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View Full Version : Training for a budding bladesmith.



mofretwell
08-29-2009, 09:57 PM
I was out to Ray's shop this Friday to visit, and got to watch an interesting thing. It was interesting enough that I wanted to share it with you all.

It seems that Ray got a telephone call from a young man (age 15), Peter Kilgore, in his church. Peter knew that Ray was a bladesmith, and Peter has been working hard at learning how to make knives for some time. Peter is a quick learner, and very serious about his hobby. He spends hours at it, and the last knife he made, using only hand files, is a great indication of how serious he is. Here's a pic of his knife. My first knife looked like ... well, never mind.

http://www.hawknknives.com/forums/16-PetersKnife-2.jpg

Anyway, Peter called Ray, and introduced himself. He called Ray "Mister Richard." And he asked if Ray would let him watch while Ray hand forged a knife. Ray immediately liked the boy, probably because he called him Mister <grin>. Anyway, Ray invited him out for a free 2-hour forging lesson. I was glad to be there to watch, as was Peter's Dad, Tim.

Here are pictures of the "master" and the "student." I leave it to you to figure out which is which.

http://www.hawknknives.com/forums/1-RayTheMasterBladesmith.jpg

http://www.hawknknives.com/forums/2-PeterTheApprentice.jpg

Ray started out by showing Peter how to light the propane forge, and by giving him a quick explanation of how to use the forging tongs and hammers. Then he emphasized that Peter needed to take the time while the forge was heating the steel to figure out exactly what he wanted to do with it when he took the red hot steel out of the forge. The steel cools quickly, and a good 'smith needs to make good use of the time it is hot enough to work.

Ray had previously cut two identical 6-inch pieces of steel. He gave one to Peter and kept one for himself. He told Peter that he'd do a step on his piece of steel, and then Peter was to repeat that step on his, trying to repeat as closely as possible what he had just seen done. It was a very good way to teach.

Ray first showed Peter how to form the tang, using Ray's custom-built device called "Godzilla." Then he had Peter do the same thing himself with his piece of steel.

Here is a photo of Peter forming the tang.

http://www.hawknknives.com/forums/5-PeterUsingGodzilla-2.jpg

I also include a closeup of Godzilla for those who are unfamiliar with it.

http://www.hawknknives.com/forums/11-Godzilla.jpg

And here is Ray inspecting his young apprentice's work.

http://www.hawknknives.com/forums/12-MasterInspectingApprenticesWork.jpg

Then Ray showed Peter how to stretch and form the blade. Ray emphasized that precise placement of the hammer blows was much more important than how hard you hit the hot steel. Peter understood this immediately and really focused on putting his blows where he wanted them. Peter was amazingly quick to pick up the techniques. I think he has the makings of a future bladesmith.

Here's a pic of Ray forming his blade.

http://www.hawknknives.com/forums/9-RedHotBlade.jpg

I'm limited to only eight photos on this post, so this is the last one, although I took many more. Here are the student's and the master's forged blades. All done in 2 hours.

http://www.hawknknives.com/forums/13-TheForgedBlades.jpg

I think Ray is an amazing instructor and Peter is an excellent student. Can you tell which one of them did which blade? Only Peter, Ray, Tim, and I know for sure.

And then, to my considerable amazement, Ray sold Peter a very nice 65 pound anvil and steel I-beam stand for less than one-fifth its true value!

Ray likes young people, especially those who call him Mister, and particularly those who are interested in knifemaking. He really goes out of his way to help these young people. (I heard a story about one of Ray's custom knives being sold to a young man for less than a nickel on the dollar because Ray knew that was all he had.)

This was just too good to let pass without comment.

Marvin Fretwell

BossDog
08-29-2009, 10:04 PM
One of the great things that struck me about knife making when I first got into it was the sharing of knowledge. Not many crafts as old as this one are so open about passing it on. Ray, I bet you had more fun than your student did...

Raymond Richard
08-29-2009, 10:20 PM
One of the great things that struck me about knife making when I first got into it was the sharing of knowledge. Not many crafts as old as this one are so open about passing it on. Ray, I bet you had more fun than your student did...

Tracy, I had a great time! Peter was a great student and a very nice young man. Peter and his dad Tim were over early this evening to pick up the propane bottle. I fixed up one of my older forges and gave it to them. Now Peter can get to work.

Marvin, Thanks a bunch for doing this thread! I'll buy lunch the next time. :D

Eli Gautreaux
08-30-2009, 06:06 AM
Marvin, thanks for the great thread and pictures, this is a very cool story! Ray's a great knifemaker and a gentleman to boot.


Way to go Ray. I mean, Mister Ray :D

Jeff Pearce
08-30-2009, 06:13 AM
Very cool thread. I like seeing new blood .great to have some young guys learning....2thumbs2thumbs

John Barker
08-30-2009, 07:45 AM
Nothing is more satisfying than sharing knowledge with someone and seeing the fruits of their learning. That's great.
-John

Raymond Richard
08-30-2009, 09:24 AM
Marvin, thanks for the great thread and pictures, this is a very cool story! Ray's a great knifemaker and a gentleman to boot.


Way to go Ray. I mean, Mister Ray :D


Eli, Hopefully while your here for Blade West we can spend an hour or two in my state of the art shop. I'll let you lose with a piece of hot steel. 2thumbs

Eli Gautreaux
08-30-2009, 04:21 PM
Eli, Hopefully while your here for Blade West we can spend an hour or two in my state of the art shop. I'll let you lose with a piece of hot steel. 2thumbs

Oh yeah!!!!!

Bruce Bump
08-31-2009, 12:20 AM
This is the way its supposed to be Ray. The old dog teaching the young pup the ways of the world. 2thumbs

Brad Singley
09-04-2009, 02:40 PM
Good job Ray, it speaks volumes about you.

Stuart Willis
09-04-2009, 06:21 PM
It is so good to see a younger pup get away from the TV and want to learn something of value.

Raymond Richard
09-04-2009, 06:58 PM
It is so good to see a younger pup get away from the TV and want to learn something of value.

Stuart, I really think Peter's got the bug. I'm going to enjoy seeing his progress. I think he's going to do good at it.

Raymond Richard
09-07-2009, 11:39 AM
Peter and his dad were at my shop late yesterday afternoon. When Peter was here for his lesson he didn't try to talk me out of a set of tongs before he left. I'd gotten an email from him saying he had forged a tang onto the bar of steel he was working on and couldn't figure out how to forge the whole blade without cutting it off the bar and using tongs. I tried to explain to him through an email how to do it but figured he'd understand better if I could show him. I tried to tell him to start forging the tang 3 or 4" in from the end of the bar. After you have the tang done or close to it forge the blade out of the first 3 or 4". Here's a picture of what I'm talking about. Pretty cool out in the shop this morning and I needed some warmth.

http://www.hawknknives.com/forums/IMG_1462.JPG

Peter Killgore
09-07-2009, 04:09 PM
Well our shop wasn't cold but I was bored. So here's what I did. Did I do it right?

Peter

Raymond Richard
09-07-2009, 04:19 PM
Well our shop wasn't cold but I was bored. So here's what I did. Did I do it right?

Peter

There you go!:D

NickWheeler
09-09-2009, 01:58 AM
This is awesome guys, thanks for sharing the story! :)

Peter, you're off to a good start with a great teacher to lend a hand! cool 1

Raymond Richard
09-09-2009, 06:36 AM
Hey Nick, Thanks for dropping by! Will I be seeing you in Portland this weekend at Blade West?

Robert Dark
09-09-2009, 08:07 AM
That is pretty cool "Mr. Big-Boy". I really enjoy working with people who want to learn.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they finally "get it".

Keep up the good work my friend.

Robert

Raymond Richard
09-09-2009, 10:01 AM
That is pretty cool "Mr. Big-Boy". I really enjoy working with people who want to learn.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they finally "get it".

Keep up the good work my friend.

Robert

Who you calling Mr. Big Boy, Big Boy? Glad to see you dropping by and please come back.

I think Peter has really got the bug to start forging. I'm enjoying teaching him a few things. Its been fun!

NickWheeler
09-09-2009, 12:30 PM
Hi'ya Ray! :)

I'm gonna try to buzz down to the show. My Grandma's been in the hospital with a broken neck so our family has kind of been turned on it's ear lately. I was actually hoping to have a table... just too much going on.

Anyway, I'm glad to see you here with some stomping ground! I definitely noticed your absence over at BF.

Luckily this place has the feel and potential to be like BF was when we all got along and had a good time!!! :)

*fingers crossed* See 'ya next weekend Ray!!! :)

Peter, will you be visiting the show?

Raymond Richard
09-09-2009, 12:55 PM
Hi'ya Ray! :)

I'm gonna try to buzz down to the show. My Grandma's been in the hospital with a broken neck so our family has kind of been turned on it's ear lately. I was actually hoping to have a table... just too much going on.

Anyway, I'm glad to see you here with some stomping ground! I definitely noticed your absence over at BF.

Luckily this place has the feel and potential to be like BF was when we all got along and had a good time!!! :)

*fingers crossed* See 'ya next weekend Ray!!! :)

Peter, will you be visiting the show?

Nick, Sorry to hear about your Grandma's condition. I'll say a prayer for her.

I'll keep an eye out for you at the show. Hopefully things will turn around and start looking better.

NickWheeler
09-09-2009, 01:10 PM
Don't wanna derail your thread Ray, but THANK YOU. :)

Luckily she's real active for 86, and 3 neurosurgeons did surgery on her and she's gonna be sent home soon.... maybe even this week-end (that's why I'm not sure about making the show just yet).

Your prayer is much appreciated! :)

Okay, back to the scheduled programming :D

Raymond Richard
09-09-2009, 03:41 PM
Don't wanna derail your thread Ray, but THANK YOU. :)

Luckily she's real active for 86, and 3 neurosurgeons did surgery on her and she's gonna be sent home soon.... maybe even this week-end (that's why I'm not sure about making the show just yet).

Your prayer is much appreciated! :)

Okay, back to the scheduled programming :D

Nick, You only have one Grandma! The shows can wait unless she wants to go. :D Wish you the Best! Don't worry about the thread...

Peter Killgore
09-09-2009, 05:59 PM
Peter, will you be visiting the show?[/QUOTE]

Yes, Mr Wheeler, I most certainly will be visiting the show.
I'll also say a prayer for your grandmother.

Peter

Lorien
09-15-2009, 10:22 PM
Atta boy, Ray! You're awesome2thumbs