Crooked Path Forge
I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida a wastrel and beach bum for most of my early life. It was fun. It wasn't until I moved to Gainesville and met my wife that I realized I had to do something more with my life. I looked to blacksmithing because I had a pretty solid fascination with all things sharp. I was always reading while growing up, and I was most often drawn to tales with axes, swords, and danger. Whether it was fictional accounts of Conan's derring-do or historical depictions of the Battle at Hadrian’s Wall, I read it faster than my parents could supply me with new books.
I've been seriously smithing for about six years now, and making blades for three. I started with a two week summer course at the Penland School of Crafts. Afterwards, I was apprenticed to Yaw Owusu Shangofemi, a blacksmith of many years, and really learned from him the arts of tending a coal forge.
One day my buddy, Danny Lore, asked if I had ever made a knife. I told him I hadn't, but if he came over we would make one together. He did, so we did, and now we both make some of the best knives in town. I have steadily trained myself in bladesmithing, with much help from the internet and from fellow smiths in the area.
I try to pass on my knowledge to others keen to learn. By offering workshops I provide people interested in the Craft a place to learn and play with hot steel, whether they plan on making knives, constructing architectural elements, or crafting sculptures.
I strive to make each blade better than the previous. I love the sound of the hammer on the anvil, and do as much of the work of shaping my blades on the anvil as I can. This gives my work a unique look and keeps some of the romance of forging blades alive in my head and my heart.
When I was old enough to own my own blade, my parents took me to our local Medieval Faire. I instinctively walked past all the shiny chrome plated swords, the daggers bejeweled with glass gems, and the axes made to look like dragon heads. There was one tent with only about a dozens blades on display. The swords and daggers there were a dull grey with a workman-like luster, the pommel was a simple ball, and the handle was wrapped in brown leather. This was the kind of sword you could actually fight with. It was real.
Those other blades were just pieces of metal shaped like a sword. Even then I knew the difference between a real weapon and a fake. I've brought that appreciation to my own bladesmithing and blacksmithing. I've worked hard to understand what goes on when I heat treat my steel. I stress test to destruction about one out of every fifteen of my blades just to see how hard I can push them.
I make my knives from start to finish, from raw steel and a block of wood to a finished blade including a leather sheath. The heart of the process, when a simple chunk of metal really becomes a blade is during the heat treat. It's a process our ancestors learned hundreds of years ago, and yet we are still learning how to refine it today.
Modern techniques involve cryogenic quenching, digital thermocycling, and complex alloyed steels. For myself I prefer to use methods that have been part of the blacksmith’s trade for generations. It is decidedly low tech. It relies on a trained eye and steady hand, but it produces a blade that can chop through two 2x4s and still hold a sharp enough edge to shave with.
I back up all my work with a lifetime guaranty (my lifetime that is). If it breaks when you've been using it for its intended purpose, I will fix or replace it at no cost to you. If you ever need it sharpened I'll do that for free as well, although you'll have to cover the shipping. If you are local you can always just hand it to me, or I can teach you to sharpen it yourself. It's pretty easy.
This is a single day class in which students make a 3-4 inch knife from start to finish. Students start by learning the basics of forging and safety around a blacksmiths shop. They will be taught how to heat treat their own blades, and will leave the class with a finished working knife.
1. The curving twisted handle gives this knife it's name "Crookshank" knife. The all metal handle allows me to teach a single day class in which students can leave with a finished product. Making this knife allows future blacksmiths to explore a number of techniques, including twisting and drawing out. A good choice for those who wish to learn more of the craft of blacksmithing.
2. Make an herb choppah. The same basic techniques apply as with the Crookshank, craft an elegant and quick slicing kitchen tool.
3. Forge a full tang knife, with the blade fully sharpened. The tang will be constructed so that you may add a wooden handle yourself at home. This option is ideal if you have experience in woodworking or are generally handy yourself at home.
In this class students learn to forge a regular ball peen hammer into a camping hatchet. Team striking is a major component of this workshop. Students will learn to work together to forge down larger pieces of steel with sledge hammers. This class is lots of fun and perfect for couples or pairs of friends
This class is the full intensive experience you wont find anywhere else in Florida. Forge your own full tang knife complete with wooden handle and leather sheath.
Make up to an 8 inch blade of whatever style you like.
Chef, bowie, hunting, camping, cleaver, tanto, rigger, or cowboy scalpel.
The first day is dedicated to forging the steel, and learning the particulars of a good heat treat on a larger knife.
The second day is spent making the handle and leather sheath, as well as sharpening and finishing the knife.
Be ready to work hard and have fun, learn new skills, and go home with a blade that is one of a kind!
As Octoberfest comes to a close lets all get together and share a final brew. We will be making bottle openers with our own unique twist.
This class aims to be fun allowing students to create their own clever designs in metal. Steel will be our canvas, and chisels punches and drifts our paint brush. Skulls, mermaids, owls are a few I have made. What can you come up with? The only way to find out is to join the class and relax with me afterwards for a couple of cold beers.
Thats right. After the class we will all share a brew and use our new bottle openers!
(Students under the age of 21 will be offered a delicious Root Beer instead)
All classes are designed with the beginner in mind. Anyone can be a blacksmith! Do you have a group that wants to schedule a private party? Shoot me an e-mail and we can schedule a class just for you!
All classes are held at Crooked Path Forge. 15min North of Gainesville FL.
Students ages 13-16 must be accompanied by an adult that is taking the class as well. Sorry no one under the age of 13 may take a class.
Facebook: Jordan Borstelmann