A Visit with Dr. K. Robert Cashen

Swedish Swordsmith Peter Johnsson and I were able to visit Kevin Cashen and his lovely wife Karen at their home in Michigan.  Kevin, whom I have dubbed “Dr. K. Robert Cashen,” because of his important work on metallurgy for bladesmiths, opened his lab to us and showed us numerous examples of his research.

Peter Johnsson and Kevin Cashen discussing retained austenite with the scanning electron microscope in the background.

I believe his work is critical for bladesmiths because Kevin, as a maker, is keenly aware of the difficulties that bladesmiths run into trying to produce a quality blade with a sound heat-treat.  Kevin has a variety of microscopes (even a scanning electron microscope) which clearly shows the different steel structures.

Kevin polishing a sample to be photographed under the microscope.

Kevin’s research allows bladesmiths to combine practical techniques with sound science to achieve a quality heat-treat.  This is very valuable because it show definitely what structures we are obtaining when we heat-treat our blades.  It further allows us to make adjustments to obtain an optimal blade.

There is an intense discussion taking place right behind me.

I really want to thank them for opening their home to us.  They are the kindest people, and we’ve become good friends.  It is refreshing to meet people who are free of duplicity and are genuinely interested in fellowshipping with other makers.

Of course after all the intense metallurgical discussion, we retired to Kevin’s newly remodeled “man-cave” to drink some BEER!

Beer in the man-cave!


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Eric McHugh

Crown Forge Custom Blade Art by Eric McHugh

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