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Thread: ABS Handles and Guards Course w/Joe Keeslar

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    N.W. Arkansas
    Posts
    783

    ABS Handles and Guards Course w/Joe Keeslar

    I just spent a week in Old Washington at the ABS Handles and Guards class. This session was taught by Joe Keeslar who literally wrote the book on Handles and Guards. I would also like to mention that he is an excellent teacher.

    Before the course I emailed Mr. Keeslar and he said to bring one full tang knife blade and one narrow tang knife blade completely finished except for the handles. The completed part is important unless you want to miss out on valuable learning time finishing blades. He also said to bring any materials that I would like to bring if I had anything specific in mind. Although, they provide materials for the knives.

    The first thing that we went over in the class was full tang knife construction. The demonstration knife was one of Joe Keeslar's Brute De Forge knives. His methods involve no glue and a lot of peening.



    I enjoyed doing things a bit differently that I normally do so it was fun. For my full tang knife I made a chopper with a 10'' blade and 15'' overall so I can practice cutting things. It ended up with bolsters (which were covered in the class) and curly maple handles.



    Next we covered silver wire inlay. Which I of course wanted to learn so I decided to put some on my chopper. I went with the demonstration pattern Joe used as it gave me the chance to use pins and have lines crossing over each other etc.





    After covering the finishing of a maple handle we moved on to the narrow tangs. Mr. Keeslar favors soldered guards so that is how we did it. I would suspect that if you took the class from someone who presses their guards that would be what you would learn. Here is Joe Keeslar soldering a guard:



    Other topics that were covered included: Pin usage in keeping spacers lined up with handles, laying out a leather sheath, butt cap construction, and by popular request the forging of a Brute De Forge knife:





    By the way, the man swings a BIG hammer!



    Overall I really enjoyed the course. You really had to move to try and get close to finishing two knives in the five days. But, a lot of learning was done. I didn't get any pictures of the second knife which is about 3/4 of the way finished. And, I still need to make some pictures of the nearly complete chopper now that it has wire inlay and has been stained.
    Allen

    newberryknives.com

    (formerly mrnewberry)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    N.W. Arkansas
    Posts
    783
    On a side note after talking to some people who had trouble finding the bunkhouse I figured I would post up a picture.



    This is the bunkhouse that you can stay at in Old Washington. (Not the huge historic bunkhouse.) It is a bit longer than the picture suggests and the side of the building faces the road. It is located on the main highway that runs through Washington kind of across the street from the visitors center and offices.
    Allen

    newberryknives.com

    (formerly mrnewberry)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Somerset, KY
    Posts
    3,461
    Wow, Allen, that sounds like a busy week. I hope to be able to take the same two courses you have taken so far one day soon. Thanks for posting the info and pics. What a terrific learning experience!!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    The strongest reason for the People to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government........Thomas Jefferson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Wynne, Ar
    Posts
    5,392
    Thank you for sharing your experience and photos Allen. I'm right there with ya Denny. It has been my desire to attend the ABS School since I was a kid. For some reason every time I think I'm going to have the time and money, something happens to throw me off course. I'll get there eventually.

    That chopper is looking really good Allen. Are you going to bring it with you to Little Rock in February? I'd really enjoy seeing the finished piece.
    Murph


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, Florida
    Posts
    2,067
    Great review Allen !

    Boy would I LOVE to take all the available classes but it's a long haul to Old Washington from central fl. I feel fortunate to have gotten the oppertunity to take the intro class.
    Handles and Guards sounds like it would be worth the trip though so you may have just gotten me in trouble with the wife, LOL.

    I do have one question reguarding the silver wire.

    Did you guys use dead soft wire or half hard ?

    I've used both and would greatly prefer the half hardened but didn't find it searching online.

    Thanks again for the review ! Josh
    Check out the pics in my profile album *UPDATED 6/2011*
    ~ABS Apprentice smith~

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    N.W. Arkansas
    Posts
    783
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Dabney View Post
    Great review Allen !

    I do have one question reguarding the silver wire.

    Did you guys use dead soft wire or half hard ?

    I've used both and would greatly prefer the half hardened but didn't find it searching online.

    Thanks again for the review ! Josh
    We used the semi-annealed silver wire. I don't have my book with me at the moment, but he has the supplier listed. I will have to remember to look it up later.
    Allen

    newberryknives.com

    (formerly mrnewberry)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    N.W. Arkansas
    Posts
    783
    Quote Originally Posted by murphda2 View Post
    Thank you for sharing your experience and photos Allen. I'm right there with ya Denny. It has been my desire to attend the ABS School since I was a kid. For some reason every time I think I'm going to have the time and money, something happens to throw me off course. I'll get there eventually.

    That chopper is looking really good Allen. Are you going to bring it with you to Little Rock in February? I'd really enjoy seeing the finished piece.
    I will have to try and remember to bring it along. This one is for me, so it will probably well used by then. I am going out to my parents cabin with my family Wed. night. Hopefully I will get a chance to chop some stuff.
    Allen

    newberryknives.com

    (formerly mrnewberry)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    N.W. Arkansas
    Posts
    783
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Dabney View Post
    Great review Allen !

    Boy would I LOVE to take all the available classes but it's a long haul to Old Washington from central fl. I feel fortunate to have gotten the oppertunity to take the intro class.
    Handles and Guards sounds like it would be worth the trip though so you may have just gotten me in trouble with the wife, LOL.

    I do have one question reguarding the silver wire.

    Did you guys use dead soft wire or half hard ?

    I've used both and would greatly prefer the half hardened but didn't find it searching online.

    Thanks again for the review ! Josh
    The wire is available through T.B. Hagstoz and Son. And since you brought up the silver wire inlay here are a couple pictures and links.

    In this picture you can see two hammers that are used for inlaying. The one on the right is a Moran style hammer the one on the left is the one I preferred.



    And here is a shot of Joe Keeslar demonstrating silver wire inlay.



    Here is a link to an article about silver wire inlay also by Mr. Keeslar: http://www.blademag.com/article/silverwireinlaypartone/

    This is part two of the article: http://www.blademag.com/article/silverwireinlayparttwo/
    Allen

    newberryknives.com

    (formerly mrnewberry)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, Florida
    Posts
    2,067
    Allen,

    Thanks ALOT for the wire source !

    The Keesler article in Blade is what inspired me to give wire inlay a try. I absolutely LOVE Keesler's Brute-de-forge knives with the engraved bolsters and wire inlay.

    I've been using a Harbor Freight tack hammer that I rounded over the square corners and slightly domed the face on. Not very pretty but it get's the job done, LOL

    Thanks again for the review and pics ! -Josh
    Check out the pics in my profile album *UPDATED 6/2011*
    ~ABS Apprentice smith~

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