It’s been a year or more since I became aware of a show on The History Channel called Forged in Fire. It aired a competition among 4 blacksmiths who were tasked with forging a knife of a certain type, from certain materials, in a specific amount of time. The knives would then be judged in the middle of the process of making them In order to select one contestant to be sent home. Then, the three remaining contestants were given the opportunity to finish their knives in a specific amount of time while making handles for the knives out of a specific selection of materials.


I used to get a kick out of one judge, in particular, Doug Marcaida, who was some sort of martial arts guru. When he tested the finished knives, he would slice various things with differing levels of difficulty,  and if the knife successfully sliced the object, he would say, “It is a knife,  it will cut,” or “It is a knife, it will kill.” When he would say this, he had the most pathetically serious look on his face, and I found it quite amusing.


However, I kept on watching no the matter the absurdity of the parameters of each week show and developed a mild fascination for blacksmithing. The swords and knives the contestants made from Damascus steel were especially visually pleasing. (Damascus steel is formed from the process of heating, hammering, folding, and then repeating the process until there is a piece of steel comprised of many layers of steel. Whenever the forging process is complete, the knife, or whatever object was produced, is dipped in an acid solution, revealing the different layers of steel comprising the object.)


A week or so ago, I was bored and mindlessly perusing YouTube when I ran across an overexcited English kid named Alec Steele who was forging really cool knives, axes, and hammers. His website says that most of his forging skills were learned when he was 13 years old and traveled to Mississippi to take a 12-day forging class from Brian Breazeale. (small world…) It’s amazing to see the difference in the outcome of the product when the process isn’t limited to a ridiculously short time frame or made from outlandish materials. This dude turns out some quality stuff. I don’t want to know how much some of his stuff would cost if you were to try to buy it, though.



I want a gaudy four finger ring made out of this stuff.

Alec Steele YouTube Channel

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