Mastersmith in the American Bladesmith Society and History Channel’s Forged in Fire Judge J. Neilson

Mastersmith in the American Bladesmith Society and judge on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” TV Show, J. Neilson is this week’s guest on The Knife Junkie Podcast.

Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco talks with Neilson about the television show as well as what it takes to become a Mastersmith, which according to the History Channel’s show webpage, is a title held by less than 115 people worldwide.

Forging blades professionally, out of his “shop in the woods” in the endless mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, has made J. an expert in “sole authorship” blade-making, a total mastery of every element of weapon design and manufacture. His internationally recognized experience and credentials mean that no one is better suited to assess the process of edged weapon making.

The History Channel

“Forged in Fire” airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on The History Channel.

Swords may not be the weapon of choice for many people nowadays, with more advanced weaponry readily available, but that doesn’t stop some from continuing to work as bladesmiths. “Forged in Fire” tests some of the best in the field as they attempt to re-create some of history’s most iconic edged weapons. The contestant who survives the elimination rounds and wins the episode’s contest earns $10,000 and the title of Forged in Fire champion.

Be sure to listen to this episode of the podcast to hear about how the show came about, what it was patterned after, and what “similar” show Bob likes! Like Jim, you might be surprised!!

Wow! J. Neilson, Mastersmith and Judge on Forged in Fire is this week's guest on The Knife Junkie Podcast. Super excited to talk to him!! Click To Tweet

Call The Knife Junkie listener line at 724-466-4467 or email bob@theknifejunkie.com and let us know what you thought about this week’s podcast, what you like — or don’t like — about “Forged in Fire” or any other comment or question you have about knives. The guys would love to hear from you.

Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Mastersmith in the American Bladesmith Society and History Channels Forged in Fire Judge J. Neilson
0:00 - 05:03

These guys are under a time constraint. They're rushing their butts off trying to make the best weapon they can and sometimes small things get neglected or missed or overlooked. So, and I hate it. I tell people all the time, I don't wanna break your stuff. I really don't. Welcome to the nice junkie podcast. You're weekly ghosts of knife, news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your hosts, Jim person involved, the knife junkie DeMarco. Hello junkies and welcome to episode number thirty four of the knife junkie podcast. I'm Jim person, and I'm Bob DeMarco from the knife junkie dot com. Hey, Jim happy, Father's Day. Hey, Bob happy, Father's Day to you. And the reason we say that is that today's episode drops or comes out is published on Father's Day. So if you're listening on Father's Day, happy, Father's Day, if you're listening on any other day of the year, just any other day of the year, right, Bob. That's right. But if you're a father be proud of it could be enjoy your Father's Day. Whatever day. Yeah. Because, you know it only comes around once a year, so we need to take advantage of it. I like to say in my family, you know that it's Father's Day week or Father's Day weekend. Whatever I can do to kind of stretch it out a little that, that sounds good and, and, you know, every day, it's like Father's Day, my kids say this morning. Father's Day wins kids day. And of course, I used to, to my parents in the never ending refrain is every day is kids day. This is for me. Today's that's right. That's right. Where's my steak? Ooh. I like that steak speaking of Father's Day, if you didn't catch last week show episode number thirty three. That was Bob's. Father's Day fantasy knife list. So I can't wait to have a discussion on episode thirty five next week to see if any Father's Day, fantasy knife list items comes into your possession, yet, we're recording this in the morning, Jim, and we, we haven't had dessert, we haven't had dinner dessert or presence yet and, you know, want be presumptuous, I'm assuming there and we'll see. We'll see if my wife listened to listen to the last episode, we'll see just how savvy she has. Or maybe she came up with other ideas that didn't make your list. Hey, I could be. Let's see you'll take what you can get right? Do want to mention that today's episode is brought to you by audible, and we certainly do appreciate their sponsorship of the podcast. And if you like listening to audible want to remind you that you can get a free audiobook download and a thirty day free trial at audible, trial dot com slash knife junkie over one hundred eighty thousand titles to choose from for your iphone your Android your kindle your MP three player again. Just go to audible trial dot com slash knife junkie, and you can catch up with all kinds of audio. In addition to the knife junkie podcast. Bob a cool interview on this show today. One that I you know, I, I say this a lot. It seems like a lot of the folks you interview, you really enjoy you wanna talk to them. You can't wait to meet them. But another example on on this week show. Yeah, that's right. This week show. We talk with a genius, who's an ABS master Smith and judge of the show. The history show forged in fire, and he's, he's the judge who always sits to the far left, and he tests, these knives, so hard, but we had a great conversation and we learned that he. Doesn't actually take any pleasure out of some of the damage that sometimes is inflicted on the knives. But that's the whole point of the show. You know, you you're, you're in a time crunch. How well can you forge a blade in a time crunch? I think it's assumed that every Smith on that show, given given all the time they need can come up with a fantastic knife. But in three hours, what can you produce? And I think it's a great show. It's done amazing things for the from the knife world. It's done amazing things for television, if you ask me, and it was a great pleasure to talk to Danielson. Well, and again forged in fire airs on the history channel, I think Wednesdays at nine pm, and what does attendance like seven th or eight seasons. Unplanned, cloud. Evanston, wrapping, that right now, definitely had good longevity, which means a lot of folks are watching it, and enjoying it. So the popularity as they are in good interview go down view was well. Yeah. All right. Well without any further do let's get into that. And here Jay Nilsson forged in fire with Bob, the knife junkie. Dimarco. You're listening to the knife junkie podcast. Cole. The ninth junkie at seventy four four six four four eight seven with your questions or comments. I wanna talk to you a little bit about forest fire, but I also wanna talk to you about your mass being a master Smith in what it took to get there. And I want to hear about your process. I wanna talk a little bit about, you know, your creative process in that kind of thing, whatever whatever you're gonna do is much safer than what I was doing today. So I'm cold. You emailed me before and said, we're good to go.

05:03 - 10:02

Tonight got off early broke some things. What was that all about? Yeah. I tell the Smith all the time I do not like breaking their weapons. Whether it's, you know, in round three or in the finale. But it happens Yana these guys are in a time crunch. Nobody is making their best work on the show. I mean, you know, it's a game show, you got to do the best, you can run with it. So sometimes. Get slept. You know, sometimes it's a blade. Sometimes that's a handle. Well, I'm I'm going to break in by saying the other night, I watched the Attila the hun Mars soared one of the contestants it broke on a on a I think it was a pot a, a hanging ceramic pot and it just shattered, and oh my gosh. It was it was a beautiful beautiful sword, and it seemed through the first kill test. It seemed to be, you know, pretty stout. But I guess that's probably why you do the kill test I because you're going into soft materials and stuff like that. And you need to get as much TV out of it, as you can before the blade has the possibility to break, but seeing that, that Attila the hun sword break was was heartbreaking. So what happened to you today today? Why can't tell you exactly what happened because never aired, but yeah, we had one sword blade break, which has happened a couple times and young kind of I've learned duck quickly because it kind of tends to come back right at me. And then we had a handle failure, so it can be the blade or the handle. Like I said, these guys are under a time constraint. They're rushing their butts off trying to make the best weapon they can and sometimes small things get neglected or Mr. overlooked. So, and I, I hate it. I tell people all the time, I don't wanna break your stuff. I really don't. I mean you know, we goofed around on set and we giggle. And I come up in my hands and smiled. And you know that's that's just a mess with people. It's that's honestly just who I am. I swam around people. Yeah, yeah. Exactly. You gotta do. Well, my, my wife, okay, my wife and I and my parents are devoted to the show, actually a I used to work in fashion in. So I used to watch project runway with my wife and I used to say they should make this put for knives like guys making knives. And it seemed like a fantasy. This was fifteen years ago twenty years ten years ago. And here comes forged in fire. It's like my dream show. My wife is a particular fan. Of how sincere you are when you're testing. And you know, you can tell you don't like it when something breaks, but you really go out and, and give it give it its due. Yeah. Well, I tell this Mets, I totally respect for them, because we do get to talk to them for a very short time, when they're reading the rules before we start, and I tell them is like, look. I respect all of you for coming on here, but I'm not holding back because I probably was testing my stuff this way before you guys ever. Let your first forage so I mean I do it to my stuff and a lot of people don't realize that we've done. Well we're up to seven seasons now. And like the first four or five, we were doing all kinds of crazy testing that never even made it on the show. He used to use a lot of machines. I remember we didn't simple machines at such. Yeah. We got a couple coming up, but. At a lot of the stuff early on. We would test, and they would line up aboard alone board. Full of chains and cables and say Jay take your knife and go hack through all these things and I'd be like unslinging away. I'm chopping and stuff. And I'm thinking to myself, I hate you guys. You're not my friends. I hate you all your. I mean, there's tons of stuff that never eat made it tons of testing never made on the show. So, you know, sometimes these guys get off using not very often, but I love him to death, but I'm not to get I'm not gonna hold back on stuff. I'm going to test my own stuff, you're not going to be the coach barking orders from a from a golf cart. You're gonna actually I would love to do that during round one I would love you. 'cause sometimes you just want to sit there and scream out now don't do that. I love it. I love it. It's like it's like have you never seen the show? Do you not know that you never use water? I mean, come on. I actually set up a little booby-trap tomorrow in the green room because we're starting a new weapon. Code. So the, the PA that takes care of the semester. She's lining up all five mine structural DVD's and putting a sign up his did you watch before you came here. You should have just again, just because I like Nestle with people just just to get in their head a little bit. But how'd you how'd you get involved with the show in the first place? It was funny because we had heard of me, and, you know, the knife makers in the community had heard for a couple of years at, you know, somebody's somebody's talking about making a show about forged blades and stuff like that, as like we're all, like, okay.

10:02 - 15:03

Well, see what happens and I was actually forging blades in my shop, and I got a phone call. And this, you know, nice woman girl whatever is on the phone. She goes. Oh, I'm so and so from the history channel, and we're thinking about doing a knife origin competition, which if you interested, and my first reply was okay. Who are you really because I thought it was one of my Smith buddies, wives and girlfriends. They're trying to prank me, just because we like doing that to each other took her probably about a good five six minutes to convince me she was actually from history. And she would you be interested. And I was like, I don't know reality TV and, you know, it's you know this is our livelihood. And she goes, well, we were thinking about having Nubia judge. I was like, oh, that sounds like a lot more fun. I'm in and what actually it's funny you mentioned project runway. One of the things that actually hooked me was they said the format for fourteen fighter was based on chopped, a cooking show and me and my wife watched chopped all the time. That's one of the things we like doing is we live out in the sticks. So we cook around stuff, and that, that was kind of the hook for me. I was like, okay knife, making neighbor. We can actually teach people something. And I get meet the guy directed chopped call SEO fit into that format that's perfect. So what, what has the show from your perspective done for the knife world before the first season? Aired on it made me a pariah. Yeah. Because everybody had heard about it heard we were shooting it on. I went to a couple of knife shows, and I had other knife makers that I had known for years, flat out, cursing, me, what are you doing your idiot? You're gonna make us all look like idiots. You should not be doing this, then after the first season aired. 'cause when we first started, you know, nobody doing the show, really knew much about knife, making I was the guy that was doing it every day. And the TV people I love him to death, but they were like how do we add drama like no? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no tro- them on the set. Yeah, you do not need drama. Just let these guys go. They will make all the drama you want. And they were like, okay. Well, let stay after the first couple of episodes. They were like, okay, you were right. We have to add anything. Oh, and yeah. After the first season aired and especially after the second season aired I had people coming back to me in apologizing 'cause they're knife sales had gone up their classes for teaching knife, making had had gone up know the industry. I mean granted we got a lot of new knife makers now. But if you're established and you've been around for longtime, you've got reputation so it's not like you're competing against all these new life makers. So I mean it made it was a boost on the industry itself. And if you're if you've already been making knives, you're already, you know, however, many years in with experience, you're, you're not starting fresh like like the guy. Well, like myself, I don't, I don't forge knives. But I occasionally put her around with stock removal at home, you know, and every time since I don't do it every day I feel like I'm starting from scratch. So you've got your time in and then a show like forced him. Fire comes along. I could see how it could really boost your sales just interest in general. And now it's not like oh, nice. Lives, you'd be like knives zero psycho. It's, it's something different. It's funny. You say that because for years because I've been making nicer got over twenty five years, and I actually started out with Stocker model. It wasn't until Damascus, making a resurgence that I decided I wanted to do that. So I, I learned a forage but yeah, I would go, you know, hang out with people, you know, go to like gatherings and stuff like that. And I live in Pennsylvania. I'd be sitting next to a gunsmith and people like all your Guzman. Oh, that's so cool. What do you do? I make nice for a living. And they started looking at me like Jeffrey Dahmer or something. It's like what the heck this guy can kill you from five miles away. I have to be right. And I've see what why am I the nut? Yeah that's, that's, that's funny. Man. I feel like I, I don't know. Maybe it's just because my head is always in it, but I feel like a knife in general just just from the office environment have become more acceptable, while I know at least in my office environment, I sort of pushed the issue, but I feel like more and more people are starting to carry knives again, as they always have for millennia right now. I totally agree with the way you phrased it becoming more acceptable. I talked to people for years, that they office and they'd have a little, you know, little folding knife. They pop open open packages and stuff like that. And people got your carrying a knife now. It's like, hey, what kind of you carrying exactly? And that's great. That's great in effect that the interest in knives has grown, you know, especially we have we have a huge youth following I get pictures and letters from kids all the time from the US and from different.

15:03 - 20:09

Countries. You know, little pictures little notes about, oh, I really love the show, and it got me interested in photos of them building their little forages and stuff. And it's just amazing. It's like a resurgence. Wow. Well, that, that gives you hope especially, especially with what we're talking about before, you know, living computerized lives are screen lives. And oftentimes when we think of younger generation, we think, oh, get their head out of their phone. You know. But it's so great to hear of kids, you know, not just doing art, not just doing regular put making functional art while at the same time at the same time I've gotten letters from parents that were like. Thank you for doing the show. My kids used to be in the computers in the video games constantly, and now I could spend a couple of nights a week or the weekends in the garage putterer out as my kids actually spend more time why kids because they're interested in making knives. They liked the show. And that know, having two kids of my own that really makes me feel good. Yeah. I mean it has to if you're if you're adding meaning to someone else's life, and you're actually, you know, through your own efforts through doing what you love adding a meaningful dimension to someone else's life impossibly, helping to edge out a distraction that can be destructive, man. That's got to feel great. I mean, what, what more could you ask for from your livelihood? Why can s for less hate mail, you can hate what kind of hate mail? Do you get? I get eight minutes. I really do. I even people in said, I tell them. Well today, I guess I'll go back to the apartment read some more hate mail, and they're like, really, like, yeah, I, I get people like Jay. Nielsen doesn't like you. He's going to make sure he breaks your knife and sets up impossible challenges for you. And it's like seriously. I tell I tell everybody especially contestants I said, look, I'm a nice guy I really have deep down inside deep deep deep down inside. Very deep down. I'm going to quote my mother and say, if you just took all that energy that you're putting into your hate mail and put it into your own career, or your own, you know, self-improvement you'd be you'd be much better person. And janey would have a you know, a mailbox with with fan mail. Well, I figured just like sports. I mean there's armchair quarterbacks. So we got armchair blades Smith. It's the same I don't take any of it. Seriously? Matter of fact, all the stuff that's on like the social media. I don't read any of it, but on occasion. My wife will read it and tear into somebody. So that's yeah, but oh yeah. She's probably way better than you are. Oh, she. She can be vicious as I love her to death. She's she's worse than I am so has been on the show. Like, what have you learned being on the show and being a judge instead of the, the person whose work is being judged? I've learned it's very frustrating watching other people do what I wanna do. I constantly want to jump off the table and run down. Help out and pitch in and stuff like that. But one of the things I love I tell everybody this, my favorite part of the show is not the testing. That's like second favorite, my favorite part of the show is like the first fifteen twenty minutes around one because will reveals a challenge, I already know how I'd do it and I want to see what they're gonna do. And there's a lot of times that Smith will do something completely off the wall, and I'm thinking to myself, there's nobody is ever going to work, and then they make a work and it's like holy crap. I can try that. When shop that's cool because I mean, we're all one of the analogies I have were all trying to get the same destination. We all just take different paths to get there and you're at different stages. You know, obviously, you're an ABS master Smith. You're way ahead of most of the people on that show if not, if not all of them, but to be able to learn from a student, not that you're teaching them. But they are there your juniors in that situation and to be able to learn from them. That's pretty. Pretty good. That's one of the things I love that knife, making, and Blake Smith, thing, you're constantly learning. I mean I'd. I mean, I I've been doing this for twenty five plus years, and there's still tons of stuff that I haven't done that. I wanna go try out, and I want experiment with and stuff like that. So that's one of the things that keeps you going. You know, there's always something new to play around with, well, what isn't ABS master Smith. And what does it take to become one? Well, first of all, you joined the ABS you're an apprentice Smith, which you don't actually have to impress us under anybody. I didn't. I'm mostly self taught except for one very kind gentleman named he Bagley who invited me down to shop and showed me, the basics of fourteen forge welding, and then kind of went fly little bird. And I went back to Pennsylvania and beat my head against the wall lot, but. Join the you're on apprentice Smith for three years, then you can test for journeyman Smith. Which is you have to do a performance test in judging the performance tests consist of forging a mono steel blade single steal ten inches nowhere in ten inch long and one of the fifteen inches overall with the handle no more than two inches wide.

20:10 - 25:07

You have to master Smith. Shop, you got three things you have to do. You have to cut a free hanging rope one inch thick rope within four inches of the bottom. So there's no tension on it or anything with breakthrough second. You have to chop a two by four and a half twice. And then you have to be able to shave hair off your arm on the spot. You're chopping than the flex test is. When you clamp, your blade, a third of the way Dan into a vice and then hookup pipe on your handle, and Ben blade has ninety degrees. Now you get right app. It usually a little bit past and not not break. It can crack a certain amount. But it can't break do they come back to true? Does it have to come back to straight? It doesn't usually easily figured. It's gotta come back at least thirty degrees, so you mean you don't want to come out with a knife. That's ninety degrees still so needs to come back to an extent. And then if you pass that, then you have to make five knives. And go to one of the big shows like Atlanta blade show, west blade show east and bring those five knives and judged by master Smits, and they give you a little bit of wiggle room. But, you know they're not terribly strict. If you've got a couple issues that they can let us light and then from there, you've got to wait two more years, then if you want to you can test for master Smith, which you do the exact same performance test. Except this time, it's with a Damascus blade a minimum three hundred twenty layers and it's gotta be a hidden Tang Fulton. So a more of a refinement of skills required in that, would you said, -actly? Yeah. Exactly doing because the you've got more body more strength with a full Tang less with hidden Tang and then the Damascus factor on top of it. Right. Right. And three hundred you said, no less than three hundred and twenty layers. Yes. Noma lesson three and a twenty layers. You know at that point, it's that's not a super high layer count. And then you gotta do the judging test, you said that is not a super hut layer count right now. I mean on average guys nowadays are doing, you know, three hundred fifty two six hundred layers on a regular basis. Maharaj oca-, actually, once once you get a certain layer count, like, say, you get up to one hundred and fifty layers, you cut three times, then, you know, you're okay, you know, jumping up quickly, so count, you get your base layer count it picks up quickly. So, so then after that after your after your second trip to the blade show with the five. Knives. Then you get kinda jumped in well, the big thing about the second judging for master Smith is you have to make a Damascus, European fluted dagger a fluted wire inlay handle that. Sounds easy. Every yeah. Anything else you can make whatever you want, but that's a requirement. And as you remember the episode of the shells yet where they had a flu to dagger that was actually the dagger. I used pass my master Smith. How was that mentioned in the show? I don't remember that. I remember if it was or not. But I know the gentleman who purchased it from me. So I reached out to him as, hey, wanna see it on TV? I gotta say that was one of the better looking specimens, where do those weapons come from which ones the ones for the finale? Yeah. Yeah. Your, your sample. You know now go home and may this as Baker makes those. Oh my God. Dave, make Dave makes those he makes all the finale demo weapons. And you think are Smith's are under time constraints. Paik. There's a lot more had but Dave, Dave master of, like work arounds in and, you know, days been making swords and prop weapons for thirty years, so he can knock out stuff that stuff that we send the contestants home to make he can usually knock out in half the time. What so you've you've you've reduced the amount of time contestants have to, to make by one day right now. That, yes. Some of the some of the couple the next episode you'll see that instead of five days of the home for it's four days. And we've also cut back on some of the handle rounds and stuff three hours. It's two hours. Yes, I've noticed that too. So what's that about what it was was the three hours too much too much luxury actually? No. Because it just gets it stresses. The Smiths up more. And it was just it was just a see, we tried it out, first with a couple of the round two challenges that weren't too bad. I thought they could do it. I mean, I, I was no problem. In my mind thing they could do it. And we've noticed since we started doing it, the quality of the handles, and such really hasn't dropped at all the Smiths just move faster. Interesting. They yeah, they, they just have less to. So it seems like a, a real fund set is, I mean, that follow you and I follow Doug Marquette, in etc on, on Instagram.

25:07 - 30:05

And you guys post some fun look at pictures. I gotta say it looks like a blessed. Doug Doug's does the comedian on the set. He's, he's probably the most deadly guy on the set. But he's also the big ball, right? He's, he's talked. He's talking me in Jay lay down lay down to let me take picture. Why not lay down? He just did one today. Because Jay bend over as Doug I'm not done on front. You know. Idea for funny pictures. I'm not comfortable with this. But yeah, he's the biggest comedian it's funny. When we did the pilot, we went out to Seattle and none of us knew each other at all. And I'm sitting in his room full of tongues and power, hammers and stuff like that at a table out table with Doug, again, not knowing who he was or anything, and he's sitting there with his cameras, snapping photos, constantly and I'm just looking at him. And he looks dead the goes. Hey, what do you want a nation? Okay. I deal with this guy. He's got to get some humor. I like a man. I've been I've been doing Cali for a long time. And, and he's always been one of the one of the names that's always floating around just as being outstanding. And and not and I have never taken a seminar with him. But I know someone who has has nothing but great things to say about him. And so, I have to say, like I love what the show has done for knives. And acceptance, I also love what it's done for Cali and the acceptance of bladed weapon. Martial arts. When I watch you test. It seems like you have some skills, as well a, a your it doesn't look like you're just, you know, swinging for the for the fences looks like you're swinging hard. But you also look like you have some technique, have you done some, some sort of formal training? Now I did karate when I was a kid, but never any edge stuff. Again, it's mostly self taught. It's just it's just the fact that because I was self trained for the most part, I was very insecure about what I was doing when I started out with so I would test, like crazy. I mean, I, I would when I started out if I had a band, that had a little crack in it or worship or the handle scale was pulled away or something like that. I would take that knife out in the woods in PA beat the hell out of it, and it's just using your knives. Like, we there's the comments made all the time that when I'm doing chopping on the show. I chop and I turn my head away. To the left, and it's not anything that I trained myself to do. It's probably just a little voice in back of my head, and don't get hit with anything. But yeah, the knows no formal training. This is just a, a lot of experience with testing because is like I said, I've been doing this to my own nice for years, and is probably a little bundle of rage buried in me somewhere, probably. But I got I got I get a place event it. So yeah, yeah. And and you know it's perfectly productive in, in everyone gains from it. So there's nothing wrong with that. Hey, do you design your knives? Or our? Everything yet everything that I mean years ago, United some people say, hey, I got a join you wanna make that. And when I first started out, I would pretty much make anything somebody wanted, but yeah, it's been. It's been a long time since that. I mean, I based I'm sorry, I, I'm not making myself clear, what I mean, is Dino out what you make or without USA steel, and let it kinda dictate where it goes. Now I- piece of steel and make it where I wanted to go. It's funny. You say it that way. Now, I don't draw anything out. Matter of fact, it's been years since, you know, somebody says, oh, can you draw me out this design before you make it now? I can't draw I can't draw stick figures, right? Yeah. You're not going to buy this knife. If I draw for you for your out for young losing customers, left and right this, let me make it. If you don't like you don't have to buy it. But that's funny that you say that let the steel gore at once I hear that all the time, and that's usually from Smith's, that I'm in forging that long. That's why you get a lot of Smith's. Yeah. The wind is starting out. They have blades. It's sweep up 'cause they haven't learned to control the steel control the tip. Keep it down stuff like that. Yeah, you can make the steel do what you want. I just talked to a gentleman this morning that he was having problems getting fish lips on the tip of his knife, where the two corners would kind of stick out almost come together like fish lips. And he's like, how do I prevent that? Well right now you can grind what his fish lips off? But if use horny Ranville, and draw that steel out and studies in the flat all the time you can avoid that. So it's just a lot of experimentation. You can make the steel do what you wanna do. Right. Right. I think that let it dictate where it wants to go as a common sort of creative trope you hear writers, say that a lot? Oh, you know, she just the character just wrote herself.

30:05 - 35:03

I get what they mean what they mean to because I I've listened to a less. Stephen King interviews and I get it. But not you wrote it the characters released yet. Yeah. Right. Exactly. It's like you can't pre make or pre-disaster tonight it does come to you at some point. But it is your idea. So why do you make nuts? It's it seems like the hard road Aho. So is it the creative process? Is it the knives themselves? What, what do you get out of it? It was when I was younger, I couldn't afford a good knife. So I figured I'd make my own. And I went to a knife shown Virginia and bought a blade and bought a piece of stag and some brass. And I put a knife together. I was like, wow, this is really kind of cool. I wonder if I could make a blade instead of by one. So I started, you know, take going to flea markets by bayonets knives, and trying to clean them up. And I've got multiple bayonets that her never going to be used for bayonets again, because I was practicing my fit and finish. And I was actually plugging the slots and plugging, the, you know, the putting holes and everything just making I was crazy that fit and finish. It was like everything's gotta lineup because I saw a lot of knives, even when I didn't know anything whereas like these are really gonna wonky square handles and stuff, and then I decided okay, that's no more fun. Let me try to make it a blade. So I started grinding blades at a files and saw blades and stuff like that. And, and that was no fun. Let's try forging a blade, and it, it just snowballed out of control. I it was just a hobby. It was just a hobby. I enjoyed I was a stress reliever. Especially in the started banging on steel. Very kind of therapeutic. I mean, I've dealt with several veterans and veterans groups that use forging as a relief for PTSD and stuff like that. So it's a very therapeutic process and then after a while it was like someone. So asked me to make a knife. Okay. I can do that. And then a couple more people did then after a while it was like, well, I can actually probably mic knives. Part time in work part time, and then after a while it got better and I think only actually be able to quit working for other people, which is good idea because they don't like me there anyway, because I'm a little too honest in bosses. Don't like honesty. Why I went to a lot of jobs. And it just like I said, it just snowballed it snowballed out of control. You know, then I joined the ES and, you know, then the collectors, you know, got more and more affluent and more and more free money and. You know, just then I got on the show and it's just been it's been great. So who is your customer, who, who ends up buying your knives? And what do they use them for, if you have any idea, a lot of them? Luckily for me and I think this is like a lotta my Custer's still using carrying mine is there's a lot of there's a lot of collectors. I mean I. From like fifteen years ago. Plus the worst thing I heard was when somebody bought one of my knives, and they said, don't worry, this is never going to get us. It's going to go into safe seriously. Why I spend three days he treated that blade? If you're never gonna use it. Don't worry after the apocalypse someone will come across it, and they'll use it. Well, that's the other thing too. I have had people like I don't know if you hold theater or rendezvous. They're just pretending. And it's like no, no. You don't need to heat treat it or anything. I just want like no no, I'm not going to do that because I'm going to put my name on it. And if it's not a heat treated usable blade, you're going to kick the bucket someday. It's going to go to somebody else. They're gonna try and use it and it's going to be a piece of garbage, and they're gonna say Jay Nielsen mixed garbage does not make a knife. Exactly. It's like I'm not doing that if you're asking for all of that. Why would you pay genius and money when you could go to WalMart and get a you know, I dunno before Jim fire, chick kitchen knife, said, yes. Exactly. Precise. Don't even get me started on that. I saw that it was just like well, good for them. And and kinda swiped quickly merch. Okay, fun mart. I, I actually went to Kazan in Connecticut now, I actually went to the mall across the street and they have it as seen on TV store and not even not only did I look. I f lady behind the counter where can I get these two? She have to do you know who I am. I practice about. She had no clue she had no clue about the show or anything. It's Kerr, we're kind of a niche market there. I'm well aware that the executive producer on the show. I told him I said, can I get a set of these will they send me they had some guy into commercial testing? Why can't I test them? He's like they're never going to send them to you. Please don't do this. I'm going to get us entities. I'm going to test them. And I'm going to video it means like, oh my God. He's like, please don't do this.

35:03 - 40:01

Yeah, let's, let's show the but let's, let's drop the veil again. This is why I went through a lot of jobs when I was younger, it's that honesty thing, rearing its ugly head again. Yeah. Just to his just too bad. It's just us sometimes so social media. How how, how do you see it affecting the knife world? Oh, it's, it's a huge boost. I think the only the only issue I have sometimes there's, like YouTube videos, may not done some, and there's tons of great information, but you gotta take it with a grain of salt. You gotta take information from somebody that, you know, is reputable, just like buying a knife. You gotta know. You got to listen to the people who have a good reputation and not just which craft great example. We had a guy that way, there was a show that came on right after we did. I think it was called stone and fire or ice and fire when I whatever, but it was a guy he was actually became a contestant on the show wasn't. Episode, I was on because soon as I watch, and he walked out, like I know who he is. But the one episode, I watched was he was making cable, Damascus dagger, and I'm like a cool. I want to watch this, and then he starts spouting out all kinds of crazy stuff about having quench magnetic, north otherwise the blade was going to warp, and I swear to God, I got emails for six months about this, and it's not even my show and it's like I tell people like, look, if the magnetic polarity of the earth is going to be strong enough to warp your little four inch blade. I don't know how we have airplanes. Yeah. Right. Right. It's gonna tear the braces right out of your son's mouth. Man. Yeah. I told him I said, look, Mike quench tank for south-southeast, okay? I haven't had a problem and then the other thing about that. The Damascus has rations after you shit that makes it cut better. And then he hits the blade and then he policy edge while we're the. Nations nap buddy, it was just like amid halfway thirty upset I had turned off. Stuff like that. Drives me crazy. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the I sorta get the wanting to adhere to the though will pointing it in a certain direction if it makes you feel better, you know, sometimes it's just like crossing yourself or doing something that makes you feel better. But I mean, come on, as an instruction that's kind of absurd to yourself. You went through salt over your shoulder and stuff like that, that don't tell don't tell everybody else. That's the way you gotta do it. So can you learn forging from watching YouTube videos? Yeah. You can't I mean there's, there's a couple of several contestants that come on the show and said, I watched your j I watched your canister Damascus YouTube video, and that was a huge help. So. Yeah, you can. I mean, there's, there's good info. But like I said, you just have to make sure you know, who you're getting info from. That's one of the reasons that I did the DVD's that I have. The DVD's and digital download both. Because when I first started out there were some knife, making -struction there was some knife, making books. I ran into certain makers that would leave out bits and pieces here and there. And I think that was like an ego thing, like I don't really I'm going to try to teach you, but I'm not gonna show you everything, yeah, it's like passing down the recipe. But leaving out the main ingredient, yet that talked me off so much when I was starting out, and I can't to a ton of classes and stuff like that with trying to make knives. Spend time my family and do the show. So that's I mean, Chris Crawford, got together and did the DVD's, and I don't be anything. I mean, I just talking straight, plain English, which I think everybody knows by now is the only way I talk because I don't I don't mince words on the show and I don't knits words in real life. So I'm just I just spell it out. Step by step from lighting. Your forged putting the final engineer knife. I don't I have I have no need of making myself seems smarter than I am. Everybody knows who you are. And it's obvious from from your credentials from the look of your knives. And from your work on forged in fire that you hear a man of experience. You know what you're talking about your master. That's one of the things I tell people I get people all the time that is starting out. Two key things. I tell them when you start now go visit as many master on national snus, go visit may Smith as you can. If you can find ones that you're attracted to the style of knife. They make even better, but go see as many as you can because so many people go out and start spending money on tools, and then in six months, find out, they didn't need them. So go see Smits ask them what they do. Ask them, what tools they use the most and guide yourself with that you don't need a ton of expensive tools main, I started out with a block of steel in a five gallon bucket of sand.

40:01 - 45:04

A little charcoal crank forge, and one by thirty grizzly grinder. And I actually did my first couple of shows with the stuff I made with that. So I mean, if you can get tools to get more money more, experienced great, but you don't need them. No, no. That's, that's a great. It's a great self-imposed hurdle as well. I'm going to start as soon as I get my awesome two inch by seventy two inch grinder. I'm just gonna wait till I get that really awesome. Forage. I'm looking to get. And then I'm going to really dig it or you can build your own Ford. I mean, my, my point being is, is using using the tools as a reason not to start is, is something I'm familiar with. Okay. I got. Yeah, yeah, I mean, I remember I remember going nice show in the first Bryner or I seventy two grinder was grizzly. And I said, this was years and years ago. And there was a group of guys standing in from my table, and they were just Chit chat. And I wasn't in the conversation and they were talking about grinders, and they were talking about this grinder came back down to the. Baiters, and this and that. And they just out of the blue, you know, they were talking, you know, talking smack about the grisly Grindr which it has its issues, but I could afford it at the time there's only like two hundred and twenty five dollars. And they looked at me j what do you use and looked grizzly? They were like okay. We're in now is just like you know, you don't need a five thousand dollar tool to be to have talent. You don't need exact tool to be good at what you're doing. You just need a lot of hard work and practice while it's not an and I get this every once in a while on the show too. When I listen to the interviews and sometimes you get people that blame their tools. It's not the tools fault, you, you need to use the tool correctly or you have to make it work correctly for you. Like the grizzly like I said, there's issues with it, but there's not a vacations. I did a video not that long ago on. Okay. If you wanna use one of these, here's some few things that you need to do to make it work better for you. That's that big tall grinder, right? Yeah, the green one it's got the spindle on the other end. Yeah. I call that the install stop, 'cause I'm in patients, I reach over his grab it, and it stops. So where did you see the knife world headed seeing as it's seen such a, a positive kind of upward trend right now, especially at the talk and people that just came back in the blade show. It seems like there's an overwhelming amount of new people making knives that are new people match their rough the route, they're not up to snuff, but I've seen the same thing for years in industry. You get people to get interested in it. They stick with it for a year to three in the disappear. And I think we're right now we're in a surge of we've got knife makers just coming out of the woodwork, and then they're going to filter down, and then the ones that I can actually do good work and make a good reputation for the cells, they're gonna stick around and they're going to have seen this also, the younger Smith's pushed the older Smits. I mean somebody young Smith's on the show, it's like amazing what they can do. And it's like wait, wait. I gotta get back in the shop. I spend too much time on the set is gonna be out doing me have to watch my own TV days to figure out what I do. So how, how familiar are you with the folding the folder world? I don't know if that's if that's. If you consider that different if it's on your radar of the folder world's a whole different beast. I I've made a few folders way back, but it just didn't tickle me. I understand the folder being a big deal. I really do because there's a lot of places you can't walk into the grocery store with between. Hell. No, no, no, where I live. I can't lucky man. So I'm used to living in Virginia South Carolina, Pennsylvania Erie, the walking around with a big knife, when you hear that for a pistol, as long as out in the open, you're okay. So, yeah, I mean, I made couple of folders, I take God if they're floating around out there somewhere. I don't even want to see him. Take my name off them. There's there's been times where I've gone to night, shows and seem seem some of the knives I made way back when I first started, and usually nightmares. I know that go Jay look what I got. It's like how much of that, and I'll buy it back. And then they end up in the bottom Susquehanna river, which is the bottom of hill, where I live. It's like nobody's ever. See this again. But now the folders folders a great, I mean, I carry folder. I got a folder in my sling bag which I care with me all the time. And that's basically because certain situations, you don't wanna pull out a five inch hunter and start cutting up your food or something like that. The reason I ask is because we're talking about, you mentioned a glut of new a glut is kind of a, not a positive term.

45:04 - 50:02

But you mentioned a whole bunch of new knife makers, it's kinda the same. I'm seeing in the in the folder world, which is kind of more where where my collection resides on the whole, and it's, it's this, you know. Titanium frame lock with the super steel, you know, the two three hundred dollar knife thing and they're just a bunch of companies out of China number of companies out of China making super high quality, high fit and finish knives. And on one hand, they're doing this great thing, because they're making the, the work of designers, that would be otherwise inaccessible accessible to guys like me if I want to you know you know what I'm saying. And, and I like that, but at the same time it also I, I don't know. I, I, sometimes I go back and forth in my head as to whether that reduces the value overall of Adriano of the design. I'm curious what you think about that. Just that sort of taking taking the, the work of a of a of an artist of a of a creator like a knife maker, and then that's meant to be a custom thing, and then and then mass producing it. We've actually seen the same thing with fixed blades. Several years ago there was a new term commit- like semi production. Where would be a blade Smiths design, it will get everything would get machine milled, and he treated all they had to do is come back. Assemble it, and clean it up and put their name on it stuff like that. And it didn't really last. I mean, I'm sure there's still a few more out there. I don't really look at the cheap nights catalogs anymore. I stopped getting them for some reason. Maybe they don't like me. But yeah, we did have a bunch of that happening, and it kinda drifted off for the fix makers. 'cause it's more about the crafting by hand and stuff like that. Just like people say, well, are you going to be making my knife, or as an apprentice can be making my knife now? I don't have any apprentices. I do everything myself. Trust me. You don't want to work in the shop. Nobody does. I love my son a death and he's got a time when my shop so, but for folders it's a different story because there's a lot of machining. We even had some young Smith that were on the show, and I've watched my Instagram, and they're buying CNC, knowing machines and stuff like that. Like, first of all, I had a hell can you afford that? And how do you run it? I have no clue. Beast. Yeah. It's different. He has yet the moving parts. I mean I personally, I don't really trust a nice that Benz in half. So I mean I do it denies on the show all the time. I don't want to be carrying, right? That's a funny way of putting it bending in half. But it's the yield walks can fail stuff like that. I've known people that have lost fingertips from faulty locks and stuff like that. But now there's a lot of good stuff out there, too. And I actually I actually just mentioned this week. I said, look, we really need to do a folder episode. Yes. Yes. Just to change things up. I love doing the Nevada on. You didn't Uva thus Ganesh expansion that many also did the you did a couple of friction folders. I think he got a couple of folders. Yup. One of those, those bit me real good. Let me ask you. I was just speculating the other night with my wife. We were watching the show, the first round knife is the blade is alw-. His noticeably large to me. We usually go between, you know, nine nine and nine and eleven inches eleven thirteen and fourteen to sixteen and usually depending on the materials and the test is easily. How I try to determine what we're gonna do? It's not always in my hands anymore because we got like I said, we've been on seven seasons. And then we got we got cameramen, it's funny when we first started I'd be calling stuff out and pointed at a cameraman, and they're looking at me. Like what the hell is he talking about? And then they Sern what I said would happen. They're looking at how the hell does he know? And you know, it's not editing. It's just the fact that I made all those stupid mistakes when I started out, so I knew you keep doing that. This is going to happen. And we've got cameramen that have been here since season one and they after three or four seasons. Their flagging may J J look what he's doing doing these guys learned through Moses. And we've got these guys. They are dying to jump off the camera and get behind the animal. So I'm actually pushing for a crew episode. That'd be awesome. That's what I think I mean they are dying. They like they're like, okay, I'll just have a shout out to the judges table.

50:02 - 55:15

If you're not if views about something, but you're on your own. I'm going to say it right now since we're talking about various challenges, I mentioned to you in an Email recently. I'm dying to see a barong challenge and film, who sweet and frankly in front. All right. All right. I'm just gonna stop right there. Sucker actually, I get suggestions for things all the time. The one that kills me is the judges episode. It's like okay I understand you guys wanna see us down. We'll figure out something eventually. But the fact that we, we only right now have three forging judges makes it a little tricky, and then who's going to judge so. Hey, don't, don't, don't let the Hoi push you around Jay. God, I ain't worried about. I've had people ask me so. Well, would you compete see? Yeah. Well, what if you lost? So what I watched Bobby flay he loses all the time. What do I care? Yeah. Exactly. Exactly secure boxer. You're gonna go out and boxy Mike. It knocked out know that's yeah. That's. I totally respect Bobby flay. I think he's great. He loses. Why would I it's not an ego thing for me? That's one of the reasons I don't go out and do all the, the nice shows and looking for the aberrations, not the right word. I don't know what you call it. But yeah, I don't need the Pat on the back. I just I enjoy what I do. I'm inspiring people with the show to an extent on teaching people, the show to an extent. And I enjoy what I'm doing and make knives, and I got a great life. So I got no qualms. I've got nothing to be worried about well on that note, sir. Thank you so much for coming onto the knife junkie podcast. I really appreciate your coming on. Spilling it with me. No problem. I enjoyed it. That's I cannot wait to while aid to see the barong episode but to keep plowing ahead, I think I mentioned to this, this to you before we start recording. But I feel like the show just keeps getting better and better and. As a someone who does a lot of video editing. I also think editing has gotten even better. It's always been great. But now it's even better. So they've got new stuff coming up. We just got a gamble or would kill or whatever so they're playing around with that. So a couple of our camera guys are working with that we, we've got some. We got some new effects in some new tests, and we've got a couple of level. So they're gonna mix things up a little bit so. Yeah, it's gonna be fun. I mean I did a interview for history channel years ago. It's like season one we were here season to appear season. Three were pushing the bar, even higher in its bars getting higher. And higher awesome, awesome will keep at it because he got a lot of people love in that show. So that now my pleasure, thank you so much for coming on the show and hope to talk to you again. Sometime sounds good. You just let me know when our right? You got it, sir. Take, thanks a lot. You're listening to the knife junkie podcast and we're back on the knife junkie pond. Cast Jim the knife flew person along with bomb than I've junkie DeMarco, and Bob, I'm going to ask you a key takeaway, that you thought from the interview, but I gotta tell you, one of the things that I took away from the interview that I didn't know about the knife junkie project runway. Really, bob? All right. Okay. Okay. Okay. I think maybe even interviewed I played down my interest in project runway a gym. I actually love that show. And every every season, MRs knife junkie, and I looked to see, you know, if the new shows begun, yet, I started watching it. When I worked in the fashion industry, some ten fifteen years back and, you know, I'm an artist myself. I'd like to watch these these creative competitions. Why am I justifying this? Arkham show. I'm just giving. You wrote, man, letting you go. But they made it even better when they made about knives. Well, I and I must admit when Jay talked about the, the cooking channel, I think the show chopped. Yes. That's one of my favorites. I love that show. I love that show junior chopped is a big one in this house. I'm like watching these nine year old kids competing like adults on the show. I'm like, man. These kids are pecan too early. I can't cook anywhere near the kids anywhere near boil watering in steak. That's probably about my, my, my limit your takeaway. What would you would you think what was your key points highlights, etc? Well, you know, it was just it was great to talk to him, and get the inside scoop of what it's like working on forest fire, and what his career has been like, and what his his daily grind is like, but the thing that really resonated with me is, you know, here's a another person, we seem to speak to a lot of people like this on the knife, donkey podcast. But here's another person who's following his passion, and you know, that's not an easy thing to do. It's not an easy thing to do to break. Out and become a knife maker. You know, it's a it's a hard road a ho and but here, here's a man who's following his passions and, and things are working out for him. And it's having a ripple out, you know, beyond himself and beyond his family when he was talking about how he's received letters from parents saying, my child, you know, never came out of the basement, you know, in, in the basement, just doing whatever playing XBox, or whatever it now, now, they're, they're they have some variety in their activity.

55:15 - 57:15

Now they want them forged blades, and that made him feel great felt great to hear. So I don't know to me that that's, that's what I'd take away from this. Follow your passionate passionate happens to be knives. Doesn't matter. It could take you down that road to where you're not only making your life better but making other people's lives better. You never know how one little thing will make an impact make a huge impact in someone else's life. And like you said, you know, just having a kid, you know, put down that video game get hands on with some. Thing and become passionate about it. Not telling what that kid will then become who will then touch in, etc. Ripple was a great way that you put that. Yeah. He was a great guy. I really enjoyed talking and on the show. He's got a very sort of a stolen exterior. But a man he really he was really personable in great to talk to. Yeah. Yeah. Great interview, great interview. All right now, they're great podcast in the books, as we say, then I've chunky podcast and we're going to be back again next week talk in more knives. We're not going to spill the beans on. What's coming up? You'll have to listen, I think next week will be a little philosophical. Ooh, okay. All right. Can't wait for that, for Bob, the knife chunky DeMarco. I'm jim. The knife newbie person. Thanks for listening to the knife junkie podcast. Thanks for listening to the knife junkie podcast. If you enjoyed the show, please rate review with review the podcast dot com for show notes for today's episode additional resources into listen to past episodes, visit our website, the night junkie. Dot com. You can also watch our latest videos on YouTube at the ninth, jokey dot com slash YouTube checkouts over great night photos on the knife, junkie dot com slash Instagram and join our Facebook group, but the knife, junkie dot com slash Facebook. And if you have a question or comment Email them to Bob at the knife junkie dot com or call our twenty four seven listener line at seven two, four four six six four four eight seven and you may hear your comment or question answered on upcoming episode of the knife junkie podcast.

 

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