I cannot say enough positive about John, Spencer, and Mark, and the wonderful two day experience my friends and i had this past weekend at Anvil Forge...
Four of us did the 2-day Chef's knife course. The one word summary of the class, the gents teaching it, and the shop itself is "Genuine". John and co are all very adept teachers - a fine balance of technical instruction, gentle guidance and hand-holding, and 'letting you play' - all at the right times so that you have a good experience and leave with something to be proud of.
It's not a sterile classroom environment - you are in a working shop. So you get to see the works-in-progress, the piles of 'things that didn't work out' and the glorious loud mess (I mean that in all positivity ). It all adds to the the fun and the education. My big takeaway is that blacksmithing is like cooking: it's really challenging at first, but your attitude and your mood directly infuse into the work. These guys approach their work with real care, passion, and fun - and we did too as a result.
And speaking of fun... Pub lunch included! that was so great, because it is tiring work, and you're happy to have some home cooking halfway through the day. But more than that, the conversation, camaraderie, and instruction continues over lunch.
Call these guys. Do this class. Go make some stuff! It'll dirty your hands and lift your soul.
Blake Glenn - - #28982
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Blake
My wife bought this course for my sons 18th birthday and I was lucky enough to get to go too! I cannot recommend this highly enough. It’s a real working site with an expectation that those on the experience muck in and just get on with life in the metal works. Don’t expect frills - expect to have a bunch of really lovely people trying their hardest to give you a great day.
Working metal in the forge within minutes with great teachers on hand opened the day. Quickly followed by the team helping bring some artistic or practical ideas to life and ensuring that nobody left the day without something to be proud of. There is just the right amount of help provided.
Can’t wait to return for another trip now I know a little more. Looking forward to the next pub lunch with the guys.
Adrian Watson - - #28654
I have just attended the Viking knife 1 day course and I must say it was everything I had hoped it would be (in fact I was there for 2 days and made 2 different Viking knives!). John and his time were all very friendly and always on hand if you wanted advice or help. I'm considering another course in the not too distant future. Thanks guys!
Julian Court - - #27558
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Julian
This was a Christmas Present from my son. I attended the course on 23/11/2019. I made a wrought iron log holder which is now sitting proud on my hearth. My wife is delighted with it, which means it has passed style and quality criteria - she is pretty fussy what is allowed in the house !
I had an excellent day which was "hands-on", with help and advise close by, when needed. Well done to everybody at Anvil Forge !
Peter Hopwood - - #26621
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Peter
I have wanted to make my own knife for many years, as a scout and scout leader many years ago I started collecting sheath knives, and the forged in fire come on the TV and they make it look so simple... well sometimes... and I always thought I would love to have a go myself.... So to my delight my wife bought me a day course the Anvil Forge in Wokingham....
All I can say is Wow! what a day, a mixed bunch of people from differing backgrounds and a team of instructors who were fantastic, very friendly, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and patient.
We started the day making a fire poker and then went on to crafting a knife of our own, great fun, not as easy as it looks... But the instructors where there every step of the way to help. Every person left with a knife they had made and where pleased with.
Seriously can't recommend highly enough, money very well spent. 10/10
Russell Payne - - #26448
Response from Anvil Forge:Russell
A great way to spend a weekend! I like to cook and like to make things, so my girlfriend decided to buy this course for my 30th. John, Alex, Henry and Mark are all nice chaps and have a wealth of knowledge to share. What was really nice is that they always demonstrated on other pieces, so you really do make the entire knife yourself, with minimal interference. A couple of nice pub lunches didn't hurt, either!
Leo - - #26305
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Leo
I last used a forge at school over 55 years ago and every time we visited a forge, I said to my wife that I would love to have another go. The sound and feel of forging metal has to be experienced "in the flesh", Just watching someone or TV misses the point.
The actual course was even better than I had hoped. The health and safety briefing was set just right. The instructor ratio was 3 Blacksmiths to 5 students and this meant that we could get help when we needed it, there was always somebody who could answer a question or help when needed. There were plenty of facilities; 3 forges, a dozen anvils and all the tools you could need.
We started off with everyone making a proper forged poker to get started and then we all set out on our individual projects - a knife, fire baskets & my forged house name. Real projects & lots of fun.
The pub lunch was excellent and provided a great opportunity to chat with John's team and the other attendees.
A brilliant day! Thanks very much to John & his team who made a long time wish come true.
Chris Phillips - - #25317
Response from Anvil Forge:Hello Chris
I had a great day learning about the heating process hot, but not too hot colour to look for. Hammering, grinding, shaping, honing, hardening. Walked away with a very sharp knife and new skills.
Very friendly, knowledgeable, and skilled people.
Would recommend to anyone.
Mick Devlin - - #25175
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Mick
Terrific course. And not a contrived classroom but in a real life metal-working shop. We were welcomed, geared up and bashing hot metal within a very short time. John and his team were very accommodating on our individual projects and the end result in each case was beyond what I thought possible on a one day course. It was a privilege to be introduced to blacksmithing by such skilled and experienced guys. Many thanks.
Norman Craig - - #25355
Where do I start; what a wonderful day. From beginning to end you are made to feel at home by John, Spencer and Aiden, who are continuously a wealth of knowledge and who are on hand throughout the day. Although a group experience, Spencer and Aiden make sure to go around and provide 1-1 attention to everyone and give as much or as little support as needed. This was bought as a gift and it is probably the most appreciated and enjoyed, memorable gift I have ever given; everyone should experience this at least once, but I assure you that you will soon have a new hobby - especially at the hands of the Anvil Forge. We definitely have and will be returning. Thank you John, Spencer and Aiden.
Zoë - - #23767
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Zoe
This course is a fantastic start for a newbie looking to get a practical understanding of the tools and a few of the base skills of the craft. I'll be booking in my second experience soon and can't wait! The knife you make will be aesthetic and useful. Thanks John, Spencer and Aidan for some top instructing.
Joshua Harris - - #23965
Spent two days at the Forge with John and his great team. They were all friendly and very accommodating. John and team were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and helped me with the design and explained the processes before letting me loose.
I had a thoroughly great time and made a fantastic Viking inspired broad sword, couldn't recommend this course enough. They run plenty of courses which all look fantastic too!
Lloyd - - #23365
Joined these guys for the day I think last year, and can't think of a nicer bunch of blokes to spend the day forging with. Even though I was very keen before I went on this experience day to get into forging, I have since built a small coal forge and have successfully made several knives of my own including a low layer Damascus kitchen knife.
Thanks for the support on the day and igniting a new hobby.
Richard maskall - - #23347
Just finished a 1 day Viking knife making course with John and had an amazing time. Our group was small and it was the hottest day of the year, and I still had a good time.
We were made to feel welcome and I learned a lot. John and his guest tutor Alex had a wealth of knowledge and were keen to impart as much as possible and I hope he takes up his invitation to join Forged in Fire.
Hope to join him again some time to do another course (maybe on a cooler day).
John martin - - #23043
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi John
I was first invited to the forge by my partner, who said it was a surprise, and it was a pleasant one. Initially greeted by John I was then give instructions to forge a poker which was fun (especially hammering away at the metal).
Anvil Forge was a great day out I can recommend to all those interested in a exciting blacksmithing experience.
cory w - - #22667
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Cory
I joined John, Alex and small but mighty Henry for the two-day chef knife making course in May 2019. We were lucky to be a very small class of two but that didn't affect the warm and very enthusiastic welcome from the forge. After a cuppa we set to work forging an attractive iron fire poker to get a feel for the process. Another cuppa in and we were presented with two very rough templates cut from a strip of leaf spring steel salvaged from junkyard. We beat this into shape heating and beating the metal slowly drawing out the edge like you would with pastry. We were shown what colour to heat the metal to and to watch for sparks, suggesting you have burnt the iron because you were too distracted watching the others create bespoke pieces for clients! Once the rough edge is formed we allowed the metal to anneal by bringing it up to temperature then allowing it to cool slowly. Next we sketched out the knife profile we were trying to achieve and grinded down to the rough shape using this stage to create the primary bevel.
After a hefty pub lunch we then worked on achieving the secondary bevel before filing and sanding the edges, hardening the edge by quenching it in oil once past the magnetic point. John kindly took the blades to bake in the oven for two hours and slow cool.
The next morning we set to work on our handles, choosing our hardwood and forming the shape which proved tricky when trying to align the tang inside. Once finely sanded and oiled we went through the final process of sharpening, finishing the knife and testing the sharpness with the customary slice through paper.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable weekend; John and guys really instil the excitement of forging and have a wealth of knowledge with years of experience. This is a working forge with teaching on the side which in my view is far better than trying to churn out large classes for profit. I also think my knife speaks for itself with multiple friends asking where I did it and how they can sign up! Thank you John, Alex and Henry for a great weekend :)
Oliver Ward - - #22326
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Oliver
Wonderful day starting with a poker to get used to things and moving onto knife making - A lot packed into the day! I was pleasantly surprised what a novice could produce - but that is down to great instruction and help. If you are thinking about it - just do it!
Paul Hanson - - #22416
Having now done two course with the team at Anvil Forge, I can highly recommend them. Wonderful guys working in a great environment. The courses are paced well and interesting, this is a working forge and it is the real deal. What John, Spencer and the team produce on a daily basis is outstanding, and under their guidance you will produce a fantastic piece of work. I have managed to produce a herb cutter and a chef's knife and both have become firm favourites in the house. The easiest way to compliment them is to say I will be back to create any great blade.
Thanks for a few great days.
Mark Steven - - #21255
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Mark
An absolutely brilliant day the guys packed so much in to the day and we enjoyed every minute. I'm so pleased with my knife for cutting the wedding cake and I couldn't have made it without the help of John, Mark and Steven. I would highly recommend this course and would be happy to come back and do another course in the future.
Matt - - #20788
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Matt
My husband bought me this experience as i enjoyed watching 'Forged in fire', I was not sure I would enjoy trying blacksmithing myself. I was so wrong. The team mark, spencer, john and co (so sorry memory block on the fantastic welder) were so helpful, enthusiastic and knowledgable it made the day memorable. Lunch at the Farriers was really good and a wealth of information was shared over it. At the end of the day i had been helped to complete a fire poker and two beautiful lilly garden ornaments that i still cannot believe i helped make. They are already adorning my garden. I cannot recommend this experience enough, you end the day tired and dusty, but so exhilarated and with a great sense of achievement.
Annie - - #20777
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Annie