Butterfly Roses by Audra Draper, MS My friend Audra Draper is a bit of a paradox too. First, a bit of background. ABS is the American Bladesmith Society, which is a prestigious organization dedicated to continuing and advancing the art and science of forged knives. Two techniques are commonly used to make knife blades, Forged and Stock Removal. Stock removal begins with a rectangular piece of steel about the overall size of the desired finished knife. The outline of the blade is cut using a saw, or a powerful jet of water, or even a laser beam. The unused part of the metal is cut away, is removed. Then, the details of the blade profile are cut into the piece by removing more metal by various cutting, filing, and grinding techniques. In stock removal methods, the process of changing that rectangle of steel into a shapely knife is done by removing metal until noting is left but the blade. Forging is different. Forging begins with a piece of steel that can take just about any shape, though the closer it is the final shape of the knife, the less work the knifemaker has to do. The metal is heated in a sort of oven called a "forge" until it's malleable; for steel, this means heating to over 2000F (over 1100C.) At this temperature, the metal can be shaped by pounding it with a hammer. The final shape details are often added by filing or grinding. But, much of the shaping is done not by removing metal but by moving metal around. Forging a knife blade is not easy or clean work. But, forging is the traditional way to make a knife. Stock removal is the art of the machinist. A machinist makes a part by removing metal using a variety of cutting an grinding techniques. Forging is, the art of the Blacksmith, Whether making a knife blade or a horseshoe or a cooking pan, the blacksmith gets from raw material to finished part by heating the metal until it's malleable and then pounding it into the desired shape. Traditionally, that pounding was done by hand with hand-held hammers. Today, hydraulic power hammers can do a lot of that work. But, even with modern tools, forging is still hard work and the owner of a forged knife should know that the knifemaker quite literally put hours of physical effort and sweat and tears into it. It is a very hand-made thing. A lot of knifemakers forge knives... and many of them just aren't very good at it. But, a small group who take the matter very seriously have passed a set of very strict and demanding tests prescribed by the American Bladesmith Society and have earned the prestigious designation of ABS Master Smith.