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Nine New Journeymen Bladesmiths

February 28, 2013

Journeymen Bladesmiths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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