Story and Photos by Bobby Bushcraft
If you have never been to a “Hammer In” it is something you need to treat yourself to, when the opportunity presents itself.
Knife & Gear Society recently attended the 11th Annual Hammer-In, hosted by Travis Wuertz. For those who have never been to a Hammer-In, or for those wondering what a Hammer In is, here is the quick run-down.
A “Hammer-In” is an event set for a day, or more, where professional and amateur bladesmiths, blacksmiths, and those interested in hand forging—or the art of making knives in general—all come together for classes and demonstrations, to hone their craft.
Hammer-Ins are usually held annually, throughout the United States, and put on by various members of the American Bladesmith Society (ABS). The members use various methods and techniques to teach attendees how to handcraft a knife or tool.
The first Hammer-In was held in 1985 by the American Bladesmith Society (ABS)—a non-profit organization—with this being the 11th year hosted by Travis Wuertz.
Travis Wuertz is an Arizona native who is well known for knifemaking and machine fabricating.
After attending a knife show at the age of 12, Travis became obsessed with custom knife making and for years studied under ABS Master Bladesmith Tim Hancock. Travis graduated from the University of Arizona, with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and wrote his thesis on the design and development of the now well-known—and widely used throughout the knife industry—TW-90 Grinder.
Travis has won two episodes of the History Channel’s show Forged in Fire and was hired as a cast member for History Channel’s Knife or Death series, where he was cast as the Blade Specialist. On the show, Travis evaluates the blades brought in to be used by the contestants, to ensure their safety, prior to allowing them to compete in the “knife obstacle course competition.”
Travis owns Wuertz Machine Works where they manufacture the TW90 Grinder and accessories.
So, what does a class or block of instruction look like at a Hammer-In, you ask? The curriculum varies from event to event and year to year. The instructors come from different states and provide specific instruction on various topics, to include forging, grinding, engraving, fitting handles, making Damascus, etc.
We arrived early to the Hammer-In and attendees were all gathered around the shop, eagerly waiting to soak up all the information that was going to be shared over the two-day event.
There are various types of people in attendance at Hammer-Ins—professional bladesmiths, blacksmiths, industry professionals, suppliers, amateur knife makers, beginner knife makers, collectors and of course family members.
The instructors and course of instruction over this two-day event included:
Each instructor is extremely passionate about their craft; it is what they live and breathe.
What the general public does not get to see or understand—unless they have attended a Hammer-In—is the desire to create and fabricate a handcrafted tool to the highest standard of fit and finish. The love of the craft is held by the instructors and attendees alike. There is a bond which brings everyone together, where everyone enjoys teaching, learning and of course the final product.
If you ever have the chance to attend a Hammer-In, it is highly recommended. K&G
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American Bladesmith Society (ABS)www.AmericanBladesmith.com
Bobby is a retired Police Sergeant, US Army Veteran & Boy Scout Leader—with over 34 years of outdoor experience in hunting, firearms, archery, hiking, camping and survival. He is also a photographer, avid knife collector & enthusiast. His company, Vida Pro Productions LLC, provides photo & video content to various media outlets and publications in the outdoor, knife and firearm industries.
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