The American Bladesmith Society’s rigorous admissions test is not survived by everyone—here are nine who did!
Earning the Journeyman rating from the American Bladesmith Society is a milestone in the career of any smith. Here we meet nine who have reached that milestone.
Nine Who Passed
The nine new JS Smiths are Michael Christensen, Michael Deibert, Daniel Erickson, Dana Hackney, Kenneth Hall, Dietrich Podmajersky, Steve Randall, Bob Singleton and Dave Wenger. Each received his JS certificate from Dr. Jim Batson, ABS President. A short biographical sketch of each new JS follows in alphabetical order.
Michael Christensen was born on a farm in north central Iowa in 1943, the son of a farmer and a schoolteacher. As a boy, Michael loved hunting and fishing, and he seldom left the house without a pocketknife. He attended Iowa State University, earning a BS in science education. After a couple of years teaching and coaching, he returned to college and earned an MS in biology. He worked for Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company for a few years, and after graduating from the University of Loyola School of Dentistry, he worked for more than 25 years in the VA Hospital system.
Mike Deibert is a native of Bellevue, Ohio, the son of a railroad machinist and a registered nurse. He attended Mecca Community College where he earned an associate degree in graphic arts and later a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bowling Green State University. From 1987 until 1993 he served in the Ohio National Guard as a combat engineer.
Daniel Erickson began his life in Missoula, Montana, in 1970. Daniel studied architecture at an area college for two years where he learned the relationship between form and function. During his college days, he discovered photography and found that this art could be a visual vocabulary. “One can change the angle, strip away the distraction, and capture the essence,” is how he explains it.
Dana Hackney was born in 1949 at Ft. Clayton in the Panama Canal Zone. His father was a career soldier who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, retiring as a Lt. Colonel after 30 years of service. His mother immigrated from Germany to the United States as a child and later received her RN from the Michael Reese School of Nursing. She enlisted in the U.S. Army as a nurse and met Dana’s father at Camp Polk, Louisiana, where they were married.
Kenneth Hall is a native of North Carolina, and lived in various areas of the Tar Hill State as his father, a pastor, moved from Elizabeth City to Hickory and later to Raeford. After high school, Ken attended North Carolina State University and earned a degree in electrical engineering. After working in this field for a number of years, including a 14-year stint in Washington, D.C., he returned to his native state and today has his own consulting service in the electric utility industry.
Dietrich Podmajersky was born in Amarillo, Texas, in 1972. Dietrich earned an Associate of Art degree in Industrial Design from the Art Institute of Seattle. Later, in 2001 he attended a three-day class in the Basic Art of Blacksmithing, and in 2005 he completed the Introduction to Bladesmithing course at the W.F. Moran School of Bladesmithing in Washington, Arkansas, where his instructors were Masters Michael Connor and Harvey Dean.
Steve Randall was born in Okinawa, Japan in 1960, where his father was a Chief Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force. Steve earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Wayland Baptist University in 1982, the same year that he received his commercial pilot rating. He has worked for US Airways for the past 24 years. Today, he’s based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Rob Singleton was born in 1964 in Asheville, North Carolina, and following graduation from high school, he attended Haywood College in nearby Clyde where he majored in Fish and Wildlife Management. After this, he joined the U.S. Army where he served in the 101st Airborne Division, the famous “Screaming Eagles” of “Band of Brothers” fame. After his hitch was over, he worked on the Asheville Fire Department, retiring in 2011 as a captain.
Dave Wenger was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1978, which was where he would become a journeyman tool and die maker, but when this industry “went south,” he followed his dad’s footsteps and became a professional landscaper.
Best Of The New Journeymen—George Peck Award
After the judging is complete for the journeyman ratings, the judges select what they consider to be the best knife in the room. This session, they chose a large Bowie made by Michael Deibert, who received the George Peck Award.
Journeyman Smith Requirements
- ABS Member for two years
- Knife must chop two pine 2x4s with no damage to the 10-inch test blade
- Must sever a 1-inch hanging rope with one swipe (after the board chop)
- Knife must shave hair after the two previous cuts
- Blade must bend to 90 degrees without breaking
- After passing the above tests—five carbon steel knives are made
- Five knives are reviewed by a critical seven-member judging panel
- Work must be approved by a majority of the seven-member panel
By B.R. Hughes
Photos furnished by the Journeymen
Story and Photos by Abe Elias
Want to put an end to your anxiety, especially when you’re on vacation, wondering if some lowlife has broken into your home and stolen your prize knives? Buy a safe.
After all, knives should be protected as things of value — and they are valuable — and not just in dollars. They also have an emotional worth and are a personal expression of what you find desirable. The monetary value extends beyond the purchase price. There is also the time and money it cost to go find them.
Therefore, if you have taken the time to collect them, it is essential to protect them. Here’s how to do it. Read more…
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A gentleman in a suit was walking the aisle with a notepad in his hand. The guy from the booth beside me had already packed up and left.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the gentleman advised.
“I wish I didn’t have to, but I have a plane to catch.”
Little did I know that the gentleman was Jerry Van Dijik, the guy in charge at the SHOT Show. Read more…
Hawaiian knifemaker Ken Onion designed his hunting knife for Columbia River Knife & Tool only after concluding an extensive field-testing program spanning more than five years. He made dozens of custom skinners and gave them to Alaskan guides, professional hunters and taxidermists in exchange for their feedback. He kept modifying the design and sending out more knives, which have now been used to skin more than 60 Alaskan bears and have been proven on deer, elk, moose, antelope, hogs, sheep and cattle.
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The Story of How the Elishewitz/George Collaborations Came to Be
By Les George
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I’m always eager to learn, and most of the time to try something new. I didn’t have to think to hard to get my answer, “Yes.” Read more…
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I am guilty of something similar. When I pick up a big knife especially one in a tactical configuration, I find myself asking the question; “is this something I would have carried as a Rifle Platoon Leader in the 101st Airborne?” When it comes to the fighter built by Shawn Knowles the answer is a resounding “yes.” Read more…