Welcome to mastersmith.com!

What is an ABS Mastersmith?
When I first started Bladesmithing in 1988, I set two goals. The first was to produce the best blade possible. The second was to some day test for the Mastersmith rating. An ABS Mastersmith has reached the level of excellence in his or her work. We have mastered all facets of forging, heat treating and finishing a knife. We never stop learning, but now have reached a level, that we can teach our skills to others with confidence and repeatable results. My Mastersmith rating brings me pride, prestige and most of all the personal satisfaction that comes with reaching a goal that fewer than 80 people (currently) have attained.

The Requirements:
According to the American Bladesmith Society (ABS) a Mastersmith must have been a Journeyman Smith for a minimum of one full year before testing for the performance part of the test. This test must be observed and administered by an ABS Mastersmith. The applicant must have personally forged and performed all work on the test blade, with no other person physically assisting in it's construction or heat treating. Applicants for Master Smith rating must test with a Pattern Welded Damascus Blade of at least 300 layers. There are three parts to both the Journeyman and Mastersmith performance tests. The only difference between the two tests is that the Mastersmith applicant must test with a Pattern Welded Damascus Blade.

The Test:
1. A one inch diameter rope is to be hung so that the end is not touching the floor and hangs loose. The applicant must sever the rope with one stroke of the knife approximately six inches from the end. This tests the knifes edge geometry and sharpness.

2. A two by four must be chopped completely through at least two times and the knife must still be capable of shaving hair. Any knicks, flat spots, chips, rolled edges or other deformations of the blade will result in failure. This tests edge toughness of the knife. 

3. A line is marked approximately one third distance from the tip of the blade. The blade is inserted point first in a vise and the blade is bent no less than 90 degrees. The blade may crack at the edge on bending but not beyond two thirds the width of the blade. If any of the blade chips, or any part of the blade or tang breaks off the applicant fails (this is true for any part of the test).

Next is the Show Requirement - The Mastersmith applicant must present at least five forged knifes of various styles. The test knife and the "Art knife" required (a European Style Quillion Dagger) must be of 300 or more layers of Pattern Welded Damascus Steel. The applicant for the Show Requirement must have held the rank of Journeyman Smith for at least two years.

My testing was in the Oregon shop of Mastersmith Wayne Goddard. My test knife not only passed the three tests with flying colors but came through with no cracking whatsoever at the edge.

About Ellis Custom Knives:

After much experimentation and research, in 1988 I decided that forging would be the preferred method of producing quality blades. 

I forge and/or grind, heat-treat and finish all of my knives personally. There are no helpers in my shop and I do not depend upon outside heat-treating sources. High Carbon Steels such as 5160, 1095, 1060, 0-1 and 52100 are my steels of choice as well as my own Pattern welded Damascus and Cable. All carbon steel blades are double or triple hardened and tempered four times for toughness.

My guarantee is simple. For my lifetime I will repair or replace a defective knife (my choice). I cannot guarantee natural handle materials, neglect or misuse of a knife as I have no control over these items.
I specialize in Fighters and Bowie Knives. Most of my knives are truly "one of a kind". I have no set patterns and will occasionally take an order to a customers specifications. Custom orders currently run approximately four to six months and I usually have a few knives on hand for immediate delivery.

Most of my carbon steel blades are hand finished to an attractive 400 grit. I find this to be the easiest to keep up and it looks quite nice. Some of my knives exhibit one, two or three distinct temper lines indicating a hard edge and soft spine. Damascus blades are finished to 400 grit before etching.

I appreciate your interest in my hand-forged knives and I hope that I can meet your needs.
Dave Ellis

More Featured Knife Featured Articles

Each month I intend on putting a new featured article on my website. My first feature will be on Damascus Steel. Future articles will range from heat-treating methods, collecting tips and any other knife articles that I feel will be of interest to you. I will also be happy to take your suggestions for future articles of interest.

Knife Magazine-Treasure Hunting USA vol. 15
Damascus Steel
About Knife Shows
The Trail Taken To Reach the Pinnacle
Sharpening Knives
My Perception
Knife Pricing
Heat Treating
Ordering A Knife
Selecting The Correct Knife
Knife Photography
Knifemaking Equipment
Knife Terminology
Knife Collecting Part II
Web Site Selling
Knife Burnout
Knifemaking - Learning Your Craft

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