Zachary Santiago shapes the metal. He makes many objects. including knives and daggers.
Zachary Santiago shapes the metal. He makes many objects. including knives and daggers.
Madison Barnes

Freedom Rings of Steel

Family Creates Objects Using Home Forge

In the corner of his workshop, a dedicated craftsman stands before his home forge. With every swing of his hammer, the anvil sounds with a clang. Beads of sweat form on his furrowed brow, a testament to the relentless temperature of the fire. The heat, the hammer, and the man’s unwavering determination work together to create a homemade knife.

Zachary Santiago makes objects through the use of his home forge. He hopes to open a shop soon to sell his creations.

“My inspiration for wanting to create things myself is the people that came before us,” Santiago said. “Those guys would take absolutely nothing into something we absolutely needed, not wanted.”

Santiago first bought a propane forge, and his children, freshman Andrew Jobe and sophomore Madison Barnes, helped him make a coal forge; they currently help with welding and shape their own objects. The family has been forging items using these furnaces for about a year now.

“My family has supported me alot, and I appreciate it,” Santiago said. “I was able to get my son and daughter into it, and hopefully one day when I have my shop open, they can take over.”

Santiago finds the majority of the metal for his projects from his job sites or a scrapyard. That metal along with the addition of other materials can then be used to start the forging process.

“My favorite part of forging is the beginning stages of it,” Jobe said. “I like finding the metal and seeing the potential use we could get out of it. It’s exciting to see the challenges of it.”

To begin the forging process, the metal has to heat up in either a coal-burning forge or a propane forge to get to a temperature hot enough to mend. Then, the metal is laid on a solid surface, such as an anvil, to begin its shaping process.

“I am self taught when it comes to forging and welding,” Santiago said. “Over time, I taught myself how to make my own knives, and I put all the free time I have into these projects.”

Depending on the type of weapon or object Santiago is making, he quenches the metal and either sharpen or grinds it as the final touches. It can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of months based on the intricacy and complexity of the project.

“With the finished product, you get an immense feeling of accomplishment and pride,” Barnes said. “Really, the whole process is a journey from a piece of metal to something you can use is, and that’s why I keep doing it.”

Santiago forges many objects such as knives, dinner bells, wind chimes, and daggers, and Jobe has forged his own knife and is currently working on making chainmail armor. The first object Santiago forged was a knife, and it was made in the forge he built himself.

“My favorite thing to forge is probably knives,” Santiago said. “They are beautiful, and you can use them for anything.”

Santiago’s shop will be named Freedom Ring Forge and will include both forging and blacksmithing; forging makes and shapes metal into objects by heating it with fire, and blacksmiths make and repair iron by hand. He hopes to for his shop to sell items such as swords and daggers.

“Ultimately, I’d like to be my own boss while doing what I love and hopefully pass my shop down to my kids one day,” Santiago said. “If you never take that first step to try and succeed, you’ll never succeed.”

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