Back to work, and having some beard fun.

I returned to work finally after being off for 2 months. Now that I have been given the all clear from skin cancer. I surely feel better and seem to have more energy.

While I was off I took the opportunity to grow out my beard. A good solid two months was good let things go. But, going back to work I had to shave and cut my hair. Rather than just cut it off I decided to go in stages to have a little fun..

First was the full beard:

Then I trimmed my chin and center section for the 1850s style mutton chops:

After that, it was time for some disco era sideburns:

From there I went a little stranger to the Mohawk, Fu Manchu combo:

And then finally, before cutting it all off there was the circus strong man handlebar:

So you see, even with mundane tasks, Toots and I like to have some fun. We all hope you have a great week. I’d love to hear which was your favorite, lol. Mine was the handlebar.

All the best,


The negligent blogger part 2

Ok, so now on to the next installment.

In addition to, and coinciding with the truck adventure I found out some super crazy, surprising, strange, wonderful, fantastic news.

Up until a few months ago things were going as I thought had for a long time. I had a beautiful wife, a wonderful adult daughter, a good job, a nice piece of land to build our homestead, and some good retirement plans.

And then….

A few years ago we had taken the 23andme dna test to add ours to the database. My mom has been working on our family tree for a very long time. Well, as a result of that, I ended up receiving an email from someone saying that they were a 49% match with me and a 23% match with my daughter. This would indicate a child to me and a sibling to my daughter.

I made contact with that person and some questions were asked and answered by us both and come to find out…..wait for it….

I NOW HAVE 2 DAUGHTERS that are all grown up!!!!!


I also now have a GRAND-DAUGHTER!!!!!!!!

This is huge news and created a whirlwind of emotions. Freaked me out, made me smile, made me cry, made me laugh…

I won’t go into a bunch of detail, just for some family privacy, but, due to life and circumstances 25 years ago, we were separated before either of us knew the other existed.

But now we have found each other, and both girls now have a sister that they never had. They have hit it of wonderfully and talk all the time.

We’ve been sharing back and forth for months now. Mainly text messages and video chats because she is currently in England with her husband who is in the Air Force. We have yet to meet in person, but soon.

So, we have welcomed Kate, little Hannah, and Dylan (the new son in law) to the family!!!

So now, instead of Rowan being an only child, now there is Rowan, Kate, Hannah, and Dylan. Its almost like the Brady bunch, but cooler.

I’m very proud of all my kids. Rowan is a super smart, and witty, person who prefers non binary pronouns such as “they” and “them”. I don’t fully understand this movement, but I’m doing what I can to be supportive.

Kate spent some time in the Air Force herself before getting out at the end of her enlistment. She is wonderful, smart, and witty, and a good mom.

Dylan is Kate’s husband who is still active duty Air Force. He seems like a good man, a good husband, and a good father. I’m glad that he and Kate found each other.

And then there is Hannah…..that little bugger is absolutely gorgeous. I enjoy talking to her by video chat. Watching her play, and to have her say goodbye and blow kisses just melts my heart. I never really thought about being a grandpa, but you know what? Its really FREAKING COOL!!!

As the conversations have built, Maria and I were informed that we needed to choose grandparent nicknames. That really threw me off. Most people get 9 months to figure that out. We had about 2 weeks, lol.

After some thoughts, we came up with Toots and Pappy. And you know something….I really like the thought of being called Pappy.

So, that’s big news for part 2 of the catch up. Like I said, its been a crazy year. A lot of hard work, a lot of joy, a lot of tears….but really cool.

Stick around for part 3 coming soon…hard to believe but there IS more…lol

All the best,

Toots and Pappy

I’m liking the new route…

I really do enjoy our blog. I enjoy our business happenings, milestones, and the creativity. I also enjoy working on the farm. I have gotten a little more creative with the go pro camera and learning to better edit video. I think this will go well with our business plan and of course, our blog.

I think, I will continue to make some forging videos, and as I get work done at the farm.

I spent the weekend at the farm. I needed to take the backhoe attachment up there and hook it up to the tractor. I got it there, hooked it up, and ran it for a grand total of 6 minutes and blew out 5 separate hydraulic lines. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t a total surprise. I could tell that some of them may go, they looked pretty sketchy. So I spent the rest of the weekend removing and measuring lines. Isn’t homesteading fun?

So, I decided to film some while I was there. You can have a quick tour of the main cleared area and see what we are working with. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, feel free to check it out. I’d love to see some comments, all the feed back I can get would be great.

Our laser engraver is due to arrive tomorrow, we are looking forward to that adventure!

All the best,


New video complete..

We’ve been able to get some projects done lately.

I finished up the punt gun rack and the client was ecstatic!

I was also able to get a knife finished up for another fella, this one was a bit different though. He wanted the city crest from the town in Switzerland where he and his wife were married. I took the blade to an engraver and they did a great job, but, then I started thinking. I thought “Why can’t I just do my own engraving?”. That lead to several hours of research and a conversation with Maria. We then ordered our own laser engraver. We’ve got a few more days before it arrives, but soon we will be able personalize all kinds of things. Be sure to look for those types of items in our etsy shop soon, and offering this service for the knives I forge.

Here is the knife that generated the inspiration.

So now to subject of the title for this post. Today, I had a set of holdfasts to make for a customer and I’ve been wanting to add more YouTube videos to our channel. So I filmed as I made them. I had my photographer friend help some. I realized that you can just about quadruple the time it normally takes to make an item to film AND make it!

I also spent a couple of hours editing. I’m sure that will speed up as I go but for now it took quite a while.

If you have about 6 and a half minutes of your life that you don’t mind not getting back, have a look. If the link doesn’t work, just search “holdfasts project video” on YouTube.

We hope you all have a beautiful week, STAY WARM!!!!

We’ll keep you all posted on the laser engraving adventure,

All the best,


Right place at the right time…

I made my trades and got some treasures the other day, but today was the ultimate.

I made the trade with the truck,

That I traded for a rifle…

I didn’t really need a rifle, but it can be locked up and won’t lose value in storage. Unlike the truck that would eventually for sitting outside.

I had to pay cash (not much) for the next deal…we got a backhoe attachment for the three point hitch on the tractor! Look out tree stumps!!!!

These were decent trades, but like I said, today was the ultimate. I was at the wood shop were I get the exotic woods for my knife handles and I met a guy there and explained what I do. He then said that he had a bunch of scrap that would probably work for handles and I could have them for free. I went to his place a little later and got all of this..

16 different species of exotic lumber!! Nearly a half a truck full. That will keep me in knife handles for a long time. All for free!!

I was super excited about that score. In the spirit of my trading spirit, I plan on trading a portion of it to some other bladesmiths for different, hard to find, types of steel.

Awesome find of the month!

I also finished the rack for the Punt gun.

Again, if you aren’t familiar, a punt gun is a huge shotgun from the late 1800s to early 1900s when people were harvesting wild ducks for commercial purposes.

Now, I don’t own one, as I think its a bit (ok, a lot) ridiculous, but I got a commission to build a display rack for one. Its over 10 feet long and weighs about 87 pound. I had to build it strong enough to hold the gun, look rustic, and be able to be locked up. The build wasn’t particularly challenging, but the engineering plan was quite the job. It’s laying flat in this photo, but it will be mounted on a brick wall.

Good times, good times. Things are going well in the forge. I have 3 custom knife orders to complete and this weekend I have two classes to teach. Now, if I could just hurry up and get to August 24, 2022 (retirement date from “the day job”). Then I could get some really heavy duty work done, lol.

Hope you all have a great week, and we’d love to hear about any good deals you gotten lately, especially with trade or barter.

All the best,


Mud work and goals..

Being the beginning of a new year, I suppose its normal to make plans and set goals.

In 2018 we didn’t spend much time at the farm. This happened for a few reasons.

1. We have been really busy making things and working our day jobs.

2. We had the pleasure (sarcasm, of course) of riding out and working in the middle of hurricane Florence.

3. Until its paid off, we aren’t allowed to build anything permanent on the land.

So, for goals this year.

1. Hope to have the land paid off. The sooner the better. If we hustle, I think its attainable.

2. Add some drainage to the open and cleared areas of the farm.

3. Get more land cleared and graded.

Getting the land cleared should get a bit easier. I have found a deal for a backhoe attachment for the three point hitch on the tractor. The most difficult aspect of clearing is removing stumps. None of them are big, but there are a lot of them. Now I will be able dig them out quicker.

The drainage might be a must. Here on the coast we had 102.4 inches of rain in 2018. The neighbor a cross the road from the farm has lived there since 1978 and he says that he has never seen it that wet. He said that during the snowstorm a couple of weeks ago there was 16 inches of snow. With a clay heavy soil, things don’t drain too fast.

Yesterday, a friend of mine rode with me to retrieve our older truck and bring it back to the beach. That truck had been sitting there in the woods for almost 1.5 years. A quick jump start (dead battery) and it was ready to roll. Here’s the problem. That 946 foot driveway that I have cleared was a slick, clay, muddy mess.

It took nearly 30 minutes and a tractor to get our 2 wd truck out to the road, here’s how she looked after.

The old truck is 4 wd, and didn’t require the tractor. I got it out in about 10 minutes, but I was slinging mud like a fiend. Here’s what that one looked like after.

Now the reason we retrieved it was so that I could trade it. A friend of mine wants an old truck to use as his hunting truck. We really don’t need a second truck, so I agreed to trade it. He wants to trade it for an AR-10 rifle. Now, I don’t really need the rifle either, but, it can sit in the safe and not lose value. If that truck continued to sit out there in the woods, it Damn sure would lose value quickly. So the trade will be made.

I’m still in the middle of the huge shotgun rack commission, but I needed to make a flat platen attachment for my belt grinder.

I know that little video probably isn’t very exciting to most, but I was really tickled with how it came out.

So, more knives will be made soon, to help pay off the farm.

Just remember, custom requests are welcomed and encouraged.

We hope that you all have a wonderful year.

All the best,


Making new bolts look old…

I have said over and over that I LOVE custom orders.

I had a great time making a super sharp bill hook for some really great folks. Check out there wonderful blog..

This week, through a friend, I got a commission to build a gun rack.

Now, you might ask what’s so special about a gun rack?

Well…it’s for something called a “punt gun”. Prior to this I had never heard of one. Apparently, during the late 1800s and early 1900s some people would commercially harvest wild ducks and other birds. As with any commercial operation these guys wanted to increase their yield.

Somewhere along the way, someone went to a gunsmith and had them create a muzzleloading shotgun that is over 10 feet long and weighs over 85 pounds! The barrel itself is 2 1/2 inches a cross! This allowed them to shoot a large number of birds from a great distance. Seems a bit unfair to me and I’m glad that its now a display piece, but its still really interesting.

This one is estimated to mid 1800s.

That brings me to the challenge, and the title of this post.

I have to make hooks that mount to a board (prettied up, of course), and then mount that board to a brick wall. Gret big ol’ blacksmith engineering challenge. I started the hooks for the board and will have some photos later as they develop. He wants the whole thing to look a bit rustic, so we couldn’t just use regular store bought looking lag bolts to mount it to the wall. I took 8 lag bolts and converted the heads to be pyramid shaped in the old decorative style.

I really like the look of old bolts like that, and if I had my choice, all bolts would look that way!

So, even though they are new, they look nice and old fashioned now.

With me year coming up, here’s to you and here’s to hoping 2019 is a wonderful year full of challenges and success. Challenges are what builds us.

Happy New Year and all the best to you!


Busy, always keeping busy

First, and foremost, Maria and I hope that you all have a very, Merry Christmas!

As always, we have been busy. It’s something that we just seem to always be. Dealing with our day jobs isn’t nearly as much fun, but all the rest that we do doesn’t seem much like work.

We finally found time to run up to the farm. I haven’t been up there since summer and had no idea if the camper, tractor, etc..was even there. Luckily, everything was there and looked in pretty good shape.

Maria took a few photos on the way up. We aren’t quite in the mountains, but there are some hills nearby.

We talked to Mr. Brooks (who lives a cross the road from the farm) and he said that during the big snow storm last week there was about 16 inches of snow there on the farm. And we missed it!

Back in the forge, I took the knife that our online scammer had tried to get me to make for him and made something different. I turned it into a chopper type butcher knife, perfect for barbecue.

I also completed the steel and G10 sheath for the red and black hunter.

And, of course, that last photo still has a big fat thumbprint on the blade. Lol.

I was also able to finish up this beauty.

But, its not all about knives. I also came up with a flat platen attachment for my grinder. All fabricated by me. I have ordered some aluminum idler wheels for it as I just don’t trust the skateboard wheels. They weren’t designed for those rpms or that much force. But a true blacksmith makes as many or more tools than he/she buys.

Again, we hope you all have a beautiful Christmas, and we are looking forward to a new year. (Just that much closer to retirement from the day job, lol)

all the best and Merry Christmas,

Chad and Maria

Online scammers, and shuttin em down.


As many of you know, Maria and I have a shop on Etsy.

She sews and makes the most beautiful and vibrant tie dye I’ve ever seen, I on the other hand sell knives and other blacksmithing projects.

We believe that Etsy is a wonderful venue for small businesses that hand make their own items, sell vintage items or craft supplies.

Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, we occasionally get contacted by someone claiming that if we send then an item for free they will do a review for us. Mostly by Instagram, YouTube, etc. Well, this week I got one of those requests, again.

He sold his story well, claiming to be affiliated with a YouTube channel that specializes in survival techniques and equipment reviews with 300,000 subscribers.

I checked out the channel, and sure enough, they have that many subscribers and the videos were just as described. I was still very skeptical and told him so. He continued to reassure me that he was a post production guy.

So, I started work on the knife. I kept him updated by e-mail. He continued to be picky and particular. That in itself isn’t a red flag for a customer, but I continued to feel weird about it.

Maria finally said, “This dude just doesn’t sound right”.

I agreed. So I did a little more research and found that the company that he pretended to be representing had a web site. I contacted them and explained the situation. Big surprise…they had never heard of him.

Now, normally, I don’t care one way or another where our customers are from. We’ve had some great buyers from Hong Kong, Australia, Norway, Canada, Italy, and all over the U.S. I think that they are probably great people and we have actually had some wonderful correspondence with some.

This douche nozzle is not one of them.

I kept along with him and he sent me an address to send the knife to. I then did a little research.

I might not be as deadly or dramatic as Liam Neeson, but I too…have particular set of skills. Some of you know what I do at my “real job” and some don’t. Lets just say it involves figuring out what happened, who did it, and where they are.

I know all three about this punk.

He was arrested in 2015 for fraudulent use of a credit card and elder abuse because he tricked an 80 year old man into giving up his credit card info and then racking up $3000 in online purchases.

This time he picked the wrong one. I have been in contact with his hometown police department and expect a follow up to the investigation from them tomorrow. I am also exploring the option of swearing out felony warrants here in NC for obtaining property by false pretenses. They won’t extradite from California, but if he ever comes this way….got em.

With most homesteaders having some sort of small business as either their only income, or to supplement their income protection needs to be in place. With a lot of small online businesses, we are afraid to question someone. We fear that we will scare off that person. Here is a little secret though, if they are asking for something for free, they are not a customer.

Any legitimate entity that wants to do any kind of review of your items or products is generally willing to purchase them to review.

Take care of your customers. Maria and I try to go the extra mile for everyone that orders from us, but we will not be duped if we can help it.

Don’t let these pieces of…..well, you know, get over on you. Vet them out, if they are legit, then cool. If they are not, shut them down as best you can.

I debated with myself about including this d-bag’s photo and personal information. I decided against it. He knows who he is, he knows (or soon will) how much trouble he is going to be in. I think that’s enough for now.

I have, for years, been trying to break some bad habits that were formed and developed during my Marine Corps years. Swearing being the biggest. I think I have done pretty well, except when these….kinds of people crawl out from under their rocks. Sgt. Hollar then makes a reappearance and they get an ear full.

Bottom line, he picked the wrong one.

Maria and I hope you all have a wonderful week. Stay warm.

All the best,


Strengths and weaknesses….

Every person in this world has some things they are really good at and some things that they are not.

I have learned that I am good at metal work, and decent at wood working.

I have also learned that I am terrible at leatherwork, and nearly as bad at photography. Unfortunately, both of those things are needed to compliment, and ultimately sell the items that I make that I am good at.

Luckily, I have found a few people that are good at the things that I am not.

I have a guy that I work with at my day job that does excellent leather work and has made a few sheathes for me. Hopefully when he gets time he will make more.

I have two fellas that I work with that are photographers with nice cameras and a talented eye to match.

One such fella is Jason Williams (known as JD). He has taken a few product photos for me and filmed the outstanding YouTube video that we posted.

Unfortunately (but understandably) he moved away from the coast to the mountains. That puts him out of commuting range for product videos or photos.

Another friend though, Nathan Ramsey, has begun the journey to be a photographer. He came by the shop today because he wanted to practice some “action type” photography while I was working. It worked out because I was working on a bill hook knife for a custom order. I like making farm and homestead tools as much a I like making anything else.

Here are a few of his photos that he sent to me. Keep in mind, he went home and altered some of them with his editing software to learn and experiment.

He also did a silly “movie trailer” with some photos. The video quality isn’t the greatest, he said that he did this one on an app on his phone. Despite the video clarity, its still pretty good.

He took one of my knives on a road trip a couple of weeks ago to take some great photos.

I am very fortunate for my wonderful customers, especially the great folks looking for a custom order. I am also very lucky to have friends that are capable enough with others skills to help me complete those orders in the very best way I can.

Thank God for good friends and for both our strengths AND our weaknesses.

We hope that you all have a wonderful week!