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J S Performance Test Advice Advice on Preparing for the JS Performance Test and the Rope Cut

#1 User is offline   Dan Cassidy 

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 07:24 AM

Mariano Gugliotta, ABS Apprentice Smith in Argentina recently contacted me by email and asked for some advice on taking the JS Performance Test indicating some of the challenges involved in cutting the rope and the fact that the closest ABS Master Smith is in Brazil.

I offered the following advice and deferred to Master Smith Kevin Cashen to advise him further:


If I understand your email correctly, the answer to your question is that you have to forge the test blade yourself and then make an appointment and take it the Master Smith’s shop to take the JS performance test.
I would recommend making two (2) identical blades with the same steel and same heat treating and test the first one in your shop to see how it performs. If there are no problems, take the second blade to the Master Smith’s shop with the confidence that it will perform properly during the real test.
There are some special techniques for cutting the rope and I would recommend that you ask Master Smith Kevin Cashen about the techniques as he is a past cutting Champion.

Dan Cassidy
ABS Webmaster


The advice Dan gave on the test blades is good. Make at least two blades and test all of them at home exactly the same except do not bend the one you will take to your actual test. Bend the others and see how they do. Even the blade you will use for the test can be practiced with to cut rope and 2X4 to be certain the edge is working just how you would like.

On the rope cutting there are two things that are important. First, the edge needs to be fine enough to allow the cut; the 2X4 sets the limits on the other extreme. The rope determines if the edge is not too thick, the 2X4 determines that the edge is not too thin, a good working edge is somewhere in between.

The next part of cutting the rope is speed in your cut. A quick downward stroke moving into the rope should do it. Never go less than 45 degrees on your angle for an easy cut, as a cut straight into the rope will tend to push the rope instead of cutting it. Be aware of edge angle at the point of contact with the rope, if you bend your wrist too much and the handle of the knife leads the cut too much the rope will tend to slide off the tip of the knife. Kukri style knives cut rope very well because they pull into the cut instead of pushing things toward the tip; this is handy to remember when practicing a cut.

I hope this helps, but in the end it is all about practice, practice and more practice.


Kevin R. Cashen, Master Smith
Dan Cassidy
ABS Journeyman Smith

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#2 User is offline   Mace Vitale 

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 09:50 AM

Hi guys,
Thought I would chime in....
Just a word about being safe.
When cutting the rope, if you are right handed you should lead with your right foot. This way your left leg is out of the path of the knife.
Mace Vitale
Journeyman Smith

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