My Knapping Bio
 I am 45 years old and was raised in South Central New York.  I currently live in
Richford, NY with my wife and family.  My interest in artifacts and flintknapping
started when I found my first projectile point at the age of seven.  There was something
about holding that flaked point that changed me.  After holding that first point I was
constantly asking my Dad to take me to the plowed fields to look for more artifacts.  
Thankfully I had a wonderful Dad who did take me a few times a year to our favorite
sites along the rivers in Cortland and Broome Counties.  Once I became old enough to
get to these sites by myself, I began to go more often and of course found more
artifacts.

Though finding artifacts touched a spot deep inside of me, there was still something
missing.  That missing link was found around the year 2000 when I discovered
flintknapping.  My first discovery of flintknapping was a bit of an accident, as I
stumbled upon
Bob Berg's atlatl website.  At his website, I discovered that he made his
own dart points out of flint.  Well, now the ball started rolling, and I emailed Bob to ask
for a demonstration.  One fall Sunday, Bob sat down with Dad and I and transformed a
piece of grey Texas chert into a large, sharp, corner notched point about 4 inches long.  
As I held Bob's newly knapped point, I was truly amazed that anyone could actually
flinknap!

Pumped up, I asked my Dad to make me my first copper billet.  Once I received the
billet, I proceeded to beat a bunch of slate into nothing because I didn't know where to
find flint.  It wasn't until I met my knapping friend
Jim Fisher, Grand Island, New
York,  on the internet, that I found out about the only large knap-in we have in New
York State.  At the
Letchworth knap-in, at Letchworth State Park, Castile, N.Y.,  Jim
took me around and showed me the kinds of cherts and obsidians that would be good
for me as a beginning knapper.  While Bob Berg can be credited with sparking my
interest in flintknapping, it was Jim Fisher who really fanned the flames.  Thanks to
both of you guys for an early boost!  With good rock and better tools, I went home and
knapped as many nights per week as I could.  I also used the very popular lithic source
of Jonstone, aka toilet tank lids, to practice knapping on so that my good stone was not
ruined too quickly.

At that first Letchworth Knap in, I also met Jim's friend and knapping mentor
Dan
Long from Ontario Canada.  A short time after getting back from Letchworth, I began
to email Dan, and he graciously helped me along with problems I was having and
became a good friend and knapping brother.  Thanks for helping me learn how to flute
and for taking me under your wing Dan!!  I also have to thank Ken Wallace for having
me up to his shop in Castile to knap.  Those little gatherings of knappers are some of
my fondest flintknapping memories.

Ever since that first knap-in, I've attended the
Stone Tool Craftsman Show
(Letchworth knap-in) each year.  Having only been seriously knapping since 2002, I've
made significant progress but continue to learn and strive for better knapping skills.  I
also want to thank
D.C. Waldorf for producing a fine selection of videos that helped me
progress faster than if I had struggled on my own.  And how could I forget to thank
Ken Wallace for an unforgettable day of knapping in May, 2006 and for his friendship.

Currently, I love to knapp our native
Onondaga Chert, and Esopus with my copper
tools.  While most knappers make the joke "Friends don't let friends knap Onondaga", I
find that our challenging New York cherts build character as well as muscles.  Some of
my other favorite cherts to knap are Texas Georgetown,
Burlington, Flint Ridge, and
Buffalo River.  2006 also marked the year of my first "rock runs" to lithic sources of
Onondaga and Esopus.  Free rock that you quarry is the best kind of rock to knap. My
favorite point to knap is the Susquehanna Point type of New York State.
"Friends teach friends how to knap Onondaga"
Michael McGrath knapping Onondaga chert at one of the
sources on the shores of Lake Erie in 2006
Our Susquehanna Woodland Designs display at the 2008 Letchworth Stone
Tool Craftsman Show.  This is the only knap-in we attend each year and we
always have pottery, pipes, arrows, and points to sell.
Michael McGrath dressed in semi-native clothing while in the
woods with his hickory long bow and Onondaga flint tipped
arrow in 2009
Michael McGrath dressed in semi-native clothing while in the
woods  drawing his bow inidian style.  The deerskin shirt he is
wearing was made by the Zunni Indians in the Southwest.  It is
surprisingly comfortable and cool to wear.
My Blacksmithing Bio
A spark began for this unique skill back in the summer of 2014 when I was asked to do
a flintknapping demonstration for the Vestal Museum Day in Vestal, NY.  My spot just
happened to be next to a blacksmith named
Gary Hinman.  Gary has been smithing for
over 40 years and I had the pleasure of watching him forge the entire day.  Right then
and there I said to myself "I think I could do that."  In 2016 the Newark Valley
Historical Society asked me to demonstrate Flintknapping at their annual Apple Festival
held each year in the beginning of October.  It just so happened that I was once again
right near Gary Hinman the blacksmith.  I watched him work some and really decided
that I wanted to try my hand at forging.  As I began my research I found that the bare
essential tools were an anvil, hammer, forge and tongs.  "No problem I thought."  After
all, there must be millions of anvils sitting around in people's garages just waiting for me
to pick up for $20.00........Not quite.  

In the fall of 2016 my Dad had an old 75 pound anvil sitting around his shop that he let
me borrow and I went to a store and bought a 2 lb hammer and a 3lb cross peen
hammer.  I picked up some antique tongs on an
internet auction site and bought a new
propane forge.  Now I'm going to make swords and knives!  Well..........not so fast
was what I learned.  I began forging in February of 2017 and quickly found that high
carbon steel was indeed very hard to forge for a beginner.  I also quickly learned the
dangers of forging when my anvil shifted off the rather small section of tree stump I
had for it and a hot piece of steel just touched my right index finger burning the skin
almost to the bone.  A trip to the ER and a visit to a plastic surgeon and I had a very
nice hole that took months to heal up.

I quickly learned that the anvil I was using was not high quality.  The more I read, the
more I wanted a real anvil.  For that I knew I would pay anywhere from $3.00 per
pound to $5.00 per pound.  All the while I'd been eyeing a section of tree cut on the side
of the road near where I lived.  Finally, I grabbed my good friends Bruce and Marshall
to go get that monster.  It was a successful operation and I soon had my stump.  I
quickly removed the bark and banded it up with steel bands.  I heard from a friend that
a guy's nephew had a lot of blacksmithing tools and anvils.  In may of 2017 I went to
this guy's house and he had buckets of tongs, hammers, and forging tools
- I was in
blacksmithing heaven!
 He first showed me a nice Fisher anvil with a bit of the horn tip
missing, a really old Mouse Hole without the cut-off shelf and another smaller Fisher,
but I'd come there for a Peter Wright
or Hay Budden anvil.  Finally under a tarp up in
the woods there was this trailer and I counted 4 more anvils and one looked like the
Peter Wright I'd hoped to find.  It wasn't in pristine condition and as I rubbed the rust
off the side I saw the Trenton diamond logo on it
yet it had no serial number & steps on
the feet like a Peter Wright
.  Rats I thought but decided on it being the best one there so
we struck a deal for $2.00 per pound
and he estimated that it weighed 150 lbs.  I
walked out of there with two arm fulls of tools and my anvil.  When I cleaned the anvil
up it started to look better and I soon found I had a 179lb Boker Trenton anvil when I
consulted the Anvils In America book.  I indeed had a gem.  It was immediately
suggested to me to get the top machined and edges squared up, but my research
showed that this can shorten the life of an anvil by removing some of the hardened steel
top so I just left this old gal of an anvil just how I found her and began forging
after I
gave her a super good cleaning that preserved her beautiful patina
.  Forging has polished
the face considerably and like the smiths before me, I'll use this anvil as is and try to be
a good caretaker of it for the next smith.

Currently I'm starting
the right way by forging S hooks, J hooks, and all types of other
hardware in an effort to learn the skills needed to make more complicated things like
knives.  Though I believe I could make a great knife at this time, I'm holding off to put
in my dues learning the little skills that matter.  I've found that my flintknapping skills
are greatly helping
me learn forging quickly and have all confidence I'll be turning out
bigger and better things soon.  This year I made my first forging sales at a festival and
sold a number of hooks.  
My Boker Trenton Before Cleaning it up
Click Here to See More Pictures of My Anvil