Shawn Gilley’s interest in blacksmithing came about like most others’ interest in the centuries-old occupation. “I wanted to make a knife,” said Gilley, a Washington native.
“And from there it just kind of took off. I met a guy up in Salem and I worked under him for two years to learn as much about the trade as I could.”
Now, a decade later, Gilley is the proprietor of Serenity Forge Blacksmith shop and works tirelessly in his business located just outside of Washington creating masterpieces out of metal. Some of the most popular items the former serviceman makes are Damascus knives.
“Right now, I have a three year waiting list to have the knives made. All pieces for the knives are made in-house,” said Gilley as he fired a metal rod into the coal-fired forge. The forge, he said uses over 500 lbs. of coal in three weeks on average.
Gilley also makes garden gates, dinner bells, railings and other decorative items. “I can make pretty much anything and it’s all guaranteed to last and if it doesn’t, I’ll fix it.”
There is one item he does not make though. “Horseshoes. I’m not a farrier, but I did make horseshoes for one of my son’s classes. I just don’t make them for horses.”
Many of the pieces he makes are made from recycled metal. “There are some things I have to use new metal for but I try to use as much recycled metal as I can. Even if it is rusty, the fire will burn off the rust.”
While some blacksmiths purchase the tools of their trade, Gilley prefers to make the majority of the tools he uses. “I make tongs, hammers. I like to make my own but I’ve picked up a few from other blacksmiths too. One thing a lot of blacksmiths won’t make is there own tongs.”