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Master Smith Performance Test Question about Performance Test Knife

#1 User is online   Dan Cassidy 

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 06:13 PM

Question about Master Smith Performance Test Knife


I was asked a question about the test knife for the Master Smith performance test today and want to share the question and answer with you as well as the ABS rule on this issue.

Question:

Hi Dan

I have a question for you on the requirements for the MS performance blade that came up as I was reading the rules.

The rules state that the knife must be a stick or hidden tang construction. By this definition, is a tang that goes through the handle with a pommel nut on the end of the handle as is done with a takedown knife acceptable?

I assume that it is, but the "hidden" part has me questioning this.

It is mentioned twice in the rules and hidden is in " " marks.

Answer:

The big difference between the Journeyman test and Master’s is that the Journeyman applicant may use a full-tang blade if he wishes, and the Master applicant must use a hidden tang, which is sometimes called a stick tang, rat-tail, etc. If you want to make it a take-down model, that’s just fine. It just has to be a narrow tang that inserts into the handle material and is therefore hidden.

Greg Neely, MS
Chairman, ABS Board of Directors





ABS Rule

ABS Chairman Greg Neely,MS, wrote a series of three articles for the ABS Journal on MS and JS testing and this is the second article in the series of three and focuses on Master Smith testing. The third article was published in the Spring 2009 issue of the ABS Journal.

Assuming that the candidate has held the rating of Journeyman Smith for a period of two years or more, he or she is now eligible to enter the testing phase for Master Smith. The first step, of course, is the physical performance test, probably more commonly known as the "cutting and bending" test. On this occasion, however, the test blade must be made by the applicant of pattern-welded Damascus steel of the applicant's making. The same maximum size requirements are in force - 10 inches maximum blade length from guard to tip, a maximum width of not more than 2 inches, and 15 inches maximum overall length of the knife.

There are a couple of new twists added. The Damascus blade must consist of a minimum of 300 layers. The blade should be lightly etched, just enough so that the Master testing the applicant can see the layers and make a good estimate as to the layer count. The test blade also must be of hidden tang design. If the tang bends over during this test, the applicant does not pass, so I heartily recommend that a rudimentary handle and guard be firmly affixed to the blade, and held in place by at least one metal pin through the handle and tang. This should give enough support and mechanical advantage to prevent the bending of the tang area.

Finish is not important at this stage. The Master may ask you several questions to get a better picture of your knowledge, and he may, if he wishes, point you toward his forge and require you to either forge a blade or weld up a Damascus billet.

Given that the blade passes the performance test, the applicant must provide the testing Master a copy of the ABS form so that he can affix his signature, certifying that the applicant tested and passed on that date. Keep the form and the bent blade in a safe place until you appear in Atlanta (or San Antonio in 2012) and bring both with you to the Board review. You must bring both or you will not be allowed to pass the review! A successful test is good for a period of three years.




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#2 User is online   Dan Cassidy 

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 06:16 PM

Brian Thie Passes the Master Smith Performance Test


Brian Thie took and passed the Master Smith Performance Test at the Mid America Hammer-In in Troy, Ohio on Friday, August 27th under the supervision of Master Smith Kevin Cashen with Master Smith Russ Andrews observing. Brian used a knife that met all of the ABS requirements and had a Damascus blade with more than 300 layers as specified.

Before the test began Master Smith Kevin Cashen inspected the knife and then Brian easily cut through the one (1) inch free hanging rope in one swing. Next Brian cut through two 2x4 wood boards with his Damascus blade. Brian shaved hair off of his arm to show that the edge was still sharp and the blade was again inspected by Master Smith Cashen and was again free of any defect from the testing.

Last, the blade was placed in a vise and Brian bent it 90 degrees without a break or crack in the blade. Brian Thie passed his Master Smith Performance Test and his certificate was signed by Master Smith Cashen. Congratulations!

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#3 User is offline   Steve Culver 

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 07:53 PM

Congrat's Brian!!!! Best of luck on the judging portion of the test!
Steve Culver
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#4 User is offline   Greg Neely 

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 09:39 PM

Way to go, Brian!
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#5 User is offline   Bruce Bingenheimer 

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 05:30 AM

Brian, this is great news. Keep us posted on your journey.


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#6 User is offline   Brian Thie 

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 07:46 AM

Thanks guys. I appreciate it.

Brian
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#7 User is online   Dan Cassidy 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 07:12 PM

ABS YouTube Channel - Brian Thie's Master Smith Performance Test


This is a rare look at video footage of the ABS Master Smith Performance Test. You can see all of the tests administered to challenge the 300 layer Damascus blade that was forged by Brian Thie. This test was supervised by Master Smith Kevin Cashen at the Mid America Hammer-In in Troy, Ohio in August 2010.


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#8 User is offline   BrionTomberlin 

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 07:26 PM

Brian, congratulations, great performance test. The video is really good and should be required viewing for aspiring testers. Congratulations again. I look forward to seeing your dagger.
Brion
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#9 User is offline   Lin Rhea 

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 05:18 AM

Excellent!!!! Good job and Congratulations Brian. Lin
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#10 User is offline   Brian Thie 

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 09:48 AM

Thanks guys!

A big thanks also needs to go out to Dan for putting this together and making it available here on the web site.


Brian
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#11 User is offline   Karl B. Andersen 

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 05:07 PM

Way to go, Brian.
Guess I'd better catch up.
Karl B. Andersen
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#12 User is offline   Karl B. Andersen 

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 05:15 PM

View PostABS Webmaster, on 25 August 2010 - 07:13 PM, said:



There are a couple of new twists added. The Damascus blade must consist of a minimum of 300 layers. The blade should be lightly etched, just enough so that the Master testing the applicant can see the layers and make a good estimate as to the layer count.



Is there a definition of "layer" in writing somewhere?
I know that 3 or 4 pieces of 15N20 in a row do NOT count for 3 or 4 "layers".
But I was party to a conversation where one of the participants was considering calling those pieces EACH a separate layer, which ultimately would end up with the billet being considered a much higher layer count than it actually was.
I was trying to think of where I had ever seen a definition of "layer" but couldn't think of one.
Is there any reference where persons can be referred to, to define the word "layer" as we use it in ABS testing?
Karl B. Andersen
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#13 User is online   Dan Cassidy 

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 07:00 PM

Karl:
I will get an answer to your question.

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#14 User is online   Dan Cassidy 

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 09:45 AM

View PostKarl B. Andersen, on 21 September 2010 - 06:15 PM, said:

Is there a definition of "layer" in writing somewhere?
I know that 3 or 4 pieces of 15N20 in a row do NOT count for 3 or 4 "layers".
But I was party to a conversation where one of the participants was considering calling those pieces EACH a separate layer, which ultimately would end up with the billet being considered a much higher layer count than it actually was.
I was trying to think of where I had ever seen a definition of "layer" but couldn't think of one.
Is there any reference where persons can be referred to, to define the word "layer" as we use it in ABS testing?


Karl:
I contacted ABS Chairman Greg Neely and posed your question to him and I am attaching his reply.
Dan Cassidy
ABS Webmaster

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Reply from ABS Chairman Greg Neely, Master Smith:

Okay, here’s the way it is.

Whereas a double layer of 15N20 or other alloy is unarguably two layers, it cannot normally be seen with the naked eye. When this rule was written, billets were normally all laid up with thicker layers and doubling was uncommon. It was, therefore, easy for anyone inspecting the blade to approximate the layer count with the naked eye. The purpose of the minimum layer count was conceived as a way to assure that a smith was capable of making consistent multiple welds on a billet, and that he or she didn’t just “get lucky” making a minimum number of welds.

It is, therefore, essential that there be enough contrast between layers so that an inspecting Master can readily estimate whether the minimum layer count has been achieved. For this reason, I will have to say that a double layer of the same alloy will be appear to be a single layer in the finished blade, therefore it will only count as a single layer. We trust our bladesmiths; however, this is an examination and we have no way to verify double layers which don’t appear to be anything but a single layer. My recommendation is that a smith try to use materials of sufficient thickness that doubling isn’t necessary for this one blade. Otherwise, multiple pieces of the same alloy stacked together will count as one layer.

Perhaps the wording might be changed to say “contrasting layers” or “layers of contrasting alloys.”

The dagger and the performance test blade are the only blades required to be of 300-layer (minimum) pattern-welded steel construction for the Master’s test.

Thanks,
Greg Neely


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#15 User is offline   Karl B. Andersen 

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:40 AM

Dan, that is a perfect explanation!
"300 layers of contrasting alloy".
Thank you very much.
And Greg is right, the wording should be changed to reflect the materials we more commonly use today, as opposed to the thicker materials used when testing was originated.
His letter could be put in a sticky somewhere.
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#16 User is offline   Karl B. Andersen 

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 08:26 AM

Thought I might toss this in here, and maybe it should be placed in the Damascus forum as well.
I post this because I recently viewed an on-line tutorial of a well known smith who showed a billet he was making and it was described as a "30 layer billet". Yet in fact, it was only 30 "pieces".
The actual layer count of alternating alloy was only 21 layers.
Here is a billet I'm about to weld up that is 20 pieces, but in fact is only 12 layers.
Not counted correctly, this could be a problem, especially for testing purposes.



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#17 User is offline   Lin Rhea 

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 10:53 AM

This is an important point in light of the test for sure.

One self imposed rule that I placed on myself as I was making my test knives was to go well over the minimum layer count. I did not want there to be any question of whether or not my blade had enough. In fact, on both my performance test knife and my Quillion Dagger, the layer count was over 400. I'm not suggesting everyone follow that, but one does get a little jumpy at times like that.

By the way, I am the guy Karl is speaking of, unless it happened again since. I was glad that he spoke up and asked me exactly how I was counting my layers. I was accurate in the count, but the net result did not show it as such, so I have since adjusted my way of expressing it or at least attempt to make it clearer. Lin
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#18 User is offline   Karl B. Andersen 

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 12:06 PM

View PostLin Rhea, on 28 September 2010 - 11:53 AM, said:

By the way, I am the guy Karl is speaking of,



Well, uh, nope, actually it wasn't you, Lin
I just saw the one I was referring to yesterday in another link.
I am glad, however, that this got a little attention.
I think this web site is the perfect opportunity for all of us to get on the same "page" with our testing, as well as other aspects of the ABS.
It will also allow new-comers a more available source of reference to get queries answered before they are perpetuated into a new smith's knife making career.
Thanks, Lin.
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#19 User is offline   Lin Rhea 

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 12:49 PM

Dang, I spoke up too quick!

Evidently this has been discussed by more than just us.

Brian, do you mind sharing some of your experience in developing your plan to test? Lin
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#20 User is offline   Rick Baum 

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 04:21 PM

Congrat's Brian!

The part that caught my attention in the video is how much your blade returned to it's original shape after bending it. I've seen a lot of videos posted on the web and not many return that closely to straight. Nice work!

May I ask what combination of steels you used for your test blade? I understand if you want to keep it close to your vest, so to speak.

Rick
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