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American Bladesmith Society

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Title: American Bladesmith Society  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: William F. Moran, Jimmy Lile, Daniel Winkler, Jerry Fisk, William Scagel
Collection: Knife Makers
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

American Bladesmith Society

The American Bladesmith Society or ABS is a non-profit organization composed of

  • The American Bladesmith Society

External links

  1. ^ a b Goddard, Wayne (2000). The Wonder of Knifemaking. Krause. pp. 107–120.  
  2. ^ Kertzman, Joe (2007). Art of the Knife. Krause Publications. pp. 224–226.  
  3. ^ a b c d e  
  4. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick (2005). "William F. Moran". The Anvil's ring (Blacksmiths' Association of North America) 34: 15–16. 
  5. ^ "Historic Washington State Park overview". Archived from the original on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  6. ^ "Bill Moran Jr. (1925–2006)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  7. ^ "ABS Educational Programs". Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  8. ^ "Historic Arkansas Museum". Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  9. ^ "American Bladesmith Society FAQ". Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  10. ^ "ABS Testing Rules and Guidelines for the Journeyman Smith Rating" (pdf). Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  11. ^ "ABS Testing Rules and Guidelines for the Master Smith Rating" (pdf). Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  12. ^ Dunkerly, Rick (2007). Art of the Knife. Krause Publications. pp. 74–76.  


At the New York Knife Show in 1981, the first Master bladesmith ratings were awarded to: Bill Bagwell, Jimmy Fikes, Don Fogg, Don Hastings, Bill Moran, and James Schmidt. Years later tests were established for a maker to attain a rating of "Master smith". The tests for Master smith include using a forged Damascus steel blade with a minimum of 300 layers and fashioned as a "stick tang knife" (as opposed to a full-tang) to cut a free hanging rope, chop through 2 2X4" pieces of lumber and retain an edge capable of shaving hair. Lastly the knife is placed into a vise and flexed for 90 degrees. The knife must spring back without breaking and remain functional and not slip from the handle. Once the performance test is passed, the applicant must submit 5 knives to a panel of judges, all knives are judged on balance, beauty, and symmetry, but one must be an "Art Knife" or a "European style" dagger.[11] The first smith to receive the Master title under these requirements was Wayne Goddard.[3][12] Wyoming knifemaker Audra Draper became the first woman to hold a Master smith title in 1999.[1] Knifemakers who have attained this title frequently use the suffix "MS" when informing the public about their knives.

Master smith

An applicant is eligible to apply for Journeyman Smith judging and rating at the Annual ABS meeting, after they have been a member of the ABS for 3 years. Following the "Introduction to Bladesmithing Course", the applicant may take the test under the supervision of a Master Smith. The applicant must have personally forged and performed all work on the test blade, with no other person physically assisting in its construction or heat-treating. The test knife must be a carbon steel forged blade with a maximum overall length of 15 inches, maximum width of 2 inches and blade length of 10 inches. Damascus or laminated blades are not allowed as test blades. Once the test begins, no work, not even light stropping, may be done to the test blade. The test blade is used to cut a free hanging rope, chop through 2 2X4" pieces of lumber and retain an edge capable of shaving hair from the judge's arm. Lastly the knife is placed into a vise and flexed. The knife must spring back without breaking and remain functional. If successful, the applicant must submit 5 forged carbon steel knives for judging on symmetry, balance, and aesthetics.[3][10] Knifemakers who have attained this title frequently use the suffix "JS" when informing the public about their knives.


Bladesmiths join the ABS as Regular members and are rated as Apprentice Smiths. After a three (3) year period as a member they may apply for the Journeyman test.[9]



The ABS launched its own museum and Hall of Fame in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1995 in conjunction with the Historic Arkansas Museum.[8] The first year inductions were held in 1996: James Black, Jim Bowie, Don Hastings, B. R. Hughes, William F. Moran, and William Scagel.

In 1988 on the grounds of William F. Moran School of Bladesmithing.[6] The American Bladesmith Society is now associated with Texarkana College in Arkansas, Haywood Community College in North Carolina, and the New England School of Metalwork in Maine which offer Bladesmithing courses taught by experienced ABS Master Smiths and Journeyman Smiths.[7]

In 1988, the ABS established the criteria for Mastersmith and Journeyman. In 1991, Moran stepped down as president but the Society unanimously elected him “Chairman Emeritus”, meaning that he would serve on the board for the balance of his life.[3]

In 1985, the ABS held its first hammer-in at Dubois, Wyoming in conjunction with the University of Wyoming. The following year it was moved to Washington, Arkansas in conjunction with Texarkana College.[5] This campus had a replica of James Black’s blacksmith shop where during the winter of 1830-1831 James Bowie purchased a knife from Black. This hammer-in, named the Piney Woods Hammer-In, still occurs semi annually.[3]

Within months, a handful of knifemakers began making Damascus blades: Bill Bagwell, Don Hastings, Michael Connor, and Sid Birt. By 1976 more than a dozen bladesmiths were making Damascus steel and on December 4, 1976, Moran wrote the by-laws.[4]

[3][2] Bill Moran had been elected chairman of the Knifemakers' Guild in 1972. At that time, there were less than a dozen practicing bladesmiths in America, and this number was decreasing, whereas the number of stock removal knifemakers was increasing. To remedy this, Moran unveiled 8



  • History 1
  • Ratings 2
    • Apprentice 2.1
    • Journeyman 2.2
    • Master smith 2.3
  • References 3
  • External links 4

ABS knifemakers forge blades as opposed to making them via the stock-removal method. ABS has developed a system of ratings designating whether a member is an Apprentice, a Journeyman or a Master smith. ABS has partnered with several colleges to offer courses in bladesmithing and has launched its own museum.


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