Keeping the Forge Fires Burning

Keeping the Forge Fires Burning - Brown County Forge COVID-19

Updated June 13, 2020

Two and a half months later and things are approaching a new normal at the shop.

During the lock-down I was able to offer multiple sales on handmade hardware through my Etsy store. The results of those sales were a nice surprise in an uncertain time.

When the stay-at-home order was lifted in mid-May, I restarted classes with added safety measures.

Classes will continue through November 15, 2020 by appointment. After November 15 I will no longer be teaching in-person blacksmithing classes.

After 5 years and nearly 800 students projects, it’s time to forge a new path for the shop.

What follows below is the original post from March 27, 2020.

How Brown County Forge is Dealing with COVID-19

The economic and health impacts of COVID-19 have affected countless businesses in Indiana, across the country, and around the world.

Brown County Forge is no different.

Much of my business centers on inviting people into my shop to learn how to blacksmith.

In a time when close personal interaction has become a health risk, the blacksmith classes that sustain my business are not possible.

The other half of my business is creating handmade hardware for people around the country.

This has also taken a hit recently as people shift their focus to spending money on necessities and holding on to savings.

Accepting Reality

While this is tough for a small business, I’ve accepted the realities of the situation.

It may be a while before people are financially secure enough to support handmade goods.

I’m also preparing for a long wait when it comes to welcoming folks into the shop again.

However, with both of these realities in mind I’ve been working on ways to Keep the Forge Fires Burning in the meantime.

I’m humbly suggesting the following two options as ways to support blacksmithing as a craft and Brown County Forge in particular.

These are only if you feel comfortable spending the money. The first goal is to keep yourself and your family secure. The second is to help your community. Anything after that should feel extremely optional.

Two Ways to Support Blacksmithing and BCF

When the news started coming in that the COVID-19 pandemic would be very serious, I started creating ways to offer what I do at a much lower cost.

To keep Brown County Forge running in uncertain times I’m offering:

The Sale on hardware so far has encouraged 8 new customers to make purchases in the past week.

Even at a reduced price, this is extremely helpful for keeping the shop going.

So far, 1 new student has signed up for the Online Blacksmithing Course since the $5 deal was put in place.

Even one new student in our community of 95+ online students is very encouraging.

In the coming weeks I will continue to find ways to bring blacksmithing to people. It remains a great trade and a great way to relieve stress.

Thanks for Being a Friend of the Forge!

If either of the two options above appeal to you, I’m very grateful for your support. You can click on either blue link above to get the deals.

If you can’t manage it at the moment, I completely understand. It also helps considerably if you share posts like this, Share the Books I’ve written, or just talk about blacksmithing with friends and family while you’re hunkered down.

What I’m Personally Doing These Days

My days have been boiled down to:

  • Checking on family members: Through phone calls, texts, and social media.
  • Staying healthy: Getting outside for solo hikes, riding my bike to run errands, and cooking at home.
  • Helping my community where I can: Through local food banks and aid organizations.
  • Finding ways to bring free information to people interested in blacksmithing (Like this blog and my other blog).
  • Relaxing as much as possible: It may be one of the most difficult parts of this whole situation, but it’s one of the most important. Focusing on doing things that relax rather than excite keeps me calm. Watching comedies rather than dramas, for example. Reading books rather than the news (some is necessary, but there’s a limit).

With those 5 main things, I’m managing OK through all of this. I hope you are, too.

Thanks for Reading and Stay Safe!

Terran Marks the Blacksmith - Brown County Forge - Blacksmithing Classes


Knife Making Kits Review

DIY Knife Making - Terran Marks
*NOT from a knife making kit.

Brown County Forge’s Knife Making Kits Review

In general, kits are a fun way to start on a new hobby.

They are generally inexpensive and have easy-to-follow instructions.

Whether it’s beer-making or open fire cooking, many kits meet or exceed expectations.

One type of kit that has become pretty popular in recent years is the “knife making” kit.

One kit in particular seems to stand out above the rest:

Man Crates Knife Making Kit

In today’s post, I’m going to break down what’s bad and what’s good about Man Crates’ Kit (and other kits like it).

“Not Knife Making” – Customer Review on Man Crates’ website

If you go through the reviews on Man Crates Knife Making Kit, you will see a cascade of five stars.

Many customers had a great time handling their knives.

BUT that’s really all it is.

The steel portion of the knife is already shaped, sharpened, and heat treated.

All you need to do to “make your knife” is attach your wood pieces and pins with epoxy and shape the handle.

From that review above:

“This isn’t a knife making kit, it’s simply a knife handle making kit. The blade comes already shaped and sharpened. Just not as cool.”

You should be the final judge of the quality and value of the kit, but at $149.99 it just doesn’t seem worth it (in this professional’s opinion).

Note: Their Folding Knife Kit (Amazon affiliate link) seems to fair better in terms of Reviews. This could be due to the added skill involved in attaching the handle and dealing with the locking mechanism. Folders are more complicated than fixed blades.

Other Knife “Making” Kits

Jantz Supply in Oklahoma also offers knife making kits through their website:

Most of their kits range from $5.95 to $19.95 with a few rare exceptions over $100.

These are usually large specialty blades. Example: Their 13-inch long Carina Chef blade in V10 Damascus.

With that knife kit, you’re paying for the quality of the material more than anything.

But again, if you want to actually make your knife from start to finish, this is a Knife Handling Kit.

Nothing against Jantz Supply and their well-crafted products. They have been a leader in knifemaking education and supplies since the mid-1960s.

How to Make Legitimate Knives from Start to Finish

Making a Stock Removal Knife - Brown County Forge

In DIY Knife Making – Bushcraft Knives, we start by selecting our steel by carbon content. All information about where to find the right steel is provided.

Scandinavian Grind Bushcraft Knives - DIY Knife Making

Together, with step-by-step instructions, we go through how to cut, grind, shape, and sharpen a knife blank.

Bush Knife Tempering - DIY Knife Making

We’ll go over how to properly heat treat knives – Hardening AND Tempering.

Using a Rasp to Make a Knife Handle - DIY Knife Making

You’ll learn the necessary steps to make handle scales and attach them with an easy method.

DIY Knife Making - Terran Marks

And, if you’ve followed the guide from front to back, you will end up with a knife you made from start to finish.

Over the course of 108 pages, 60 Full-Color photos, multiple examples, and a printable knife template, you will gain the ability to truly make a knife.

It’s available for 86% less than Man Crates’ Knife Making Kit. And you’ll have the added opportunity to find your own steel, your own wood, and make your own knife still for less than a kit.

Pick up a copy on Kindle or Paperback here:

DIY Knife Making – Bushcraft Knives

DIY Knife Making - Bushcraft Knives - Terran Marks