UT Materials Science Engineers ‘Forge’ Bond With Bladesmiths

It’s not uncommon to find sharp minds on the Hill, one of the oldest collections of buildings on the UT campus.

Sharp blades, on the other hand, well that takes something special.

Wes Byrd and Larry “Hammer” Harley hope to avoid any dull moments as they present The Art and Science of the Forged Blade, a seminar to be held on the front lawn of Ferris Hall on Friday, September 5.

The College of Engineering‘s Department of Materials Science and Engineering will host the event, which will feature the technical aspects of forging steel, the history of the blade, and a look at the materials used over the centuries.

“This is a great, fun way for people to come out and learn a little bit about materials science,” said department head Kurt Sickafus. “After all, studying exactly what substance to pick and how to heat the materials, that’s a part of what we do. It just seems different because you have knives involved instead of microscopes.”

Hammer-Harley

Larry “Hammer” Harley, right, shows off a certificate of achievement with a student during his summer camp.

The event will culminate with the forging and heat treatment of a steel blade, which in turn could become part of a classroom-analysis exercise later in the semester.

Byrd spent twenty-five years as a nuclear engineer with the Tennessee Valley Authority, but has since become an award-winning bladesmith. He now enjoys passing along the art to young people.

Harley, who runs Lonesome Pine Knives with his son in Bristol, Tennessee, is a third-generation bladesmith, having earned enough acclaim to appear on the National Geographic Channel to demonstrate and talk about his craft. He also works as a youth coordinator for the American Bladesmith Society.

“They have been running a very educational summer event for children ages nine through eighteen with a focus on making things,” said UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Associate Professor James Morris, who helped bring about the event.

“The goal in bringing them is to expose people to this very practical aspect of materials engineering and to their enthusiasm both for the science and for the teaching and outreach.”

Morris added that he hopes to make their appearance an annual occurrence.

This year’s event will begin at 2:30 p.m., with refreshments being served.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)