Bladen County bladesmith attains rare certification

ATLANTA, Ga. — North Carolina bladesmith E. Scott McGhee attained his American Bladesmith Society (ABS) Master Smith certification Friday morning at the 2016 Blade Show in Atlanta, Ga.

ABS Master Smith candidates must be Journeyman Smiths for at least two years, pass a difficult performance test using a pattern-welded steel knife of original manufacture, and survive a critical review of their work by a panel of seven discerning ABS Master Smiths. The peer review is offered twice a year, and candidates are only given three opportunities to pass.

Receipt of the MS stamp signifies that a bladesmith is capable of masterfully forging and finishing Damascus and plain carbon steel knives of the highest quality. McGhee had the pleasure of testing and passing with fellow N.C. bladesmith Steve Randall. There are only 119 ABS-certified Master Smiths in the world and only four in North Carolina.

In addition to passing the test, McGhee won the coveted B.R. Hughes Award for best MS test knife submitted for review at the 2016 Blade Show.

McGhee grew up in Franklinton, N.C., where he first dabbled in metal work as a teenager on his parents’ farm. At age 17, McGhee attended an eight-week blacksmithing session at the acclaimed Penland School of Crafts in western N.C. After Penland, McGhee blacksmithed sporadically over the years and only discovered his passion for forging blades in 2009. McGhee went full-time as a knife maker soon after receiving his ABS Journeyman certification in 2012.

McGhee has a B.S. in forestry from the University of Montana and fought fire out west during his summer breaks from school.

“I’ve always been drawn to fire,” says McGhee. “I like to watch it dance.”

McGhee also spent many years working as a certified arborist before becoming a bladesmith, and he likes to put the aesthetics of nature into his work.

“There are few straight lines in nature,” notes McGhee, who is known for making knives with flowing lines and beautiful curves.

McGhee currently resides in Bladen County, where – in addition to working metal – he and his wife raise heritage breed farm animals.

According to McGhee, “The bladesmithing journey really begins after you obtain your ABS Master Smith certification.”

McGhee’s work can be found online at the following links and will be on display this fall in the Village of Yesteryear at the N.C. State Fair.
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