Edge Of Normal Workshop
Sharpening Services and Other Edgy Stuff

About Us

About Us

History

Edge of Normal Workshop started as a hobby shop. We built things simply for the love of making. As our interests evolved, we learned new processes, bought or built new equipment, and we continued to grow. As this happened, friends and neighbors gained an interest in what we were doing. We kept working and learning and one day we decided that we wanted to give more people an opportunity to enjoy handcrafted products that will last a lifetime.

 
 
 

Craftsmen

 
 

Bladesmith, Sharpsmith, Woodworker, Chef

Taylor Mathews

Taylor has spent his whole life learning new skills and exploring the world around him. Some of his first memories are of him working with his dad, Bill, in the blacksmith and woodwork shop. At an early age, he could be found hitting an anvil with a brass hammer or driving roofing nails into a stump. This seemed like play then but they turned out to be the roots of creating, and from then on has driven him to grow and learn. Through the years he learned the basics of woodworking and how to turn an idea into reality. Upon entering Cub Scouts, Taylor was introduced to the Pinewood Derby, which opened itself as an opportunity to build things that had to meet certain criteria. Working under the careful and very patient guidance of his father, Taylor designed and built many cars that never looked like cars. These cars included Legos, K'Nex, the Polar Express locomotive, a Cub Cadet garden tractor, and even one that said Bears (the Cub Scout rank not the football team). With these unique creations, he won best design every year and also won best workmanship at the District level. After Cub Scouts, Taylor joined Boy Scouts where he was exposed to many more opportunities to learn new skills from leather working to woodcarving as well as many outdoor skills. It was through Scouting that Taylor discovered his true passion for cooking. This fits nicely in with his other skills since it still involved creating. Over the years he learned how to cook and eventually how to lead a kitchen in every aspect from menu planning and budgeting to food prep and service. Scouting also opened up a door to learn a completely different set of skills, blacksmithing. After the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree, Bill came home with an idea that was created during the Jamboree to improve the Scottish Highland Games program area for the 2017 Jamboree. This idea was to build a display of Scottish Highland weapons and blacksmithing. Taylor was instantly excited and set to work to learn the history of highland weapons and spent years doing so. Around the middle of 2014, Taylor started to read about what it would take to build these weapons. Soon after, Taylor started practicing how to forge in his father’s shop. He quickly started to work on making knives and swords for the display and in the meantime started to put together the plan that ended up becoming Edge of Normal Workshop. The display came together while Bill built a period blacksmith shop including his own set of bellows and an anvil. In the summer of 2017, the display was finished and then packed up and taken to West Virginia for the Jamboree. While there, over 33,000 Scouts and Scouters visit us and ask us many questions. Taylor has also completed the rank of Eagle Scout, with his project being building shelving for the Choir Department at his high school.

Now Taylor works at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Convention Center as a chef. He also manages Edge of Normal Workshop with his father’s support and guidance.  

 
 
 

 
 
 
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Dad,Sharpsmith, Blacksmith, Woodworker, MACHINIST,                                              Band Instrument Repair TECH.  

Bill Mathews

Bill has never known life without making stuff. Son of a farm boy who grew up to be a master machinist and his mom, a determined homemaker and seamstress who later turned her passion of interior decorating into a successful business, Bill was surrounded with DIY, making, building and creating. It was simply a way of life and not a popular bunch of titles.
Starting with Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Legos and Erector Sets, the building, creating and development of mechanical skills was engaged at a young age. At 9 years he acquired his first socket set and by 13 he had restored his first antique gas engine. Next was a garden tractor in a box with a blown engine. After trading for another engine, he engineered the mounting and couplings to make a working tractor which he then employed to mow yards for people.
Developing his creative and mechanical skills at home, he discovered the art of woodworking in high school. Also added to the skill set were machining and welding in those teenage years.
A musician with mechanical aptitude, Bill put these attributes together to start his career in musical instrument repair and has plied his trade now for over 35 years.
Always looking to learn new skills, he took up stained glass and worked in a successful glass studio for many years. Continuing his woodworking, glass and always learning new non-ferrous metal skills on the band instrument bench, it was a natural to slide into the world of ferrous metals and the art of blacksmithing. Studying with many accomplished smiths in Illinois and Michigan, he continues to practice and hone his skills.
Bill took up knife sharpening to support the luthier courses being offered in his instrument training facility. He has successfully taught knife sharpening to dozens of instrument repair technicians from around the globe.
A father of two boys, he is sharing his knowledge and skills and enjoying watching his sons develop into fine craftsmen themselves.
He is also very active in Boy Scouts, the fine arts departments of his son’s schools.

 
 
 

 
 
 
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Chain mailer

Joe Mathews

 

Joe is an up and coming craftsman with tinkering in his blood. Joe’s early projects were with Legos and K’Nex.  Like his brother, he also made many Cub Scout Pinewood Derby cars where his open mind and creativity really shined. His cars were always unique and the judges anticipated what creative vehicle Joe would present next. They included a mailbox, toboggan with three snowmen, a toolbox driven by a hammer and a working mp3 speaker. An active maker, he has also started working in 3D printing and other technology areas outside of our current offerings. When not behind his computer or phone, you most likely will find him playing clarinet in band, singing in the choir or working towards his Eagle Scout rank. As he saw his brother and father working on our Scottish Arms display he was always looking for something to help with. Through this project he was introduced to the exciting world of chainmail. He spent countless hours making a chainmail shirt that contains 28,000 rings. When he finished he wanted to continue exploring what else could be done using chainmail. This has blossomed into another branch of Edge of Normal Workshop. He is the maker of all of our custom chainmail that we have for sale. His passions include animal care and has been active in our local Jr. Zoo Keepers program and joined the ranks as a Master Zoo Keeper. Joe truly enjoys helping others and is planning to study science and math education and become a high school teacher.