John has always been a metals guy. As a child, he was a tinkerer, taking things apart to see how they work, and then trying to put them back together again. His next step was learning all about cars, beginning as a young teenager. He made auto mechanics his profession for many years, specializing in European makes and models. John has strong preferences about cars and prefers older models over the newer, computer-filled versions. Old cars and motorcycles, as John says, "have soul." He has written a book, The Wankel Rotary Engine, which was published by McFarland and Company, in 2001. Currently, he is working on other writing projects related to his knowledge of the automotive industry. His next book on the Automotive Gray Market is under consideration for publication.
In 2001, John ventured into a blacksmithing meeting in Winston-Salem, NC to learn about this trade which he hoped to make his new profession. As fate would have it, he soon met Tommy McNabb, a renowned knife-maker, and Tommy took John under his wing and began teaching him about the art of knife-making. Tommy is a tough teacher, never cutting John any slack, but all of those hard-as-steel lessons paid off. Since 2004, John has been making knives in his own shop in Stokes County, NC.
In January 2009, John retired from auto repair to expand his shop and work on knives on a more regular schedule. He received a Regional Artist Project grant from the North Carolina Arts Council to attend a two-week course at the American Bladesmith Society school. This course was John's first step toward becoming a Journeyman Smith. He completed the course with flying colors in March 2010 and was accepted into the American Bladesmith Society on May 31, 2013 after passing the Journeyman Smith test at the Blade Show in Atlanta.
Over the years, John taught himself how to make sheaths, and each of his knives comes with its own sheath to protect both the owner and the knife. He also has learned engraving, having taken a week-long, intensive course in this skill at Montgomery County Community College in Troy, NC. In early 2018, he taught a four-day course on tomahawks at MCCC.
Along with being a member of the ABS, John is a also member of the North Carolina Custom Knifemakers Guild, and he has given several informative demos for the guild members over the past few years. These have included a demo on making tomahawks and on silver wire inlay.
John was recently juried into Piedmont Craftsmen and will show his knives with this prestigious organization for the first time at their annual show on November 17 and 18, 2018.
As a Journeyman Smith, John is busy in the shop, constantly improving his skills as he works toward becoming a Master Smith.