Leading West Coast Black Smith: Red St. Cyr

From shoeing costly horses to forging, this blacksmith does it all!

 

 St. Cyr’s in demand as a farrier as well as a knifemaker


St. Cyr’s in demand as a farrier as well as a knifemaker. Some of his other forging work is shown here.

 

When one walks into the Reva Forge, located in a seemingly quiet residential district of Wilmington, California, the first thing one is likely to note is that a fully functional blacksmith shop mounted on a truck is backed into the place.

 

That first glance about the shop makes it obvious that the owner, Red St. Cyr, is highly serious about his work … and the place where he does that work. All of the tools and machines show the result of frequent use and equally frequent care.

 

When I questioned the origin of the name of the forge, St. Cyr explained that the first word is a combination of the first to letters of his name, RE, and the second two letters comprising the last two letters in the sign, VA, which come from his wife’s first name, Eva.

 

St.Cyr and his wife, Eva, pose in front of his knifemaking shop.

St.Cyr and his wife, Eva, pose in front of his knifemaking shop. It once was a double garage, but has been taken over for knifemaking, reserving room for his horseshoeing and on-the-road blade-crafting truck.

 

It can be said that the Californian leads a double life. One of those lives started at the age of 13, when St. Cyr became the apprentice to a farrier. It didn’t take long for him to discover he loved both horses and metalwork. By the time he was 16, he was accredited as a fully qualified farrier. These days, with his rating as a Master Farrier, he is in near-constant demand by the owners of expensive horses. As a result, he has toured the U.S. and several foreign countries, where he has designed, forged and custom-fit iron shoes to all sorts of equines. Today, he maintains a steady cliental, forging all of the shoes he tacks to the hooves of the various breeds. An indication of his pride in his work is a horseshoe he forged from his own Damascus steel. It is mounted on a plaque that decorates the wall of his shop.

 

The sawdust flies when St. Cyr starts cutting pieces for a handle from one of the exotic woods he favors, but note the broom

The sawdust flies when St. Cyr starts cutting pieces for a handle from one of the exotic woods he favors, but note the broom. He runs an exceedingly well-maintained and clean shop.

 

the craftsman overlooks the rack that holds several-dozen hammers of varying shapes and weights

Clutching one of the hammers he favors, the craftsman overlooks the rack that holds several-dozen hammers of varying shapes and weights—something for every need.

 

The village blacksmith shop is pretty much a thing of the past, of course, and instead of the horse being brought to the farrier, it is he who almost inevitably goes to the horse. Thus, St. Cyr has a complete blacksmith shop set up on the bed of a truck in which he cruises the Southern California countryside to get to his clients’ corrals.

 

The farrier qualified as an American Bladesmith Society Journeyman Bladesmith in 1995, then earned is Master’s rating five years later. He is credited with being the founder of the ABS West Coast Forging Clinic, as well as being a member of the Southern California Blades, the Arizona Knifemakers Association and the Oregon Knifemakers Association. The former president of the California Knifemakers Association has annually hosted the CKA’s Forging Clinic and conducts knife-forging demonstrations each year at a number of custom cutlery events, including the Pasadena-based Knife Expo, Blade West and Reno ABS Shows.

The St. Cyr shop is set up so that residue from metal cutting and grinders go into plastic containers.

The St. Cyr shop is set up so that residue from metal cutting and grinders go into plastic containers. Much of this waste material can be recycled.

 

    The master bladesmith explains the workings of his in-shop forge to the author.

The master bladesmith explains the workings of his in-shop forge to the author.

 

When he goes to one of the numerous hammer-ins in which he takes part, he often takes the truck along, since he can use his horseshoe-making equipment to demonstrate how a knife blade can be created in a manner that was almost lost until the formation of the ABS. Included in the truck is a Forgemaster forge made for knives with a side door for larger blades. The truck contains a full shop with grinders, buffers, welders and drill presses.

 

The structure housing Reva Forge covers several-thousand square feet of space directly behind St. Cyr’s home.

The structure housing Reva Forge covers several-thousand square feet of space directly behind St. Cyr’s home. The shop is arranged so that the craftsman’s farrier truck can be accommodated.

 

The forge that gets the most use by the knifemaker is propane-fed and created by St. Cyr and fellow knifemaker Bill Herndon.

The forge that gets the most use by the knifemaker is propane-fed and created by St. Cyr and fellow knifemaker Bill Herndon. The bladesmith estimates that several-thousand knives have passed through the unit.

 

Stay tuned for a closer look at some of the products St. Cyr creates!

 

By C. Jack Lewis

Photos by Stephanie Gonsalves and Red St. Cyr