Course teaching, day to day and requirements

Heavin in the forge.

Kevin and Heather have been teaching knifemaking for more than 20 years, inspiring more than 2000 happy students.

  • We offer small classes making sure that everyone has personal attention.
  • All the latest techniques are taught as Kevin and Heather attend courses in the U.S.A every few years to refine their skills.
  • Knives and sheaths are not made from a “kit”, they are produced individually from raw materials.
  • The courses are very “hands-on”, we make a knife alongside you to demonstrate each sequence, you then apply it to your knife. Obviously, we will help you where needed as often this is the first time you would be doing anything like this, but we want you to feel that you have made the knife yourself.
  • Some of our students have gone on to become members of the Knifemakers’ Guild of Southern Africa and American Bladesmith Society Journeyman Smiths and Mastersmiths.
The “Hot House”.

A typical course day – Our courses run from 7:30 am Wednesday for our 5-day courses, or 7:30 am Friday for our 3-day courses, to mid-afternoon Sunday.   The lunch break is only half an hour, so come prepared as there will be no time to pop into town for lunch.  We have a well-stocked knifemaking video library and you are welcome to spend the evenings watching them in the guest house.  We have a generator in case ESKOM lets us down, we can at least carry on working! Each day is very long with us working 10 to 12 hours a day, so be prepared and please be prompt! Oros and water is always available and we have coffee/tea/cool drinks with biscuits/rusks/cake twice a day.

What sort of people do the courses? – We have had people from all walks of life do the course, male, female, professionals, school leavers, and retired people looking for a hobby. Whether you wish to spend a few days bonding with your family, wish to learn a new hobby, want to make a one-off knife for your hunting trip, or learn to be a full-time knifemaker, or are a knife collector wanting to learn more about the process of hand made knives, these courses will set you on the right track.  Even if you have never worked with hand tools before, you will be able to make a knife that you will be proud of, under our supervision.

Students forging.

Will I manage the course? – requirements.

  • Please do not book these courses unless you are 100% interested in knives, don’t come on the course because you showed a little bit of interest in “Ninja” swords and your mom wants to send you because you have no other interests – stick to computer games.
  • You need to be able to work physically hard all day with the concentration to match as we use potentially very dangerous machinery. You need to be able to follow instructions and be a problem solver. We don’t want to put anyone off doing the courses, but we do want you to realize that this is not a gentle weekend of “scrapbooking”!

Be prepared to get grubby and have fun!
  • You do not need to be big and strong and experienced with tools, but you do need to have sufficient intellect and enthusiasm to succeed.
  • About half of our courses are designed for beginners, they don’t require specific knife-making experience. The other half are follow-up courses and require you to have some knife-making skills, by having finished one of our previous courses.
  • We strongly encourage foreign students, however, instruction is given in English, you need to be fluent enough in English to understand technical terms and be able to follow instructions immediately (for safety reasons), without holding the rest of the course back. A Skype interview may be required.
  • What do I need to bring with me? – If you are staying in our self-catering accommodation, you will need to bring all your own food and drinks, we do have a Spar supermarket in town but with only half an hour for lunch and with us working late, please come prepared.  Please bring closed shoes for forging in and cotton clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, jeans or cotton long pants are necessary for forging. We will give you a special “Heavin Forge” denim apron to work in and to keep. Warm clothes are a must at any time of the year, it is always cold in Belfast especially in the evenings. Bring a camera with you if you like, but no video cameras please, there will be no time to film.