Forged in Fire airing

Maria and I took a wonderful trip to NYC back in April of this year. The purpose of that trip was so I could compete on the History Channel show “Forged in Fire”.

If you aren’t familiar, a competition between 4 blacksmiths who are given a piece (or pieces) of steel and are tasked with forging a blade with certain parameters. They are only given 3 hours to complete that task. After the first round, one of the smiths is eliminated. The remaining 3 smiths are given another 3 hours to fit and finish a handle on the knife. Then those three blades are tested and one more smith is eliminated. The remaining two are sent home for 5 days to create a weapon from a historical period. They then return and have those blades tested. The winner is given the title of “Forged in Fire Champion” and a cue k for $10,000.

It’s been a few months since I competed and I’m not allowed to talk about the outcome of the show, but I can say that I’ll be on the show. My episode is airing next Tuesday, July 25 on the History Channel.

If you’ve got no plans next Tuesday night, feel free to sit back and watch the show. I think it should prove to be entertaining.

Maria and I hope that everyone has a great week!

Chad

Always a student..

I started blacksmithing / bladesmithing about 4 years ago. I couldn’t find anyone to teach me, so I am completely self taught. Reading, YouTube videos, and trial and error were my teachers. Lots and lots of trial and error. I started with some ornamental work with plain mild steel. I tried to utilize a lot of scrap metal to keep the cost down and to keep some things out of the trash. As my knowledge progresses I have learned more and more about metallurgy. Learning the characteristics of different types of metals is super important. Up until April of this year the only real, known steel I used was 1095. It’s a good, standard knife steel.

In April I had the opportunity to compete on the History Channel show Forged in Fire. Which, by the way, will be airing on July 25th. So if you want to see 4 goobers making knives, me being one of them, tune in to the History Channel. It should be interesting.

Anyway back to steel. On the show we used 5160. It’s a harder and more finicky steel than I’m used to. But competing in general was a great experience and I learned a lot from some really great smiths. This week, I ordered some D2 and O1 steels to learn and experiment with. These are both considered “tool steels”. They are very hard and much more difficult to forge and heat treat.

That blade is the one I made here at home with a piece of 5160 to see if I could forge it as well as I did on the show.

I love to learn new things and working these two new steels is interesting. You can see on the label for the D2 it says air hardening. That throws a whole new wrinkle into heat treating. Leaving out a liquid quench!

I decide to make a little knife for my lovely Maria. I’ve been meaning to make one for her to use around the house and the farm. 

For the handle I used some balsam fir needles that came from her home state of Maine set in some epoxy resin. For the blade, I used a little of the O1 and that little thing came out super sharp!

This post is getting a little wordy, so I will wrap it up. The kukri blade in the first photo (5160 steel) should have the handle finished by tomorrow evening. Maybe I’ll write a little post with photos of that one.

If you don’t have any plans on July 25th, sit back, relax, and watch some entertaining competition on the History Channel.

All the best,

Chad

Our part time home…

Things are picking up slightly after the collecting crazy week. 

With the addition of the new/used pop up things are a lot more comfortable in the woods. Maria and I like to rustic camp, but when you are digging stumps, cutting brush, grading a road, etc etc all day it is really nice to be able to sit down at a table to have supper, and a nearby air conditioned bed to lay your head. This is much easier than driving 7+ hours round trip with several hours of back breaking work stuffed in the middle.

Yes, I know that the awning is crooked. That was my first time putting it out. Lol

One great advantage to staying here overnight is seeing the beautiful sunsets here on the farm.

Maria had to come up late, so I got to cook supper. I know, I know, its not the healthiest meal, but it was delicious!

Before I left town, Maria packed up all kinds of groceries and goodies. I really love that woman and truly have no idea what I would do without her. 

It is starting to really look and feel like we have a homestead starting, instead of just owning 18 acres of brambles.

Until next time, have a great day and I am going to ENJOY the absolute cool, quiet sleep of the exhausted.

Chad

Another kukri kind of day..

As the country celebrates its independence, Maria and I are doing what we love on this holiday. She is busy sewing away making some tie dye letters. I finally lit the forge after a couple of weeks of not swinging a hammer. This is what came from that.

I started with a good piece of 5160 high carbon steel.

I thinned it some in the belly of the edge.

Then I shaped the point, and the clip. The ricasso and tang then needed to be curved.

Then to the grinder! Working out the remainder of the edge geometry and get out some of those damned hammer marks. You’ll hear me talk about those whenever my episode of Forged In Fire airs.

Once that’s all worked out then it was time for the heat treat.

I did the finish grinding and decided to put a thin fuller along the blade. This one is pretty thin and doesn’t serve much purpose  other than a decorative groove.

Now to decide on a handle material. I’ve got some different species of wood on hand, but I can’t decide.

I will leave that up to you. Let me know what you think a good handle material would be for this knife, either natural or synthetic. I love to hear the creative ideas of others so lets hear your thoughts!

I know this one isn’t directly homesteading related, but Maria and I wear many hats. Lol

All the best,

Chad

First harvest ever!!!

Maria and I stopped at the farm for just a bit on our Smokey and the Bandit run to Illinois and back. When we were there Maria noticed that the blackberries were starting to ripen. She decided that on the next trip she was going to pick some and make some jam.

So, when we took the camper and other materials up, she got to picking. Granted, a lot of the ripe ones had been snacked on by the deer, but she still got a about a 1/2 a bucket full. They were great to eat right off of the vine, but she wanted to jam them up.

I don’t know the recipe because I’m terrible at anything cooking related, but I got to eat some!

We had breakfast for supper the other night and Maria made some great eggs, sausage, and layer biscuits with her AWESOME jam on them.

I’m not normally a big sweets eater, or even a big fan of jam, but this stuff is amazing!

So this was the first harvest of anything for us on OUR farm and it feels really good. We still have about 13 acres of thick briars covered with unripened berries so I’m sure we will have more wild blackberry jam. I might even learn to help make it.

Have a great week and we’ll see you on the next update.

Chad

Making some progress..slowly

We have had our land since the first of the year and things have been moving very slowly, but they are moving. This week we got to move some of our new treasures up there. These things should help some with our progress.

The trip up this time was super stressful for me. We took both trucks and pulled trailers with them both. Maria had the new truck (named Ernie) pulling the pop up, and I had the older truck (named Bert) and pulling the utility trailer that I’m pretty sure was overloaded. I had well over 1000 pounds of gravel, the home built landscape rake for the tractor, and a pretty good sized wood chipper.

Maria had only pulled a trailer one other time, and that was just a cross town. She did a fantastic job on this 3.5 hour trip, but I was really nervous. I followed her and had to watch her, her trailer, traffic, my overloaded trailer all at the same time. Whew!

We made it though, without incident and got to work. The first thing was to put down the recycled carpet and this load of gravel.

It doesn’t look like much,but that’s a good bit of gravel. I really do think that the carpet technique will help stabilize that soil when it rains.

Next was to get the camper and chipper moved to there new homes, 1000 feet back. I spent some time with the rake and blade smoothing out the dirt driveway before moving them.

I then hooked up the camper to the tractor and SLOWLY pulled to the back.

That spot looks a little rough, but on the next trip I plan on mowing and sprucing up the “campsite” area.

Maria then got to work picking the remaining ripe blackberries that the wildlife hadn’t eaten.

I continued to work on grading the rest of the driveway to prep it for more carpet and gravel. There are still a few rough spots, but they are getting better.

I am planning on one little revision to the driveway. We’ve got two turns that are a little sharp so I’m going to change the angle for a more direct approach.

The one thing I was REALLY happy about was that we could finally drive something other than the tractor the full lengths of the driveway. So now it’s starting to look like a homestead, and we’ll be able to stay overnight a lot easier. Next trip is setting up the camper, landscaping the campsite, and start chipping the massive amounts of brush we’ve cut.

We hope you all have a great weekend, be safe and we’ll see ya on the next update from the overnight stay on the farm!

Chad

Collecting crazy and berry picking…

We started our journey to homesteading in midsummer of last year. As we keep working and planning, things just seem to get crazier and crazier.

At the first of the year, we bought our land. 18 rugged acres with nothing but a creek, some young trees, and a ton of briars.

We started working. We started some clearing for the driveway (1000 feet or so) and the area for the eventual house and barn. We have a 3.5 hour drive from where we live to the farm, so not too far but not around the corner either.

A problem we ran into was time. We both work full time jobs AND run a moderately successful online etsy shop. That means on a handful of days a month to drive up and work on the farm. Tent camping up there was really a pain, so we tended to settle on day trips. 3.5 hours up…work until dark…then drive 3.5 hours back. Long days for sure. We kept exploring the possibilities for some sort of structure for overnighting.

That’s when the crazy happens…

We ended up being given ( just in the lastfew week) 

1. A good used pop up camper.

2. A brand new wood chopper (3″ capacity)

3. A full setup to run the pop up on solar.

4. A 2004 Ford f150 xlt.

To end up with all of these Maria and I had to drive from the coast of North Carolina to just south of Chicago and back in two days off of work. I felt like we were in a bad remake of Smokey and the Bandit. We had a long way to go and a short time to get there. Well, we made it and we’ve got a pile of resources for the farm now. A huge windfall, but crazy and overwhelming.

The camper.

The chipper.

I don’t have a photo of the truck yet, but you’ll see it soon.

A good (and not so crazy) thing that happened on this trip was that we had the opportunity to stop at the farm for just a bit. Those briars that we have been fighting and cussing since the beginning of January are covered in berries.

We are super excited about the berries. So, on the next trip, as I get a good spot cleared and leveled for the camper, Maria plans on picking as many berries as she can carry. She’s planning on canning and making jam to fill her extensive mason jar collection. I think that she will have plenty as about 15 out of 18 acres are absolutely covered with vines.

So this week we’ve had a bunch of crazy and then some berry picking. We hope that you all have a wonderful week, and if it turns crazy we hope its the productive crazy. Enjoy life and just hang on for the ride.

Chad

What’s your “signature style”?

For those of you who create, whether that’s painting, sculpting, sewing, smithing…anything really, what is your “signature style”?

As I watched a couple of seasons of the History Channel show “Forged In Fire” I kept hearing that phrase for the first round of competition in nearly every episode. The blacksmiths were told to create a blade in their “signature style”.

I’ve been smithing for a few years now and I’ve made knives of all different styles and sizes.

I’ve made:

Bowies,

Kukri,

Swords,

Camp knives,

Skinning knives,

You name it, but I realized (after I competed of course) that I didn’t really have a signature style. So I thought, and I pondered and I came up with a style that I’ve made before and it seems to really fit me and my style.

It’s a smaller version of the traditional Bowie knife with a similar blade shape. I like a good, usable knife that looks really good. I like this shape and its easy for to me to reproduce.

I plan on making them with a variety of steels. I’ve got some from Damascus, 5160 high carbon, repurposed farriors rasps, AR500. I’m also making them with a mix of handle materials.

I will continue to make them as I feel the designs, but I’m always open to requests if someone has a particular mix of materials that they are looking for.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I will always make a wide variety of knives, from swords to chef knives. But in general this looks to be my “signature style”

The big question is, and I’d love to hear what it is…What is YOUR signature style?

All the best,

Chad

Www.noharminfarmin.com

Big moves on the crafting front…

Most folks that follow us know that in addition to working to start our homestead, we are avid makers and crafters.

In April Maria and I went to NYC so that I could compete on the History Channel show “Forged in Fire”. That was a pretty big deal for me. No, I haven’t heard when it will air, but yes I will let everyone know. Its driving me crazy in case you were wondering, lol.

Well….I’m not the only one to get some famous recognition recently!

Maria got an order to make a couple HUNDRED feet of hand tie dyed hunting, and an 8 foot by 8 foot tie dyed door curtain for the Monterey International Pop Festival!!!

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love and they are celebrating that anniversary with another concert. And, Maria’s tie dye will be hung all over the place! How cool is that? She is super stoked and I am so proud of her!

Here’s a photo of the door curtain before it went out. Doesn’t that say “summer of love”?

We just wanted to share our excitement and we hope that you all have your own summer of love!

Chad

Www.noharminfarmin.com

Mudhole mystery solved, carpet bridge.

The great mudhole mystery has been solved! Its not a spring, it’s a particularly clay heavy area of the soil. This keeps the water from absorbing. I’ve graded it enough to allow the water to run off into the existing ditch nearby.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are several other areas with the same soil along our driveway. We haven’t had the water problems as the mudhole, but the problem is that when wet the water runs off without soaking in, causing the top 2 inches to be really gummy. Its not too much of a problem if you just walk on it, but as soon as you try to drive anything across it the dry under section starts to get wetter, and the soup gets deeper.

That means we can dig it out 12 -18 inches and refill it with rock and gravel ( which will cost a fortune), lay down some roadbed fabric and then some gravel ( also very expensive), OR we can follow the suggestion made by Dr. Wang from the University of Georgia and reuse carpet scraps as the roadbed fabric.

He completed a study to include several field trials to show that the use of old carpet under gravel can, and does stabilize soft and slippery soils to give a better load displacement under the gravel.

Once I started to research this method I found an article put out by the EPA approving the use of carpet for the underlayment of both paved and unpaved roads, even up to Interstate Highways.

The study showed that it could drop the cost of road construction 40 to 50 percent. It also show that less excavation and less fill material needed to be hauled. That has allowed for less green house gases produced from heavy equipment and trucks.

Its solid underneath, but greasy as bacon on the surface and thats not even the worst mudhole. That’s just normal after the rain today!

I’m going to do a small scale test on the carpet/gravel theory across the famous mudhole, but I think its a good solution.

If I can get the driveway drivable, I think we can really make some progress on the cabin.

We did have a visitor today who seemed to be enjoying the driveway, muddy or not. He just decided to cruise on up the driveway.

We hope that everyone has a great week.