Midweek Maker Forged-Style: David McConnell

Midweek Maker Forged-Style: David McConnell
Bladesmith David McConnell puts on a forging demonstration at Black Iron Days at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling, Michigan. Every August blacksmiths from all over Michigan and a few from Ohio host demonstrations for the public for the whole weekend.

David McConnell is a stamping press repairman who hopes to convert to full-time bladesmithing soon. His first knife, was a cheap Wal-Mart special. Over the years he got frustrated with the lack of quality in such knives and began thinking about making his own. He knew he could make a better knife for himself, and he did. Only his buddy loved it so much that he bought it from him, David said, laughing.

North Woods Forge offers old-school styles of knives and tools.
David McConnell of North Woods Forge in Michigan. He forges, preferring a primitive style, using natural materials..

The self-taught bladesmith has been making knives for 11 now, including tomahawks and axes. “I like to make hunting knives and more traditional stuff,” David noted.

David McConnell of North Woods Forge used dyed and stabilize curly maple to make this bowie.
David McConnell made this bowie with an 8-inch blade of 1075 steel. The handle is blue-dyed and stabilized curly maple. Blue curly maple bowie. Guard is nickel silver. Overall length is 14 1/4 inches. Contacts listed at the bottom of this article.

He is an avid grouse and deer hunter, as well as and ice and fly fisherman. He lives in Kalkaska, Michigan, with his wife and 15-year-old son.

David McConnell of North Woods Forge helped his son Parker catch a trout at the National Trout Festival in Kalkaska, Michigan.
David McConnell started teaching his son Parker McConnell to fish early in life. The National Trout Festival, now in its 81st year, is held in April in Kalkaska, Michigan. Parker got this trout in the kid’s pond.
  • Best-selling knife patterns: 3 ½- to 4-inch-bladed bird-and-trout, 4- to 7-inch-bladed straight-back hunter, classic bowie
  • Favorite blade steels: W2 for hamon, toughness, ease of forging and grinding; 1075 for ease of forging and heat-treating
  • Blade grinds: flat ground, sometimes with appleseed edge
  • How he tests his knives: “If it can cut a nail and have no deformation or chipping and still stay shaving-sharp, I would have to say that’s a pretty good blade,” David commented.
  • Favorite handle materials: bone, wood, antler. “I just like the feel and warmth you get from natural materials.”
  • Price range: $85-$600
  • Knife shows he attends: local gun-and-knife shows and blacksmithing events
  • Member of: American Bladesmith Society
  • Forums he participates in: ABS
  • His website: www.northwoodsforge.com
David McConnell of North Woods Forge only forges his knives; he does not do stock-removal.
This 15-inch bowie has a 8 7/8-inch blade, flat-ground, appleseed-edged and forged from 1084 cable-patterned steel. The handle is made from axis deer crown antler with a brass guard and blue and white fiber spacers. Maker’s list price: $375.
Black Iron Days takes place every August in Grayling, Michigan. David McConnell goes each year to help with bladesmithing demonstrations.
Bladesmith David McConnell puts on a forging demonstration at Black Iron Days at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling, Michigan. Every August blacksmiths from all over Michigan and a few from Ohio host demonstrations for the public for the whole weekend.
This ulu was forged by David McConnell of North Woods Forge.
North Woods Forge’s ulu has a 4 1/2-inch blade forged from 1095 steel. The handle is made from whitetail antler. David McConnell loves making primitive pieces and being an avid deer hunter, he often opts for antler material.

Contact David McConnell at 989-858-6344northwoodsforge@yahoo.com or on Facebook at North Woods Forge.

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  1. During the eighties actor Paul Hogan played an Australian character known as Mick “Crocodile” Dundee who is bushman that falls in love with a woman from New York. In the film, Crocodile Dundee utters a famous movie line that states: “That’s not a knife. This is a knife.” Dundee was referring to the large sized knife that he usually carries around with him. He was being confronted by a group of knife wielding hoodlums when he spoke this line. The knife that it is used in both Crocodile Dundee films is considered a hunting or Bowie knife.

    The Dundee knife was created by an Australian gunsmith named John Bowring. He was approached by the studio that produced Crocodile Dundee film and asked to make an original knife for the Dundee character. Bowring agreed and produced the famous Dundee knife.
    The Crocodile Dundee knife has some minor changes to it which gives it a different look from a Bowie knife. The Dundee knife has a half of a brass guard which is facing downward instead of pointing up. The blade of the Dundee knife has a deep groove in it and the handle isn’t wooden. The materials for the handle are made out of twine or leather strands.

    People who earn their living in the wild think that the Crocodile Dundee knife is the ultimate survival knife. Many experts agree that the Crocodile Dundee knife would be suitable for outdoor use.

    When Bowring created the Dundee knives he only made two original models and many replicas. In the movie the original knives were used for close up shots and the replicas were used for combat sequences. After the films were completed Paul Hogan and another person received the original knives with the promise to never put them up for sale. Hogan has supposedly honored his commitment and still retains the original Crocodile Dundee knife.

    The Dundee knife was also used in the second film featuring Crocodile Dundee and it too created a huge demand from audiences and fans. The Crocodile Dundee knife isn’t manufactured by any company though Bowring makes the knives available for customers. A lot of knife enthusiasts were amazed by Dundee’s knife and wanted one for their own collections. However, many of them realized that the knives were not mass produced by any particular company. Since the Dundee knives are rare they’re very valuable and hard to obtain. They’re also expensive and owners could charge a person thousands of dollars if they decided to sell one of these knives.

    Many Dundee knife owners try to hold onto their knives because of their craftsmanship. They also try their best not to use their Dundee knife since would cause the item to depreciate. It has been almost 30 years since Crocodile Dundee was popular Bowring probably no longer makes this type of knife available for the public since it has been nearly 30 years since Crocodile Dundee was a popular movie.


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