COVID UPDATE - 24th Feb, 2021:
Further to Government announcements on 22nd February we are pleased to confirm we will be re-opening Vlakvark Forge for 1 Day, Weekend and Axe Making Experiences from Saturday, 17th April.
We are limiting the number of attendees to 6 for the time being as this allows for good social distancing within the forge.
We will have doors and windows open as required for good ventilation so perhaps wear a few layers when you come if the weather doesn’t look so good.
Can you handle the heat? Want to experience what it takes to make your own knife?
Under the tutelage of Graham, David & Decklan Clarke you will learn to make a fully useable carbon steel knife.
During your day you will:
* Shape your knife using a gas forge, hammer, anvil.
* Normalise your blade in the gas forge
* Grind your blade to it's near finished shape
* Heat-treat your blade (without the fiery theatricals as seen on television)
* Take an optional upgrade to a Paracord Wrap handle for just £10 extra (payable on the day by card or cash) if you wish
* Finish grind and sharpen your blade.
Graham is a qualified Metallurgist and has many years experience both as a knife maker and a commercial heat treater.
The course is open to all.
Children between the ages of 13 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Children aged 10-12 must be accompanied by an adult helper. They will work together as a pair (at the cost for 1 person) to make 1 knife.
Unfortunately experience has shown us that children younger than 10 will not have the strength to forge or the size to work on our grinders safely.
Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 4 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.
All materials and safety equipment will be supplied. Please wear old clothing and sturdy shoes. No shorts or open shoes.
Lunch will be provided as well as refreshments throughout the day
If you have any special dietary requirements you may wish to bring your own lunch and refreshments for the day.
1 day (9:00am to 4:00pm)
This craft course provider has been awarded Platinum status for receiving 50 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.
The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.
They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.
1 day (9:00am to 4:00pm)
What can I say? Brilliant. Really good day with Graham David and Decklan. They showed us lots of well-needed tips and knowledge of how to forge. All 3 of them were over good. So helpful and always going round the group checking each person and helping and explaining things. I made a beautiful knife that I'm proud of. I could not have asked for better teachers. well-done lads.Thank you. Keep up the excellent work.
Response from Clarke Knives:Great, we’re all so pleased you enjoyed your time with us 😊😊😊
Took my 14 year old son for a birthday treat on this one day course and he loved it! He had done a bit of blacksmithing before but Graham, David and Deklan were great tutors and he learned a lot! Came away with a very impressive knife! Thanks for making him feel so welcome. Definitely recommend this course.
I had a very enjoyable day learning the craft of knife making. It was an introductory class and was well managed by the blacksmiths. I would recommend the class to friends and family.
Response from Clarke Knives:Thanks Jonathan, So glad it was so good for you. Regards Graham
Really enjoyable day out with my son - we both got the opportunity to try tools and techniques we'd never normally get to do, all with the patient and skillful support of the crew at the forge. That evening our freshly forged knives made cutting BBQ steak effortless. Will definitely recommend to friends.
Response from Clarke Knives:Thanks Nick
Myself, partner and my brother organised the one day experience for Dads special birthday. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would recommend the experience to anyone! I have enjoyed showing photos of the day to family, friends and colleagues. There is plenty of help available but you are also given independence to just get on with it so the balance felt very comfortable. There was also plenty of food and drink available throughout the day which was a very thoughtful touch. Thank you for a great day. From Maria and family.
Response from Clarke Knives:Thank you Maria, we're all so glad you had such a great day with us. Regards, Graham, David & Decklan
Me and my wife had a great day. We both enjoyed learning about bladesmithing and forging our own knifes. Graham is very knowledgable. We very much recommend this course.
Response from Clarke Knives:It was a good day Kris, I hope we'll see you and Jana again soon.
The course from start to finish was fantastic. A great bunch of passionate, professional and down to earth guys at the top of their profession. Lunch was great, the banter and brew flowed throughout the day and the expert training and support to give everyone attending an end product of a working knife is testimony to the way the course was run. Brilliant, thank you.
Response from Clarke Knives:It was a really good day Peter. We all hope to see you again in the future
I had spoken to Graham at their stand at the Newbury County Fair in 2019 and my girlfriend decided to surprise me by booking a course for my birthday.
Graham, David and Declan (3 generations of Clarkes') were all excellent instructors and very knowledgeable in their craft. After getting the initial obligatory COVID-19 / safety talk out of the way, Graham gave a brief overview of what we would be doing during the day through each stage of the process. The course was very hands on which I enjoyed though Graham was there keeping his expert eye on things and offering guidance on improving technique to better the outcome and explained why certain things done at that stage affected the process at a later stage. Each stage was carefully explained and I left feeling greater awe at the skills of these master craftsmen.
It was a most enjoyable experience and the time literally flew by. I have to recommend the guys at Vlakvark Forge and I shall definitely be back to do more.
Brilliant day, lovely people. The guys were so patient and great teachers. Laid back to the point where the two power cuts due to the storm didn't phase them, they were happy to bring us back another day suitable for all but luckily power was restored.
Amazing craftsmen, so skilled and clearly love what they do.
This was an amazing course, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Very informative and enjoyable day, easy paced with time to discuss things
Really good, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the knife I made is now used in the kitchen as it is plenty sharp enough and fully functional. The instructor was great and managed to get all of us with differing levels of skill and competence to the stage where we had a usable kitchen knife with our own individual twist/design element ready to take home at the end. I would recommend this course to anyone.
Fantastic course. I really enjoyed every minute of it Graham and David are very down to earth and clearly know their craft well. If you go on this course you will 100% forge and make your very own knife and David and Graham will give you a walk through and help you if needed.
I'm looking forward to joining the extra club they do where you can join other people to use the shops equipment providing you take your own materials etc.
Keep up the good work fellas.
I received this as a gift and wasn't sure what to expect. Well I got a warm welcome at the door and that was how the day continued. The whole day was very relaxed. Each stage was clearly explained and Graham & his son were always on hand to offer guidance and help. They did not take over at any stage if things went wrong but patiently talked you through how to correct the problem.
There was enough equipment at every stage so that you did not have to wait around. As you progressed throughout the day you went at your own speed. Nobody felt left behind or forgotten. The atmosphere was friendly and the group were all chatting within a short space of time. I came away with a knife that far exceeded my expectations, it is used regularly in the kitchen and I am proud to say I made it.
If this is your "thing" I would definitely recommend it. If you are looking for something different to try I would definitely recommend it. Give it a go, its great value for money, good fun and very enjoyable.
P.S It's not just for the men, ladies give it a go, patience is required rather than strength!!
Amazing day, the course was everything I hoped for. The tutors were approachable, friendly, helpful and truly own their craft. The group we were in also were great; friendly, chatty and all came out with amazing knives. I can't recommend enough and looking forward to attending again.
Excellent course. Extremely knowledgeable instructors who made the course interesting and enjoyable too. Ample drinks throughout the day and lunch was thoughtful too. Highly recommended.
I was given the voucher as a Christmas present... and what a present.
An extremely interesting and satisfying day. Great tuition from Graham and David. Everyone left the day with a great knife and a great experience.
Well organised and well catered for event.
I highly recommend this course, it is great way to try something different. Graham and David were excellent tutors, lots of encouragement and guidance. The time really flew by and we had a fantastic day.
Excellent day! Professionally run but relaxed and fun. After half an hour of hammering away at my piece of steel it looked very like a piece of steel with dents in....but miraculously I managed to turn it into a lovely, and extremely sharp, kitchen knife which I used the day after! Highly recommended, I will definitely go again!
Both me and my wife enjoyed the course , Graham and David made it fun and informative would definitely
recommend the course great day out .thanks guys.
Fantastic day creating two knives with our two boys along to help out where they could too. So happy with the result and have used it in the kitchen already - something to keep for a lifetime!
We all loved the forging part hammering on the anvil, by the afternoon we were all a little tired but had lots of help on hand with the belt sanders and sharpening process. Would highly recommend if you are interested in forging and creating something unique to keep forever.
Very interesting everything was explained well from the forging of the blade to final grinding and finishing by polishing. I have used knives for the past 60 years but I have never had one as sharp as the one I made. It still cuts a sheet of paper cleanly by holding the paper on edge and slicing it through. I can recommend the course.
This course met my every expectation and more, I’ve always had an interest in knife making and I finally got a go at it. The team were very friendly and helpful and with Graham’s vast knowledge and help it made the process go very smoothly. This has only made me even more interested in knife making as I now hope to attend again at some point and even start making my own knives in my own workshop.
I definitely think anyone who’s interested in metalwork should try this cause it opened my eyes to how much work and craftsmanship goes into making knives The staff there are so friendly and helpful and I had a thoroughly good day and Would definitely do it again
Had this experience gave to me as a gift by my other half, could not recommend this enough. Had a brilliant insight into this ancient craft, they are so patient and so welcoming and would like to say thank you very much for a great day. I will definitely be back.
An excellent course run by seriously knowledgable guys. We arrive to meet a friendly team and a tooled up workshop. Everything we needed for the day was supplied which makes a big difference. Tuition was well delivered and easy to understand even for the beginners. More detail was available when needed and we always knew what we were doing and why. It was very refreshing to attend a course where each step was explained expertly and the goal of each step was clear. I cannot reccomend these guys highly enough. If you are looking for a course like this, look no further.
Knowledgeable, creative, hands on or off, personal and a realistic experience... This day was given to me as a birthday gift, the group was small and personal, the experience was amazing!.
I learnt a lot and enjoyed every minute of the day. We weren’t rushed, we could take each stage at our own pace with Graham, Dave and Declan always on hand but allowing us to do as much of it on our own. All three were friendly, helpful and approachable. It was day were you created your piece all the way, (no standing around watching others do it for you)
This day was really amazing, I will be back.
The instructors are amazing super kind
Lovely course and loads of fun. Fully recommend.
Wasn't sure what to expect but I knew the reviews were all positive. Got there early as the course start on time and was welcomed by Graham outside the workshop.
The day started with a safety briefing, then straight into it. Hammered hot steel, shaped a knife and then ground down to a usable utility knife, very pleased with the outcome. Throughout the day the instructions were great with some explanation of how and why certain techniques were used.
I would highly recommend this course for anyone wishing to get the hands dirty and looking to create their very own knife.
Great place to go Forge your first knife.From start to finish.
Good instructor to learner ratio. Only small groupes so you have plenty of time on each every stag of making your knife.
They work at your your speed and your ability.
The facilities are great as well, well-equipped modern workshop.
Even when things go wrong They spend time with you to correct your error, because I didn’t listen 😀.
I took my knife and sheath to a friend and he asked where I bought it,he didn’t he didn’t know that I had been on a course. The quality of the instruction and materials made it that good.
It’s just a shame I can’t put photos on here from start to finish.
Go and have a great experience.
Many thanks to Graham, Dave and Decklan who one day will be a master craftsman himself no doubt .
We had a great day - Graham and Dave were great tutors who gently guided us as we got stuck in. It was a brilliant course (the forging was a real highlight for us) and we were so pleased by the knives we made in the end. We learned a fair bit and had a lot of fun - many thanks!
Amy and Dom Papineau
This exceeded all our expectations. Graham and Dave were very helpful - but not at all intrusive. We did the knife making weekend and were delighted with the end produce. Would highly recommend and will definatly be coming back.
Had a fantastic day! Tuition from Graham and his son was excellent. From forging to finishing you get to be fully hands on the whole way through the process. At each stage of the process Graham demonstrates to everyone and then you get to do it yourself. They’re there to guide you if need it or if they feel your doing something not quite right, but you are ultimately responsible for creating your own knife, so there’s a massive sense of pride in your creation. Would highly recommend! Thank you!
My wife got me this experience for my birthday as Im a big forged in fire fan. I wasnt sure what to expect but the day far exceeded anything I hoped for. Graham and his son (also his grandson, which is great to see a new generation of bladesmiths in the making) are friendly, helpful and have the course set up perfectly. Lunch was far better than the usual fair on these experiences and was all included in the price. One of the best days Ive had in ages. I would highly recommend it and I will be returning for some of their club days.
Bought this as a generous birthday present by my lovely family. Having been interested in knife-making for a while after watching tv shows like "Forged in Fire" I was very excited at the prospect of having a go myself. Have no doubt, this course delivers that and then some. All the other reviews are entirely right; this is a brilliant day, working through the many steps with clear guidance and help when needed. Just the right number of people and access to equipment. The tuition and coaching is truly expert, and (on the course I attended) everyone had great fun and came away with a handsome knife they felt proud of. I'm hugely proud of mine, and so enjoyed spending a day with Graham and David. I can't wait to go back.
We had such a great day with a friendly atmosphere and help was always on hand if needed! It was informative and fun throughout the whole day. Honest and genuine people who are passionate about what they do and guide you into being able to make your very own knife !! We will be back for the 2 day course .
This course was very kindly given to me as a Father's Day gift. Being a perfectionist I must admit I was a little sceptical about what I was going to come away with, as I have never done anything like this before!
I could envisage me pounding a lump of metal within an inch of its life, and people saying "nice ....what is it"?
How wrong was I .... Graham and David were awesome! Every step was clearly explained, demonstrated and overseen plus any questions were Swifty answered.
During the day, all refreshments were provided, as was the lovely dinner - there was plenty of time for breaks whenever you needed or wanted one.
I would highly recommend this course to anybody who has any interest in knives, forging or crafts ..... You come away with a real sense of achievement!
I for one will be going back again! Thanks guys, talk soon.
As an Engineering student, its amazing to get to do something practical. I love all kinds of craft work and I must say this course was up there with the most enjoyable. Graham is a fantastic teacher, very friendly and open to questions about any stage as you go along. He also welcomes general questions outside the scope of the class as well!
Lunch and refreshments were great, the ice-cold drinks throughout the day were incredibly refreshing and much needed when spending a day hammering away in close proximity to the hot forge.
Well worth the money and I will definitely be coming back for more!
A truly great day, graham is a fantastic host with a huge amount of knowledge. We were picking his brain all day, still a huge amount to kearn, cant wait for the next!
Fantastic day at the forge with Graham and David, both were welcoming and friendly, gave very clear instruction at every stage and I came away with a very useable blade. Highly recommended!
Fantastic day at the forge, Graham and David are really helpful with every step of the process to o make a knife. Couldn’t recommend them enough I’ll be going back again soon! I really want make another knife as I love the first one I made.
An excellent course with expert friendly guidance. Everyone went home with a knife they can be proud of.
Booked this course as a birthday present for my husband which I joined him on. David and Graham were absolutely lovely, brilliant instructors, easy to follow and really helpful, they made us both feel at ease. We are both super proud of our knives, they look great! Would recommend this day course to anyone, and would happily take part again.
Booked this course.and was thoroughly impressed with the days work. And what we achieved..greame and David made us feel very welcome,and we had a good bit of banter amongst the sparks and wizardry of Graham’s skills and knowledge past on. The lunch was also great...we will definitely be back at some point..
Many thanks David and greame
Graham and David were amazing and seemed to take the whole day at the pace each person was working at. Had a lovely time doing all of the work on the blade myself, bar a few finishing touches, and would definitely recommend going to anyone. I will again in future.
I was brought here by a very good friend who arranged a day of bladesmithing as part of my stag weekend(thanks Chris). Cannot thank Graham enough for his expertise in making the seemingly complicated become simple. I left the forge with new knowledge, bad habits gone and a blade to be proud of. So much so I used it to cut my wedding cake!!!
I booked this course for myself and a friend. Before the day Graham was very helpful accommodating a date that suited us when the original date we wanted was fully booked. From the moment we arrived Graham and David were very welcoming and made us feel immediately relaxed. We had an amazing day and really didn't want it to end. If we could have come back the next day we would have! Graham is a wealth of knowledge and a great teacher.... Always guiding us in a way that made sense and which made it easy to learn and progress. We were very pleased with the blades we made on the day and will certainly be coming back as soon as possible to build on our skills, and to enjoy both the company and another very tasty lunch! Graham, I'll be in touch to book our next course soon.
I had an absolutely brilliant time on the one day knife making course. Graham is an excellent instructor and would take each stage at your own pace. Despite being a tiny 50 year old with weedy arms I came home with a stunning kick ass knife that I’m super proud of.
This course has a big thumbs up from me and I would love to go again.
I bought myself and my 15 year old son this experience as birthday present to him and and always loved knives and wanted to make one as a present to myself.
We actually were the first 2 test customers for a 2 day course to make the knife blade on the first day then make and fit a handle the second day.
We both agree it was one of the best weekends of our lives, Graham and David are excellent teachers as well as hosts. They are both very informative and accepting of all ability ranges, they were particularly good with my son who has Aspergers syndrome.
If you want a memory for life and a unique knife to keep and use forever then this is a must do course. Can't thank Graham enough for his patience and expertise!!
Will go again to make a more complicated knife later in the year.
Had an amazing day, everyone was friendly and I'm really looking forward to the next time I get some time to go.
My wife bought this as a birthday present as something different to try my hand at and quite simply what an excellent day, well worth every penny. 👍 Graham and David were excellent tutors and as we were only a small group we all had plenty of their expert guidance and tuition every step of the way as well as helping out with anything that we were struggling with if necessary. I can highly recommend this course, as well as Graham and David. Thank you both very much for a great day at Vlakvark Forge.👍
I cannot recommend this course highly enough to anyone who is looking to try something different or is interested in smithing or knives. A really relaxed environment and incredibly hands on from the start. Graham was a great tutor... demonstrated (on his own piece, not yours), then perfectly guided our small group. Never interfering or taking over, always encouraging and only getting involved if things were going wrong. Once corrected it was straight back to you again. Everything was there - small group (so lots of attention), plenty of tools (so never waiting) and no pressure (so you could work at your own pace)... even the lunch was great!. I've never done anything like this before, but was totally delighted (and proud) with the knife I walked away with. For the cost, quality of the course and my final knife this is by a distance the of the best craft course I have done - thank you Graham.
Just had an amazing day on this course with my 16 year old son and his mate. Graham and Dave were brilliant at guiding us through the process and helping us to get our knives just right. It was a really personal experience which we will all remember for years to come. Lunch was fab too!
Towards the end of last year i had the privilege of been invited by Graham and David Clark for a knife making experience 🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡
May i just say that i was pleasantly surprised by the quality and price of the course 😍😍🗡🗡🗡 I can recommend it 100%!!!!!! I knew Graham from South Africa as a Master knife maker and i own a few of his masterpieces 😍🗡
Please take the time to look at what they offer!!!!!!!!!
I had a wonderful time!!!! And it won’t be the last time they see me😁😁🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡
Myself and my two sons one aged 14 and one aged 10 yrs old were given this as a christmas present, from the start of the day Graham and David , made us all feel very welcome, and we had a fantastic day, We all came away with a knife that we had all made by ourselves with some excellent help and advice given throughout the day by Graham and David, My sons have not stopped talking about it and can't wait to go back and make something else with Graham and David. We would recommend Graham and Davids course to any one .
really cool thing
Friends and I have just spent the day on this course and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Graham is an excellent tutor, with a down to earth style and attitude.
Safe to say we will be returning for more courses.
Love the knife I forged :-)
I have always wanted to have a go at bladesmithing, like many especially after watching forged in fire recently and was lucky enough to get myself on this course last week.
Well, not as easy as it looks! but had an absolutely brilliant time, Graham was extremely knowledgeable about the craft and explained all the stages from start to finish, I tend to ask a lot of questions with everything I do and Graham was more then happy to answer with demonstrations.
The course was at a nice steady pace which gave me the opportunity to watch listen and and put in to practice what I was being shown.
Not once was I told I hadn’t done something correctly but was shown how to correct and move the metal which gave a lot of confidence.
Great lunch provided in a really nice location and endless coffee on what was a frosty morning 👍.
On top of this I actually managed to creat a knife to take home that I am extremely proud of.
I really can highly recommend this course to anyone that wants to have a crack at making a knife and learn some of the skills required to bladesmith.
Will definitely be booking in again !