Elijah Williams, 33, grew up with a hunger to learn the skills for primitive wilderness living.One of the key tools required is a knife. Twenty years ago, he found a book at the library about knifemaking and realized he could get even more primitive and make his own.
Williams is now a professional bladesmith and owner of Fire Creek Forge in Potlatch. His wife, Sarah, convinced him to apply to appear on the History channel reality TV show, “Forged in Fire.” He did and was accepted.
The father of three, with another on the way, talked to Inland 360 about the experience, which took him to Stamford, Conn., to compete against other bladesmiths. After winning the first two rounds, a camera crew recorded him completing the final challenge at his home forge in Potlatch. He appeared in season six, episode eight, which premiered last week.
“Overall the experience was challenging and stressful. I’m glad I did it. It was also fun,” Williams said.
What weapon were you asked to build in the first part of the challenge?
The first weapon they had us build in the first two rounds was a rendition of the Fairbairn–Sykes knife, a World War II-era combat dagger. In the first round, you forge the blade. In the second round, you put a functioning handle on it and finish the knife.
What was the most difficult part of completing this challenge for you?
The only hard thing about the competition for me was the time limit aspect. There was really nothing terribly difficult about the builds themselves. For me, that’s where the challenge came in.
After winning the first two rounds, you and another contestant returned to your home forges to create a weapon for the final round. What was it?
A Japanese guntō. It looks a lot like a katana, which most people would know as a Japanese samurai sword. The main difference is it’s a military issue weapon primarily used as a dress sabre, like on American uniforms. It’s a fully functional weapon, nonetheless. In the competition, it was to be
patterned after General Yamashita’s guntō, a World War II general. That was a little more challenging, only because my current equipment is not conducive to longer blades.
You ended up winning the competition with your blade. What did you get for winning, besides a moment of fame?
I won the Forged in Fire Champion title and also a check for $10,000. … We’ve noticed a little pick up in traffic (on our website). That’s really my biggest hope is it will help get the word out.
IF YOU GO
WHO: Potlatch bladesmith Elijah Williams
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 4
WHERE: Moscow Farmers Market, Main Street, Moscow
OF NOTE: Williams demonstrates his smithing skills and sell his blades at the market that opens its 2019 season this weekend and runs every Saturday through October.