I had the privilege to compete on History Channel's television series, Forged in Fire, in 2021. It was an amazing experience and I had fun eery step of the way. Let me break it down for you...

Round 1 & 2

It was timed and we had one hour less than normal which was definitely a challenge. I chose to create a 14" ladder pattern Damascus chopper with full tang handle. It went really smooth and I liked the way the recurved blade ended up being strong enough to chop through the metal clock test and still remained sharp for the tube cutting. The funniest part was when I cut myself on the drill press and my billet almost delaminated, that made for some good tv right?

Round Three

Got to go back home to Santa Ynez to create a Filipino headhunters axe at my home forge. I had three days to finish a full axe which was one less than normal for the show. I decided to make a Damascus billet to start, thinking it may give me a heads up in competition plus I wanted to show my skillset off. The shape was very strange and I hadn't made anything like it before, so that was challenging. I focused on how the handle would attach to the blade securely so it would make it through all of the testing. I ended up finding a crack in the tang so I had to cut it off and re-forge weld the tang back on, that made me pretty nervous. It all ended up ok in the end though. When the blade was done, I also made a Damascus collar for around the top and fit up a handle out of maple wood. I used maple wood because it is super strong and I am glad I thought about that in the end. I had just enough time before heading back to the competition to wood burn some cool Filipino symbols into the handle to give it a decorative finish. The end product looked great and I was really proud of it.


When we returned to the set our axes underwent some hard tests. The first test, the Kill test, honestly shock me a bit my axe was so sharp the dummies head went rolling onto the floor towards my feet. I couldn't stop smiling, which they later made a meme of because I looked like an idiot haha. The second test was the strength test, they chopped bamboo and a cattle skull. My axe held up well and unfortunately for my competitor thats when his handle broke. In the moment, I didn't fully comprehend what had just happened, it was all sort of nerve racking. But I was named the Forged in Fire champion and am proud of my achievement. The best part was calling my family to let them know. 

February 16, 2022 — Jordan Kepler