Jerry Rados of Columbia, Ky., heats a bar of metal in the propane-powered forge before using a trip-hammer to reduce its dimensions.
Next, Rados takes the hot steel to a nearby table and attaches the ends to handles, so he and Steve Culver, of Meriden, can create definite twists in it. Four other such bars are produced before they are welded together. After more heating, shaping and grinding, a blade shape appears. Soon, it will be subjected to an etching solution to bring out the herringbone design.
While Rados presents the steps in creating a Turkish Damascus blade during a session of this year’s Heartland Bladesmithing Symposium at Washburn Institute of Technology, Caleb Royer, of Mountain View, Mo., is in a nearby classroom demonstrating the techniques he uses to photograph knives for quick upload to the internet, as well as more refined photos for magazine use.
Rados and Royer were only two of the demonstrators on hand for the fifth annual Heartland Bladesmithing Symposium. Offered by the American Bladesmith Society and hosted by the Kansas Custom Knifemakers Association, the two-day event included other sessions on creating wood-lined sheaths, tomahawk forging techniques, producing complex Damascus patterns and applying metallurgical theory at the forge. Still others highlighted journeyman smith judging standards, as well as a collector’s perspective on custom knives.
“The ABS has nine other similar events around the USA, as well as one in Alberta, Canada,” said Steve Culver, KCKA president and event organizer. “This is the only one in the central part of the country. Many of the other seminars focus on basic skills; we’re trying to make the Heartland Symposium more for advanced skills.”