John Bertrand

John Bertrand

After living in Inuvik, Yellowknife, and Fort Smith, NWT, John met his wife, Marg, and they settled in the outskirts of Edmonton, Alberta.  His knifemaking started when his two young grandsons moved next door and convinced him to make them wooden swords. But John launched seriously into his long-time Blacksmithing interest after he retired as a Consulting Electrical Engineer 6 ½ years ago and when a friend said he had a forge, anvil and tools to sell. John spent time in his garage turning files and leaf springs into knives. He soon progressed into making Japanese-style kitchen knives with laminated blades and “wa” handles, as well as lightweight hunting and fishing knives.

Like many knifemakers, John is mostly self-taught. He takes an Engineer’s approach to learning. He first identifies one aspect of knifemaking like choosing a steel or making a type of knife. He then researches everything he can and identifies good resources such as Larrin Thomas’ (The Knife Steel Nerd) metallurgy books and videos and Murray Carter’s books on making Japanese Knives. His next step is to talk to another knifemaker and then practice, practice, practice.  For example, he attended Ed Storch's Weekend Hammer-In last summer with three goals in mind: develop his skills in grinding bevel lines; make cable Damascus; and develop his sharpening techniques. 

He has made about 30 knives in the past 6 months and given them to family and friends as far away as Europe and Australia.  Now that John’s knives are market-ready he is deciding how to balance between keeping knifemaking as a hobby and turning it into a business.

For blades, he likes using CPM 154 and AEB-L steels and for handles, non-stabilized exotic woods.

What does he like most about knifemaking? “Making something pleasing to the senses, practical, and useful that blends wood and steel and lasts for generations.”

What would he do differently if he were to do it again?  “Instead of taking so much time to learn on my own, I would talk to other knifemakers sooner and more often.”

John is planning a website and social media presence in 2024. In the meantime he can be reached at or Tel:  780 993  5359.

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