FISK Brian Chilson

Jesse James, the Texas transplant whose status as the former Mr. Sandra Bullock will probably overshadow his considerable skill as a motorcycle fabricator and entrepreneur for the rest of his life in a lot of peoples’ eyes, has filmed a new pilot for Discovery Channel called “American Craftsman,” in which he goes around the country, talking to those who are still out there making things by hand. 

First up: James’ trip to Nashville, Ark., where he spent several days learning from one of our favorite people in the whole world, master bladesmith Jerry Fisk, in preparation for building a Damascus steel Colt 1911-style pistolYou can watch the episode in its entirety here (skip ahead to 7:30 if you don’t want to hear James talk about the rationale for the show).


Fisk, who grew up poor as a churchmouse, has built his skill bit by bit over the decades until he’s one of the top makers of forged knives in the world. Designated an Arkansas Living Treasure and a National Living Treasure, Jerry turns out so-beautiful-they-make-you-wanna-cry Damascus steel knives that sell for tens of thousands of dollars to collectors all over the planet. As we learned when we visited him for a story back in 2006, Fisk eats, sleeps and breathes his craft (is his name cast into his anvil so it can be used as his tombstone someday? You better believe it). He’s quite the character, too, and can spin a hell of a yarn. Check out the full gallery of Fisk’s knives here. 

On his Facebook page today, Fisk posted the link to the “American Craftsman” pilot, and asked viewers who like it to shoot an email to and tell them you’d like to see the show on the air, being sure to mention James, “American Craftsman” and James’ company, PayUpSucker Productions. While James comes off a little wooden as a host, his attempt to point out the craftspeople like Fisk in this disposable age is definitely a good thing.