AUBURN — Under a tent cover on Saturday, Daniel Piotte of Enfield, N.H., hammered away at a piece of metal,  making a knife in front of a crowd of nearly 20. 

Piotte is one of several blacksmiths who came to the New England School of Metal Work in Maine to demonstrate the art of knife-forging. Inside the school, bladesmiths from across the country and Canada displayed several pieces of their work, well over 100 knives altogether.

The New England Bladesmithing Symposium and Knife Show is a three-day event that began Friday and will end Sunday. On Friday, more than 50 people of all ability levels came to forge their own knives. Demonstrations of blade-grinding and cutting and a class on knife design also took place that day.

On Saturday, Piotte demonstrated how to make an integral utility knife. For several hours he heated a piece of metal over a forge fire and banged away at it on an anvil until the metal formed into the shape of a knife.

“Believe it or not, the process doesn’t take this long when I’m not talking,” he said. “You can forge maybe two or three knives in a day.” 

While forging, Piotte provided onlookers with tips including how to mold steel and which tools to use. He was half-way finished with his first knife when the metal overheated and he provided another tip: Watch the temperature.

Inside the show itself, many filed, sanded and finished knives were on display. Peter Ceprano, a knife-maker from Auburn, showcased his signature Big Pete’s knives. Ceprano was putting some up for auction, one of which took him more than 46 hours to forge.

Don Fogg, a master smith and instructor at the New England School of Metal Work, showed an unfinished one-of-a-kind knife, whose influence came from a composite of different cultures. Fogg has worked on the collector’s item for more than a month. The 20-inch  knife will be valued at $5,000 when it is finished, a price not unusual for one of his collectible pieces. 

The Symposium and Knife Show was offered by the American Bladesmith Society. It is the first time the show has come to Maine. According to Bruce Albiston, a co-founder of the New England School of Metal Work, it won’t be the last. “We’ll hold it here as often as they want to come here,” Albiston said.

The three-day symposiums, called “hammer-ins,” are held three or four times a year. The showcase in Maine may evolve into an annual week-long class at the school. 

“We’re sort of testing the waters up here to see if we would like to develop an annual bladesmith school here in town, maybe have a class of six to 10 people here,” said master smith Jay Hendrickson.

   

Bladesmith Daniel Piotte of Enfield, N.H., demonstrates the knife-making process at the New England Bladesmithing Symposium and Knife Show hosted by the New England School of Metalwork in Auburn on Saturday.

Bladesmith Daniel Piotte of Enfield, N.H., demonstrates the knife-making process at the New England Bladesmithing Symposium and Knife Show hosted by the New England School of Metalwork in Auburn on Saturday.

Bladesmith Peter J. Ceprano of Auburn displays one of his knives made in the Damascus steel process at the New England Bladesmithing Symposium and Knife Show hosted by the New England School of Metalwork in Auburn on Saturday.


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