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.
Under the tutelage of Graham, David & Decklan Clarke you will learn to make a fully useable carbon steel knife.
During your first 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)
* Finish grind and sharpen your blade.
On your second day you will:-
*Attach handles to your knife from a selection of available wood such as Oak, Mahogany etc or upgrade to Kirinite for just £10 extra (Payable on the day)
*Cut, sew and stain a leather sheath
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 over 14. Children between the ages of 14 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
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.
2 days (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.
2 days (9:00am to 4:00pm)
Wow what can I say I have always wanted to make my own knife and I have finally achieved it. The excellent tutorage, humour and warm welcome all made the experience one I will always remember. We were taken step by step through the process which enabled us to watch the professional then start on our own knife slowly watching the knife come alive out of the metal billet we were give.
You were able to go along at your own pace with someone always ready to step in and help if you needed it and even make slight changes to the design to suit you, I went for a nicely balanced knife with beautiful blue swirly handles and I. must say I am very happy with the final result. The best thing is that I can now sign up for the virtual open days and go along and start another project at my own pace using their facilities and knowledge by paying a reasonable day fee. I will definitely be back to do another soon.
Response from Clarke Knives:Glad you enjoyed your time with us so much. We look forward to seeing you again.
Had a great day learning to forge a knife with some really good guidance helping me along the way. Really friendly team with some nice lunch included too. Would absolutely recommend to anyone that is interested.
A brilliant day learning so much about forging. Great family team who run the day and lots of experience between them. A very hands on experience with the knife making and thrilled with the end result, a strong, useful blade that you made yourself. Thank you, will be back for the axe making!
I came in here as a total novice, and very much enjoyed the day. The class had a great vibe, and was very hands-on - but with great support and teaching from David, Declan and Graham. I ended up with a knife that I'm very proud of, and it was thanks to them that it happened.
As somebody with a basic knowledge of DIY and how stuff works but having never worked with metal before I was a bit nervous at the start but equally at 62 I also had no desire to go back to school either.
The course was excellent. The tuition was there when you needed it but hands off when you were heading in the right direction. There was a strong but not excessive focus on safety and as a result I felt 100% safe and under control in what was a potentially dangerous environment.
There was a group of about 6 of us on the course all from different places, skill sets and ages (17 to 62) and all seemed to be getting the support they needed when they needed it
The time flew and at the end of the day I had knife to show off to the family and all 10 digits still attached .
The sandwiches were pretty good too.
Great team, great day ,new skills learnt and a pretty good knife - Thanks guys
Response from Clarke Knives:Thanks Iain, It's lovely to get feedback such as this to let us know we're getting it right 😀😀😀
I attended the one day course, had an excellent time and came away with a quality knife that is now in use in our kitchen. Graham and the guys are excellent tutors, explaining, then demonstrating each step. Any question answered and student techniques monitored through each stage to ensure you are doing the technique correctly. Very affable guys. Great environment; workshops as they should be.
Response from Clarke Knives:So glad you enjoyed the day so much Paul.
A great day, no nonsense expert tuition and so brilliant to have forged my own knife! Very satisfying!
Had been looking forward to my day in the forge for nearly a year and upon finally getting there I had a great day. Graham and family were absolutely brilliant being extremely helpful and knowledgeable, and I cannot recommend this course enough if this is something you're interested in. Thank-you to all the Clarke family.
First time in a forge, so didn’t know what to expect but Graham, Dave and Dex made me feel really welcome in a very relaxed atmosphere. As a proper novice, the 1-day knife course was ideal. The instruction was clear, constructive but not intrusive - the guys got it just right. As a result, I was really pleased with my knife at the end of the day - testament to the quality of the teaching. In short, a great day and highly recommended.
My son and I had a great day. We had waited over 12 months for this and it was worth it. Graham and family were excellent teachers. The day was very informative and they explained every stage very well. Very aware of our needs and caught us just in time when we were going wrong. Eventually producing a knife that I will always treasure because I made it. Excellent day, James and I really enjoyed it. Thanks again.
Having bought as a gift for my Dad I didn't really know what to expect, but had an awesome day.
The guys really love what they're doing and are great teachers- I really didn't see how my bent and battered slab of metal would become a knife but I left four hours later with something I'm pretty proud of!
Would 100% go back for one of their other courses, and a few friends are planning to book from my recommendation. Can't recommend it highly enough.
Thank you all for such an inspiring day! My son had a fantastic day fully supported by you all in not just your valuable knowledge but for your understanding and time to explain your practice. From this, I had chatter all the way home about the skills my son had learned with such enthusiasm that I am now looking into college courses for him. Thank you so much for sharing your skills and being so welcoming.
Just the most amazing day I went in and was given a very informative relaxed chat on all things forge, a piece of steel welded to a rebar by the end of the day went home with a proper finished knife that I am very proud off. Graham is a very easy going very skilful chap and hope to go back to learn some more from him sometime.
What a brilliant experience ! Graham and his wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm made for a really interesting and productive day. From a complete beginner to coming away with a lovely knife at the end of the day was fantastic. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a hands on and creative day in a forge/metal workshop. Thanks you.
I went to the 1 day course on the 27th June 2021. Graham was our instructor and he was great! He demoed each step of the process and then let us get on with it, offering advise along the way. I'm really pleased with my knife and highly recommend the course.
Absolutely fantastic experience, fully recommend taking the course. The team are very knowledgeable, friendly and totally focused on making sure you have a great time and produce a superb knife to bring home.
Great day with the 3 generations of Clarke’s, the family feel definitely added to the experience with lots of banter!
Did everything they could to make sure you have fun and come out with an outcome you are happy with. Support you on the bits you are struggling with.
This fact that it is a working forge adds to the experience
Would recommend to others - brilliant day thank you
Response from Clarke Knives:We're so pleased you both enjoyed the day so much. Hope to see you again sometime .
I had a great day making a knife, instrutors we fantastic and so encouraging
Would highly recommend
Response from Clarke Knives:Glad you enjoyed it and hope to see you both again sometime.
My wife and I both attended the single day knife making course. it was a fantastic day and i would highly recommend it. a great family outfit that make you feel totally at ease.
Response from Clarke Knives:I'm glad you enjoyed it so much - it was great to have you with us
Thank you Graham and Declan, we had the best time. I am not a Forged in Fire viewer so didn't know what to expect but I really enjoyed myself and have a very decent knife to show for it. Really interesting to learn about metal, forging and finishing, the time just flew by. Your knowledge and skills are superb, thank you for sharing.
Response from Clarke Knives:Thanks Rowena, It was a pleasure to have you and Mike spend the day with us.
The guys really knew their stuff. Really friendly, really fun. Declan is a wizard with a hammer and showed us what for. Honestly had an excellent time and as a first time forger walked away with a piece I'm super proud of. Can't thank them enough for a brilliant experience.
Had a really fantastic day with Graham!
He is very knowledgeable, and an exceptionally good teacher who gives simple, easy to understand instruction in bite sized chunks to all students, both young... and not quite so young!
Thanks also to Dave (co-owner) and Declan for their help too.
Clarkes Knives are in a proper engineering workshop, with plenty of tools, spaced out with plenty of room to work.
On a Covid front, masks on at all times, plenty of hand sanitiser available and distancing maintained.
My 15yr old son made a knife, starting at the forge with hammer and anvil, working through grinding on Grahams custom belt grinders and ending by wrapping in a paracord handle.
Also available a 2 day knife course with a wooden handle and a leather sheath AND a 2 day axe course, complete with making & fitting your own ash handle.
Very highly recommended.
We are definitely going back!
This review also posted on Google
Response from Clarke Knives:Thanks Mark, We thoroughly enjoyed having you with us and we all look forward to seeing both of you again.
It’s not often that you can get an absolutely top-rate expert to walk you through a new experience, but that’s what my son and I got at Vlakvark Forge. Forget other forges experiences that ‘play’ at knife making and you leave you with some two-bit effort. Graham, a highly qualified and experienced metallurgist, took us through the whole process of forging, grinding, heat treating, tempering and finishing the blade, explaining every step in minute detail. I can not recommend him highly enough.
Response from Clarke Knives:Thanks Rob, It was a very enjoyable day. Regards, Graham
Fantastic course with really top notch instruction. Purchased the day as an experience for a family member's birthday, and it was really great fun.
I never thought I could possibly create a knife from a hunk of metal, but as the day progressed it gradually took shape. Really satisfying craft!
Response from Clarke Knives:We all hope to see you again sometime.
A great day and full of learning and fun. The guys supported everyone irrespective of baseline skills and were happy to help and give as much knowledge and insight as requested. Thoroughly enjoyable and cannot recommend highly enough!
Response from Clarke Knives:Thanks Richard, It's gratifying to know the day met your expectations, Regards Graham
Such a good day! Time flew by and you end up with something useable at the end of the day. Excellent tuition and camaraderie
Response from Clarke Knives:We're all glad you enjoyed the day with us.
Having had Bladesmithing as a new hobby/side project on my mind for quite a while I decided to take the one day course to get a feel for what exactly's involved.
Graham, David & Declan (great kid) were all really engaging and made the day fun, enjoyable and really informative. You can tell they all have a lot of knowledge about the blacksmithing world.
It's definitely made me realise I want to pursue Bladesmithing beyond this one off experience. I'll be back for more.
Response from Clarke Knives:And we look forward to seeing you again Robbie.
A birthday gift from my partner. And what a great day it was. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Came away with a knife I can use in a bit of bushcraft. Nothing fancy but function is more important. I've used it and am well happy. Definitely recommend.
Response from Clarke Knives:Thanks Colin, I hope we'll see you again soon.
Had a fantastic day with Graham, David and Deklan. Really enjoyed my day learning about bladesmithing. Would highly recommend this course.
Superb weekend spent making a great knife. Really pleased I went for the two day option and ended up with a completed knife and hand made sheath.
Graham, David and Declan were the fun side of professional throughout and clearly knew what what they were talking about.
Already saving up for the axe course.
Response from Clarke Knives:It was a great Weekend Experience and we all look forward to seeing you again
Great course covering all aspects of making a knife from start to finish. Good staff to attendee ratios enabling prompt attention to each stage of the process with clear guidance and explanations not only what to do but why the step is necessary.
Good natured conversation throughout made the day highly enjoyable.
Very pleased to get a finished product at the end of the day, and with the parachute cord option for the handle allowed the knife to be usable immediately.
Response from Clarke Knives:An enjoyable day indeed Simon with a great result.
A great hands on experience day, enjoyed learning how to craft metal at a proper forge. Enjoyed every minute with Graham and his family great people and very knowledgeable in their skills.
Response from Clarke Knives:It was great to have you with us Harry - I hope we'll see you again soon
Amazing day at the forge with Graeme, David and Declan. Highly recommended.
Response from Clarke Knives:It was great to have you with us Kevin - I hope we'll see you again soon
What a day, Graham and his Team were excellent from start to finish. Everything was explained at the beginning of what we wanted to achieve, you then go into the forge and Declan his Grandson (14) gives you a practical demonstration of Knife forging. It is then your turn to repeat, this happens at every stage of the experience.
No question is stupid, if you do something wrong Graham or the team can fix it.
I went from someone with a bit of knowledge to making a knife.
It is a day I did with my son I will not forget. We are trying to work out when we can do the two day course.
Thank you Graham and Team
My wife got me this experience as a Christmas present due to my Forged in fire addiction (beats Love Island). I had a properly ace day being taught an unknown skill by really friendly and truly talented smiths. You;ll keep all fingers and thumbs, don't worry they've got you covered 😉. The blade I came away with is now pride of place on my cheese board. I will definitely be going back for the two day course at some point!
Had an amazing day! All the team were super knowledgeable, helpful and friendly! Group size was ideal and made the day sociable. Cannot recommend highly enough!
Absolutely brilliant day. Really loved it. My husband son and teenage daughter came and loved it so much they want their own forge!! Can't wait to go back.
It was great to be instructed not only on what needed to be done but on how the various stages were developing towards a beautiful shiny and unique knife.
Wow, what a fantastic day!!
A terrific experience that I would whole-heartedly recommend to all.
Graham had expert knowledge and experience of both the theory and the practicality of working steel and matched this with a wonderful personable manner that really conveyed his enthusiasm and passion, which made for a terrific learning experience.
Fantastic 2 day weekend knife making course. Graham, David and Decklan know their stuff, plenty of equipment and patience so no waiting around. Left on Sunday with a knife with handle and sheath. Also booked in for the following Wednesday and Thursday for one to one course with Graham. Graham is a fountain of knowledge on metallurgy, furnace work, quenching and just about any thing to to with bladesmithing. I have been collecting knives for years and have a small forge at home and have attempted to make a few knives to be fair they were rubbish and ended up in the bin, the knife I made on Thursday I would be proud to add to my collection.
I'm sure I will be going back to Vlakvark Forge to learn more at a later date. If you have any interest in knives or knife making, book yourself on to this course, you will not be disappointed.
These guys absolutely know their craft inside out. Fantastic atmosphere and suitable for any level. You will learn a new skill and have a great time doing it. Stop reading the reviews and just book it. You won't be disappointed! You'll also come home with a knife that will make all your friends jealous!
I had a fantastic weekend blade smithing.
The guys have so much knowledge of their craft you can’t help but learn. They make you feel very welcome and supply you with food, snacks and drinks. It’s the second time that I have visited the forge and I don’t think it’ll be my last. Many thanks guys, hope to see you all again.
Sent on the course by my wife for some bonding with our teenaged son, I was apprehensive as I'd not been in a workshop since middle school woodwork and avoid DIY, both of which I hated.
However I was amazed by the product we were all able to produce after the two days thanks to some brilliant encouragement and step-by-step coaching from Graham and David. The pace was just right and broken down into understandable and achievable steps. We were never hanging around waiting for stuff to happen or tools to become free. From hammering hot steel to angle-grinding to using bandsaws and grinders, we were allowed to get on with it with a light touch but a watchful eye from the instructors. There was plenty of refreshment and chances to chat while building some camaraderie over cups of tea. The atmosphere was fun and friendly with a serious undertone of wanting to do a good job.
I've been recommending it to all my friends and showing off the best knife I'll ever own ever since I got back. My son and I can't wait for the axe course.
Graham and Dave are great couple of guys who know their business, I came out with a knife and the urge to make my own forge. Will effeminately do it again.
I did the two day knife making course and enjoyed every minute of it. Graham's teaching style is excellent and because he makes a knife too you can physically see each step along the way. He was always on hand and aware if any steps weren't quite right, without feeling like he was watching over my shoulder.
He also provides a decent lunch and good conversation!
I'd recommend the course to anyone (and have done loads in the few days since I did it!)
I really can't recommend this course highly enough. In two days I made a fantastic chef's knife from sheet steel, brass bar stock and burr elm under Graham's expert guidance. The facilities are excellent and Graham is great company. His tuition style ensures that you understand each step and why it is necessary but he lets you get on with it, helping when requested and aiding improvements to the finish. If you have ever considered learning how to make a knife, you will not go wrong learning with Graham.
This weekend course was a sixtieth birthday present from my children, my son and daughter attended the course with me. None of my family had ever been involved with Bladesmithing, but with the aid of our hosts Graham, son David and grandson Declan and their wealth of engineering experience and knowledge, they were able to guide us through and skills our final knives. Their explanation and communication enabled us to work the steel for the knife and also the wood for the handle. Skills and memories which will remain with my family and I forever, and we all have a unique and personal knife, one of the best experiences I have had.
This weekend course was a sixtieth birthday present which is now firmly in my top 5. The whole weekend from start to finish was paced beautifully and was full of new skills to learn and perfect. Our host Graham had a wealth of engineering experience and was knowledgeable in the explanation and teaching of the skills to produce your final knife. The wood working of the Knife scales and the leather work for the sheath complemented completely the forging of the steel blade which all came together on the final day to produce a unique and personal completed knife to take away and treasure.
Don't expect a neat and tidy workshop, this is a true engineering forge and workshop, with pleasant, knowledgeable and skilled people, an atmosphere matched to what you are trying to achieve, which all goes towards one of the best experiences you will ever have.
Thanks to Graham and his tuition, in two days I produced a blade that looked professionally made. Graham is extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of this craft. I had lots of fun making this blade and definitely recommend it to anyone.
You will not be disappointed, Graham and Dave where fantastic ,very knowledgable and helpful,you get to do everything with their guidance ( pretty much the forged in fire experience but the right way ), highly recommend to anyone
Hopefully I will be going back soon .
Thanks again Graham and Dave