This course is definitely worth your time and money, for reasons you might not think...
Gary and his team were attentive, enthusiastic and positive throughout the pandemic. Our booking was kept and moved, never was it suggested we cancel. As soon as it was possible, we (group of 10) had been fit in. I felt I knew him well before even meeting him.
The course is absolutely brilliant value. The feeling of learning anything new is a lovely one. The feeling of learning something totally new whilst creating a beautiful, practical tool is the best. You are paying less than £20 an hour for direct coaching and tuition to achieve a goal with instant, tangible results.
Machines that at first seem alien, dangerous and intimidating will soon become familiar, dangerous and intimidating. You will take a piece of metal about the size of a snickers and turn it into a beautiful axe over two days. The result will be a unique representation of two days of hard work and learning.
Whilst you concentrate on how to step down, fuller, flatten, fire weld, power hammer, temper, grind and hang your axe, the most amazing thing happens - you think about NOTHING else. I forgot about covid, the state of the world, my dog, my son, my partner, my family, work, possessions, obligations etc. You focus 100% on a glowing, growing orange piece of metal that turns into a glistening axe for 2 days. In doing so, you focus on yourself. It is almost meditative. You make a sharp thing to play with when you get home but the process was, for me at least, really valuable and special.
Gary and his team are clearly very close, almost telepathic. They know what needs doing next, they have a sense of who needs help next. In a place that looks like a hot, dirty, intimidating torture chamber, there is an organised harmony that is a pleasure to see. Better still, is that you instantly feel a welcomed, valued and important member of this team.
The instruction is clear, very clear: "I'll stop drawing and hit stuff with a hammer; I'm better at that!" The combination of theory, demonstration, coaching, humour, seriousness and letting you loose is perfect. At no point did I feel like I would be allowed to ruin my axe yet I also felt I had a good amount of unsupervised autonomy. Odd though it is to say, even if I had ruined my axe, the weekend would still have been completely worthwhile to spend time with Gary and his team - they are that good!
The course was part of a stag weekend. I can highly recommend it. If you are fed up of liver damage and being banned from whichever country you visit, try this. Once the noise and the heat of the day abate, nobody really has time, energy or ego to want to get drunk and stupid. You'll want to eat, rehydrate and process what you've been doing. Despite being hot and tired, you probably won't even want to leave.
Whether for a stag, a treat, a mega corporate weekend or your mental health, this weekend will be some of the best money you ever spend. Do it.
I did this course for my stag do with 9 other mates. The team at Friargate forge were no less than excellent, we all made our own individual axes and alongside good banter and generally the friargate team being a group of really cool guys we all got some truly excellent 1:1 coaching on blacksmithing. We all feel like we've come away with a news skills, something to keep and experience we'll all cherish. A number of us are already looking at times we can return for more.
I cannot reccomenend Friargate forge, Gary and the team enough. Huge thanks Gary!!!
Spent 2 days creating a tomahawk axe with Gary and his team as part of a stag weekend. To say it was excellent is an understatement! Gary and his team were such a great bunch, they allowed us to just crack on with a great balance of minimal supervision whilst also ensuring that as a complete novice i didn’t end up with an awful axe.
They were so knowledgable and the skill they have is just unreal!
Other than the actual axe making and fantastic team, they kept us all entertained put on some great food and there was never a moment you felt that you couldn’t be doing something. Would highly recommend!
A great 3 days making a Damascus knife. Joss was very helpful and always willing to lend a hand, but also was comfortable to let me get on with tasks myself. Ended up with a beautifully patterned blade and even had enough material left out of my billet to make a bottle opener as well. I learnt a lot and would definitely recommend taking a course here.
An unforgettable 3 days making a Damascus knife. Having made the Damascus billet on the first day, you then discuss what shape and type of knife you want. The two guys Gary and Joss give you clear instructions and show you what needs doing. You are left to get on with the processes by your self but they always appear at your shoulder if you appear to be struggling, to nudge you in the right direction. They are also patience personified at making little errors disappear. ( Thanks Joss, that grinding belt and I had a few arguments)
I left with a knife that exceeded my expectation and made my friends very jealous. The gentleman on the course with me also left with a stunning Bearded axe
I booked the axe/knife making course for my partner Owen's birthday. He loves Damascus so I contacted Gary to ask to pay to upgrade it and he had no problems.
Gary and Joss were absolutely brilliant. To say that Owen had absolutely no experience in a forge they gave clear and accurate instructions. I would recommend this course to any of my friends or family.
And to have come away with such a stunning axe is amazing. Thank you Gary and Joss for such an awesome course.
Owen and Laura xx
Absolutely brilliant experience from start to finish, and the final product is way beyond anything I could have expected. Having seen what other people have made with different courses, I'm totally pleased that we made the right decision here. I cannot recommend this highly enough.
This course is fantastic! Gary and Joss really know their craft and have a great ability to pass this knowledge on in such a way that in just two days you can take plain stock material and fully forge, grind, heat treat an finish a quality knife. After the two days I now have a beautiful and functional kitchen knife that I have the pride in knowing that I made, every time I use it.
Response from Friargate Forge:Thanks so much glad you like your knife!
Absolutely brilliant course. Gary and Josep are very easy to work with and excellent teachers. Highly recommend anyone who is interested in giving bladesmithing a go tries this course.
Response from Friargate Forge:Thanks, was a pleasure working with you
Excellent 3 day course for my birthday, Gary and Joss really informative and helpful in all aspects of the forging process and the making of my knife and handle and the final assembly. There was a great atmosphere in the forge, lots of laughs, but all the health and safety requirements were explained before the course started and re-highlighted if they needed to be.
Nothing was too much trouble for the guys who were on hand to help if you needed it and the 3 days just flew by ending with 2 beautiful Damascus knives made by me and my partner
We will be back to make another knife/ axe and can thoroughly recommend Friargate Forge
if you want to try the forging experience.
I bought this for my partners 60th birthday and when I spoke to Gary I decided to give it a go myself. What a great course. Huge thanks to Gary & Joss who made us feel so welcome and relaxed. Mick did 3 days and made his own Damascus billet. I bought my billet and just did 2 days. Well worth the extra for the patterned blades which look more like a piece of art. We had much fun and the guys were there to give us as much or as little help as was needed. Very knowledgable and informative. Can’t give enough praise. We have come away with 2 very beautiful knives and will definitely be back to do another course.
Response from Friargate Forge:Thank you so much was a pleasure especially the cake 🧁!
What a great experience forging with both Gary and Joseph. Both lads masters of their craft who will help in any way necessary to create the perfect blade. Had a great time creating my damascus blade and it is exactly what I expected after watching Forged in fire. A lot of hard work and timely advice in how to go through the whole process from start to finish of forging and grinding a knife.
Just finished a thoroughly enjoyable 2 days of axe making at Friargate Forge with Gary, a man with a real mastery and love for his craft. The course struck just the right balance of hands on (sweat inducing!) experience with enough assistance and guidance to ensure that you leave with an axe to be proud of. Just got home and my hatchet made short work of splitting a partially seasoned cherry log. Would definitely recommend.
Response from Friargate Forge:Thanks Peter was a pleasure having you at the forge and you did superb well done 👍
An absolutely fantastic experience, I can’t recommend Friargate Forge enough. Gary and Joss are so passionate about what they do. I have been a fan of Forged in Fire for years, I finally took the plunge and booked a knife making course instead of sitting watching other people doing it. I hoped to make a basic knife on the course. My knife is a thing of beauty and with Gary and Joss’s patient teaching and assistance I can say I actually made it! I enjoyed every minute of the course and am so proud of the result.
I am planning my next visit and can’t wait.
What a great day! I booked this as a Christmas present for my Dad and I as a father / son day out. Gary was helpful with all booking details and great with advice on ideas for items to forge. We really enjoyed what came across as an authentic experience with Gary and Jos. These are 2 guys who have an obvious passion for sharing their expertise whilst letting you get really hands on in learning new skills. Dad and I both have amazing blacksmiths knives and the satisfaction of the work that went into making them. Whether you are a fan of the tv 'forged' shows or just fancy learning new skills, we would highly recommend Friargate Forge for a great experience.
Response from Friargate Forge:Thank you, so happy you both enjoyed your time at the forge
Absolutely amazing 2 days, I managed to make an axe that I'm proud of and gained a huge amount of new skills in metalwork, as well as having a really good laugh doing it. Gary teaches in a way that is attentive without being overbearing and I've thoroughly enjoyed the course in every way.
Response from Friargate Forge:Thanks Josh, was a pleasure having you at the forge
Gary was amazing at arranging this fantastic experience for my partner's birthday . He was welcoming and extremely helpful and skilled and my partner had a fantastic time 😊
His knife is incredible and Gary was a great teacher. I would recommend this to everyone really great fun . Thanks Gary
Response from Friargate Forge:Thanks was an absolute pleasure
Can't praise Gary enough, the day was fantastic, felt at ease straight away and he's a great teacher. Got finished the two projects i wanted to make, cooking tripod and fire steel, still had time left over to make a toasting fork. I will certainly be back to do the knife making course in the future and hopefully more.
I could not be more delighted with this course or with the knife I produced. Gary is fantastic to work with; happy to let you get on with it when you are confident in what you are doing, but always available to provide a deft touch or piece of timely advice when needed.
I had a very defined idea of the knife I imagined as did the other two guys on the course. Three very different knives! All three of us were complete novices but with Gary's support we all ended up with exactly the knives we wanted.
I am coming back to make a kitchen cleaver. I know what I want to make and know that I can do it at this forge.
Could not be better!