Monday, March 15, 2010

Hello, everyone!

My name is James Helm and I'm a blacksmith.

I became interested in blacksmithing around age 15. I began researching the subject in the books I could find in the public library of my home town and on Internet discussion forums. At age 16 I got a little rivet forge and a small amount of coal and I started pounding iron.

Among other jobs, I have had the opportunity to work for three metal artist shops in Lubbock and San Antonio, Texas. I put together a small gas forge and started producing knives for sale in my off hours, working in my employers' shops and moving my forge as much out of the way as I could when finished. Finally, the chance came to rent my own work space and begin my own business. I've been in my new shop space since the beginning of October.

My father was a farmer and owner/operator heavy haul truck driver. Whenever he was contemplating some undertaking, whether custom hay baling or trucking, it was always under the name Helm Enterprises. Perhaps not officially, but it was how he thought of it. So, as a nod to him and his incalculable influence on my life, I have named my business Helm Enterprises, Forging Division.

This blog is a temporary means of having a web presence until a more permanent site is built. I'll be putting up pictures of past and recent work, pictures of my shop, explanations of my work methods, and comments on aesthetics, among other topics.
I do many types of work, from sculpture to hand tools. I tend to focus on blades, however. It is what first drew me to blacksmithing, and continues to be where I spend most of my time.
For my first post, here is a study in contrast: my first "real" knife and a more recent one.

This is the first "real" knife I made. I had forged some railroad spike knives before, but this was the first that I would consider something other than a knife-shaped object. It was forged from automobile coil spring using a coal forge and quenched in used motor oil. It's been so long I can't remember how I drew temper on it. The blade is about a foot long. The handle is twisted copper electrical wire. The sheath was made by a local boot and saddle repair shop. I gave it to one of my best friends from high school after we had both graduated (he was a year behind me).

This second knife is one I made for my girlfriend recently. It, too, is forged from automobile coil spring. I used my little home made coffee can gas forge to do the heating and quenched in vegetable oil. Temper was drawn with an oven. The blade is around four inches long and has a false edge on the top. The handle is ebony and a kind of naturally pink wood from Africa called pink ivory. The guard is a piece of railroad spike. The sheath is Kydex.

Check back often. I'll be posting pictures of my work and shop here pretty quickly.


  1. Appreciate your work. New member at zombiehunters. Wouldn't mind commissioning you to make me a custom knife some time. I will be contacting you.

  2. Good to see a fellow bladesmith-I'm still in the 'getting started' phase with forging, but I've been doing armour work for almost 15 years. I'm moving down to the SA area sometime this summer/fall, and would love to see some of your work.

  3. Hi James!

    Sent you an email a couple days ago about collaborating on a few things. Let me know if you got it or not. Would love to work with you! Thank you!

  4. Warm Greetings!

    Today, I visit your website and after reading your blog i realize that it is very informative. I'm highly impressed to see the comprehensive resources being offered by your site.

    Thanks and Regards

    coil spring

  5. Nice of you to pay respect/remember your father in such a way! Bill, Columbia, S.C.

  6. Forging industry has decent performance riding on demand from Small industry heat treating,Forging can also be used to further refine the part.

  7. I would love to vist the Shop in SA Great stuff

  8. Good day, I am interested in purchasing a knife from you. Is it possible you can email me at

  9. Hallo i can`t find your email can you send me and email :D so i can find you :D

  10. Hey Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and your fine work....When you get a chance, I'd like to order. Be well.

  11. James,
    Congrats on being the "Forged in Fire" Champ!!
    Will you be adding a Push Dagger to your catalog? :)

    1. I've been considering a push knife in the Grinding Division lineup, but I have a lot of other designs I want to get rolling first!

  12. Love your stuff, and your win on fif was epic -congrats! I just found you on IG, and was wondering if you are doing any classes down in SA? I live up in Kyle and am just learning the craft.
    I'd also like to get you one of our T-shirts -I think we've got your size!
    Feel free to reach out on IG @real72virginians.

    God Bless,
    Tim Edwards
    Founder, 72VIRGINians
    "Be Tactical!"

    1. It's been a long time since I've done any classes, but my buddy and fellow Forged in Fire champion Tobin Nieto is. Shoot me an e-mail at

  13. Man, that double sided leaf blade looks exactly like the stuff I forge. I really like your profile geometries and grinds! Just for variety, I'd like to see some Chinese style cord wraps on your more freeform pieces. I think it would be a great look on your leaf shaped blades. Keep Up the good work!