The factory had barely been set up when on March 15, 1836 a fire burned out the forging shop and production was halted. The reconstruction had hardly commenced when a major flood swept away the dam and most of the buildings.
After the flood, Russell was left with little besides the land and a few machines that had been salvaged.
His first prototype knives were simple butcher and carving knives, but as with the chisels and axes, made from the finest raw materials available. Within months of commencing manufacture of cutlery, Russell's factory had expanded in size, number of machines, and with an additional new steam engine.
As knife manufacturing increased in importance, Russell would gradually phase out chisels and axes. Russell & Co American Cutlery." Although these knives had a local reputation for quality, most Americans of the time who were unfamiliar with the J. The steam engines were not an ideal source of power for the factory. Many mills and factories in the area were powered by water and Russell sought a new location for his factory which could take advantage of this power source as well.
The book contained eloquent, almost poetic descriptions of cutlery manufacture in Sheffield, England. At Sheffield the making of knives and other edged tools was not done in a factory or by a business venture. Individual craftsmen, who had learned the skills of one step of the process of knife-making in a master/apprentice training program, These craftsmen worked out of their own individual shops.
Late in 1833, Russell completed a factory, powered by a 16-horsepower steam engine.
By February 1836 Russell had purchased land and moved the factory to a location on the Green River (Massachusettes).