Kossuth native hones his knife-making skills | News

A fierce red-orange fire fills the forge with flames shooting forward, dancing in the cold workshop air.

Wesley Crum removes the glowing metal rod and places it on the anvil. Crum bounces the head of his hammer on the anvil before raising his arm and slamming into the hot metal, sparks exploding in all directions. The Mississippi blacksmith is in his element.

Until four years ago, Crum had never thought about making knives.

“For Father’s Day, my son bought me a set of knife-handled scales, and he wanted me to make him a knife,” Crum said. “I didn’t know anything about knife making.”

However, Crum and his son Chandler were watching the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” competitive TV show, where a winner said he learned how to make knives by watching the videos of J. Neilson, a judge at the ‘episode.

“I bought a copy of his DVDs, used an old piece of railroad as an anvil, bought a cheap grinder, and it just goes on from there,” Crum recalls.

After finishing his first knife, Crum took it to Saltillo’s accomplished blacksmith, Chris Crawford.

“He asked me: ‘Are you proud of it?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m proud of it,'” Crum said, playing the conversation with Crawford. “He asked, ‘Do you see anything wrong with that?’ “I see a lot of harm in that.”

Crum took pride in his craftsmanship – flaws included. W. Crum’s original blade is still on display in his workshop.

Over time, Crum’s skills in knife making improved. After about a year of hits and misses, Crum asked to appear on “Forged in Fire,” the very show that launched his new craft, but only as a goof.

“I told my wife, Erin, that I applied as a joke,” the Ripley resident said with a smile. “I never thought I would make it.”

Crum was selected to participate in the episode “Judges Takeover – J. Neilson” in New York in 2021.

“The biggest city I know is Memphis,” Crum said. “Going to New York was sensory overload.”

While taping the show, Crum met his blacksmith idol, Neilson.

“It was like meeting a rock star,” Crum laughed.

Although Crum didn’t make it out of the first round of the competition, he says it was one of the greatest experiences of his life.

On days when he is not working for the Mississippi Forestry Commission, Crum wears a leather apron in his workshop. He sells his blades to customers all over the south. Although most of his orders are mailed out, Crum says his favorite part of making a custom knife is handing it over to the new owner.

“When they first see it and their eyes get really big,” said Crum, a 2000 Kossuth High School graduate. metal and wood – can now be passed down from generation to generation.”

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