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Ed Caffrey's Workshop Talk to Ed Caffrey ... The Montana Bladesmith! Tips, tricks and more from an ABS Mastersmith.

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  #1  
Old 07-02-2004, 04:18 PM
Guy Thomas Guy Thomas is offline
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ABS Journeyman knives

Ed, I'd like to test in the next two or three years for ABS Journeyman status and I'd like your take on something. Since I've started making knives I have begun to move away from a blade style that has a sharp demarcation between the edge bevel and the ricasso area. It just seems to be a natural outgrowth of the forging process but I find I like a contoured transition from the ricasso to the blade bevel better than a sharply defined plunge. Would a non-traditionl (or more traditional, however you want to look at it) approach be considered a detraction, or would the execution of the whole knife be the determining factor.


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  #2  
Old 07-02-2004, 09:43 PM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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Hi Guy!

Well, there is going to be a certain "style" that the ABS is going to expect, however, the important things for any knife submitted for judging are Simple, Clean, and Crisp. If your going to do something out of the ordinary for the testing, make sure you can pull it off to a tee! The knives your going to submit are not ones you want to experiment on and try new and "different" things.
If you look at the knives that have won the "Best knife submitted by a JS applicant", you will find a common theme. These knives "nail" exactly what the ABS is looking for in a JS knife.
I felt the most important part of the 04 Blade show was the seminar put on by the ABS which outlined all the expectations, do's, and don'ts for both the JS and the MS judging. I attended, and was disappointed that very few who will be testing in the next couple of years attended. A big part of ensuring you pass either the JS or the MS tests is doing lots of homework, and taking the time to ask questions such as you have. Far too many people take it too lightly, and then whine and complain when they don't pass, when what they should have done was get out there and see what's being made, talk to those JS and MS who have already been through it, and the most important part is that once you get your JS or MS test knives completed, having as many Mastersmiths as possible review them. Your going to get different opinions from different Mastersmiths, simply because your dealing with humans, but if you get a majority telling you your knifes will pass, then it's very likely they will.
Most of the Mastersmiths consider it their part of their MS status to help others and answer questions........so don't be afraind to contact them and ask. There's always that chance that you might catch someone at a bad time, or that someone might be rude, but those who are like that haven't yet realized what their rating means.
You've done the right thing by thinking about this now.....it gives you plenty of time to make sure your on the right track!


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Old 07-03-2004, 08:50 PM
Guy Thomas Guy Thomas is offline
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Thanks Ed, I think I have a good idea of what's expected now. I have been examining the Journeyman knives of every smith that I can find pictures of. I'm currently working on a number of knives with the thought of using them but I'm rethinking that now. I didn't make it to the Bladeshow this year, if I had I certainly would have attended that particular seminar. Between now and Batson's next year I will try and have some things done so I can do exactly as you have suggested, that is asking opinions from other Journeyman and Master smiths. I have friend who is a Journeyman smith (John Butler) who lives right down the road from me also, I should start picking his brain too.

Do you think that particular seminar will be repeated at Blade next year? I missed seeing you and the guys there this year.


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Old 07-04-2004, 07:45 AM
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Great thread! I'd really like to participate in the seminars also next time if at all possible. Do you think that a video'd version of that session may become available in the future? Then again, a tape may not quite impart what is trying to be conveyed to the potential applicants. I'm experimenting with styles already, hoping to shoot for 08 for the test(jeez that's a long time away it seems), and try and look at all the JS knives I can. I think I can try and fulfill all the requirments with the exception of the rope cut, lousy old back won't allow it, but can do the rest I think.


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Old 07-04-2004, 09:03 AM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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I can't say whether or not the seminar will be an annual event at the Blade Show......but I sure hope it is!
The rules do allow for the testing smith to complete portions of the test if the applicant has a disability that prevents them for accomplishing the actions, so I don't think there would be a problem it that respect.


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Old 07-05-2004, 07:13 AM
m williams m williams is offline
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Guy, Ed, and Robert. It looks like we will be doing the seminar next year too. I agree with Ed; I was a little disappointed that more prospective applicants didn't attend. What was very interesting was how many collectors attended. They are looking for the same thing as everybody else, clean and crisp.
For you guys who can; the ABS has this exact same seminar at each ABS sanctioned hammer-in. We've been doing it for several years. If you are going for a stamp in the future, you need to do this.
mike


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Old 07-05-2004, 07:37 AM
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I'll most certianly attend the next one that I can, I'll need to check the scheduling. I think the earlier I attend, the better, even if testing is a ways off. I'll try the rope thing here at the shop when the time comes, but having a back full of titanium (and not liner locks ) may not let me do it very well.
Thanks for the info, and thanks Guy for the thread!


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Old 07-05-2004, 09:59 AM
Coutel Coutel is offline
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This is an interesting thread for me to, as I am hoping to test for my JS in 06.

I attended the seminar at the hammerin in Old Washington last year , and I can only add what has been said....gotta go!

I also attended the basic bladesmith course .
I wasnt a complete newcomer to bladesmithing, having been forging about 18 months before hand. But the course was invaluable to me as I learnt a lot more about what is expected and how to achieve certain styles. I have also improved leaps and bounds since attending the course.

I am attending the handle and guards course as well .


I think I can understand what Guy is saying.
ABS style test knives seem to be a specific style....maybe a 'generic' style?..squared ricasso, dropped edge etc, .........

I overheard a story that a year or so ago some European makers tested for JS but failed. Although their knives were , by all accounts, exceptionaly well made, their style was not what the ABS was looking for at that time. Right or wrong?

Maybe there is a 'generic' style of ABS test knives which is expected to be made. If so, then thats the style I will be submiting to give me my best chance.

I can and do make other styles...but when applying for my JS tests...I will look at the ABS judges as my 'customers'..I want to make what I think they want to see and please them.

Kevin.
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Old 07-06-2004, 03:10 PM
Wulf Wulf is offline
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I will likely test of JS in a few years myself, so this discussion is of great interest to me.

While this probably goes without saying, I consider one of the most important sources on the subject to be the official, published judging guidelines. I keep a copy in my workshop.

Another extremely valuable resource is a real live Mastersmith. Each one that I have approached has been willing and eager to help.

From the conversations I've had, one common theme does certainly emerge: keep it simple... I intend to do just that.


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Old 07-06-2004, 07:17 PM
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Wulf..... Amen to that! Many applicants feel they can "wow" the judges by doing something spectacular, but in reality a simple design, that is executed in an outstanding manner is what draws our attention. If you think about it, you've got folks like Jerry Fisk, Don Fogg, Wade Colter, and a whole list of very experienced and outstanding knifemakers reviewing your work for either the JS or the MS stamp............ honestly there's probably not much fancy stuff that you or I could do that these folks haven't already done.......so if it's not pulled off to perfection, your actually hindering yourself. Where as a simple design, that is super clean and super crisp will raise even the most experienced set of eyebrows.


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