On our farm in Hebron, NY, we have chickens, horses, dairy cows, and a team of oxen. We make our own cheese, butter, ice cream and yogurt from our cows’ milk. I use my two oxen to haul all of our firewood, as well as the handle wood for my knives and tools, out of our woodlot. The family also has a garden that supplies us with an abundance of vegetables.
My family moved to the farm when I was nine years old. While I always enjoyed designing things and working with my hands, the move to the farm gave me a whole new space in which to make my creations. Perhaps it was the woods that inspired me most. Not only are they beautiful, but they have the potential to provide both firewood and building materials, two necessary goods for human survival.
The barns on our farm were built from trees harvested in our woods, and all of the construction was done with hand tools. The tool marks on the hand hewn beams told a story of careful labor by a skilled craftsperson. I decided that I wanted to become a skilled craftsperson like those who built our barns.
But I didn’t just want to build the barn; I wanted to make the tools to build the barn. I began to research blacksmithing. I took a short class on blacksmithing, read a number of how-to books, and slowly acquired the pieces I needed to build my own shop. Finally, at age fifteen, I managed to set up my own forge and anvil in one of our barns.
Working at the forge has been a passion of mine ever since I first hammered a piece of steel on an anvil. At first I focused mainly on making hardware–wall hooks and such–as well as making simple tools for my shop. These first projects helped build my skill at the forge, enabling me to move on to the more complex aspects of the craft.
Eventually, toolmaking led to knife making. The knife is the oldest and most useful tool that humans have, and I consider it a privilege to be able to participate in the continuation of this ancient craft. I deeply enjoy the process of knifemaking. It is a delicate task that combines my love of wood working and blacksmithing with my appreciation for an effective tool.
As a bladesmith, I consistently strive to forge the best knives I can. I am an apprentice smith in the American Bladesmith Society, and I focus primarily on working knives for use outdoors or in the kitchen.