Category Archives: Personal


Knife-making with Dean Piesner and Robb Martin

Knowing as much about my tools as I can has always been the way I’ve been wired. It’s the reason I took up an interest in blacksmithing in the first place — I took a one-day historical society course on how to make a traditional Native neck knife (the pocketknife of the fur trade era). That cemented the fact that if you know how to make your tools, you adopt a mindset that is very versatile, very flexible.

This lends itself well to survival, to bushcraft, and to daily living, in or out of the city.

That course was a revelation, and started me down a road that had me seeking out new teachers, building my own forge, and realizing how tough it is to actually spare the time to get good at anything. I tried to keep moving forward nonetheless, but it wasn’t until recently that I was able to bring the past few years of occasional smithing experience (including studies with Robb Martin of Thak Ironworks) together, and learn how to hand-forge the ultimate general-use tool, the fixed blade knife:

I’ll be writing a bit more about the process involved from start to finish, but for now, I still need to finish and haft the first of these knives, and of course, I’m looking forward to making the sheath. After that I have many more to make, and still much to learn.

Mike Zimmermann - Forge work

Happy Trails

I occasionally wonder if I talk too much about the woods. I probably do, but that doesn’t deter me in the least. It warms my heart to see evidence of that sort of passion elsewhere, too, and makes me feel less like a deviant.

I’d like to share a recent example of just this type of thing.

I have two friends that have recently become backcountry hiking partners. They’ve both taken quite readily to the outdoors, and are as passionate as I am when it comes to hiking and canoeing and, if it can be believed, gear. One of them recently got married, and the other was a groomsman at his wedding.

I submit, for your pleasure and perusal, his wedding toast:

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Blacksmithing and leatherwork and bushcraft, oh my.

Like most people, I have a variety of interests. Sometimes, the popular pastimes that appeal to my colleagues and friends don’t hold that same draw — I don’t play golf, or follow sports.

Some of my passions do fall closer to the mainstream — craft beer, pool, good food.

The interests that titled this post, however, are a bit rarer. Perhaps not for readers of this blog and other similar sites, but, given that I live in an urban population, and have a relatively city-centric life, I’m often the odd one out.

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Disclaimers and the like

Ross Gilmore

Indulge me in a personal rant, and a rally cry of support for a moment. Ross Gilmore (aka “Wood Trekker”), a blogger I read from time to time, has posted something that’s gotten my blood boiling a bit. His posts usually deal with outdoor pursuits and bushcraft, axe-handling and history, and all sorts of good subjects that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. This is the first time I’ve been saddened by reading something he’s written, because this time, the post was a he felt the need to publish a disclaimer on his site.

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I love my market!

When was the last time your grocery store gave you a hug, a handshake, and inspired you for the week’s cooking? That’s exactly what your market can do for you — there are people whose skills, hard work, and pride in their craft put quality food on your table, and I enjoy being reminded of that every Sunday that I can make it down to my local market.

Extra love goes out to friends I’ve met, Zach from Highmark Farms, Christian from Monforte Dairy, and especially the lovely Janaki for putting together the wonderful Leslieville Farmer’s Market! Thank you for a great first season!

And although the market season is over, I’ll be sure to pick up my winter produce box (pictured above) from Le Papillion on the Park every Sunday.