Railroad spikes, horse shoes, extreme fiery heat, hammers and a grinder — and you’ve got a very unique Branson “show” and a very personal experience at making your own novelty knife — sharpened or not.
Jo Smith is just one of four in the United States that provide a forging experience for customers, and each one is slightly different. He’s been featured three times on the History Channel’s show, “Forged in Fire” and two times on “Knife or Death.”
Jo and his wife Chandee own and operate the Silver Anvil Metal Craft shop located in a strip center close to the Branson Landing and clients can reserve an hour time slot and take home a unique souvenir. Smith gives people the choice of making a knife from a railroad spike, horse shoe, or pony shoe which he provides.
“It’s all about the experience and what you are getting to do. They get to swing a hammer and enjoy themselves. We’ve had bachelor parties here. We have a good time, and friends love to heckle each other. I call it the hottest show in Branson, because no one can mess with a 2,000 degree fire.”
Everyone gears up in safety equipment, leather aprons, closed-toe shoes and gets safety instructions on hammering techniques as Smith explains the process which is hundreds of years old. Safety regulations do not allow customers to place their piece in the 2,000 degree forge, so Smith does that step for everyone. Then after the safety lesson on hammers, they are allowed to pick an age appropriate hammer and bang away. He draws lines on the steel to help guide the hammering.
“Everything in here is dangerous. Everything in here is fun. But if we are going to have fun, we might as well be safe,” he tells groups.
Smith explained the technical side of the process. “We are heating the steel to a plastic point. Forging is a plastic deformation of any material under pressure, heat and force. When we hit and move it, it doesn’t spring back. If it snaps back, that would be an elastic deformation. Forging is like working with clay. Steel moves the same way clay moves at it’s plastic point. Mastersmiths will forge a piece of clay to understand what the steel is going to do before they have to work with it hot.”
All ages and even people with disabilities have been able to make knives. “I’ve had a lot of blind and austic kids come in. “Working with these kids is amazing. I love it. They have a great time. We want to make this available to everyone. You don’t need any skills. You need to know nothing. Actually, the less they know — the better! We love to make this available to everybody and keep everyone safe.”
He finds it humorous when a parent wants a butter-knife edge on a knife for a teenager who is allowed to drive. But apparently not good with sharp objects?
“I attended a knife show and wanted to purchase a specialty knife. They wanted a whole lot more than I had on me. I decided with my mechanical engineering background, I could figure it out. Well, 16 years later, I still don’t have it all figured out but I enjoy it.” he laughed.
His dad had been a taxidermist and Jo helped in the shop with the skinning and using knives all the time to make money as a kid. “Everytime I picked up a knife I knew by the feel of it if I could make money from it or not.”
He also provides knife sharpening services, custom work, and restoration work. “I’ve been sharpening knives for 35 years and it’s usually $3-$5 a knife,” he said.
The Silver Anvil Metal Craft is located at 486 Branson Landing Blvd. Suite 203. The phone number is 417-334-6151. Visit his website at Silveranvilblades.com or book group and individual sessions from Facebook.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here