A little more progress and being tired!!!

We finally got back up to the farm this past weekend, I realized that it had been since December that we’ve been up there. Dealing with the day job and the wisdom teeth issue (completely headache free since then, btw) and being generally busy made it tough. And I missed it terribly.

Anyway. I got up there early, put down some old carpet for the road bed, and made a lumber run. I got all of the 2x6s necessary for the trusses, and the plywood for the roof.

I was able to unload and mark all the boards by the time Maria arrived. She and I set up an assembly line of sorts and had them cut in what seemed like no time. Then we started building trusses.

We started hanging them one at a time as we built them. That was a very slow process, even with two of us.

There’s my girl, she really likes to take farm photos with the selfie angle. Lol

That guy in the back almost looks like a cowboy with a drill instead of a six gun…hmm

Late in the day, Maria had to return home. So after that I was on my own. Then things got difficult.

I continued to build trusses, but instead of hanging them one at a time I built them all and just set them up. Then I went back and stood them up, braced them and then secured them. It was still slow but it seemed more efficient for one person.

At the end of the day I was 3/4 done and I was absolutely exhausted. I crawled into the camper and passed out. After about 11 hours of sleep, I got up, had a fantastic breakfast (as usual when I’m cooking at the farm) and did some stretching. I then got back to work.

I finally got the rest of the trusses up and secured. The real fun began after that!

If you’ve never sheeted a roof by yourself, and you’re looking for a challenge…then give it a try. I’ll be perfectly honest, it whipped my ass!

I did get it done, but wow, was I tired!

I closed up the camper and packed up just around dark. I then made that 3.5 hour drive back to the beach. And that was a job in itself.

I spent the next couple of days at the day job pissing and moaning about how sore I was. But at home in the forge I was able to make my first friction folder. I’m pretty proud of how it came out. Its got a 4.5 inch blade and a leopard wood handle.

There she is, prior to finishing the handle. Its all sanded, it just needs to be oiled.

Anyway, this one ended up waaaay longer than planned.

As always, we hope you have a great week! And hopefully a week and a half from now we will have the cabin dried in! Yay!!

All the best,



All finished with the draw knife.

I did a quick post sharing a YouTube video that I can’t stop listening to. That post was just a lark for a little bit of fun. This one is to show the finished project from yesterday.

Its made from 1095 high carbon and some mild steel. The handles are leopard wood with brass bolsters.

I’m pretty proud of it, and the fella it was made for is tickled.

Hope you all have a great week!


Feeling honored, and loving custom orders…

This post is kind of a two parter.

Part 1.

I received an e-mail through our Etsy shop inquiring about the classes I’ve been teaching. This wasn’t a huge surprise as I am relatively active in the Etsy forums and a lot of those folks know that I was on Forged in Fire and that I am now teaching.

The surprising part is that the young lady that wants to take some classes is from Pennsylvania! She really wants to travel all the way from Pennsylvania to Southeastern North Carolina, just to take classes with me!

I am truly honored that someone would be willing to travel that far just to learn from me. Wow..just blown away.

Part 2.

I have friend who had me make a set of holdfasts for him recently. He texted today to ask if I could make a draw knife for him. I told him that I actually had an old vintage one that I’ve had for years and only paid a couple of dollars for.

That thing has been hanging on the wall in the shop for ever. I took it down and started to clean the surface that off of it in preparation to sharpen it. What I found was a makers mark on it.

I had to do a little research and found out that it was made by the D.R. Barton company in Syracuse NY. That company logo was used from 1832 until around 1931!!! So, at a minimum, that thing is at least 87 years old! I had to call him back and tell him that I couldn’t possibly give that one up, but I would be more than happy to make him a new one based on the specs from the old one. He completely understood and I started work on his.

As a blacksmith/Bladesmith, I enjoy making all kinds of different things. But one of my favorite projects is to make and recreate old woodworking tools. This is the new one so far, and I hope that in 87+ years this one will be hanging on someone’s shop wall. If all goes well, I will have it finished up tomorrow, maybe I will be able to post some photos of it..

All the best,


School, work, fun….

This weekend has been a steady, but relaxing stream of good things.

Maria worked on several sewing projects while spending a little time with her brother who is in town for a couple of days.

I had a follow up class to teach this weekend. I only had 1 student this round. His partner was unable to attend.

Shane did a great job on his first knife. Turning the flag looking stock into a blacksmiths knife.

As I was supervising and guiding him, I worked on a knife my self. The idea for this one has been rolling around in my head for a while.

I made a Bowie with differential heat treat and a hamon. It’s got a mokume gane guard, a hidden tang inside a handle made from eucalyptus wood, and buffalo horn with some thin brass spacers between layers.

That was all on Saturday. Then on Sunday, Maria and I went on a little bit of an adventure. A friend of mine from work had won a drawing for 10 free spots at a local, tactical, indoor laser tag arena.

This was a really good time. Especially for someone like me who, for the last 27 years, has been dealing with tactical situations. It wasn’t your standard plastic, toy looking guns. The “weapons” were realistic and felt that way.

For those who don’t believe in guns, or think this might be a twisted way to have fun, I apologize. However, I do believe that the skills learned here are a great skill to possess. 4 of my coworkers and I used it as a great training exercise, increasing our chances of coming home alive at the end of the shift when this stuff is happening for real.

I did realize that I am no longer the wide open throttle, hard charging, young Lance Corporal I once was!

Most tactical situations I get into now last from 1- 8 minutes, max. Then its over, the bad guy is in custody, and the paperwork begins. This one was 1.5 hours of straight running and gunning in a multi-story urban environment. I am now tired and a more than a little bit sore. Lol

A great after action photo of me and my squad mates, some significant others (including my gorgeous maria, second from the left, next to me in the back), and one son..a whole lot of fun and a good work out. Oh by the way…GO BLUE TEAM!!

Maria and I hope you all have a wonderful week. I might go soak in some Epsom salts.

All the best,


Next step for Blacksmithing class..

I have taught a few classes now of the basic class. They have been going well and I plan on stepping up the advertising for them now that I have gotten rid of the migraines.

A theme that I’ve picked up from my students so far is that they aren’t all that interested in decorative blacksmithing. I believe, due in part to the popularity of Forged in Fire, that they are more inclined to to make knives and blades. I can understand that I suppose. They are wanting to be cool, and lets face it, making a beautiful knife is pretty badass.

One challenge for me is coming up with a syllabus for the classes. Knowing where to go next without totally throwing away the knowledge gained in the prior lesson is tough. I think I have finally figured that out.

In the Basic class, they make a scrolled “s” hook. This helps them learn to taper and move metal in it’s plastic state. It also gives them some experience with twisting.

So, for the next installment I’ve decided to have a full 8 hour class and make a “blacksmith’s knife”. That way they will still use, and practice, the skills they learned in the first class, and also add some new skills. Now they will have to design a blade profile, move metal, and start to grind and polish a blade.

I think that for part 3 it will be a 2 day endeavor with making a knife, polishing it, and completing the fit and finish for handle material. Which, in itself, can take a day or more to complete when making a knife.

For part 2 they will turn this:

Into something that looks something like this:

So, even though I am teaching my students how to smith, this process is teaching me much more.

As always, if you find yourself in southeastern North Carolina and would like to take a class, let me know. My schedule is pretty flexible and I can set up a class nearly any day of the week.

Here’s to hoping you all have a great week!


Looking for redemption

As any of you that have been following our blog will know, I was on the History Channel show Forged In Fire last year.

I have been smithing now for a few years. I am self (and YouTube) taught. I have sold a good number of hand forged knives and all my customers seem to be happy.

I was on the Shamshir episode, season 4 episode 13. On that episode we were tasked with making a D guard Bowie knife. I had a plan for time management and completion of the project. One problem…I deviated from that plan. I hardened the blade prior to completing my grinding. This doesn’t prevent you from grinding the blade, but it adds A TON of time to the project. At the end of round one I had pre-drilled the holes for my handle material and started the D guard stock for round 2. Unfortunately, I was unable to pretty up the blade and the other smiths did. So I was eliminated.

The judges commented after (off camera) that in 3/4 of the episodes my blade would have gone through to round 2 hands down. I had no cracks, and no warps…it just wasn’t as pretty as the others.

Once I got home I made the same knife in my forge so I could show that it could be done (by me). It quickly sold.

This is a screen grab from the show.

The other guys on the show were great, and the cast and crew were absolutely fantastic.

Of course, some memes were made..

So anyway, season 5 starts on March 13th. Which means they have already been filming. In years past they have given some of the contestants a “redemption” episode. Some were fan favorites, some were judge’s choice, and some were just picked. I have no idea if they plan on that this season, but I would love a second shot.

So this is were I ask for your help. I am not really on any social media or know how to go about starting any kind of campaign for a redemption spot.

If anyone wants to help, all I ask is to start putting it out there in the social media world…Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever else you can think of….let them know that Chad Hollar should be invited back. I don’t know if I was particularly entertaining or not (even though I did kind of challenge Will Willis to a yelling contest, lol) but I would appreciate any help that anyone is willing to give.

If you know any of the judges, feel free to name drop.:-)

Thanks to all of you, it still amazes, and humbles me that you all follow our blog.

All the best,


On the mend…

Well, it seems that the migraine adventure is over. I was originally scheduled to go to the dentist on the 27th, but they called last week and moved my appointment up to this past Friday.

Now, when it comes to dentists visits, I’m a huge baby. I have cut the tip of my finger nearly off with a table saw and driven myself to the hospital, I’ve been burnt, cut, and smashed on a regular basis in the forge but I completely FREAK out for a dentist appointment.

The dentist I decided to go to uses, valium, laughing gas (more on that in a minute), and a technique where they place electrodes on your neck that trick your brainwaves into thinking that you are dreaming.

Of course with the valium, Maria had to drive me to the appointment. I was still super nervous, but I was going to make it.

They took me in the back, hooked me up to the “dream generator” and started giving me the gas. I wasn’t doing too bad so they started numbing things up. At that point, they didn’t feel like the gas was doing what it should so they bumped up the flow a bit. From that moment on, I had a REALLY good time! I was telling the dentist how awesome my wife was, how I had a dream that she and I were in Smokey and The Bandit 2 and we were smuggling an elephant! AND then…the real humor started.

They needed to remove 4 teeth. 3 wisdom teeth and 1 adjacent tooth. I suppose with that much nitrous oxide, every time I felt or heard a tooth crack I would absolutely lose my shit and laugh loudly and maniacally.

I laughed hard enough and loud enough that Maria could hear me from the waiting room. I also had another doctor come in and say that her patients were jealous that they weren’t having as a good a time as I was.

Its been 3 days, I’m still pretty sore and swollen since they had to do a bone graft as well, but I’m on the mend. Maria has been taking wonderful care of me.

I’m really not looking forward to my follow up appointment. I’m super I will be embarrassed as hell, but at least Maria knows how much I truly love her….she is my Sally Field to my Burt Reynolds…lol

No pictures this week, nobody needs to see that.

All the best,


Trying to stay motivated, and some good news..

Hey everybody, it has been a while since I posted anything, and I feel terrible about it.

I’ve had some pretty rough weeks lately. I’ve been suffering from some pretty bad headaches and found out that my wisdom teeth need to come out. So, I’ve got that to look forward to. Feeling as bad as I have its kept me from getting much done, both at the farm and in the forge.

Today though, Maria and I got a bit of good news and it helped to boost my mood.

A friend of mine at work is a huge “Nightmare on Elm Street” fan. Why, I don’t know, but he is. So, last year he asked if I could make him a fully operational Freddy Krueger glove. With the blades and all. I make knives pretty regularly, but I had never made the ‘Arnold’s type articulated fingers. It was quite a challenge, but I thought it came out well, and my friend Dan loved it.

Today he sent some photos from the Mad Monster convention in Charlotte, NC. Apparently he got to meet Robert England (the guy who played Freddy). Dan took the glove along and it seems that Mr. England approved of the glove and even signed it!!!! How cool is that? To make a movie reproduction and have the actor approve!!!

So this bit of news helped to boost my mood. Hopefully, once the wisdom teeth get gone and the headaches are over I will have my energy and focus back. We’ve got a ton of work to do at the farm, and a bunch of smithing projects in my head.

Maria and I hope you all have a wonderful week.

All the best,


Everybody should know a guy…..

So, I call myself a Blacksmith, mainly focusing on knife making. In a roundabout way then a Bladesmith. However, in the true sense of being a Blacksmith, I make a lot of different things. Some guys I work with and some other friends are woodworkers and tend to look for special tools that they can’t buy at the local hardware store.

That’s when it’s  nice to be able to say, “I know a guy”.

That line has become a bit if an inside joke at work (my other day job). Anything somebody is thinking about needing they always say “I know a guy”.

I was challenged by one friend who does very fine woodworking, he wanted a birdcage awl. Done.

I made it from 5160 high carbon steel with a maple burl handle. Done, he knows a guy. Lol

I can also embellish existing tools or items. I had a friend bring me a pistol grip shifter handle for a classic car that he is restoring. The steering wheel is steel and Rose wood. He wants the grip of the shifter to match. 

And not by any request, but just for giggles I made a large, stainless steel die. It’s 2.5 inches cubed and weighs just over 4 pounds. How would that be for a yahtzee set?

So, if you need something made, tools, parts, toys, or repairs, don’t forget to ask your local blacksmith. They just might surprise you. Then you can tell people “I know a guy/gal”

Maria and I hope that you all have wonderful New Year!