Awarded ABS Journeyman Smith rating.
Welcome to Dark Woods Forge.
I am Dee. I am the bladesmith and jeweller of this workshop.
I am the one who creates all the bits and pieces that are on this site. I believe strongly in the ideal of sole authorship, so what you purchase from here is 100% made by me and my hands.
I am happy to work to a design that you have, just as I am happy to offer my own designs and suggestions for whatever you might wish to add to your collection.
Below is some information about how I got started in this line of work and some basic information about my workshop.
Feel free to read through if you suffer from insomnia.
I have always been involved in art.
For as long as I remember I have always loved the appeal of blades and I have always dreamed of being able to make my own.
In fact, I remember asking my dad if he could make me a sword when I was just little. I felt a little disappointed when he made me a wooden one instead. But - I still have that sword sitting in my workshop to this day.
I took up martial arts when I was younger and this only fuelled my wish to be able to craft my own blade.
I have always searched for someone who would be able to point me in the right direction, but I was unable until 1999.
After finally finding people who had the knowledge, I wasn't able to find anyone who was willing to actually teach me. Soon, though, I was told by the AKC that they would help me find someone I could learn from.
Enter: Jack O'Brien. (JOB Field Cutlery)
Jack is the person that taught me the basics on how to forge a blade and tend to a charcoal fire. He has been like a father to me.
Getting Jack as a teacher was the best result I could have hoped for. Jack would be the first to tell you that he does not know everything there is to know. BUT - if I asked a question that couldnt be answered, we worked at finding the answer.
Since the start, I have learnt from many different people, pestering them via E-Mail or questioning them at shows and events. Most people in the knife making industry are fantastic people to deal with and a pleasure to speak to. The others are not worth mentioning.
Jack at the forge.
We still meet regularly to play about with fire.
After progressing in my knifemaking I had thought that it was time to learn a little more on how to decorate them. I looked to jewellery as I've always loved gemstones and precious metals.
I managed to find a gentleman by the name of Chris Hendry, who is the Master Jeweller who taught me my starting jewellery techniques. Once I had a good understanding of the basics I was able to learn more from other sources and adapt to my own style of doing things.
My workshop has recently moved again, making this a third generation workshop. The Undine generation.
My workshop is special to me. Its a place where I hide away for hours at a time, trying to make a lump of metal into a blade or a bar of silver into something shiney. Without it I end up feeling detached from my art.
Though I started out with a charcoal forge and file, things have moved on. I now have what I would call a fantastic workshop of wonder and total chaos. I know that few other people could use the machines I have built or, indeed, work in my workshop at all. But it suits my needs and it suits my way of things.
Me at the forge.
Some of the new forging area.
But despite the machines in my workshop, you will find that my blades are very much hand made. I take great pride in being able to look at a blade at its completion and think "I made this with my two hands".
Though I am constantly amazed by makers who managed to produce wonderful blades through the use of cnc machines and various other automated machinations.. I simply do not work like that. No - I did not say that people are wrong to make blades in that manner. I just prefer to work in a differing manner.
As for blade materials, I prefer to work in high carbon steels than the various stainless materials out there today, though I still do the odd stainless blade when requested to. I also favour using natural materials for the handles of my blades, especially the more interesting burls and figured woods, as they will bring out a wonderful grain that is an artwork in itself.
As for my jewellery I favour silver. I love the colour and the feel of it. I can also work in gold and other precious metals, but silver just has that special something I think. I also do a lot of bronze work for other odd things. Anything from club badges to belt buckles can be produced.
As all my brother and sister bladesmiths, I am seeking out that one perfect blade. The one that is 'Perfection'.
I do not know if I will ever find that perfection and part of me hopes strongly that I never do ..
Either way I will continually try to test my skills, techniques and knowledge and endeavour to move forward with each piece I make. With any luck I will produce many fine pieces between now and then.
I hope that you can find something on this site that appeals to you.
ABS Journeyman Smith
Early in 2010 I was lucky enough to meet ABS Mastersmith Wally Hayes and since then I have somehow ended up flying over to the US, testing with Wally and obtaining my Journeyman Smith rating.
I find it hard to describe how grateful I am for Wallys guidance and friendship. Truly - without his influence I would not have managed to gain my title.
Me and Wally at the 2010 Blade Show.