About Will Manning
“I grew up around my dad’s wood shop. He loved precision in craft, and strict frugality was a hallmark of his practice. I remember straightening the used nails in his shop where he crafted the greenwood Windsor chairs for our dining table among other household projects. My family has always harbored a love of all things natural; that’s a part of what inspires me to labor with my hands, respecting our environment and its resources.
After studying environmental science at Florida State University, I spent just over a year working in a metal shop, where my interest in hard materials, like most passions, took hold suddenly. I continued my studies at Savannah College of Art and Design. Eventually I served as Resident Blacksmith at Mission San Luis, a National Historic Landmark in Tallahassee, Florida.
This is when the knives happened. I was dating an amazing woman with whom I shared many passions and interests. She brought me into her world of cooking and together we dove into brewing beer, baking bread, and growing as many varieties of tomatoes as we could find. I began spending my spare time forging and grinding knives. I gathered knowledge, traveling to John C. Campbell folk school in Brasstown, NC to study tool-making, refining my designs, making as many knives as I could, and learning from my failures.
My shop was dedicated on Valentine’s Day of 2014 after we relocated to the creative community of Athens, Georgia. Heartwood Forge is now a workshop and homestead situated on a small pond in the woods. Lee and I are happily married, and our two rescued Georgia black mutts, Daisy and Jack, keep us company.”
About Heartwood Forge
As trees age, the centers of each trunk become part of a great transformation. No longer necessary for sap production and storing energy, the cells of the interiors start leaving a material known for its strength and durability. This shift in function accommodates continued growth of the tree by providing needed structure as age takes its toll. This is heartwood.
Heartwood Forge is propelled by creative transformation. While reclaiming discarded resources and byproducts of industry from around the US, owner and operator Will Manning crafts these materials into high performance heirloom tools, created to last generations.
Heartwood’s forged knives are created primarily from found and recycled carbon steels chemically analyzed so it’s known exactly which alloys are in the shop. Most of the handles also are made from salvaged and foraged material from around the region, usually native hardwoods selected for their beauty and functionality.
Heartwood Forge takes immense pride in its craft and, with this as its guiding principle, produces knives that stand the test of time.
Because of its commitment to maintaining your knife's edge and beauty, Heartwood Forge offers lifetime sharpening and maintenance. Interested in creating a custom, bespoke piece you’ll want to display as well as use? Contact Heartwood Forge and work with Manning & Co. to make a knife that's perfect.