Ed Caffrey: The Montana Bladesmith
By James Takenaka
Ed Caffrey was the first master bladesmith I ever met. Years ago, when I first had the pleasure of watching him at work, it was not in his shop in Great Falls, Montana, but on an acreage just outside the small town of Tilley in Alberta, Canada. Ed is a friend of Canadian knifemaker Jim Clow who invited him up to a summer hammer-in he used to host in June.
It wasn’t until I arrived at the hammer-in that someone told me Ed Caffrey was demonstrating how he made damascus. I was shocked! I had no idea Ed was going to be there. To say I was somewhat in awe of Ed Caffrey is an understatement. I had long been an admirer of Ed’s knives and in particular, those that sported his stunning handcrafted damascus blades. I would often hop onto his website just to admire the new creations he would post.
I pushed through the crowd of knifemakers and sure enough, Ed was drawing out a yellow-hot billet of 15N20 and 1084. I watched mesmerized with the rest of the knifemakers as he moved back and forth between a forge and a hydraulic press. Anyone familiar with Ed Caffrey’s work knows that he is a virtuoso when it comes to creating damascus. At the time I was too intimidated to introduce myself, so I was delightfully surprised when he walked up to me, stuck out his hand, and said, “Hi! I’m Ed.”
And that was how I first met Ed Caffrey, the Montana Bladesmith. It wasn’t long before I was peppering him with questions about his knives, his damascus, and his background as a knifemaker. He graciously indulged me with all my novice questions and made sure to make eye contact with me during several of his demonstrations.
This article appears in the May 2022 issue of KNIFE Magazine. Premium Online Members can read the whole thing by clicking on the blue button below.