Broken Bow Talent: Mastersmith Mike Williams

We love recognizing area skill and talent. But it isn’t everyday we can say that we have, in our midst, an artist of simply amazing skill. Bladesmith Mike Williams fits that bill!

As an artist, a metalsmith and a knife-maker, Mike Williams creates some of the most beautiful and functional knives right here in Broken Bow. No matter what the occasion or what the purpose, a Williams Custom Knives creation is sure to fit the bill.

Mike first became interested in knife-making in the 1980s, and became enamored with forged knives in 1989. From then, he has refined and honed his skills, both through practical implementation and training. He earned his Mastersmith rating from the American Bladesmith Society in 2000. To put that into perspective, there are fewer than 150 Mastersmiths worldwide (and one of the tasks for Mastersmith status is to create a 300-layer damascus steel blade which is rigorously tested in a series of extreme methods).

Mike creates forged knives right in his home! His construction shop contains a fire forge and belt-driven power hammer that lets him heat, harden, fold and refine steel: many of his knives bear that distinctive “wave” pattern in the steel, denoting the many passes through the hammer. He is also a skilled artisan when it comes to handles: knife handles may be wood, horn, ivory, bone, or any other materiel he decides to try.

As he creates a blade, Mike takes the time to test the metal before refining it into a final product. Using a block of wood, he puts a new blade through a series of stress exercises to make sure it won’t break or chip: forcefully thrusting the blade-tip into the wood, using the blade as a pry to break off wood chips, using the body of the blade to chop into the wood, and forcefully hammering the metal into the wood with a mallet. If a blade can pass these tests without bending, cracking or chipping, and with the tip intact, Mike will then finish the knife knowing that he has created a product with the highest quality of strength and craftsmanship. This is a knife that will last through long years of use.

While Mike’s knives are very popular locally, his is building a worldwide name for himself. In 2013, one of his Bowie designs earned a “Best Fighter Award” at the Arkansas Custom Knife Show. A similar blade was honored by the American Bladesmith Society as “Masters Knife of the Year” – truly an amazing honor! And in 2014 he received a “best of” title for one of his Hunter utility knives at the Atlanta Blade Show (a show which honors the world’s top knives).

Along with his own original creations, Mike also does custom work for his clients; you can even supply him the materiel for your knife handle.

For those of you who have an appreciation for steel, you will have a difficult time finding anything more beautiful, durable, and useful than a Williams Custom Knife. Contact Mike today and make an appointment to chat with him about your new WC Knife when you come to the area for a cabin vacation!

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