Category Archives: Personal

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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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