New Member from Ocala, FL
My name is Erik Milton. I am originally from Moore, Oklahoma, but recently retired from the Air Force where I was a Biomedical Equipment Repair Technician. I currently reside in Ocala, Florida and work as a Librarian. I recently made my first knife, and now I wish I would have gone to the Blacksmith School that I passed everyday on my way to the University of Oklahoma 30 years ago. I am looking forward to learning, and making friends.
Thank you for the tip Michael. I am also really close to Steve Schwarzer. I would really like to spend a couple of days with him at the forge, and maybe learn a great deal about Damascus patterns from him.
Welcome to the forums! Responses will likely be limited right now, because most folks are at the Blade Show in Atlanta. I would typically be there too, but for health reasons I've had to stop going to shows, and now conduct all of my business through the internet or in person at my Montana shop.
Thanks for your service! I to am retired USAF, retiring out of a RED HORSE unit as Supt of Airfields. I juggled both full time military, and full time Bladesmithing for most of my AF career. I achieved both my JS and MS ratings while I was full time AF.
During my last deployment to "The Desert", my wife asked me.... "Are you going to be a full time Knifemaker when you retire?" Retire!?.... we'd never considered/talked about that before. When I got home from that deployment, my Mrs had sourced the materials, and had plans for a new Forging shop!
The coolest part was that my Commander heard about me building a new shop (I still suspect my Mrs tipped him off), called me in, and asked if he were to grant permission, would I be willing to have my "Supervisors" "train airmen" while building my new shop. YES SIR! We can do that! 😀. Having 40+ people on site, the "training" went great, and my new shop was up in less then a week! (shop size is 20' X 58" with a 10' overhand on one end, monolithic foundation, with hot water heat in the floor). I retired two years later with 22+ years and literally took off my uniform one day, and put on my boots and jeans the next, and have been full time Bladesmithing and teaching ever since.
My advice.... If you can get a couple days with Steve...DO IT! He was making "mosaic" Damascus before the rest of us even knew what it was, and is truly one of modern Bladesmithing's Pioneers. It's also a good idea to take at least a Basic Bladesmithing class, either through the ABS, or via one of it's Bladesmiths. Trust me, it will be only the beginning. I've been at for 35 years now, and can tell you this.... EVERY DAY that I go into the shop, I learn something new. I believe that's what's always kept Bladesmithing new and fresh for me... it's a never ending learning scenario.
Best of luck in your retirement!
Thank you Ed, and thank you for your service as well.
I wanted to start bladesmithing about 10 years ago; however, my ex-wife wasn't really supportive in getting started. My current wife actually wants to take classes with me. I have a few things going on right now, getting 2 kids off to college in the fall, but we are taking a 2 day class together at Crooked Path Forge in Gainesville, most likely in October. I've tried twice to take a couple of days off to learn from Steve, but things always seem to interfere, 1st time it was COVID, and second time was divorce. I learned quite a bit about him and Lora when I first moved to Florida, and then I've watched all of the YouTube videos he has done with Jason Knight and Will Stelter. I really hope that after October, I will finally be able to make my way over to his shop for a day or two. Most of my family still lives in Oklahoma, so I am hoping next time I go visit, I will be able to take about a Month off and stop in Texarkana so I can take the Intro to Bladesmithing, Handles and Guards, and Damascus Steel at the Bill Moran School.