"I asked my family to buy the Damascus axe course for a significant birthday. I love Damascus steel, but have never done any metalwork. This was the perfect course. Gary and Jos strike exactly the right balance between instruction, support and enabling you to be hands-on. I couldn't be happier with the end result. Many thanks guys. It was an excellent introduction to the world of the forge"
"I booked this for my husband and his Dad as a birthday celebration. They had a brilliant day and came back with a beautiful garden ornament and knife. They’re both keen to get back and do more courses in the forge!"
"A really fun and enjoyable 2 days spent making an axe.
Gary and Joss were both great throughout, providing support and advice to make a good quality piece even with no prior knowledge. They also give you enough flexibility to make it feel like you've made something truly unique and bespoke at the same time.
Would recommend to anyone who wants to experience being a blacksmith"
"Wow! Thoroughly enjoyed this course. The tutors were knowledgeable skilled and attentive to the needs and various levels of experience of their customers. Gary and Jos are obviously skilled artisans and their patience and skill base lend themselves to a very enjoying and fulfilling experience. What needs to be said, it’s super fun realising a dream. Hot metal, hammers noise and something tangible to take away. If you don’t take the opportunity to do something like this then you will regret it for ever. It’s an experience I will treasure.
Keep it up guys. Happy bunnies are miserable compared to doing this!"
"I signed up for the 3 day Damascus and chose a kitchen knife to forge , more of a cleaver knife! The instruction was spot on , each step was clearly explained as well as how to operate the equipment . It was a really good experience and I ended up with a beautiful knife at the end."
"Had a great time at the forge - I’m a complete beginner and didn’t know exactly what I wanted to make at the start of the day (thought it would be either an axe or a crafting knife) but Gary and Jos helped massively in working out what could be done in the time and helped make it possible!! They’re super skilled and I only had to show them a couple of ideas that I googled in the morning and by the end of the day its there in your hand! Gary’s clearly really passionate about this work and making sure you have a great experience as well.
If you’re a novice it’s definitely a great place to take your first steps with working with metal - I learnt loads, from the processes to different metals you can work with to all the different things you can make. I’m definitely going to be going again!!
If you are brand new to this, here’s a couple of things I’d suggest: Do have a think about what you want to make in advance (maybe draw some sketches?) - I’m delighted with what I made, but if you’ve got a plan to work to it’s always that little bit easier right? Do wear boots if you’ve got them - I wore converse and whilst I didn’t have any issues, it is a workshop and so you wanna be wearing something workshop-y you know?
Overall I thought it was great! Can’t wait to get back and get making the next thing."
"It was an awesome weekend. Joss is a great teacher. He let me do the majority of the work with helpful input all the way through, especially on some of the trickier grinding and polishing parts. I'd definitely come back and do it again. Thanks Joss and Gary!"
Friargate Forge responded:
" Was a pleasure meeting you you did really well thanks for coming.
"Spent three days with Gary and Joss turning lumps of grey metal into something special. These guys know everything about their subject and no question goes unanswered.
You can check out what my partner and I made :
Thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, even a last minute change in handle materials wasn't too much trouble.
Thanks guys, truly brilliant.
Rick & Carmel"
"Had an absolutely brilliant time up at the forge a couple weeks ago making a Damascus steel axe. The axe came out beautifully and it’s really clear Joss and Gary are absolute professionals. I’d have paid the money just to watch them work but they were excellent and showing you how to get stuck in and do as much of the work as u can even as a beginner. Would definitely recommend this to anyone from one person interested in learning the skills or bigger groups looking for a fun few days. Will definitely be going back at some point in the future."
"We had a great time on the 2 day axe-making course. The guys were great teachers, being patient, supportive and encouraging and always happy to help. And most importantly fun - we were all friends within hours. A really good experience!"
"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!!!"
"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."
"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."
Friargate Forge responded:
" Thanks so much glad you like your knife!
Gary + Joss"
"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."
Friargate Forge responded:
" 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."
Friargate Forge responded:
" 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."
Friargate Forge responded:
" Thank you, so happy you both enjoyed your time at the forge