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Blacksmiths, craftsmanship, and why the secrecy

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by ancientsteels, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. ancientsteels


    Apr 13, 2018
    I mean no offense to any one on this site, as all of you have been very helpful in answering the questions I have previously asked.

    But in the rest of the world where people are not as kind as the wonderful people on this site, there is a secrecy among blacksmiths/Blade-smiths that is rather frustrating.
    Every time I Google anything blade-smith/blacksmith related I come up with nothing no matter how I word the search.
    And blacksmiths are VERY slow to take on apprentices, refuse to share their knowledge, and act as if everything is a big secret. Why is this? Why do they act this way? Why do they treat their trade as if it was a secret of the universe?

    Blacksmiths are a rare breed today because of mass production and technology, so why would blacksmiths not want to pass on their knowledge on to someone else who takes interest in it?

    Again I mean no offense to the wonderful, insightful, helpful, and fantastically kind people on this site, as all of you have been so helpful. Please understand NONE of the questions are meant to be a slight on any one on this site.
  2. DevinT

    DevinT KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 29, 2010
    It’s not good to drink before posting.

    Everyone here has no idea what you are talking about.

  3. ancientsteels


    Apr 13, 2018
    I apologize if I did not convey my question in a manner that is better understood.

    What I mean to ask (not intending offense to the people on this site, you all have been very kind and helpful) is this: why are blacksmiths so secretive about their trade and techniques in blade smithing, and why do they not try to pass on their knowledge to others.

    And just to clarify, I DO NOT DRINK! And I have not partaken in any alcoholic beverages.
  4. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    Blacksmithing and bladesmithing are entirely different things.
    None of the bladesmiths I know are secretive about any of their processes.
    Blacksmiths make horse shoes and iron doors. I can't see why they would be secretive.
    jwesthurl likes this.
  5. jwesthurl


    Sep 17, 2013
    Every single bladesmith and blacksmith that I’ve ever met has been nothing but helpful and open in sharing almost anything. What are the big secrets that are being withheld from you? What specific questions about bladesmithing are going unanswered? Help us out a little.
  6. Aidenag


    Apr 16, 2009
    Funny you feel this way, as ive found it to be the opposite. Never have i been in any sort of trade/craft/hobby where knowledge was so freely shared. Have only had a few instances in a decade now where someone said no tellin how they did something. Hell, even the stuff that you would expect to be closely held secrets, like heating treating, or damascus patterning is extremely openly discussed and shared.

    If you really want to see people who keep the secret sauce secret, go look at jewelers or software engineers.

    Id really suggest attending some hammer ins, conferences or other events. Your view will change quickly
    12345678910 and DanF like this.
  7. DevinT

    DevinT KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 29, 2010

    In my 40 years of knife making/bladesmithing/Black smithing I have never been treated like you are describing.

    I have been to countless shows and hammer-ins and am a member at multiple sites and all are based on generosity in sharing information. It would be impossible to sell any luxury item without educating someone first.

    There are blacksmithing organizations and knife groups in nearly every state and national organizations also. Some major ones are the American Bladesmith society, ABANNA, and the Knife makers guild. All groups are set up to educate and train people in the craft to promote sales and train new Smith’s.

    If you are expecting someone to give you everything with little or no effort on your part, you will be disappointed. This craft and every other one like it, requires a big investment in time, materials and space.

    Where are you from?

    12345678910 likes this.
  8. AVigil

    AVigil Adam Vigil knifemaker working the grind Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Platinum Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    You are associating with the wrong kind of blacksmith then.

    In this day and age blacksmith secrets are no longer secrets.
  9. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    I don't know how you search, but the mere search work Blacksmith should give you years of reading and countless YouTube videos.
    years back, the trade was more closed than now, but unless you are as old as me (70), I doubt you ever met the secretive folks.

    As to taking apprentices, that is just not a think today. Few knifemakers do it, and only a few blacksmiths I have met have an apprentice. This is where the societies like ABANA, ABS, and the many local Blacksmith/Bladesmith groups come in today. They teach it as a group, not just a one on one apprenticeship. You didn't fill out your profile ( are you being secretive :) ) so I can't recommend one near you, but as an example, the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland holds classes, festivals, competitions, and has their own school building for the members to learn from other blacksmiths.
    Virginia has tree or more great Blacksmith associations, one of which has a school like their Maryland neighbors.

    Perhaps it is how you meet the people you have said are being secretive and cold to you. As a young adult, I am sure you feel you know all the latest and greatest information. When I get a person who wants to tell me how much he knows and how good he is, I congratulate them and wish them success. I also don't waste any time mentoring or training that person, because he isn't really interested in what I have to teach/tell him.

    My suggestions to you as a 21 year old you on how to gain the knowledge you want.
    1) Sit down at a computer with a screen and do your searches. A cell phone is for texting and phone calls. It is not a suitable searching and learning device.
    2) Search with the key work Blacksmith - "Blacksmith Societies", "Virginia Blacksmith groups", Blacksmith clubs", Blacksmith videos", "Blacksmith tutorials", "How to Blacksmith", etc. For bladesmithing, change the key word to "bladesmith" or "knifemaking".
    3) When you go to a person, group, or club, be humble. They are willing to help you but aren't likely to be impresses by you until they know you and what you can do. If you show up with the attitude that you are there to help them or teach them what you know, they will likely ignore you. In the beginning, listen.
    4) Read! I personally feel that books are great. Any fool can post a video or online article, regardless of how poor, wrong, or misleading it is. A person who writes a book will have to know what he is talking about and have done proper research. That's not to say that there aren't many good articles and tutorials on the internet, but filter through them with an open mind.
    5) If you are serious, join ABANA. It will be a path to many blacksmiths and artisans, as well as events, schools, etc.
    Heli00 and P.Brewster like this.
  10. Bob Ohlemann

    Bob Ohlemann

    Dec 5, 2013
    Meaning no disrespect, of course but, sometimes you just know someone is going to waste your time. I try to be nice to everyone and I share everything I know, including things I would consider proprietary. Occasionally though, I cross paths with someone who I just can't jive with. Usually, I can boil it down to one thing; they don't value my time. If I invite a new maker to my shop and spend several hours looking at their knives and showing them techniques to improve them and their knives look exactly the same a month later, I'm going to lose interest in helping them. If someone wants to ask me a thousand questions about knifemaking but, hasn't spent a dollar toward starting to make knives, I'm only going to give them the answers I feel they need to get started.

    SBuzek, Busto, kuraki and 5 others like this.
  11. HSC ///

    HSC /// KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 7, 2012
    just curious, I recall you mentioned you are in a remote part of AZ.
    where exactly?, I just moved to Clarkdale
    I think there's quite a few bladesmiths out here in AZ
  12. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    Unfortunately we cannot answer your question because that would require disclosing certain secrets.......:D
  13. golfer1


    Nov 24, 2016
    I have never met a bladesmith in person or a maker of blades either. I started making some blades about a year ago and my friends have been very kind about their quality etc. My wife is handicapped and I have very little time away from her so I could not even go to meet a bladesmith. Were it not for the wonderful output on this forum and their unselfish sharing, I would still be just thinking about making blades.
    You may not be asking the right questions or reading in the right areas as there is a wealth of information just on this forum, not to mention the internet at large. Give it some more effort and ask questions, I believe you can get there.
  14. Brock Cutlery

    Brock Cutlery KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 10, 2015
    You could be ostracized for revealing as much as you have JM. Shush!
  15. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
    There are thousands upon thousands of books, videos and photo tutorials, local blacksmithing groups ABANA and so on.

    go to the Internet archive.org
    all the books on blacksmiths from 100 years ago are still relevant. - but there's no colour pictures.
    blacksmithing, tin work, jewlery, casting, repousee, machining....

    There's more free info out there than I can absorb in 10 lifetimes and most of it's free for the viewing.

    If you're this guy, it's you not them

    See my standard reply and read everything linked.

    Are you in Europe ?
    I've seen the "everything is a secret" attitude there but the internet has really blown that open.
    S.Alexander and Mitchell Knives like this.
  16. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    Nothing's a secret anymore, except in that environment some people stop telling anyone who asks how they do something because they don't want to get into a drawn out discussion about why they do it that way, how so and so does it on YouTube.

    They would rather tell you and get back to work. Do you let them?
  17. JTknives

    JTknives Blade Heat Treating www.jarodtodd.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    That video just made my day. Man what a good way to start my day. Put a smile on my face lol
  18. Lieblad


    Jul 24, 2015
    Lol !!
    I am a Blacksmith and know many others, none of us make horseshoes.
    I could make a horseshoe, but would be animal cruelty if I tried to attach it to a horse.
    Farriers are qualified to making & fitting horseshoes.

    Btw, we dont keep secrets about our craft. But dont spend time on a guy who did no homework, not come prepared and willing to learn.
    And dont try to pull a fast one. This is not highschool or college. No matter how charming, We quickly spot & brushoff a fake, and thats pretty much standard procedure for any skilled trade.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
    12345678910 likes this.
  19. P.Brewster


    Jul 25, 2007
    Because it takes time to pass that knowledge on, and time is money. Let's say I'm a professional blacksmith and I have three options as to how I spend my next 3 hours.

    Option A is I take a break from work and spend time with family, recreation, friends, life, sleep, errands, pay bills, change my oil, hobbies, etc.

    Option B is I work - I do some blacksmithing and monetize my time.

    Option C is I donate my precious three hours to you.
  20. Spalted

    Spalted My name is Britt Askew I like making knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 9, 2010
    Did you win FIF :cool:

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