Top custom makers from around the world showcase rarefied knives at the annual ABS auction.
Each year when the BLADE Show rolls into Atlanta, the American Bladesmith Society (ABS) holds its auction of selected knives forged by ABS master and journeyman smiths. Here is a gander at the knives that crossed the block at the exclusive auction! ABS master smith and instructor Brion Tomberlin serves as a director and secretary of the society, and he handles the ABS auction from start to finish.
“I choose the smiths, mainly from the recent journeyman and master smiths who have gotten their stamps that year,” he explained, “and I also ask other master smiths and journeyman smiths, basically whoever I can get to say yes! The proceeds go to the general fund of the ABS.”
Support for the ongoing educational activities and programs of the ABS is vital to the health and future of the craft. Participants are honored to be involved and have their handiwork sold at auction by ABS director Robert Wilson. For years, Wilson has served as the event’s auctioneer, and Tomberlin said he likes to go with experience. For this year’s auction, several outstanding knives, both by American and international bladesmiths, will be available.
International ABS Journeyman Smith Knife—Jeremy Yelle: Gentleman’s Bowie
Jeremy Yelle, a 22-year-old bladesmith from Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, is excited to be involved and to offer one of two international journeyman smith knife entries. “I truly love the ABS and what it does,” he said, “and I felt like giving it my first-ever journeyman smith piece was the honorable thing to do.
“I personally love the antique and classic look of older knives, which is why I chose to make a coffin-handle bowie. The handle is a coffin shape, which happens to be a partial takedown. It has several lineup pins, my textured and fire etched 416 stainless steel fittings and a 416 textured spacer.”
Jeremy has been making knives for about five years, and his mosaic damascus blade was inspired by the process he learned from ABS master smith David Lisch. The handle of Jeremy’s gentleman’s bowie is particularly noteworthy with Canadian maple burl from Maritime Knife Supply that he stabilized and dyed. The knife is completed by a protective case.
International ABS Journeyman Smith Knife
Maker: Jeremy Yelle
Knife name: Gentleman’s Bowie
Blade length: 8.625 inches
Blade material: Mosaic damascus of 15N20 nickel alloy and 1084 carbon steels
Handle material: Canadian maple burl
Overall length: 13.5 inches
International ABS Journeyman Smith Knife—Pablo Lanaspa: Bisaurin
The second international journeyman smith knife entry is from Pablo Lanaspa Ubeira from the small town of Berdun in the north of Spain. “I am very grateful to the ABS for bringing me the opportunity to make this knife,” he said. “Special thanks to Brion for his kindness and ability to help in every circumstance.”
Ubeira has been making knives since 2008, and this piece, a bowie-inspired design, comes with a zippered case. “I was already a collector and then started to make my own blades from recycled steel when I made a rudimentary coal forge and a small belt grinder,” he said of his earlier days. His knife features a blade with a hamon that is clay differentiated and hardened. The blade is also slightly recurved with a full sharpened edge on the back, while the wood used for the handle, Australian ringed gidgee, is a gift from Belgian ABS master smith Sam Lurquin.
International ABS Journeyman Smith Knife
Maker: Pablo Lanaspa Ubeira
Knife name: Bisaurin
Blade length: 12 inches
Blade material: W2 steel with hamon
Handle material: Australian ringed gidgee wood
Overall length: 17 inches
U.S. ABS Journeyman Smith Knife—Joshua States: Stylized Quillon Dagger
Can you think of a better name for a maker of a United States journeyman smith knife than Joshua States? Of New River, Arizona, Joshua fashioned his U.S. JS model as a stylized version of a quillon dagger. “The coffin-frame handle is a complex build, and the blade is flat ground on the bevels with a central fuller,” he explained. “I took my first class with Tim Hancock, and that was a game changer. Previous to that I had spent about a year trying to do things without any training or reference material.”
According to States, his JS knife was originally undertaken as a commission. “A customer had seen a similar dagger I had made in 2014 and wanted a copy of that knife,” he recalled. “Unfortunately, he passed away soon after I had made the blade, and I hadn’t started making any of the other parts. So, I was now free to redesign the handle/guard/finial.”
Joshua also made the leather sheath with minor decorative tooling and a multi-color dye job. The leather is 5/16-inch thick in a heavy oak tanned sole bend.
U.S. ABS Journeyman Smith Knife
Maker: Joshua States
Knife pattern: Stylized quillon dagger
Blade length: 11 inches
Blade material: Pattern-welded 1095 carbon and 15N20 nickel-alloy steels, and nickel
Handle material: Pattern-welded frame/desert ironwood scales
Overall length: 16.3 inches
Sheath: Hand-tooled-and-stitched leather
U.S. ABS Master Smith Folder—Bill Burke: Lanny’s Clip
One of two U.S. master smith knives to be auctioned is a folder from Bill Burke of the Boise, Idaho, area. A custom knifemaker for 25 years, Bill pays homage to the late Tony Bose, BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® slipjoint making wizard, with a Lanny’s Clip pocketknife in a shark’s tooth damascus blade and mammoth ivory scales. “A lockbar and spacer of damascus are included,” Bill said, “with integral liners and bolsters.” The liners are fileworked and the knife comes with a zippered case.
U.S. ABS Master Smith Folder
Maker: Bill Burke
Knife name: Lanny’s Clip
Blade length: 3.25 inches
Blade material: Shark’s tooth damascus of 15N20 nickel-alloy and 1080 carbon steels
Handle material: Mammoth ivory
Lock mechanism: Lockback
Closed length: 4.1875 inches
U.S. Master Smith Knife—Nick Rossi: Hybrid European Chef
Nick Rossi of Vassalboro, Maine, contributed an integral European hybrid chef’s knife with a 50-layer twist damascus blade and curly koa handle as the second U.S. master smith knife. Both blade and handle are fashioned in the 25-year-veteran smith’s signature styles. The blade is flat ground with a subtle convex edge, and the handle features a bronze domed pin and a G-10 spacer. “This is my favorite type of knife to make,” he said. “It features an integral bolster, which makes it stronger and gives it better balance. It was inspired by European chef’s knives with a little Japanese flavor.” The knife comes complete with a padded case.
U.S. Master Smith Knife
Maker: Nick Rossi
Knife name: Hybrid European Chef
Blade length: 7.5 inches
Blade material: A twist damascus of 1084 carbon and 15N20 nickel-alloy steels
Handle material: Curly koa
Overall length: 12 inches
T.O.M.B. Knife—Steve Culver: Fighter
This year’s T.O.M.B. (The Order of the Mystic Brotherhood) Knife is by ABS master smith Steve Culver of Meriden, Kansas. Culver has been an active knifemaker for 36 years, and his fighter was inspired by “all the cool recurve bowies that I’ve seen others make.”
In fact, the knife is Steve’s first venture into the recurve blade style. The blade is 220-layer ladder-pattern damascus, while the handle is Arizona desert ironwood with guard and spacer materials of anodized titanium and stainless steel. Steve also made the lined sheath, which sports lizard skin inlay.
Maker: Steve Culver
Knife pattern: Fighter
Blade length: 8 inches
Blade material: Ladder-pattern damascus of 15N20 nickel-alloy and 1084 carbon steels
Handle material: Desert ironwood
Overall length: 13.125 inches
Sheath: Lined and features lizard-skin inlay
More On Custom Knives:
- Chute Knife: Full-Spectrum Warrior
- Cool Custom: Richard Dawes’ Dog-Bone Bowie
- Huber Foxworth Bowie: The Men Behind The Blade
- Bowie Knife: Shorter Customs Are Where It’s At
Knife Guide Issue features the newest knives and sharpeners, plus knife and axe reviews, knife sheaths, kit knives and a Knife Industry Directory.
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