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Skye Knives, Glendale, Isle of Skye, IV55 8WY.

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Workshop ~ The Forge and 'Workshops'

These days, I do some forge-work on all my blades (no more stainless) so the forge is an important part of every knife. I like to forge at night, in the dark, so I can really see everything that's happening to the steel. So we're coming up to one of the best parts of the year for forging: spring and autumn here have long nights, but the weather's not as desperate as the depths of winter! Over the summer, it barely gets dark at all - I have to stay up late to catch the few hours there are.

Not the best picture, but gives a basic idea - the forge is a small wooden shed built against the gable of the crofthouse. Obviously, it's cold in this picture: when I have it hot I'm too focussed on forging to think about photographing it! You can just make out the anvil in the foreground: this belonged to my great-grandfather, a smith in Argyll. Bob managed to get it back from his family's ancestral farm near Campbelltown. The Calor gas bottles on the extreme right were for the kitchen, and nothing to do with the forge. Since this picture was taken (a new one will have to wait for better weather) Bob and I have built a gas forge. I like working with the basic coal forge, but it takes a long time to get up to temperature, so gas is a real luxury...
The main workshop. Again, not the best picture ever, partly because of the extremely bright north light from the big window, partly because it needs a good tidy here! But actually, this is how it mainly is when I'm working... You can see our other anvil, and part of the hammer collection, on the left. The lathe is on the right, and the gas bottle for the soldering torch in the middle. (That is an artifical leg - Bob's back-up peg-leg - behind it.) You can also see, beside the window, some old designs pinned up (behind them is a beaten copper phoenix head, from a weathervane Bob made years ago). This is not the only workshop, we have another with the grinding machines and other heavier machinery...
Last but by no means least, the kitchen. The seat on the left is where I do most of my designing and handcarving! Again, it's messy - a candid photograph, really. The Rayburn range in the middle is our main oven, and so often gets used for tempering blades, as well as providing the house with heat and hot water in the winter. As you can see, the mantlepiece is our messageboard. The wall to the right houses some of Bob's collection of his own reproduction Native American artefacts.
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