A Busy Year On The Road

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It was a busy year for me this year.


It started off with my attendance at Thomas Latane’s Norse Axe class held at the Raspberry Island Folk School. 


The 2017 Summer and Fall also had me collaborating with these two scoundrels, traveling to communities and demonstrating our amazing blacksmith skills to the public 😉

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That’s knife maker/blacksmith  Tony Roed of Stony’s Custom Designs on the right and knife maker/blacksmith Jerry Hobbs of Jerry Hobbs Blacksmithing on the left.  Two talented craftsman who are wholeheartedly dedicated to making sure their customers get their best work.

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They not only run their own shops and travel with me on occasion. They also are heavily involved with the Northern Minnesota Metalsmith’s Club teaching and promoting the blacksmith trade (and all trades) to the young and the “seasoned” alike.

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I look forward to our adventures in 2018.

If you’d like to check out the metal-works of Jerry and Tony, make sure you click the links I’ve provided in this post.



Village Blacksmith Christmas Ornament.




Christmas Tree Ornaments for 2017.

If you see something you like on this blog or have an idea of your own, feel free to contact me and discuss your one-of-a-kind piece. You can text or call 218-686-9164 or email at me at olsonironworks@gmail.com

More examples of my work can be found at the following social media tabs below.

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If you see something you like on this blog or have an idea of your own, feel free to contact me and discuss your one-of-a-kind piece. You can text or call 218-686-9164 or email at me at olsonironworks@gmail.com

More examples of my work can be found at the following social media tabs below.

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Viking Age Utensils


Here’s some Viking Age utensils to complement a copper bowl.

If you see something you like on this blog or have an idea of your own, feel free to contact me and discuss your one-of-a-kind piece. You can text or call 218-686-9164 or email at me at olsonironworks@gmail.com

More examples of my work can be found at the following social media tabs below.

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A Good Knife and A Good Plan

All you need in life is a good knife and a good plan.

The Following is my journey to obtain a one-of-a-kind knife.


I commissioned professional knife maker Jerry Hobbs of  J.Hobbs Blacksmithing to forge my blade design into reality.

Why a custom blade?

A knife is the most taken for granted tool on the planet. Everyone eventually uses a knife to cut something.

It’s the tool that allowed humans to climb up a couple of links on the food chain.  It gave us tooth and claw.

It allowed us to create other tools.

Along with fire, it allowed us to not fear the beasts that lurked in the dark.

“Knives are everywhere but not all are equal.”

I’m a full time metal artist who uses traditional blacksmith tools and techniques to create metal sculptures and jewelry.  This allows me to interact with other metal-workers, artists and knife makers.

It wasn’t until I had experience with these blade-smiths, examined their fine hand made knives that I truly understood the difference between a factory knife and hand crafted blade.

I’ve hammered out a few blades of my own and I can tell you from experience, that making a knife by hand is a hell of a lot harder than it looks.

Now, I fully recognize that most people who use knives do so only occasionally, so a factory knife works just fine for them. But for someone who’s livelihood or life depends on the performance of a simple knife, the longevity, durability, usefulness, and value of a knife is paramount.

“A factory knife is a clone.  It has no soul.”

Factory knives are manufactured for mass production on an assembly line.

Manufactures who deal in volume are in the business of making the most money for the lowest cost of product and labor they can. Pure and simple, the less they spend on making the knife, the more money they make.

This fact limits any knife you buy that’s produced in just about any factory, large or small.

I wanted a knife that was created for me by an Artist/Craftsman who is in love with the process.  And I found that very passion for hand forging knives in Jerry Hobbs.

Here’s my story:

I wanted a knife to fit my lifestyle.  I’m an outdoorsman and needed an Every Day Carry (EDC) tool to meet the demands of that environment.

I live in the harsh climate of Northern Minnesota. I hunt, fish, hike and venture on foot to remote lakes summer and winter.


My former life as a military man and later chapter as a security contractor in the Middle East had me carrying a “tactical” style of blade.

However, now that I’ve left that warmongering life behind me, I found I needed a more practical knife that’s built for field dressing game, skinning and still of use in the camp or kitchen.

“The Longer you’re in Special Forces, the shorter your knife gets.”
– Anonymous Old SF Dude.

I started with a sketch.  Then a cardboard cut out to get the feel of the design. Sometimes it may look good on paper but feel all wrong in the hand.

Refinements were made until it felt like a lost part of my soul.


Once that was done, I cut out a mild steel blank and refined that until it felt just right.

Then I sought out blade-smith Jerry Hobbs, told him what I was looking for in a knife and gave him some creative freedom.

Jerry kept in touch with me all through the process of the knife.

Jerry even sent pictures of the journey.

I forgot to tell you that I wanted a Damascus blade.  One of the reasons I chose Jerry Hobbs to forge my blade is that he makes his own Damascus.


He used 1095 steel .156 thick by 4 inch wide by 48 inch long and 15n20 .095 thick by 4 inch wide by 48 inch long.


The 1095 and the 15n20 are then cut 1.5 inches wide by 4 inches long.


They are then forge welded and hammered into a billet.


The billet is then drawn out by hammer.  It takes a lot of TLC by the smith to get the “sex-appeal” to pop out of a Damascus billet of steel.


What I appreciate about Jerry Hobbs is how he kept me in the loop on the progress of the blade.

He sent more pictures than what are shown here.  I was also surprised how he took the time and explained what he was doing with the steel as it progressed on its journey.

He even sent me pictures of the knife being sharpened!


Here is the final product.  I couldn’t be happier with the craftsmanship of Jerry Hobbs.




I highly recommend a man commission a knife maker to hand forge him a custom knife at least once during his life time.

Jerry Hobbs can be reached at J. Hobbs Blacksmithing.

Earn Your Patina

It’s only after you’ve made a few knives that you’ll understand why they cost a lot more than your average off the shelf blade.


I feel a good intro into knife making for the individual who wants to make knives is to get himself a Green River Knife Kit from Track of the Wolf.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could order some fancier knife scales.

Like I did for this green river knife here.


Now for the record, I’ve always been a Mora knife fan.

I suppose I’v been a mora fan ever since my interaction with Cody Lundin in 2004 before his exploits on the Discovery channels show Duel Survivor.


Back when he was just the Abo-Dude running the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Prescott, Arizona.


I carried that little mora for almost 3 years as a security contractor in the Middle East.  Much to the dismay of my pal Tom Moore who has proclaimed the mystical powers of his Green River knife that he’s named Ol-Butch.

You can read more about Tom’s favorite Green River Knife by clicking…………………The Legend of O’l Butch.

But with more primitive hunting and fishing experience under my belt in the Northern Woods of Minnesota,  I have to admit that I’ve come to favor the green river knife more for my everyday usage in the kitchen and the camp.


It’s true Tom Moore, aka Tomahawk, aka Pathfinder Tom, aka Whiskey Jack…I’m a convert!

My knife has earned its patina.


I’ll close with the infamous words about the Mora Knife spoken by the legendary bacon chaw-en, whiskey drink-en, piratical Tom Moore.

“I have to kinda chuckle at the knife kooks I read about online that ask silly questions like “How do I force a patina on my new Mora?”

– First of all – throw away the Mora, get a Green River and USE IT. Get off of your computers, get out into the woods, deserts, jungles and mountains. Split some wood, cut some meat (and a finger or two), build some fires, defend yourself, and simply USE the Knife!


Forged In Fosston

Coming to Ventures Bar & Grill in Fosston MN, Sept 10th!
“Forged In Fosston”
This blacksmithing event, in conjunction with the East Polk Heritage Days
will feature several blacksmiths, knife makers and metal artists from the region who will be demonstrating their craft.  (12pm – 5pm)


We’re fortunate to have as one of our demonstrators, Douglas Swenson from Hawley, MN.
Doug is an accomplished smith who’s been a judge at the 2013 International Blacksmithing competition in Iceland. Doug and his family routinely demonstrate at the Midwest Viking Festival and the annual Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival in Moorhead, MN.
Doug will be bringing his Viking age Blacksmith Forge and dressed in period Viking age clothing.


Also demonstrating is the one and only Joshua Quayle from Bagely, MN.  A gifted new comer to the knife making arts.  Joshua’s blades are unique, fully functional and lean toward the fantasy realm of knife making.


From New York Mills, Jerry Hobbs a very talented craftsman from J.H blacksmithing will also be on site showcasing his traditional hunter/outdoorsman style of blade making.

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Fosston, MN native Tony Roed.  A Knife maker and metal artist from Stony’s Custom Designs will be swinging his hammer, demonstrating traditional blacksmithing techniques and forging a blade or two on his large Swedish anvil.


Also from Fosston, Leon Bitker (The Rose Man) will be sculpting metal roses on site as well.  Leon likes to get audience participation during the creative process of his metal roses.


Last but not least, Jeffrey M. Olson from Olson Iron Works, who also hails from his hometown of Fosston, MN.  A metal artist who specializes in the ornamental and sculpture side of the metal arts.  Jeff will be demonstrating traditional blacksmithing techniques.


All these artists and craftsman will be demonstrating at the same time so you’ll be sure to see a lot of blacksmithing action.

We all look forward to you stopping by Ventures Bar and Grill in Fosston, MN this coming Saturday, Sept 10th from Noon until 5pm.

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