Bladesmithing has been a life long obsession for me.
I’ve always enjoyed making things and working with my hands. I grew up collecting knives and quickly realized I wanted to make my own. I wanted to learn as much as I could. I bought every knife making book I could fine. I started trying to learn on my own and my grandfather let me use his tools and encouraged me to pursue the craft. Three years later I met my friend and mentor Ed Fowler. I moved from Texas to Wyoming to start my apprenticeship. This time in my life really helped mold me into the man I am today. This was a good learning experience about life and knives.
Ed is a Bladesmith and a Rancher. He taught me about work ethic and the cowboy way of life.
I think society is missing out with the lost of apprenticeships these days. The world today could use a little hard work and some ranch wisdom.
Down the road I went to work two days a week in a machine shop owned by two men that would become a great mentors and friends. Once I saw the capability’s of the machine shop I realized that learning these skills would really help me become a better knifemaker. Looking back on it I can’t recommend enough if you want to get into bladesmithing learn as much as you can about forging, machining, fabrication, welding, heat treating, manufacturing, time management and business. I absolutely love forging, unfortunately that’s only a small part of the process to make a complete knife. I love taking raw material and turning into some functional and beautiful. Even though I teach classes I still love to learn. There are so many cool things to explore. I love a challenge and chasing the craft keeps me motivated. The sky is the limit.
My love of metalwork grew as I got older. Now at 35 years old I’m a Machinist turned full time Bladesmith. Chase your dreams because they’re not going to chase you. I thank the Lord for blessing me with the opportunity to pursue my passion. Thank you to my family, friends and customers for helping JDCK become a reality.
The article below tells some of highlights my bladesmithing journey.
Knifenews.com recently did this story on me and my latest model. Thank you to Ben Schwartz for helping tell my story.
Fort Worth, Texas-based Jeff Davidson recently passed one year as a full-time knife maker, after many years making a name for himself forging customs part-time. The Ibex Hunter, a new stock removal model going up for sale this week, brings Davidson’s work to a new audience.
“People ask when my interest in knives started and that’s difficult to answer, because as far back as I can remember I was collecting knives,” says Davidson. “When we would go on vacation I would ask my parents to take me to knife stores because that’s what I always wanted as a souvenir.” During a trip to Opryland in Nashville, Davidson encountered a blacksmith doing a demonstration: “He forged out some scrolls and leaves, and eventually he took out some knives. That was the ‘a-ha’ moment for me,” Davidson recalls. It was his first exposure to a handmade knife and it made a deep impression.
Inspired by the sight of a custom blade, Davidson embarked on his first youthful attempt at knifemaking. “I started a charcoal fire in my backyard, laid a pipe on a brick, and tried to hammer it into a knife,” he tells us, candidly admitting that the results were less than ideal. But Davidson stuck with knives throughout his teen years, collecting and studying the technical aspects of the craft. As soon as he turned 18, he lit out from Texas, traveling across the country for an apprenticeship under storied knife maker Ed Fowler. It was a demanding, fulfilling period in Davidson’s life. “We worked on the ranch during the day and made knives at night, seven days a week. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Until now, much of Davidson’s output has been full custom, forged knives. “To me, forging means chasing the craft. I love old tools, old world craftsmanship,” he reflects. “Being able to take something mundane and turn it into something cool right there on the anvil.” A batch of a model Davidson calls the Ibex Hunter is arriving with KnivesShipFree this week, representing a new avenue of output for Davidson. Instead of forged pieces, these are made via stock removal, although every knife is ground and finished by hand. “This batch is kind of an in-between for me, where I’m blending the hand-finished details of my customs with the uniformity of stock removal production,” Davidson says.
He goes on to the Ibex Hunter itself as a knife very much in the tradition of blades smiths have been making since the very beginning – that is, a capable, well-rounded outdoor tool. Says Davidson: “It’s really meant to fill a medium-sized hunting knife role. Something for hunting, hiking, and camping, that’s robust but still not a tank or super heavy.” But the relative compactness gives it some EDCability too; Davidson also notes that the rounded ricasso area creates an idea pinch point for detail work or even food prep.
In addition to making knives of his own, Davidson teaches aspiring makers the ropes in his Fundamentals of Forging classes. “I really get to know the folks I’m teaching, and at the end everyone walks out with a really good looking knife,” says Davidson. It means a lot if he can help someone else start down the road to forging. “It all comes back to that one word: ‘Passion.’ I think a lot of people go through life without ever finding that one thing they were meant to do. Everything else I’ve done leads back to knives and chasing the craft.”
The Ibex Hunter will be available at KnivesShipFree tomorrow morning, Friday September 23rd, at 9am EST. If you’re in the Fort Worth area in November, Davidson will be co-hosting a “hammer in” at Texas Farrier Supply in Kennedale on November 5th, with demos and open anvil time throughout the day.
Knife in Featured Image: Jeff Davidson Ibex Hunter