ABS Mastersmith

Speaking of the term, ABS Mastersmith, it means "Master of Iron" or "Craftsman of Craftsmen" in the world of forged knives, and not everyone can become one.

Proficient makers like Scott Taylor and Michael Manabe, whom I had introduced
before, though aiming to become masters themselves, are still not able to fulfill their goals.

7" Urban Hunter - 320 Layers Pool and Eye Pattern
Damascus. Golden Tree Rings Guard with Desert
Ironwood and Stag Handle.
Owned by: Xavier Calvados

In all of the United States, which is filled with custom knife makers, there are only about 50 ABS Mastersmiths currently. Nobody can imagine the strictness of its functional test and judging.

In order to become an ABS member, one has to take a functional test with a self-made carbon steel blade.


1. In one try, cut a manila rope that is one inch in diameter hanging from the ceiling.

2. Secure two pine 2x4's together, and then cut them up.

3. After that, without touching up the edge, shave the underarm hair.

4. Place the blade in between a vise and bend it upright and plane it. At this point if the knife breaks or cracks, you will fail.

At this contest, all-round accomplishment such as the finishing of each part, balance, and designing sense are required. Every year they have different judges, but they are all meticulous judges some of whom are ABS's leading figures, and not a few makers fail at this judging. 

If you are accepted at this Atlanta show, you can become a "journeyman" as an official member. Yet, you still are not a master.

In order to become a Master, you have to pass another similar test and judging with your Damascus blade knife. The condition to become a Mastersmith is to be able to create a functional plus beautiful Damascus knife.

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This article has been reproduced with the permission of Knife Magazine. It was featured in their August 1999 Issue. Copyright © 1999 Knife.

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