The finished result. Photo by Brian Crossman

Who doesn’t love the idea of creating something? It doesn’t matter if it’s a rat rod, perfectly smoked brisket, a renovation on your home or even a huge quilt. (Hey! I love me a nice quilt, especially in Saskatchewan winters!) The opportunity to start with very basic materials and turn them into something amazing is a human trait as old as time.

There seems to be a resurgence of people honing their skills in many different ways. Inside our own company we have guys that build things out of wood and metal. Some go bow hunting and make tasty sausage and jerky from the animals they harvest. We have guys making hot rods and repairing their buddy’s cars too. These are just good old-school skills. Sometimes you just have to take a step back to realize not all the young guys are home playing video games all night.

Photo by Brian Crossman

I myself am not super-talented, but I do enjoy building toys for my grandkids. I get a great deal of satisfaction when a small project goes from plans to actual finished piece. The same feeling when you have a successful project finished at work. There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment, content employees, delighted customers and money in the bank. (Please if anyone out there has ever accomplished this, tell me all about it. Really, please….)

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My wife Val and I love watching the Discovery and History channels. And by that I mean mostly me. (She’s big on HGTV, go figure) There is a show I have watched with great interest called “Forged in Fire.” I’m sure anyone reading this is familiar with the show, so I’ll just give y’all the cut and paste version. (My engineer friends who write the workover programs know what I’m sayin’…..)

Getting a little warm in here. Photo by Brian Crossman

They set up in a blacksmith shop, and hold a competition between experienced knife makers to make a specific blade in an allotted time frame. It is extremely fun to watch, and very informative as well. The competition is exciting, and with regularity the host yells out “One hour!” “One hour left!” (Kinda irritating for the contestant and viewer alike) But at the end, someone wins and some great blades are produced.

A while back, my sister put together a fun day for my brother’s birthday. The day included me, my two brothers-in-law, two nephews and my big bro. We got to spend a day playing real life “Forged in Fire.” A small business in Red Deer makes it their business to teach the art of knife-making. The company is called “Twisted Steel” (“Doing cool things with hot steel”) and let me tell you, these people do a great job. The owner Nick Welsch, along with helpers Jody and Julia (an ACTUAL blacksmith/Ferrier) did an amazing job of teaching us the art of knife-making.

Making fire quenching steel. Photo by Brian Crossman

Nick has the right tools for the job, and the skill and knowledge required to use them properly (and safely) Quenching a blade in oil is a great experience, well because, FIRE! We all loved that part. We also learned there is a lot more to it than you see on TV, which made the whole process fascinating. Despite my best efforts to screw it up, Nick and his crew made sure I walked out the door with an awesome knife. They walked us through each step, and made sure that all the blades created were straight, deadly sharp and fully functional. I made a sammich with mine the other day! (My wife shook her head as I proudly wielded my sharp sammich-making weapon)

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I think what I enjoyed most about the day (other than Nick’s wife Shelly making us a delicious lunch) was the camaraderie, the teamwork and just general good time. Knives were cut, and then shaped, forged, sharpened and handles installed. Bad jokes were told (well, mine were bad), stories shared and good memories made. I couldn’t help but think what an excellent team-building opportunity this would be for pretty much any company or group. The focus required, the attention to detail and the fact that everyone there had each other’s back make it a great team experience. Nick and Jody are both former oilpatch guys, so they understand the “team” environment very well.

Making knives. Photo by Brian Crossman

After we finished our blades, we sat around the shop for a few minutes and just talked. It reminded me a lot of my days with a rig crew, getting cleaned up at the end of the day, joking around and just enjoying the feeling of getting through the day with nobody getting hurt. (Nick provides “Disney Princess” Band-Aids if you cut yourself making your knife) The laughing, good-natured razzing and knowing ya’ll did a great job that day. As much as I enjoyed crafting a knife from start to finish, I gotta tell you, spending the day with my “crew” made it pretty special. And none of us had to bear the shame of wearing one of Nick’s “Disney Princess” Band-Aids.

It felt like talking with the guys at the end of the day on a rig. Photo by Brian Crossman

 

Brian is a partner at Independent Well Servicing based in Estevan. He CANNOT make a quilt, as he has no skills whatsoever. He is, however, an expert blade smith. (Well, as long as Nick is nearby….)

If this is something that interests you, just go to www.twistedsteelblacksmithing.com and set up a day you won’t forget. You’ll be glad you did.

 

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