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Bradfordville Bugle

Sal Christiano: Local craftsman forges new blades from recycled materials

Nov 03, 2022 03:13PM ● By Stephen Klein

To some, the piece of wood that Sal Christiano takes an interest in would be seen as trash, a scrap from an old, worn out shelf that had seen way better days before it was broken down.

For Christiano, the owner of Tin Shed Forge, it’s a no-cost material that he will repurpose into something completely different: the handle of a handmade knife, or perhaps some other bladed tool.

The blades are also made from recycled metal, often pieces of scrap found or given by a friend.

“Nothing I use, except brass, I buy new,” says Christiano. “All the materials are repurposed, and everything I make is generally unique, one-of-a-kind. Each one will be handmade, so they’re all going to be different.”

Christiano, a fifth-grade math and science teacher who lives in Tallahassee, recently participated in his first trade-festival, the WoodFest in Havana, Gadsden County.

Christiano created this hatchet from a ball peen hammer.

“This year’s wood festival was my first time [selling at a local event]. I got a beautiful spot, and I ended up selling almost 20 knives. It was a wonderful experience, and it was my first time doing that. I learned a lot, learned about things that I didn’t have, things that I needed to think about to make the product more usable for other folks.”

Christiano got the idea for his knife crafting from a popular television show.

“I watched Forged in Fire on TV for about six months,” explains Christiano. “And I thought one night, ‘Let me try that!’ And I tried it. I liked it, and it’s a nice release.”

Christiano grew up in the trades - at age 14, he started working alongside his father as a refrigeration mechanic.

The forge used by Sal Christiano in his metal working. 

Later, he’d become a commercial painter for a while, and spent some time working on construction sites as well.

“At the end of a day, you could look back and you could go ‘I made that. My labor did that,’” said Christiano. “But as a teacher, we don’t always get a chance to do that. You can go months at a time before you see a payoff, a light bulb, a golden moment. So this is a little bit of therapy for me, to come into the shop and put some of that creative effort and energy into making something that can be looked at, held, used, passed on to somebody else.”

For more information and examples of Christiano’s work, you can find him on Facebook under Tin Shed Forge.