Kansas knifemakers gather in Meriden
by Carolyn Kaberline
Approximately 20 members of the Kansas Custom Knifemakers Association from a four-state area turned out for the first shop tour of the year last Saturday.
Highlights of the tour, held at the shop of Steve Culver, Meriden, were demonstrations on the planning and construction of a gas forge and the evaluation of Little Giant power hammers. There was also ample time for those in attendance to share techniques and test out a variety of tools.
“The shop tours are basically for anyone interested in knives and a willingness to learn,” said Dave Sloan, a founding member of the association from Diller, Neb. “We usually have two or three different lessons during the tours. We’ve done sessions on blade finishes, how to make handles and sheath making. We try to have informative courses to help people make knives.”
Sloan noted that one of the most important aspects of the tours was that they allowed time for people to visit and to find out how different folks do things.
“I’ve learned things that have helped me, and have hopefully given material that has helped others,” Sloan said.
Phil Evans, Columbus, agreed. “I learn something or see a different way to do things every time I come to these. This time I found a better way to build a forge. I’ve also had a chance to see what other people are making.”
While most of those in attendance were experienced knifemakers, Dan Stumpf, Auburn, said that even beginners could get a lot from the shop tours.
“This is my first tour,” Stumpf said. “I’m definitely a beginner. I haven’t made a knife yet. I’ve done a lot of research on building a gas forge, but seeing one in person is different.”
Stumpf said he had made two blades so far, but hadn’t heat treated them yet. “I’m still figuring out what the final design will be.”
Dave Darpinian, Olathe, used some time at the shop to split a piece of koa wood for a handle using Culver’s band saw. “This is also a chance to see how others’ tools work,” he said.
“The tours allow you to see other shops and encourage you to get your shop the way you want it to be,” Doug Stice, Wichita, added.
Saturday’s shop tour also allowed members to purchase raffle tickets for a variety of items including tools, wood pieces for handles, and metals for blades. The proceeds from the ticket sales will be used to put on the Heartland Bladesmithing Symposium later in the year as well cover operational expenses such as postage and maintaining the organization’s website.
Founded in 2008, the Kansas Custom Knifemakers Association Inc. seeks “to expand awareness of the art and science of handcraft knives, to provide an educational forum for the exchange of ideas, techniques and innovations, and to promote the outstanding craftsmanship and representational interests of its members.”
Currently there are 48 members in the association from Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Florida.
Officers for 2012 are Steve Culver, president; David Sloan, vice president; Dan Dick, Hutchinson, secretary; Doug Stice, director of events; Jim Bevan, Valley Falls, outreach director; Steve Hansen, Chanute, recruitment director; and Dave Darpinian, web master.
More information about the association can be found on its website at kansasknives.org.
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