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Journeyman Testing (Pre-Test) Pre -Test and have your knives critiqued by a Mastersmith

#1 User is offline   Kevin Evans 

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 10:21 AM

I recently returned home from the Ark. Show where I had 7 M.S.and 2 J.S. look over the knives that I am planning on presenting for judging at the Blade Show in Atlanta. I would like to take this chance to Thank these Gentleman for helping.

I then contacted Dan Cassidy to get registered for the Atlanta JS Judging Panel. And this is why I am writing this, he suggested that I tell every apprentice, that is going for their J.S. the steps I went through.

Guys and Gals what I am trying to say is get your knives looked at!!!(Kinda a PRE TEST) I thought that I was really prepared.
Looking back I wasn't at all. I highly suggest you gette'em looked at. These M.S. and J.S. are more than willing to help any apprentice. Beware you may not hear what you want to hear, but you will hear what you "NEED TO HEAR"! A little advice, take a sketch of your knife from both sides, and top and bottom, for you to make notes on as they are talking sometimes they go fast and if you have quite a bit wrong (Like Me) you need to write it down.
Seek out and ask for a hard critique, if you can handle it. There is a great difference in looking at knives and critiquing knives. The critiquing is very much more (in depth) if you know what I mean. LOL After you get home then decide if the knife can be fixed or just start over (we still have time).

The last thing to bring up is to contact Dan Cassidy or Sally Cassidy, they will then start the process (paper work), also you will need a copy of (performance test), check your eligibility, and answer any questions you may have, some of the nicest, and helpfull people I have came across in the ABS. Hope this helps the JS class of 2011.

See You guys in Atlanta, Kevin Evans
Kevin Evans
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#2 User is offline   BrionTomberlin 

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 11:51 AM

I cannot emphasize enough the need to have your blades looked at before you present them at Atlanta. Kevin is right on. Also make sure you ask that they be critiqued as Kevin stated. You may not like what we tell you, but we will also give you suggestions on how to correct anything. Believe me sometimes I felt like crud after taking my knives for review many times before the MS and JS testing, but I always learned things and took then to heart. We are not here to cut you down, we are here to help you, so ASK. You can't learn if you do not ask. Kevin I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing you in Atlanta. Good post.
Brion
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#3 User is offline   Lin Rhea 

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:30 PM

A few years back I was outside the JS judging room when one of the applicants came out. I assumed he passed. Before I knew that he didn't pass, I asked to see his knives and I saw a few things that caught my eye. Things that also caught the judges eye too and prevented them from passing. Anyway, the gentleman, who has since passed his JS test, lived in a remote area and did not get to show his knives to any Mastersmiths before hand.

This same story has played out several times that I know of. For most applicants, there are Mastersmiths available so please take advantage of this chance to get your knives examined.

Study the rules that are posted right here on this site and follow them. All of this attention to rules and critiquing can be intimidating, but it's meant to help.
Lin Rhea, ABS Mastersmith
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#4 User is offline   Rick Baum 

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 06:03 PM

Thanks for posting Kevin!

Can you give us some ideas of what was pointed out that needed to be fixed or changed? Don't worry about it if you're uncomfortable or embarrassed as this has been discussed here before but sometimes something new will come up. I'm one of those guys that is in an ABS-less zone (hoping to change that). The closest MS or JS is at least 6 hours away. I still plan on mailing my test knives out for critique and utilizing the internet to email photos. But in the mean-time, I like to hear others experiences if they're available.

Thanks,
Rick
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#5 User is offline   Kevin Evans 

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 08:43 PM

View PostRick Baum, on 06 March 2011 - 07:03 PM, said:

Thanks for posting Kevin!

Can you give us some ideas of what was pointed out that needed to be fixed or changed? Don't worry about it if you're uncomfortable or embarrassed as this has been discussed here before but sometimes something new will come up. I'm one of those guys that is in an ABS-less zone (hoping to change that). The closest MS or JS is at least 6 hours away. I still plan on mailing my test knives out for critique and utilizing the internet to email photos. But in the mean-time, I like to hear others experiences if they're available.

Thanks,
Rick

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#6 User is offline   Kevin Evans 

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 09:15 PM

Sure Rick, most of my problems had to do with the handles.
Some of the things I heard where
Your handles are flat sided.
Your handles are blocky.
Your handles are not sexy(curvey or contoured)
Your handles don't flow with the knife.
Your handles are not rounded
Your handles don't feel good in the hand.
I need to work on the handles
These are a few things the M.S. said Rick, also I needed to work on finish a little.

If you read the rules as Lin said in slow and (every word) you will get it,
also there are pictures at the end of other JS test knives and good ones I might add.

I have a suggestion, you said you would mail your knives and let someone look at them ,
you might consider mailing them one at a time or two at a time.I my case if I make mistake on one, I make it on all 5.
Therefore less repair work if you know what I mean.
Also I have learned if you think its wrong or not correct, your probally correct, might as well fix it before someeone tells you too.
One last thing Rick,Look at M.S Lin Rhea avaitar right above your last post,Now thats a handle.
Kevin Evans
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#7 User is offline   Rick Baum 

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 03:39 PM

Thanks a bunch Kevin! Every little bit of info and or suggestion is invaluable for any of us that have the ability to learn from others experiences. To me, it's great that you took the time to post and it's very much appreciated.

Definitely planning on mailing them one at a time for the reason you mentioned as well as... What if the package got lost in the mail? Now that would be a disappointing setback to say the least.

In regards to Lin's work... I only hope to arrive at that level some day. He makes some incredible knives.

Rick
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#8 User is offline   Phil Dwyer 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 02:02 AM

Good thread guys. THANKS! Being in Hawaii, I have a long way between me and the experts too.

All the best, Phil
Phil Dwyer
Earth Crafts & Applied Arts
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#9 User is offline   Ed Caffrey 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 06:30 AM

Kevin has discovered the biggest "secret" to passing either the JS of MS test(s)...getting reviews/critiques.

I've had the honor of checking over a number of peoples' knives prior to their tests. To add a few things that I feel are important..

-Always give yourself way more time than you think is necessary to complete these knives....life happens, and before you know it time slips away.

-Get at least 2-3 DIFFERENT Mastersmiths to review your knives. We all are people, and there are those with a personality that will simply not allow them to give you the tough critique required.

-I will NEVER critique anyone's knives unless they have all 5 completed, and show me all of them at once. To explain, several years ago I was asked by a JS tester to review his knives...he only brought 3 with him to be reviewed. All three of those knives were "good to go". Just so happened that I was a Judge at the JS testing that year. The three knives that I had reviewed passed, but his final two did not. When he was brought into the room after failing, and asked "Did you have your knives reviewed by any MS?" He looked at me and said "Yes! Ed reviewed them and said they were good." OMG!!! After he left, I had to explain that his three knives that passed were the only ones I had reviewed..and that I had never seen the last two until that day. Never again.

-Finally, Don't over think it! At the JS level, it's a safe bet that none of the Judges are going to care what steel type you used, what the specific heat treat is, or any of the other things that are not readily visible.

Years ago Wayne Goddard MS, gave some of the best advice I've ever heard concerning knifemaking...

A custom knife must:

1. Look Good (This is what first draws attention to the knife)

2. Feel Good (This is a combination of qualities that make a knife "feel alive" when you pick it up)

3. Work Good (This is the element that is up to the integrity of the maker, it can't bee seen, and will only be evident when the knife is being used. This is why testing and using the knives you produce is so very important)
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#10 User is offline   Lin Rhea 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 08:09 AM

Ed,

I never thought about it that way, but I will certainly be watching for that and head it off, if I am ever a judge. It also impresses upon me the personal impact and seriousness you as a judge feel about your job as a judge. That is one of the reasons you qualify as such.

Phil,
For me, the tests were a very personal matter. Not secretive, but personal. I had to deal with the circumstances that I had as an individual. Family, equipment, time to spend on knives,etc. Now we can add to this list, distance from mentors. I was relatively close to mentors, but short on some of the other things. All of these things the individual has to think about and have command of before he committs, in order to increase his chances for success. In Adam and Haley's case, they are talking some serious distance and money to get there and be ready. But, I bet they will be just that, there and ready. When you think about it, they have already invested in the trip and it has not even taken place yet. In past trips they showed their knives to mentors and closely examined knives that have passed, thus getting a vision of what it will take to be successful. All of the previous travels to shows and for classes are part of their investment in their respective tests. The five test knives only represent a small part of the overall investment.
Lin Rhea, ABS Mastersmith
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#11 User is offline   Brian Thie 

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:13 PM

Phil

Your location can be somewhat troublesome for getting your knives critiqued, but certainly not impossible. I packed my JS knives in a foam lined plastic gun case and then put this in a cardboard box and shipped my knives to a Mastersmith. I also included 4 full size photos of each knife printed on regular paper -- one from each side, 1 from the top (spine) and one from the bottom (edge). The Mastersmith can then write on these sheets and circle problem areas and draw arrows. In this case a picture IS worth a thousand words.

In my case, the MS then numbered the photos and photocopied them. When I got my knives back with the marked up photos and had some time to look his critique over, he and I talked on the phone and went through each photo page by page with each of us looking at our respective copies. This was a very effictive process in my eyes.

To save some on shipping, you could even line up several MS to critique your knives and print out shipping labels and ask one MS to mail to the next rather than back ad forth to HI.

Brian
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