Number of hours per day: 8 hours
Time: 1 half day 9am to 3pm; and 2 full days from 9am to 5pm
Set of tools provided and used:
Size of knives: We can work on different shape, size and length and from kitchen knife to big knife or machete (10cm to 25cm long)
The first class is for ice-breaking and introductions. You will get to know your facilitator and your host. You will get to hear about the history of this blacksmith village and why they are still doing this work. He will introduce necessary tools, safety notes, some important techniques and also briefly introduce the sequence of events for this master Class.
9am: Pick up at hotel and head to the knife making village.
9:15am: Arrive at the village and meet the host family
Introduce you to the host and his family and how long he has been working with Blacksmith, why this is important for Lao people to continue this craft. Mr. Phan was born in this village and he is now 57 years old and he has more than 35 years experiencing in blacksmith. There are 7 people in his family. He has 2 sons and three daughters. He continues his father blacksmith skill and now his 2 sons are learning and he hopes this blacksmith skills will pass down to his son's generation. Most of Lao population is farmers and they work in the farms every day. Very sharp tools are important to farmers. Therefore blacksmith skills is very helpful.
9:30am - 1pm: Introduction to tools, what they are used for, the class safety note and then creating a draft.
- Introduce brief process of making a handmade knife: making rough drafts, maintaining the forge fire, banging red-hot iron into shape with hammers, tempering (strengthening) the metal with water - and then sharpening the final product.
- Introduce tools and equipment that is needed for the class, how dangerous it is and what should be used/noted to keep safe.
- Our host will show you the tools he has such as a knife, a machete, a sickle, a shovel or a Sword. Then he will demonstrate for the first time and you will be required to follow him.
- You will be taught how to hold hammer in the correct posture and also the amount of pressure to apply while hammering the raw metal on the anvil.
- You will learn to make a simple small knife as a trial so that you can have an overview of the whole process, starts from raw metal to a finish knife.
1pm to 2pm: Break for lunch at a local noodle shop (Lunch is not included within the price)
2pm - 5pm:
The host will summarized your lessons and introduce the next classes.
You can discuss shape/type of the knives you want to make to bring back after the class (one or many - maximum 3 - depending on the size and difficulty)
Day 2: Learn how to choose the good quality steel and how to shape the knife skillfully
9am - 9.30am
You will see different types of steel such as truck springs, round metal and others. He will introduce which is better and why it is better to be used for knife-making. See products from high and low quality steels.
10am - 1pm
First you will learn to use and hold the cutter properly. The host will show you different shapes that he has, and which ones are easy or difficult to make. He will introduce the use of every different type of tools. E.g. knife, machete, sickle etc.
You then pick 3 different types to learn from. We start with the simplest one.
You will be taught how to hold hammer in the correct posture and also the amount of pressure to apply while hammering the raw metal on the anvil.
First you warm up the metal and then use the cutter to cut the steel into pieces with hammer. This is the traditional way of blacksmithing. Then it is time for the next skill, the piece of steel will be put into the oven, and once it is 'soft' enough you will learn to make it thinner.
The next step is to form your piece into a knife form until it's done by hammer and pliers. You will be shown how to check by looking at the knife, particularly the redness on it. If it is not hot enough it takes very long to be thickened, and if the temperature is too high then it becomes brittle. You will do this several times until you master it, this is just draft. Once you're confident, you can try with the knife you've designed. While learning to measure the heat and redness, you will also learn to use hammer for thickness adjustment. Each time you take the knife out of forge, immediately punch it with the hammer when it is still hot. This step is repeated several times over until the knife is the correct thickness.
Host will show you how to know if it is done or just by sight. The next step is to sharpen your knife with a machine. The process goes on with another shape/type of knife or machete. We keep these knives for other steps in the next day.
1pm - 2pm: Break for lunch with your host and his family members. (Lunch is included within the price)
2pm - 5pm: Apply your lesson in the morning to make your own one (In this afternoon, you will be the host and the host will be your student)
Choose a type/shape that you would like to start with
You can design your knife and make it from the very beginning without any help from host, to make sure that you can do it on your own. This knife is also your final product. You will cut 2 different knives from raw steel in case there is a mistake along during the learning process then you have an additional a back-up. The host will give feedback to each step of your work
On this day you will learn to use craft your own wooden handles, to use the electric machine(This is the hardest and most dangerous step among the whole process), temper your knives in water(This is the most important and you need to be very experience), glue your knives into the wooden handle, sandstone sharpening.
9am - 10am:
From a piece of wood, you will learn how to measure and carve it into cylindrical shape to fit the knife. Host will guide you how to hold the sickle and control it to carve easily. You're free to pick as many wooden pieces as possible to practice. Once the carving is finished, you will use sandpaper to make it perfectly smooth to fit the base of the knife.
10am - 12pm
1. Using the machine to sharpen your knives that you have made in the day 1 and 2
Firstly, the host will introduce how the machine works, how it was invented and customized.
Select a sitting position to be convenient enough for sharpening process but still safe. Learn how to hold the knife at the right angle and pressure to you use when putting the knife to the machine. You will learn how to test thickness of the knife, how to sharpen the knife edge without breaking it.
Practice sessions will be on the 3 draft knives created on Day 2 and once you conquer it, start with your own designed knife.
2. Temper your knives in water(This is a very important step because your knife will be brittle/break immediately if you warm it too hot, on the other hand, your knife will be too soft and can't cut a wood if you redness is not enough)
Collect the knives that you're working on the previous days and finish it with the final steps which are applying the secret temper in water. Your host will show how hot you should warm up and then put it down into water.
Check it and reduce it if it's over. (You will get to try as many time as until you master it)
Nearing the end of the master class you will learn to apply the secret temper in water of the knives on the draft knives first, once you're confident then you will go on to your final piece.
3. Glue your knife into your handle
Your host will let you glue your knives into its handles with traditional glue
4. Sharpen your knives with sandstone.
Your host will teach you to use it properly and you will get to sharp your own until you fully understand.
12pm to 1pm: Break for lunch at a local noodle shop (Lunch is not included within the price)
1pm - 3pm:
As the last step to check your mastery, the host will give you a new shape of knife and you will applied all the techniques you learned to complete it from a piece of steel! We will end the long course with your own products that you make everything by yourself.
What is included:
- The 3 days workshop
- All equipment
- Your 3 knives that finish on this workshop
- A lunch with your host on day 2
- Transport from your hotel
Please kindly note:
- Without any add-on, your knife will come with a wooden handle and covered with paper
- Please wear sunglasses, long clothes and walking/trekking shoes
- Bring your own bottled water
- The host will take over the dangerous steps like sharpening with grinder, creating the hole of the handle etc.