Bronk’s Northwest Knife Making School is dedicated to teaching young and old the art of knife making by forging a blade, making a knife by stock removal and proper heat treating in order to create first class cutlery for hobby or profession.
Northwest School Of Knife Making
If things go according to plan, Dan Erickson and I should be holding some classes this fall as we are getting the Little Giant hammer rebuilt and the press dies built.
Over the past 20 years I have offered the Northwest Knife Making School here in Bothell, WA at my shop that was, until January of 2016, located in Country Village.
I began teaching evening classes on stock removal but soon switched to using the forge as I could better show the relationship of heat and its affect on steels at the forge. Let’s face it, forging hot steel is fun.
It took me years of learning the hard way by trial and error as there were no classes at that time, however I did learn much by attending several seminars and hammer ins latter on.
Taking a class here at the Northwest Knife Making School can trim years off of your learning curve and can also prevent you from developing bad habits and grief.
The most often asked questions are; how long are the classes, will I get a finished knife and how much it will cost.
I started by charging for a flat rate for a 40 hour class even though it is difficult to determine how long it will take different folks to get a knife finished in class. This however worked out best for those who traveled from afar as I would schedule in a full week of class instruction and then end the five day class with a two day hammer in. It was always a great time and a lot of fun for what I was charging then, $850.00 total but tried to make it work financially by having 5 or 6 students at a time.
My better half insisted that I stop doing that marathon, even though it was a lot of fun, as it was having serious implications on my carpal tunnel etc.
I have for the past several years switched to doing classes more one on one and at a day by day basis at $200.00 per day. However I have a limited shop at present as my old shop of 20 years was sold for condo development and I’m looking for new digs so I can get my stuff out of storage and back in service again.
At present I can still teach stock removal from my sharpening shop but the most important parts, such as heat treating, have to be farmed out to specialists.
Knife making 101
Knife design: Keep it simple & straightforward, (kiss). By far the best knives are the ones that have been simplified to perfection.
A smattering of Metallurgy: Crystal structure of steel, grain growth, grain refinement, impurities & alloys. You can’t learn too much about metallurgy. But you can make a good knife with the essentials.
Forge technique and practice: What you learn this first day took me years to learn and is worth the tuition itself. This is the heart of knife making.
Heat Treating: This segment will be devoted to the discussion of heat treating steels and your blade will be hardened and tempered. This is, bar none, the single most important step in the entire process of knife making. If all I taught you was how to properly harden and temper steel and the steps leading up to it. It would be worth more than the entire cost of your course. This is where it’s at.
An entire week, or more, could be devoted to the above as this is the essentials to making a good knife.
Fit and Finish: Once you have learned how to make a well designed and properly heat treated blade, you will want to finish it off with the proper respect that it deserves.
Proper finishing really starts off at the very beginning of the blade forging and initial grinding and progresses with each and every step during the process. Each step as you go along will determine the success or difficulty of each following step all of the way to completion of the project.
Mastering these steps will take both time and practice as with anything in life. All any class on knife making can ever do is to give you the proper initial knowledge and pointed in the right direction to ensure that as you progress and learn more on your own, that you will have the proper compass and chart to follow the course to success.
Safety: Students will need to sign a waiver and affidavit acknowledging that they are solely responsible for their own safety and welfare, prior to continuing with the course. Safety will be stressed however through out the course
Out goal is to send you home with the knowledge that you can build cutlery that are second to none in performance and the inspiration to go on and make your craft into an art. If you like, you may want to return for or find other continuing classes and seminars that will enhance your basic skills and propel you to making world class knives.
Metallurgy is crucial to knife making, but we will try to keep it simple so as not to bog you down with information overload. However we will expound on heat treating to a large degree. You will have a lifetime to pursue the details if you like, but we do want to give you the skills in order to make a first class blade.
Because there are so many blade and knife styles and methods to make a knife, it would be impossible to encompass it all into one class, but we will try to teach you how to finish a blade with very basic tools and principles to get that award winning look. We can show you techniques used by the masters to grind a blade by machine, but practice and patience will make for a more perfect artist.
Your first attempt at building a knife may not be perfect, but you will have the skills to go on and pursue the perfect knife. I and most of my colleagues will admit that we have not yet made the perfect knife, but it is a most honorable quest.