Dave J Friesen. Blacksmith

How does one become a blacksmith these days? For Dave, it all started in an eighth grade social studies unit on Japan, where he was first introduced to Japanese style knives. Starting out, Dave would do any kind of blacksmithing work, but today he has streamlined towards his individual strengths and creative interests in art knives.

Dave experiments with fusion knives that combine Western style blades with traditional Japanese handles. These blades would be best suited for outdoor use on Vancouver Island, but utilizes the minimalist functionality of Japanese handle designs.

Machine vs Handmade

Dave is an old school blacksmith - old trade, old tools. He works entirely with hand tools through each step as he believes traditional tools and methods are just as useful, if not more reliable, than modern technology. He explained how in the past things progressed much slower - so tools and methods had more time to develop and be improved, unlike today's rapid pace.

Since each piece is handmade, every knife Dave creates is entirely unique - from the raw steel he chooses, to the marks and grooves left from the hammering and hardening process.

Anytime you work with real materials, they're gonna do things that you don't want them to do, or that you didn't think or weren't intending.

To call Dave's workshop small is a gross understatement. It is miniscule, but that is exactly what he needs in order to work efficiently on a blade. Although satisfied with the current setup, future expansion could open opportunity for woodworking, and accommodate space for teaching classes on blacksmithing.

What truly makes his knives unique is that each piece used to be something else - he calls this creative recycling. Dave derives most of his steel from old farming equipment and saw mill blades - as they are the ideal high carbon steel, with minimal alloy. The recycled metals also heavily influences the functional characteristics of each work.

These old objects already have a history when they reach Dave's hands. He breathes new life into each through the process of forging each into a new, functional blade. His fusion knives in particular highlight how old traditions can be adapted to modern contexts.

Dave is an old school blacksmith - old trade, old tools. He works entirely with hand tools through each step as he believes traditional tools and methods are just as useful, if not more reliable, than modern technology. He explained how in the past things progressed much slower - so tools and methods had more time to develop and be improved, unlike today's rapid pace.

It began with a simple switch from using mineral coal to fuel his forge to preparing his own charcoal from scrap wood

Chemical Avoidance

Dave gained a much stronger understanding of the knife making process by delving into traditional Japanese methods on knife handle assemblies. Each is fit together without epoxies, using only manual tools and natural pine resin glue.

Knife Assembly

Handle

Handcarved wooden handle holds the blade and provide a comfortable grip.

Fittings

Copper, brass, iron and bone are forged into fittings to ensure a tighter fit between the handle, guard and blade.

Guard

Holds the blade in place and prevents it from coming loose from the handle.

Blade

The centerpiece of the knife. No other component can be made until the blade is finished.

Pin

One peg is all that is needed to hold the blade and handle together.

Contact Crossed Heart Forge

www.islandblacksmith.ca