On tonight’s Forged In Fire, we head to Africa and Southeast Asia as inspiration for the blade tasks for the four contestants.
This original competition series hosted by weapons expert and US Army and Air Force veteran Wil Willis brings us world-class bladesmiths who face off to recreate the most lethal weapons.
For the $10,000 prize, these smiths design on the fly and use their sweat, fire, strength, will and a white-hot forge to quickly make fully functional implements of war.
These weapons must stand up to a series of tests from judges David Baker, Doug Marcaida, and ABS Master Bladesmith Jason Knight.
The main event this week is the African makraka with the karambit as the first task.
We meet Brian, a part-time bladesmith, Craig a full-time bladesmith, Mark a full-time bladesmith, and Paul a part-time bladesmith. Host Wil gives them the low down for the $10,000 purse.
The first Forged in Fire round sees them making a karambit, a small Southeast Asian curved knife with a curved blade that has a double edge.
The second round of the first half sees them putting handles on the blade, and then the tests to see if the finished blades stab and slice.
Three hours to do this. Ready? Not so fast as a “gift” of coiled spring steel is given to them. A nightmare if you have to hammer this out and make a straight blade!
The only contestant who has made a karambit before is Paul.
But what will happen when the guys have to hammer this coiled steel?
Doug gives some awesome karambit demos as he used his fellow judge David to demonstrate the up-close-and-personal lethal nature of this demure blade.
It’s the little details that are driving our four bladesmiths crazy. Notably, the finger hole that secures the blade in the palm of the hand.
Doug talks about the art form of the handle required for it to fit properly, as this weapon needs to really become an extension of the hand.
Paul has quenched his blade and the judges are like, oh no. Then disaster as he drops it on the tip. Lady luck was on his side, no damage.
Craig is faring better in the judge’s estimation. “I feel pretty good about it,” he says.
Brian is making his more hook-like than the others.
Mark is working on his handle as the clock ticks down.
Brian gets high marks from Doug and lesser ones from Jason Knight.
Craig’s karambit is dissed on the size by Doug, while he says Mark’s blade is “unwieldy”.
Paul’s karambit is praised by David Baker but Jason lists his problems with the ring and says this blade’s steel is “weak”.
Bottom line? Mark is asked to leave the Forge.
The judges now want the guys remaining to finish the blade and the tests will begin in this round.
Brian does a “ballsy” move and rewelds the ring after cutting his blade. But time is against him and the judges worry he won’t succeed.
Craig is working hard and sharpens and strops the blade on his actual pants belt.
His pants stay up! Unlike sister show Swamp People’s reality TV star Troy Landry, whose belt issues continue on that Thursday night delight.
Time to test.
Paul, Brian, and Craig all wish they had more time to sharpen their blades.
Jason’s test is first. Banging the karambit into some hardwood dowels are the initial test. Brian passes with flying colors.
Craig is next. He passes too. “Well done,” says hard-to-please Jason.
Paul is last. His blade held up. “Well done,” says Jason in a rare trifecta of positivity from this normally stone-faced judge.
Now Doug is up. A giant ham is his test dummy.
Brian goes first. His ham got served up by Doug, whose only complaint is the handle. Doug says: “Overall, it will cut.”
Craig is next. Doug wails on the ham. The blade is razor sharp. Doug is equally impressed and says: “Overall, your blade will cut.”
Paul is up. Doug slices and dices the ham. Doug loves his blade as it fits his hand to perfection.
But someone has to go. The judges make the tough decision… Brian has to go.
The makraka is the task. This sickle-shaped knife of Central Africa is a close-range weapon of the Zande Warrior.
The four-inch curve in the blade will be the hardest hurdle in the five-day home forge smithing.
We head to Carthage, Missouri, where Paul lives. He thinks it’s an “ugly” knife.
The size of his forge and the quench oil are immediate issues.
Over in Cotopaxi, Colorado, is where Craig lives. His concerns are how the judges will test it. He breaks his first one and has to make another.
Doug gets to test their blades on some torso dummies.
He uses Craig’s blade. It’s gruesome. Doug loves his lightweight blade, saying: “It will kill.”
Contestant Paul is next. Doug says it’s much heavier and says: “Overall, your makraka will kill.”
David’s test is next. He tests the durability of the blades with wooden shields.
Craig’s blade passes muster.
Paul is up. David likes the handle. He says: “Nicely done”
Sharpness test with Doug is next. A mock beheading is done. Doug assassinates two watermelons with Craig’s blade and tells him: “Overall, your blade will cut.”
Paul is next. One vertically sliced melon is toast. The heaviness hung up the horizontal slice. Doug smiles and says: “Your makraka will cut.”
Final decision? This was a hard one as both men turned in exceptional blades.
Craig takes the win as Doug lauded the lightness and sharpness of it.
Forged in Fire airs Tuesday, at 9/8 c on History