I took the opportunity of a reorganization of my company to leave and jump into a new adventure: Becoming Blacksmith and Craftsman Cutler.
Following 18 years of working in this company of 600 peoples as Purchasing Agent, I felt the need to leave behind this industrial environment. It, however, did allow me to find some structure and to learn, notably the importance of rigour and organization of work if we want to progress.
Since I’m passionate about cutlery and bow hunting, I have immediately been attracted to knife making. In 1999-2000, I had already taken a leave of absence to learn how to forge knives. I already had some knowledge on how to work with leather and wood, but working heated metals and thermal treatment was all new to me.
After spending four weeks as an apprentice with Christian Avakian in the Drome region, I left with a solid knowledge and I had created enough pieces to last for a while. In addition to staying with wonderful people in a superb region, surrounded by a rich fauna and forest, I learned to shape the material, understand the molecular structure of steel and various materials that can go into the manufacture of a knife (e.g. nickel, iron, brass) and, of course, had many blisters from hitting with a hammer (because the days spent behind a computer do not give you callus on your hands)!!
So I began by designing knives to give to my family and close friends and, word of mouth working fine, the circle has expanded. My hunting friends liked my work and asked me to create custom pieces, whether a boot knife, a knife to slip in the pocket of his pants, or a dagger to serve large boars or deer. All these unique pieces helped increase my knowledge and helped me move forward to being able to finalize the blades with the forge as close as possible to final, so to minimize the work with the sander.
Because "Cutler" is indeed a real job! We must learn to work the material, read the temperature with different colors, follow the rules, and respect very specific phases.