Erin Healy Blog

Midweek Maker Forged-Style: David McConnell

David McConnell is a stamping press repairman who hopes to convert to full-time bladesmithing soon. His first knife, was a cheap Wal-Mart special. Over the years he got frustrated with the lack of quality in such knives and began thinking about making his own. He knew he could make a better knife for himself, and he did. Only his buddy loved it so much that he bought it from him, David said, laughing.

North Woods Forge offers old-school styles of knives and tools.

David McConnell of North Woods Forge in Michigan. He forges, preferring a primitive style, using natural materials..

The self-taught bladesmith has been making knives for 11 now, including tomahawks and axes. “I like to make hunting knives and more traditional stuff,” David noted.

David McConnell of North Woods Forge used dyed and stabilize curly maple to make this bowie.

David McConnell made this bowie with an 8-inch blade of 1075 steel. The handle is blue-dyed and stabilized curly maple. Blue curly maple bowie. Guard is nickel silver. Overall length is 14 1/4 inches. Contacts listed at the bottom of this article.

He is an avid grouse and deer hunter, as well as and ice and fly fisherman. He lives in Kalkaska, Michigan, with his wife and 15-year-old son.

David McConnell of North Woods Forge helped his son Parker catch a trout at the National Trout Festival in Kalkaska, Michigan.

David McConnell started teaching his son Parker McConnell to fish early in life. The National Trout Festival, now in its 81st year, is held in April in Kalkaska, Michigan. Parker got this trout in the kid’s pond.

  • Best-selling knife patterns: 3 ½- to 4-inch-bladed bird-and-trout, 4- to 7-inch-bladed straight-back hunter, classic bowie
  • Favorite blade steels: W2 for hamon, toughness, ease of forging and grinding; 1075 for ease of forging and heat-treating
  • Blade grinds: flat ground, sometimes with appleseed edge
  • How he tests his knives: “If it can cut a nail and have no deformation or chipping and still stay shaving-sharp, I would have to say that’s a pretty good blade,” David commented.
  • Favorite handle materials: bone, wood, antler. “I just like the feel and warmth you get from natural materials.”
  • Price range: $85-$600
  • Knife shows he attends: local gun-and-knife shows and blacksmithing events
  • Member of: American Bladesmith Society
  • Forums he participates in: ABS
  • His website: www.northwoodsforge.com
David McConnell of North Woods Forge only forges his knives; he does not do stock-removal.

This 15-inch bowie has a 8 7/8-inch blade, flat-ground, appleseed-edged and forged from 1084 cable-patterned steel. The handle is made from axis deer crown antler with a brass guard and blue and white fiber spacers. Maker’s list price: $375.

Black Iron Days takes place every August in Grayling, Michigan. David McConnell goes each year to help with bladesmithing demonstrations.

Bladesmith David McConnell puts on a forging demonstration at Black Iron Days at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling, Michigan. Every August blacksmiths from all over Michigan and a few from Ohio host demonstrations for the public for the whole weekend.

This ulu was forged by David McConnell of North Woods Forge.

North Woods Forge’s ulu has a 4 1/2-inch blade forged from 1095 steel. The handle is made from whitetail antler. David McConnell loves making primitive pieces and being an avid deer hunter, he often opts for antler material.

Contact David McConnell at 989-858-6344northwoodsforge@yahoo.com or on Facebook at North Woods Forge.

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