James (J.) Neilson is an American Bladesmith Society Mastersmith who works from his “shop in the woods” in the endless mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
In Canister Damascus, J. demonstrates how to forge weld two different types of canister damascus. In the first demonstration, J. builds an upright can using small ball bearings and powdered steel. In the second demonstration, J. lays out a canoe canister using larger ball bearings and roller bearings.
In Bowie Knives, J. takes the bar of ball bearing damascus that he made in the “Canister Damascus with J. Neilson” video, and he forges out a Bowie knife. The knife is completed with a wrought iron guard and spacer, and it has a handle made of Sambar stag.
In early February of 2001, a friend of mine sent me to a web site that showed how to make a knife with hand tools. Using that tutorial, I completed my first knife in mid February. It was a very basic skinner with oak scales. It wasn't the greatest knife, but I was very proud of it at the time.
I knew after completing that knife that I wanted to make more. I was fortunate enough to meet several other knifemakers in the area who were willing to take me on and teach me the skill.
I now primarily make folding knives, and my specialty is building slipjoints. I've always liked the traditional patterns, and there's nothing like the walk-and-talk of a knife with a good strong spring.
Tips and Tricks
Basic Pouch Sheaths
Leather Tips from a Master
Scale Release Autos
Lever Action Autos
Chris Crawford of Saltillo made his first knife in 2001, having learned the skill from the late Ted McMinn of Mooreville.
As the years passed, he has sharpened his skills and gained experience. He starts with bare materials and finishes with a handcrafted knife.
Everyone likes a nice little folder. I’m not talking about one with a pocketclip, just a good, little slip joint, something that can be used for everyday chores like opening boxes, cleaning fingernails, or picking out splinters. I was raised on slip joints, barlows, Kissing Cranes, Schrade Old Timers and a host of others. What is cool is that you can still find the old ones at knife shows. I have both of my father’s Old Timers that are worn almost to nothing on the blades.
With nostalgia about slip joints still running strong, Chris Crawford offers the EDC-1. It looks great but does it perform? Let’s see.