The silver anvil brings history to life

By DONNA BRAYMER [email protected]

Railroad spikes, horseshoes, extreme fiery heat, hammers and a grinder – and you have a very unique Branson “show” and a very personal experience in making your own novelty knife – sharpened or not.

Jo Smith is just one of four in the US that offer customers a forging experience, and each is slightly different. He has been featured three times on History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” and twice on “Knife or Death”.

Jo and his wife Chondee own and operate the Silver Anvil Metal Craft store located in a mall near Branson Landing and customers can book a time slot and take home a unique souvenir. Smith gives people the choice of making a knife from a railroad point, horseshoe, or pony shoe he supplies.

“It’s all about the experience and what you learn to do. They can swing a hammer and have fun. We’ve had bachelor parties here. We have a great time and friends love to heckle each other. I call it Branson’s hottest show because no one can play with a 2,000 degree fire.

Everyone puts on safety gear, leather aprons, closed-toe shoes, and receives safety instruction on hammering techniques as Smith explains the process that dates back hundreds of years. Safety rules do not allow customers to place their part in the forge at 2,000 degrees, so Smith does this step for everyone. Then, after the hammer safety lesson, they are allowed to choose a hammer suitable for their age and strike. It draws lines on the steel to help guide the hammering.

“Everything here is dangerous. Everything here is fun. But if we want to have fun, we might as well be safe, ”he told the groups.

Smith explained the technical side of the process. “We heat the steel to a plastic point. Forging is the plastic deformation of any material under pressure, heat and force. When we hit it and move it, it doesn’t go back. If it retracts, it would be elastic deformation. Forging is like working with clay. Steel moves the same way clay moves at its plastic point. Master blacksmiths will forge a piece of clay to figure out what the steel will do before having to hot work it.

All ages and even people with disabilities were able to make knives. “I have had a lot of blind and autistic children. “Working with these kids is amazing. I love it. They are having a good time. We want to make this accessible to everyone. You don’t need any skills. You don’t need to know anything. In fact, the less they know, the better! We like to make it accessible to everyone and keep everyone safe. “

He finds it humorous when a parent wants a butter knife on a knife for a teenager licensed to drive. But apparently not good with sharp objects?

“I attended a knife show and wanted to buy a specialty knife. They wanted more than I had on me. I decided that with my background in mechanical engineering, I could figure it out. Well 16 years later I still haven’t figured it out but I like it. he’s laughing.

His father had been a taxidermist and Jo used to help in the store butcher and use knives all the time to make money as a child. “Every time I picked up a knife, I knew by touching it whether I could make money with it or not.”

It also provides knife sharpening services, custom work and restoration work. “I’ve been sharpening knives for 35 years and it’s usually between $ 3 and $ 5 a knife,” he said.

The Silver Anvil Metal Craft is located at 486 Branson Landing Blvd. Office 203. The telephone number is 417-334-6151. Visit her website at or book group and individual sessions on Facebook.

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