The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Genevieve Shuey
For the Sentinel 

Vachon a hit


September 11, 2019

The newest Goldendale celebrity is the mysterious and elusive Joe Vachon also known as Joe the Blacksmith. He was recently a contestant on the History Channel’s show Forged in Fire, a competition for bladesmiths consisting of three rounds of challenges, with a prize of $10,000 and a championship title for the winner. Vachon’s episode is number 27, The Bhuj.

The first challenge asked four contestants to cull steel from a barber’s chair and barbers tools such as box razors, straight razors, hair clippers, razor blades, and even cans of shaving cream, combined with 1095 steel powder, to make a Canister Damascus billet from which they had to form a blade. The knives were inspected by the expert panel at the end of each round, and one bladesmith was eliminated. Our enigmatic hero sailed through this round with ease, the only rough spot being when one of the judges liked his blade so well that he attempted to abscond with it.

The next challenge was to refine the blade and attach a handle. To test the refinements the blades were used to hack coconuts and cut swaths of horsehair. Vachon vanquished yet another sorry challenger when his blade performed flawlessly, and he moved on to the next round.

The final challenge was to create an ax-knife called a Bhuj, with a dagger concealed in its handle. The contestants had four days in their home workshops to complete the challenge before returning to the Forge. Vachon created an impressive piece that was both functional and decorative. The integrity of the final product was tested by hacking and stabbing pig carcasses to bits. Vachon sailed cleanly to victory when his competitors blade failed, broke, and became stuck in the carcass.

Vachon did not respond to our requests for comment. We expect that he is celebrating his win.


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