Text by Brian D’Ambrosio • Photography by Crystal Nance and Jim Wells
Montana Bladesmiths Rick Dunkerley & Ed Caffrey
Rick Dunkerley is fascinated by the flames of his forge and all of its twisting, searing possibilities. With more than 25 years of knife making practice, the forge is more like an invitation from an old friend. What comes out of it still leaves him breathless.
“I provide a knife that will be passed down as a cherished family heirloom,” said Dunkerley. “You hope that such a knife becomes an honored and loved piece of art. There is a large collector-base of the Civil-War era, and I feel like that is like what I’m making now, if taken care of and passed down.”
Damascus steel is his favorite step of the bladesmithing process.
“I enjoy manipulating the patterns and controlling the pattern development,” said Dunkerley. “There are multiple ways to accomplish that, bending steel a certain way. I am also looking at it three-dimensionally. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want in a finished piece. I leave my mind open to what the materials seem to want to be, rather than always forcing my idea.”