I set out to become a master smith, but because I forge stainless they would not let me. They put me on the agenda of several board meetings. It's actually in the bylaws that they do not allow the forging of stainless steels to pass the testing.
I did pass the testing a couple of times in my own shop with a blade made from 440-C stainless. When I looked for a master smith that would test me it caused a big mess.
They did finally tell me that I could change the bylaws by taking my equipment to several ABS events and demonstrate and then they would reconsider.
They never did act like they wanted me in their organization.
I find it ironic that I have forged more steel in one month then Bill Moran did in his entire life time.
They do have a certain mold that they want everyone to fit into.
I do think that they do a lot to promote knives and knife making. It is because of them that everyone is testing knives and learning about steels and metallurgy.
Custom knives were not selling well in the 80's and it is because of the ABS and the excitement over damascus and the forged blade that renewed/revived custom knives.
I will one day try again to become a master smith. They will need to let me test in stainless though.
In the 70's there was a pissing match between the ABS headed by Bill Moran and the Knife makers Guild headed by Bob Loveless. There was a definate seperation between those who forged and those who made knives by the stock removal methed. I am glad that that is over.
Love and respect
One thing that's been real cool about the kitchen knife community is that we've always based our likes and dislikes on performance - period.
Noting a maker's worth should be based on what he provides, not what's stamped on his knife. I mean do disrespect to the ABS members (I truly understand what they go through to get these stamps) but I also know some that don't make quality knives as well as I know some great knifemakers who have elected not to pursue the ABS way who make stellar knives.
Something worth noting (Oivind touched on this a bit) is that we have a lot of (new to kitchen knives) knifemakers showing up on the forums these days, this is something very new to us who have been in this game for awhile. It appears that the US makers are finally seeing that making kitchen knives is something worth pursuing. While I encourage this, just like I encouraged the Japanese movement years ago, I also don't want to see a bunch of crap knives flood in. I can attest that every knifemaker that has a sub-forum here at KKF is either well established or is headed down the right path to becoming a great kitchen knifemaker.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the ABS certification have nothing specifically to do with kitchen knives anyway? Yes, it definitely shows great skill of the maker given the certain criteria and tasks their blades need to perform...but I can't see how that automatically qualifies them as the best kitchen knife makers in the world in your eyes? Not saying some of them aren't...but maybe you are over generalizing a bit.
Definitely don't want to down-play what it takes to be part of ABS, as it is a very prestigious designation and hard to achieve...but that does not mean that a maker who hasn't chosen to take the test can't make an equal or better kitchen knife.
Last edited by Jim; 05-03-2011 at 03:19 PM.
Jon - Isn't there a certification or 'acknowledgement' in Japan given to craftsmen who are both skilled in and committed to an artisinal craft or process?
Originally Posted by JBroida
There's the "living national treasure" and "national treasure" designations, amongst other things. But that's tied up with the government and (correct me if I'm wrong) there is no way to "apply" for these things; they are given out of recognition of accomplishment, not by passing a test.
Originally Posted by mikemac
Kind of what I thought, if thats correct (come on Jon...), but isn't that accomplishment a form of a test?
Originally Posted by UglyJoe
But the ABS's Mastersmith test has, chopping on 2X4's etc, has nothing to do with good kitchen knives. The primary goal of the ABS is to promote their members over any and all other organizations. Simply proving a stainless or stock removal blade is superior to their member's blades will not impress them. After all, what most really want to do is sell $2000 plus "collectables" to people that will never use them anyway. One of their members actually went on another forum and stated anything under $1500 was what he considered a "low end" knife.
are you talking about the living national treasure? This is more political than anything else and you see it more with things like pottery, sword making, lacquer ware, etc.
Originally Posted by mikemac
I managed to locate the websites for the German, Australian, and British ABS equivalents, so that question has been answered.
As far as Japanese national living treasures:
MetalworkingName Born Category Subcategory Year Designated
Iraku Uozumi III (三代魚住為楽?) 1937 Metalworking Dora 2002
Mitsuo Masuda (増田三男?) 1909 Metalworking Chōkin 1991
Mamoru Nakagawa (中川衛?) 1947 Metalworking Chōkin 2004
Morihito Katsura (桂盛仁?) 1944 Metalworking Chōkin 2008
Akira Saitō (斎藤明?) 1920 Metalworking Chūkin 1993
Kōmin Ōzawa (大澤光民?) 1941 Metalworking Chūkin 2005
Hōseki Okuyama (奥山峰石?) 1937 Metalworking Hammering 1995
Toshichika Taguchi (田口寿恒?) 1940 Metalworking Hammering 2006
Akitsugu Amata (天田昭次?) 1927 Metalworking Swordmaking (Nihonto) 1997
Toshihira Ōsumi (大隅俊平?) 1932 Metalworking Swordmaking (Nihonto) 1997
Kōkan Nagayama (永山光幹?) 1920 Metalworking Swordmaking (Finishing) 1998
Jon, what about that title "meister" (German for master) that is used on many sites about Japanese bladesmiths?