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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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Old 08-11-2021, 11:50 AM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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Is it worth the effort to seek/achieve the ABS JS and MS Certifications?

The title question is one that is often asked. In the post the exact working was..... "For most knife makers ....taking 5 knives out of their time and money to test is to starve and face eviction" Here was my response.... (Link is to the entire Post/Thread) :

The following link is directly to my input/response:


"Nobody cares what you know.....until they know you care."
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Old 08-11-2021, 04:45 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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The answer FOR ME is no. The ABS doesn't give those stamps away, nor should they. They take effort and time. You need to make the commitment to go to the Bill Moran school or a least to find a Master Smith to work with. I attended a hammer-in and attended a class on preparing for testing and the presenter said that a smith has basically no chance of passing those tests without it.


If you're not making mistakes then you're not trying hard enough
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Old 08-11-2021, 06:30 PM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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In my experience, as one who chose to walk the path, I would agree with all of that.

I personally never attended the ABS School, but than again, I was active duty military at the time, and was never able to fit it in, or afford it at that time. That being said, I did rely heavily on advice/guidance from Mastersmiths, and without their help/advice, I doubt I would have passed either my JS or MS tests. However, I believe that is a built in part of the ascension to both JS and MS certifications... learning the in/outs, of not only the making knives nuances, but also some nuances of both the ABS, and the custom knife industry.... at least that was the ancillary info/learning I got out of it.

It's certainly not for everyone, and it does require a high degree of commitment to successfully navigate. But for me, it improved my work/knives in ways that nothing else could have, forced me to go far outside my then comfort zone, and opened a world/realm of Bladesmithing, that otherwise would not have been accessible in terms of teaching and credibility in the craft.

Shortly after I achieved my MS certification, our local community college called me up, and asked if I would "build and administer" and "Metal Arts" program. I couldn't understand why they would be calling me, and when I asked, I was told "You just achieved a Master's certification", and that in their eyes it was the equivalent of any other Master's Degree.... so they wanted to hire me. I told them that I very much appreciated the offer, but I wanted to do my own thing. The point being, that opportunity would never have presented itself, had I not chosen the way I did. That is just one of many "doors" that opened because of making the choice/commitment to pursue the ABS path.


"Nobody cares what you know.....until they know you care."

Last edited by Ed Caffrey; 08-12-2021 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 08-15-2021, 11:10 AM
KenH KenH is offline
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I don't have the JS or MS certification, nor do I ever plan to attempt it (at 74 Not something I wish). BUT - with that said I do think it's VERY important for anyone considering making their living from bladesmithing. As in any other profession, certification is something customers look at, be it an engineer, nurse, doctor..... or bladesmith.
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