Georgia Magazine - March 2018 - 32
endured 23 grueling operations and no longer could
withstand the physical demands of being a surgeon. He
had to find a new activity that he could do a few hours
He often spoke to his doctor about collecting knives
but never considered making them himself. One day, his
doctor challenged him to do it.
"That day, I found a knife maker in Madison, Georgia, and started learning every day," Moye says. "I love it
as much as I loved being a surgeon."
Moye now crafts one knife a week and focuses
on one knife at a time. He treats his daily practice as a
hobby but also has sold several to customers in New
Zealand, Canada and Scotland. He creates a custom piece
each time, sometimes perusing his collection of wood for
days to find a perfect fit.
"I decide on the wood after I finish the blade," he
says. "No two pieces are the same."
A true community
"While at my anvil from 1880 and pounding the metal, I think, 'How
many sets of hands have touched this?' That means so much to
me," Chad Matthews says.
"A simple knife may look simple, but it takes hours to
make it right."
Matthews, 42, scours old barns, old cars and flea
markets for pre-1950 metals to use. He's sold pieces
around the country and shipped to France and Belgium.
This year, the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, will display
a replication of an original Jim Bowie knife that Matthews is making. Bowie, who played a prominent role
in the Texas Revolution, is often linked with the 8-inch
knife that became popular in the late 1820s in the
"Every now and then I sell a piece, but to me, the
biggest thrill is finishing it that last day, standing back
and looking at it," Matthews says. "Every minute of work
is worth it."
Matthews' favorite piece is a knife he crafted from
materials he found while disassembling his great-greatgreat-grandparents' house, which was built in the 1820s.
He plans to pass it down to Mason, his 12-year-old son,
who often joins him in the shop.
"While at my anvil from 1880 and pounding the
metal, I think, 'How many sets of hands have touched
this?' That means so much to me," he says. "It's almost
175 years old. My hands are now touching it. That
means way more than a dollar. You can't buy that."
Across the state in Watkinsville, bladesmith Daniel
Moye quietly forges hunting knives, oyster knives and
letter openers in a shop in his backyard.
After a two-decade career in orthopedic surgery,
Moye was hit head-on in a car wreck in 2008. He
Similarly, Justin Brown creates kitchen knives, bottle
openers and metalwork art at his Columbus shop, Titan
Blacksmithing. Often a demonstrator at Historic Westville
and the blacksmith expo at Fort Mitchell in Alabama,
Brown loves blacksmithing for the community and appreciates the support that has grown around the craft.
"Everyone is more than willing to share their knowledge and get in the fire together," says Brown, the
forgemaster for the Phenix City Forge Group in Alabama.
"Nothing compares with meeting people face-to-face and
asking for advice, and I wouldn't be where I am now
Brown's group meets monthly, with 20 to 30 people
trying demonstrations and experiencing the craft. He's
worked with school groups, senior groups and couples
on date-night adventures. Among his five kids, his 6-yearold daughter, Hailey, is often the most enthusiastic to play
in the shop and hammer with Dad.
"There's so much knowledge out there and so many
people who want to share it," he says. "They're waiting
for someone to come along who wants to learn it."
Carolyn Crist is a freelance writer who lives in
For more information
Trent Tye, Purgatory Ironworks. purgatoryironworks.com.
Matt McGee, Ocmulgee Blacksmiths Guild. ocmulgeeblacksmiths
guild.org. Email: email@example.com.
Chad Matthews, Old South Forge. bit.ly/oldsouthforgefb.
Daniel Moye, Cattle Dog Forge. cattledog.squarespace.com.
Justin Brown, Titan Blacksmithing. titanblacksmithing.weebly.com.
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org