2024 BLADE University: Classes That Keep You Sharp

2024 BLADE University: Classes That Keep You Sharp
Friday at 8 a.m. AmeriBrade and guest knifemakers will demonstrate the fundamentals of grinding. ABS master smith Jason Knight demonstrated at last year’s BLADE University.

Get your bachelor’s of state-of-the-art degree at the 11th Annual BLADE University.

The state-of-the-art in all things knife, including the latest in mosaic damascus steel, knife and handle design, and how to sharpen, make a lockback whittler, run a knife business and more will be the focus of the 11th Annual BLADE University.

Held in conjunction with the 43rd Annual BLADE Show June 7-9 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, BLADE University will be sponsored by Work Sharp. Classes begin Thursday, June 6, and will run through Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8.

While most courses will be taught in the Cobb Galleria, some also will convene under the tent in The Courtyard, aka the parking lot of the show’s host hotel, the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly.

BLADE University gathers some of the world’s best knifemakers, bladesmiths and other cutlery and steel professionals to teach a wide range of subjects for the knife user, knifemaker, knife hobbyist, knife entrepreneur, knife designer, and knife aficionado and novice alike. If you love knives or are just beginning to, BLADE University has a topic for you. The complete course schedule, with subjects, teachers, times and venues:

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  • The Art of Selling at a BLADE Show, Tom Krein, 4 to 5 p.m., Room 104—A long-time maker of custom utilitarian fixed blades and folders, Tom Krein will outline exactly what a knifemaker who is serious about selling knives should do and how he/she should behave behind a knife show exhibitor table. Proper table etiquette and sales and customer relations strategies are just some of the subjects Tom will cover. The class will be held the day before the BLADE Show begins so attendees can put some of Tom’s recommendations into practice during the main event Friday through Sunday.


Metal and Wood Fitting Techniques
ABS journeyman smith Henning Wilkinson makes impeccable keyhole knife handles like this one. Join him for his class Metal and Wood Fitting Techniques for Keyhole Handles Friday at 2 p.m. (Eric Eggly/PointSeven knife image)
  • Fundamentals of Grinding, AmeriBrade and guest grinders, 8 to 9:30 a.m., The Courtyard—AmeriBrade and guest makers will provide a general overview on grinds, techniques and different equipment. The class will be interactive and the team will answer questions and demonstrate suggestions for common issues.
  • How to Run a Small Successful Knifemaking Business, Bob Kramer, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Room 103—Learn the do’s and don’ts of making the most out of your knifemaking business. ABS master smith Bob Kramer has 30 years of experience and says he’s still learning!
  • Thermal Cycle Steel for High Performance, Larrin Thomas, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Room 104—There are many different recommendations for how to heat treat steel after forging, but what is best? Can normalizing and grain-refining cycles really improve properties when compared with steel from the factory? Should stock-removal makers bother with thermal cycling? How do you thermal cycle stainless steels after forging them? Is it thermocycling or thermal cycling? Join Larrin Thomas, designer of CPM MagnaCut stainless steel, creator of the website Knife Steel Nerds, and author of Knife Engineering: Steel, Heat Treating, and Geometry, as he answers these questions and more.
  • Symmetrical Quillon Dagger 101, Neels Van Den Berg, 1 to 2 p.m., Room 107—Join ABS master smith Neels Van Den Berg from Black Dragon Forge for a discussion and walkthrough of making a symmetrical quillon dagger. He will cover design, proportions, aesthetics, materials, fluting and finally the entire manufacturing process, sharing useful tips and tricks to save you time, money and frustration.
  • Intro to Power Forging, panel of forging authorities, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Room 103—Bring your forging questions to our group of expert panelists including Logan Gillihan, Will Stelter, Salem Straub, Charlie Ellis and Brian House.
  • Metal and Wood Fitting Techniques for Keyhole Handles, Henning Wilkinson, 2 to 3 p.m., Room 113—An ABS journeyman smith and member of the Knifemakers’ Guild of South Africa, Henning Wilkinson will outline the correct techniques for fitting metal and wood in the construction of the keyhole integral knife handle. Henning will show you how to eliminate the gaps between materials that results in the proper fit and finish collectors and those who judge knife competitions look for in an award-winning keyhole-handle knife.
  • Hands on Sharpening, the team at Work Sharp, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Room 113—What happens when a knife gets dull? How do you know when to sharpen it? Bring your own knife or borrow a demo model and learn the progression of shaping a bevel, sharpening and edge maintenance from the team at Work Sharp. You will get hands-on practice and experience sharpening your blade using a variety of sharpeners and abrasives, from whetstones to belts.
  • Originality: Experimentation, Innovation and Ingenuity, Lucas Cao, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Room 107—Why are some people more creative than others? Can creativity be learned? Lucas Cao, founder of Squid Industries, explores tools and techniques that anyone can apply to become more original.

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Lockback whittler class at Blade University
Tim Robertson won Best Locking Folder at BLADE Show West ’22 for his lockback whittler and will cover how to make this most difficult pocketknife of all to build in his class Saturday at 9:45 a.m. (SharpByCoop image)
  • Elevating Your Handle Appearance: Spine Filework, Handle Shapes and Pin Placement, Kyle Daily, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Room 113—Enhance the appearance of your knife with distinctive features that go far beyond standard production models. Knifemaker Kyle Daily from KHDaily Knives guides you through the intricate art of filework on the spine, while also sharing insights into handle design and the pin placement on your handle. Discover Kyle’s preferred files and specialized equipment for crafting his five most popular filework patterns, ensuring your knife not only looks exceptional but also feels comfortable and functional. From laying out your pattern to a step-by-step tutorial, this class provides the essential knowledge to achieve a professional and eye-catching finish. A Q&A session at the end will ensure you leave with the skills and knowledge to take your knifemaking to the next level.
  • Insert Welding with Bob Kramer, 9:30 to 11 a.m., Room 104—Understand how to forge weld inserts with high precision and control to create realistic depictions of animals and patterns in this BLADE University offering. This will be an exclusive opportunity to experience the technique that Bob Kramer created with fellow ABS master smith Tom Ferry and shared with the masses.
  • How to Make the Most Difficult Pocketknife, Tim Robertson, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m., Room 107—An award-winning maker of slipjoints and a charter member of the South Texas Slipjoint Cartel, Tim Robertson will address perhaps the most difficult pocketknife to build: the lockback whittler. He will outline what makes the classic slipjoint/lockback folder so demanding to make, with a major focus on backspring design and function, the two areas of the knife that work against each other. He also will cover the correct sequence of parts preparation and the proper order of construction steps that reduces mistakes and helps ensure a successfully completed knife.
  • The Process Is the Product, TJ Schwarz, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Room 113—TJ Schwarz is the founder of Schwarz Knives, an Idaho-based manufacturer of premium outdoor fixed blades. He has over a decade of freelance knife design experience with many models in circulation, a patent, and two BLADE Show awards to show for it. Schwarz will share his insights on how to create a successful knife business, including the key point of understanding actually what it is that you’re selling.
  • Let the Pros Critique Your Knife, 2:15 to 3:15 p.m., Room 114—Award-winning knifemakers David Carver, Enrique Pena and Luke Swenson and ABS master smiths Bob Kramer and Jim Rodebaugh will share decades of knowledge and experience to critique the knife you made. They will go over every square inch of it and tell you what’s good, what’s not and how to make it better. Bring one knife only. Questions from attendees will be entertained throughout.
  • Hands on Sharpening, the team at Work Sharp, 2:15 to 3:15 p.m., Room 113—What happens when a knife gets dull? How do you know when to sharpen it? Bring your own knife or borrow a demo model and learn the progression of shaping a bevel, sharpening and edge maintenance from the team at Work Sharp at this BLADE University class. You will get hands-on practice and experience sharpening your blade using a variety of sharpeners and abrasives, from whetstones to belts.
  • Making Scissors in a Knife Workshop, Grace Horne, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Room 107—Have you ever thought about making scissors but don’t know where to start? If you’re curious about scissors or just want to expand your knowledge, this session is for you. Whether you want to have a go at restoring old scissors or forging your own from scratch, the basic information is the same—and it’s notoriously poorly documented. Dr. Grace Horne will give a whirlwind tour through the early history of scissors, describe methods of producing the blanks, give inside information on the twist and the curve, and highlight critical areas to consider. Most importantly, she will describe her method of scissors making that requires no specialized tools or equipment.
  • Pattern Welding Panel, 4 to 5 p.m., Room 104—Salem Straub, Mareko Maumasi, Charlie Ellis, Josh Prince and Will Stelter will explain how they created their collaborative Consortium billet, including each of the steps that went into creating this wild mosaic billet, and then open up to general questions about damascus forging and pattern development.

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