. Cook Jr. ("Cookie") was an apprentice. Kenny Rowe (sheath maker), at one time made the full Sam Browne kit presented to every newly graduated Arkansas State Trooper. Jim Crowell swung a 12 pound sledge on a 10 inch handle to weld his Damascus steel, and I would not care to arm-wrestle him even 30 years later. He's a beast. Bill Hughes wrote for the Texarkana Gazette and chaired the Texarkana College/American Bladesmith Society program that created the joint school of bladesmithing at Old Washington.

This short sword by Cookie reminds me very much of one that Tim Zowada showed us in person at the Hammer-In where the Bill Moran monument was unveiled:



Zowada's was rust-browned, and thin and amazingly flexible, but would still pass the Master Smith test.

How did all this come to pass in Southwest Arkansas? Well, here ya go.

Arkansas bladesmiths lead world in knife-crafting knowledge
 

enbloc

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So beautiful! Such talent! Thank you for this post.
~Matt
 

SERE

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Mountain

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Wow!

Seems like over the last 15 - 20 years, the talent has improved exponentially. Really impressive stuff.
 

KBCraig

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When is a knife too fancy to buy/use?
When I met Jerry Fisk almost 30 years ago, Damascus was still for the rare art knife, but he was selling a lot of $400-600 and up hunter/skinners and bird & trout knives. His Bowies started around a grand, and for Damascus in any of the above, add a zero.

Then he started getting noticed for his artful execution of lines and technical excellence. After the iron curtain fell, some Russians took note and commissioned some really big money pieces with gold inlay, and six figure knives became a thing.

He still sold some straight steel hunters for under a grand, but the waiting list was long, and not accepting new orders.

Bill Bagwell is now persona non grata in the ABA, but he was a founder. I still don't know what prompted him to leave and/or get kicked out, but he was one of the first Master Smiths, and my dad knew him through a coworker in the '70s. Dad got to handle some of Bagwell's knives, and instead of just shaving hair, the hair would just pop off without the blade even touching skin. "Shaving in air", so to speak.
 

daveyburt

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how the grain on the blade blends into the handle (front collar?) on this amazes me - i think the planning involved in that one takes his creation to a level above the rest.
 

enbloc

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I think the way that the knifesmith was able to match the Damascus blade pattern with the front bolster was to first forge a Damascus billet block with that beautiful design and then bandsaw the blade, bolsters and backstrap out of that block. Kinda like a woodworker would do to a raw plank of wood with a nice grain and then make a mirror image of that grain pattern for a table top, panel or other project.
 
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