NJBA Meet with Joe Szilasky
February 2005

NJBA Meeting at Dick Gambino's Shop
on Feb 13,05
Featuring Joseph Szilaski,
Master Bladesmith in the ABS.

Born in Hungary in 1950, he came to the U.S. in 1970 at age 20. Joe had began blacksmithing in 1963 at age 14 with a 4th generation blacksmith as his master.

His early work environment emphasized using a minimum of tools and materials, a tradition of blacksmiths that were always "on the move". Joe specializes in knives and tomahawks, today he demonstrated three basic tomahawk styles;

Head must be balanced, side to side, front to back

1). Railroad Spike Tomahawk
- Starting with a railroad spike (Wrought or low carbon used)
- Head of spike flattened into the blade
- Then he punched and drifted the haft hole

Finished Forged Pipe Tomahawk

2). Pipe tomahawk
-Using a 3/4" iron pipe
- Slit and drift haft hole, using a 3/4" round bar to support pipe while slitting
- Neck down next to hole to form the base of the pipe bowl.
- Next flatten opposite (blade) end of pipe and weld.
- Finally cut bevels on end for edge.

3). Plain flat blade
Step One
Starting stock
Step Two
Step Three, weld
Joe says an easy way to make sure the haft hole is in line with the blade is to forge a dummy handle out of pipe. Any adjustments can be made hot, before all the final cold work is done and it's too late.
About 30 people attended, Dick ordered a nice lunch and we had an "Iron in the Hat"