Guest Post: My Journeyman test experience. by Steve Grosvenor


Steve Grosvenor of Red Rock Tools passed the performance test for ABS Journeyman last week.

(Steve Grosvenor is the owner/smith of Red Rock Tools. We began a dialogue following the piece I published on the ABS Master Bladesmith test. Steve was doing the Journeyman performance test that very day and agreed to tell us the story of his experience)

My Journeyman Test Experience

by Steve Grosvenor

I’m a 48yr old ex mechanic/welder these started building knives full time 2012 with the intention of being the first Master Smith in South Dakota.   With each step I’m closer to the goal.   My first step towards Journeyman began as soon as I learned of the American Bladesmith Society and there efforts to promote the forged blade with MUCH attention to detail.


The blades are measured and tested on rope, arm hair, 2×4 chop, and finally bent to 90 degrees.

This year is the my first year of Eligibility, you must be a ABS member for 2 yrs before being eligible to take the performance test.   I began the year focused on learning all I could about the Steel I chose for the test, Cru Forge V,  and excellent High Carbon steel with better edge holding than 52100.  I tested a blade a month between filling orders (pesky bills) tweaking quench oils, blade thickness , blade design, austenize temps, and tempering temps.

 No matter what the design, I struggled with the rope cut portion of the test, maybe 1 in 3 attempts would be a clean legal cut. After discussing this with others, I learned it’s just like a golf swing, technique plays a major part of a successful cut.   The 2×4 chopping and shaving portion of the test were easier tasks for me to overcome.   The Bend, of the 10 test blades I built 2 failed for very different reasons, others I was able to Completely straighten out.


Steve’s practice blades

 The day Of the Test, Friday October 2d was interesting because it was October of 86 I graduated Harmony Church Infantry School.  I wasn’t very nervous,  I had a college professor tell me “if you do your preparation, the test is easy” .   The test went very well and since it was at a Hammer-In there were 4 Mastersmiths all willing to administer the test, they were (in no particular order) Steve Culver, Brion Tomberlin, John Perry, and Ray Kirk, after each portion of the test the knife was passed between the Smith’s for approval before proceeding to the next task ending with the 90° bend,  the bend was smooth and must continue until the Master Smith hollers Stop!  Or the blade breaks. Fortunately, I heard STOP! Loud and clear .


Steve’s jury of Masters

Now I must build 5 knives to present to a council either at Blade in Atlanta or the ICCE in Kansas City,  (these are currently the only places where a applicant can “Present”)  upon there approval of the “5” I will be awarded my J.S stamp.   Just 1 more thing, JS testing is all done with a mono steel,  MS testing will be done with Damascus (pattern welded) steel.


One of Steve’s Damascus blades.

In addition to his website, you can follow Steve on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. sean webb says:

    sounds like a very interesting process! I like to read this kind of stuff, the “insider” view of stuff.

  2. Spencer says:

    Those are some very “studly” looking knives! Can I have one of the rejects?

  3. Grosvenor says:

    I’ve always told my customers they can always ask anything as long as there prepared for the answer, and to answer your question, no you cannot, I will use them for myself as teaching aids.

  4. Joe Campbell says:

    You make EXCELLENT knives Steve ! I own two of your blades, and cannot be happier !

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Guest Post: My Journeyman test experience. by Steve Grosvenor

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