FIF like or not thread

Ty Adams

KNIFE MAKER
FIF has had a big impact on the knife making community, good and bad. It seems anytime it's mentioned in a thread the original content is instantly lost, and the discussion drifts. I'm a fan of the show and watch it when time allows. Currently I'm only 24 episodes behind!

Today was one of those days that I wished the show was not on. A young man came into my work asking questions about knife making, bladesmithing to be more accurate. He was pointed in my direction by someone else for guidance in knifemaking. I told him that helping him with bladesmithing was out of my wheel house. But I could help with the heat treat of high carbon steel, and basic questions about knifemaking, not having a wealth of knowledge being a hobbiest maker. Then the discussion drifts to the use of jack hammer bits for knives like on FIF. No stroke on my end just frustration. We talked about the importance of using known steel and the reasonable expectation knives should have. The fact that when you sell a knife it's not just the knife you're selling its your name. I point him to the ABS and some other good resources like this forum. In fact I hope he joins and comments on this post.

So anytime I want to rant about FIF I'll bump this thread not high jack another.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
The repurposed steel thing seems to be a foundational concept of the blacksmith community. That and the general idea that abrasives are the devil and hand sanding is the domain of apostate heathens.

I actually like FiF. But they are just about to jump the shark in my opinion. The last episode I watched the knives had to have a hammer head incorporated to pound nails.
 

Kevin Zito

KNIFE MAKER
The show has plenty faults ... no question. It has in many ways miseducated the public, and, at the very least, put forth unrealistic expectations of knives and knife makers. I understand why so many highly skilled makers avoid it at all costs. There is NO WAY that I would sign up for a math gameshow judged by non mathematicians. Furthermore, if the contest would be setup for me to lose, I’d be further out the door. You simply do not “play” with your profession. I will also say that watching such a game show would drive me insane, and inevitably give me chest pains.

BUT... and this is a biggie...

No FiF, no cuts all over my hands, no permanent 3” scar on my wrist from a red hot piece of D2, no filing at 3AM, no 50,000 print outs of bowies, drop point hunters, and J. Doyle handles, no dreaming about 12 and 14 inch contact wheels and baldor motors with vfd’s, ... and the list goes on. Simply put .... no FiF no passion. I have a feeling, and could be wrong, that I’ll be trying to make knives for as long as I’m physically able. I have to, at least in part, thank that silly show for who I now consider myself to be.
 

DanF

Well-Known Member
I have strong feelings about the show. Well, not so much the show as the segment of the watching population that thinks FIF is the bladesmith's bible and all good bladesmiths should be at the junkyard searching for mystery steel for indestructable knives.
I have only watched the show twice but hear repeatedly and endlessly from the mindless minions who are fans about how ,"you should do like so and so on FIF, those are real knives!".
I just shake my head and mentally walk away now.
 

Ty Adams

KNIFE MAKER
The show has plenty faults ... no question. It has in many ways miseducated the public, and, at the very least, put forth unrealistic expectations of knives and knife makers. I understand why so many highly skilled makers avoid it at all costs. There is NO WAY that I would sign up for a math gameshow judged by non mathematicians. Furthermore, if the contest would be setup for me to lose, I’d be further out the door. You simply do not “play” with your profession. I will also say that watching such a game show would drive me insane, and inevitably give me chest pains.

BUT... and this is a biggie...

No FiF, no cuts all over my hands, no permanent 3” scar on my wrist from a red hot piece of D2, no filing at 3AM, no 50,000 print outs of bowies, drop point hunters, and J. Doyle handles, no dreaming about 12 and 14 inch contact wheels and baldor motors with vfd’s, ... and the list goes on. Simply put .... no FiF no passion. I have a feeling, and could be wrong, that I’ll be trying to make knives for as long as I’m physically able. I have to, at least in part, thank that silly show for who I now consider myself to be.
Kevin I understand the fact that it has ignited a passion for many people to start making knives. You are one of the lucky few that found a place to learn and grow. Generally you won't get misinformed on this forum, and if you are it is corrected by experienced makers. Most don't get that luxury, they join a Facebook group where 70 % of the information is incorrect. Because the masses on those sites want to believe they know everything when you try to give a good real world honest answer, experienced makers are called out, and sometimes belittled. I enjoy FIF they should show some of the smiths work when they are not under a time constraint. That would be realistic and might steer some in the right direction.
 

Rick Otts

Well-Known Member
I got a old Blade mag which I scan often.I believe it's from 2016 and a guy says he would never buy a knife who lowered himself to go on that show.So take it from there guys.Ed knew better than play that crazy game.
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
This is a good post and I've enjoyed reading the responses thus far.
My thoughts on FIF. I, among countless others (most likely) used this as the catalyst to start making knives. For me the desire or a passion to make knives started many, many years ago. Would I have started making knives prior to FIF, most likely, but it did rekindle my spark and got me off my duff to do something I always intended to do.
FIF seems to have a strong following, even among the general population who watch it (IMHO) for the entertainment venue only. It has also had it's impact on tangibles that impact knife making, both good and bad. I've heard complaints about ( 'since that show....') materials have gone up in price, especially items like anvils and associated items. Whether they have or not, I'm not sure since I wasn't in the market pre FIF.
Now for the show itself. I think there is an element of education in most every show. There is also an element of pure reality TV that isn't rooted in the real world of knife making. You can hear those comments, at times, when some of the contestants have been eliminated and walking off the set, with just as many saying what a positive learning experience it was for them.
I, for one feel like I have learned from watching the show, but I also separate the reality TV part from the true trade. I watch it for what it is, enjoy it and if I can find a nugget I take it.
It may be running its course, as a couple of recent 'home forge builds' have been, in my opinion outliers for what the show is about.
With all that said, I'm still amazed at some of the true craftsmanship that is sometimes shown on that show.
 

Chris Railey

Well-Known Member
That is a good point OPaul. I was studying blacksmithing before the show started because I can remember the buzz on other forums about this upcoming knife making show. But I do not think I was making knives at that time. I know I made a few chisels up to that point but In all honesty the show more than likely did ignite an interest in forging blades too. The show does have value in that it has inspired many others to start making something with their hands. It really does not matter what drew someone to making knives the point is they were drawn. It is up to them to STUDY the craft and improve. On the last point about the popularity of the show driving material prices up I will testify to that because since the show gained in popularity and has spiked interest, the cost of anything with the word blacksmith associated with it has spiked too. I got my first anvil, a Peter Wright with half of the tool steel plate missing, for free. I paid $300 for my next anvil, a 137# Peter Wright in really good condition. Now people ask $700-$900 for an anvil close to mine in most cases. In fact, I advise everyone who asks me to buy a new anvil rather than a 100 year old anvil for the same price. At least you will have a warranty on the new anvil. Now as to what anvil to buy that is a can of worms I will not open here.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
As to the positive aspects of the show, I have gained tremendous respect for what some guys can do in a couple of hours. I know I couldn’t.

When I get asked about going on FiF, my reply is “No, thank you. That show makes fools of much better makers than I am. Every maker on that show turns out work 100x better than what you see. The show is designed to produce failure from makers who would never accept failure under real conditions.”
 

kuraki

Active Member
I made a few knives in my life prior to Forged in Fire, starting after I read an Field and Stream article on how to make a knife from a file when I was 14. Over the last decade I'd been waffling between investing money into a shop set up for gunsmithing or knife making. Because I've worked in well equipped machine shops nearly my entire life, I can't stand doing something at home "half way" like making knives with hand files, I simply don't have the patience. In 2015 when I saw Forged in Fire, I decided "I can do this" and built a grinder. Then a forge and I found an anvil. Then a better grinder. Then a better shop, a better forge, a forging press, a mill...and then in September 2017 I went to Brooklyn and filmed the FIF episode I was on, which aired in June 2018.

I really don't ever hear much about "like they do on Forged in Fire..." from customers or people who want to learn from me. Only on the internet. What I do hear personally is pretty easy to correct and understandable given the individuals perspective.

I don't regret going on the show, I had the time of my life. The crew was fantastic. The judges were wonderful to meet. I met 3 guys who I got along with instantly and keep in touch with over a year later. I would absolutely go back if asked.

I also understand why a full time maker with good business would choose not to. He doesn't have PTO. He loses 2 weeks of work he can't get back, for the chance to win what, maybe $6,000 after taxes and nothing for 2nd place. He risks doing something or saying something stupid to a very broad audience that negatively impacts his brand image, even through no fault of his own. For me, there was no risk. Only positives. I got a 2 week destination vacation, my name in front of hundreds of thousands of people and the chance to win some cash on the top. For someone making their living making knives, there's much more risk.

My opinion is the only thing FIF has really done is raised awareness and interest in this little niche commodity we all like to produce. Have prices of materials gone up? Sure, but so in turn has the selection and availability of those materials. You can pick up your phone and have aerospace carbon fiber or titanium fasteners or boutique blade steels or abrasives not even available 10 years ago delivered to your door in days. I'm sure with more makers, the market for custom knives and prices has also softened, even considering the increased customer interest, but that's every manufacturing market ever, adapt, overcome, carve a niche, or wither on the vine. Competition makes us all better.

FIF is a game show. It's a game show about following rules and taking calculated risks with the knowledge and ability you bring to the table. It's also a winning formula, season 1 was only 8 episodes, but season 5 is 40.

I think it's done "us" more good than harm. I certainly don't think "can I make knives from this junk steel I found on the side of the road" is the shows fault. Search any forum and you'll find that going back to before the internet.
 

Gliden07

Well-Known Member
I agree with Kevin, I wanted to do this a long time ago but had no way to do it. I was a young kid in an analog world with no money. Then life happened school, job family etc... etc... 30 years later show starts and sparks my interest again, the internet makes it much easier. This forum made a huge impact on the way I build my knives. The knowledge on here is unbelievable. I like to think I've made some contributions on here to help really new knife makers here (cause much of this is new still to me!). Plus the FiF show has resurrected a dying art of Blacksmithing, which is cool! People really have to take the show for what it is entertainment a contest that's it. I think the only real bad thing about FiF is the price of Blacksmithing equipment is through the roof now!
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
I made a few knives in my life prior to Forged in Fire, starting after I read an Field and Stream article on how to make a knife from a file when I was 14. Over the last decade I'd been waffling between investing money into a shop set up for gunsmithing or knife making. Because I've worked in well equipped machine shops nearly my entire life, I can't stand doing something at home "half way" like making knives with hand files, I simply don't have the patience. In 2015 when I saw Forged in Fire, I decided "I can do this" and built a grinder. Then a forge and I found an anvil. Then a better grinder. Then a better shop, a better forge, a forging press, a mill...and then in September 2017 I went to Brooklyn and filmed the FIF episode I was on, which aired in June 2018.

I really don't ever hear much about "like they do on Forged in Fire..." from customers or people who want to learn from me. Only on the internet. What I do hear personally is pretty easy to correct and understandable given the individuals perspective.

I don't regret going on the show, I had the time of my life. The crew was fantastic. The judges were wonderful to meet. I met 3 guys who I got along with instantly and keep in touch with over a year later. I would absolutely go back if asked.

I also understand why a full time maker with good business would choose not to. He doesn't have PTO. He loses 2 weeks of work he can't get back, for the chance to win what, maybe $6,000 after taxes and nothing for 2nd place. He risks doing something or saying something stupid to a very broad audience that negatively impacts his brand image, even through no fault of his own. For me, there was no risk. Only positives. I got a 2 week destination vacation, my name in front of hundreds of thousands of people and the chance to win some cash on the top. For someone making their living making knives, there's much more risk.

My opinion is the only thing FIF has really done is raised awareness and interest in this little niche commodity we all like to produce. Have prices of materials gone up? Sure, but so in turn has the selection and availability of those materials. You can pick up your phone and have aerospace carbon fiber or titanium fasteners or boutique blade steels or abrasives not even available 10 years ago delivered to your door in days. I'm sure with more makers, the market for custom knives and prices has also softened, even considering the increased customer interest, but that's every manufacturing market ever, adapt, overcome, carve a niche, or wither on the vine. Competition makes us all better.

FIF is a game show. It's a game show about following rules and taking calculated risks with the knowledge and ability you bring to the table. It's also a winning formula, season 1 was only 8 episodes, but season 5 is 40.

I think it's done "us" more good than harm. I certainly don't think "can I make knives from this junk steel I found on the side of the road" is the shows fault. Search any forum and you'll find that going back to before the internet.

All good points Kuraki!
I watch Walter Sorrels you tube videos and he talks about his experience on FIF and how positive it was, especially the comradery part which you also mentioned.

Another aspect of the show which I really look forward to are the home shop takes. I've seen state of the art purpose built buildings all the way to prefab metal buildings. In like, the tools and equipment range from bare bones to extreme.

All in all, I think the show has been on the positive side.
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
John Wilson's post made me think of a story I got told from the early 80's(before the dot com bust...don't know of the truth of this...but a good story).

Every stock broker thought they were a genius...most young and never experienced a bear market....

Some journalist gets the idea to pit 3 chimpanzees against 3 stockbrokers on stock picks for 6 mos...then publish the results.

Chimps win. Point is...the brokers took a suckers bet...If they had won, no big deal...how is should be experts vs chimps. Chimps win...prolly lookin' for new job...and maybe a name change...lol. A no win situation...lol.

Sometimes FIF seems like that....
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A young guy wants to build knives in town...can he come over and learn? Sure.

Then finds out I don't forge....no interest what-so-ever. Plenty to learn here...was working in dad's shop at 12, trade school at 15-18, tool and gage making apprenticeship at 19....CNC foreman for 12 yrs...etc. I know a couple things....

He moves away...making sandwiches professionally (no shame there but he wanted to make knives to put himself through college)

two years later(2018) His little brother approaches me...wants to learn knife making...."DO YOU FORGE KNIVES...??!!" nope.

"Well, if you want to learn you could watch FIF...they make amazing stuff!!" his disappointment obvious...I tell him, "Hey you should look up Bob Loveless...he made some amazing stuff...."

Once again...no interest...has seen my shop...1800sq ft PACKED WITH EQUIPMENT.....I don't get it...there is a lot to knife making besides hammering hot metal...even if you don't get to learn forging...

FIF....snerk...is it really helping?
 

Ty Adams

KNIFE MAKER
Some real world experience from a contestant! Thank you for posting Kuraki.
It seems most are fine with the way FIF shows the knife making community. For me I'll continue too look at knife making as a marathon not a race. The end product is more important than how you got there.
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
Honestly...I am not a speed demon...I get nervous for those guys...and don't watch very often...just for that reason. I would fail miserably under those parameters...even if I could forge...lol
 

Mark Knapp

Dealer - Purveyor
I have been on the show, and win or lose, it was one of the most fun things I have ever done. If you go into it with the idea that you're doing it for all the right reasons: to have fun, to be challenged, to be taken out of your comfort zone, to do something you've never done before. If you go into it with those things in mind, you are already a winner. My episode was season 4 episode 20 if you want to check it out, there's also a bonus clip that's pretty good.

You need to keep in mind what the objectives of the show are to make good TV, that's it. Not to see who's the best knife maker, not to teach knife making, not see what the best knives can be made of and not to further the careers of any knife makers. It's just to make good TV, and they are apparently doing that given it's huge popularity.

Some of the wrong reasons to go on the show; to further your knife making business, show everybody that you can dominate, to make ten thousand bucks or to prove something.

I can't think of very many negatives of the show, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives in my mind.
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
I have been on the show, and win or lose, it was one of the most fun things I have ever done. If you go into it with the idea that you're doing it for all the right reasons: to have fun, to be challenged, to be taken out of your comfort zone, to do something you've never done before. If you go into it with those things in mind, you are already a winner. My episode was season 4 episode 20 if you want to check it out, there's also a bonus clip that's pretty good.

You need to keep in mind what the objectives of the show are to make good TV, that's it. Not to see who's the best knife maker, not to teach knife making, not see what the best knives can be made of and not to further the careers of any knife makers. It's just to make good TV, and they are apparently doing that given it's huge popularity.

Some of the wrong reasons to go on the show; to further your knife making business, show everybody that you can dominate, to make ten thousand bucks or to prove something.

I can't think of very many negatives of the show, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives in my mind.
Mark I just went back and looked at that episode. I applaud your patience and demeanor! The knife you turned out in the three hour limit was unbelievable and of course the winning weapon was awesome as well! Well done sir!

I have to ask - do they get to keep everything that is made for the show?
 
Top