Vision 2023 'Worthy of handing down': Friends turn knife-maker's wood process into local enterprise

Feb. 25—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — About three decades ago, professional knife-maker Nicholas Forosisky started developing a process for making "impregnated wood" that could be used to create durable and colorful handles for his blades.

He eventually passed that knowledge on to his nephew, Mischa Forosisky. Joe Livingston also learned the same skills.

The two friends have expanded their interest in impregnated wood over the past year and a half by opening their own local small business, Nicholas Woods LLC, which pays tribute to the man who originally taught the techniques to them.

"We pay as much homage to him as possible," Mischa Forosisky said. "Because of him is why we're doing this. ... If it weren't for him, we wouldn't have picked this up. I was tinkering around with blacksmithing a little bit, and just started picking this up. He said, 'You need to get into this.' "

Livingston fondly recalls the times the two of them spent together learning from Nicholas Forosisky.

"Since we were teenagers, we were down in his uncle's shop helping out, doing this and that," Livingston said. "I've gone looking in the woods for this kind of wood for 15-plus years ago with his uncle, just for fun."

The process is proprietary, but generally speaking, it involves a vacuum pressure system that penetrates liquid acrylic and dye into wood.

The result is a stabilized block weighing twice as much as the original wood. It can be shaped to make items such as artwork, jewelry and pens, along with its original purpose, knife handles.

"You have a knife that's worthy of handing down, versus just creating a tool or just creating something to make money," Mischa Forosisky said. "The actual craftsman needs a true handle material that's worthy of some of these pieces of art that these guys are putting out.

"Nature does provide some of the awesome stuff. We just have to find it, cut it the right way.

"It's like a gem, and then, at that point, we have to be lucky enough to have it go the whole way through the system and then to have an outcome."

Along with honoring the past, Mischa Forosisky and Livingston are creating their own modern products, most notably blocks using epoxy that glows when exposed to light in the darkness.

"This is all leading-edge right now," Livingston said.

Nicholas Woods LLC sells the impregnated wood online and at blade shows.

The two business partners are in the early stages of moving their operation into a new building in Johnstown's Old Conemaugh Borough neighborhood. In the near future, they hope to make the impregnated wood at the site and also have a showroom where the products can be sold.