Knives are one of the most essential items we own. We use them everywhere — in our kitchens, when we’re camping and for basic tasks around the house. Yet rarely do we think about how or where knives are made.
One of the most common ways to make a knife is by forging: the process of forming and shaping blades by heating, twisting and pounding metal. It’s a process as old as civilization itself. But today, North Carolina is home to an active community of knife forgers at the professional and hobby levels.
The North Carolina Knifemakers Guild
The Tar Heel State is home to a full spectrum of artisan knifemakers. From specialty manufactured brands like Spartan Blades in Southern Pines to one-of-a-kind artisans like Pembroke’s Oliver Schneider, the community is wide and varied.
But if the NC knife forging community has a home, it would be the North Carolina Knifemakers Guild. Formed in 1992, the guild is a collection of artisan knifemakers spread across North Carolina and Virginia.
The Guild holds quarterly meetings where they host speakers and hold demonstrations around the craft of knifemaking. Speakers are members of the group or experts in the knife forging field. While talks with experts in their field often command a lofty ticket price, these meetings are free and open to the public. The NCKG’s website explains why:
“Through public knife making and forging demonstrations by a group or individual members, we try to display the craft and to educate the public. It is our intent to raise the general awareness of custom-made knives and the people who create them. That is why there is no cost to attend one of our meetings, and welcome anyone with an interest in knifemaking.”
How to Join the NC Knife Forging Community
Does knife forging sound like something you want to try? If you live in North Carolina, you’re in luck. You have plenty of opportunities to learn knifemaking skills and engage with the NC knife forging community.
Members of the NCKG teach a series of courses at Montgomery Community College in Troy. These classes typically last a few days and are taught by some of the most celebrated knifemakers in the country. While Troy lies conveniently just about the midway point between the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte metro area, it’s no more than 90 minutes from any of them. You can see the course schedule on their website for the specific offerings.
There’s also another option for people in the Triangle who can’t make the trek. ShopSpace in Raleigh offers introductory through advanced forging and knifemaking classes. View their class schedule and book your lesson online.
Even if knifemaking isn’t your thing, you can still support one of North Carolina’s craft communities. Many of these local craftspeople make their living by selling their creations. If you’ve only used mass-produced knives before, you’re about to enter a whole new world.
You can find locally-made knives at knife shows, craft fairs and websites. The NCKG keeps a list of its members (some of whom sell their wares online) on its site.