JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville Navy veteran is turning his unique hobby into potentially a big moneymaker for K9s for Warriors.
Matthew Martin has organized a cutting-edge competition called “Last Blade Standing,” where some of the best knife makers in the country will be in the River City showing off their skills.
Martin gained an interest in knife-making after watching the History Channel show “Forged in Fire,” where craftsmen design and test one-of-a-kind blades.
“I started watching it,” Martin said. “And I started becoming really involved in the show and telling him like, sort of yelling at the TV and what they should be doing. And then I thought, you know what, I should be doing this myself.”
It inspired Martin to build a forge in his backyard in Mandarin.
“You can buy most of the parts that you need off Amazon,” he said, laughing.
Steel, and meteorite, are heated to 2,300 degrees in the oven, hammered, shaved and shaped -- all by hand.
Martin, who’s gained a sharp following on social media, is hosting a showdown, which he’ll broadcast on his web channels, called Last Blade Standing.
Competitors must use recycled materials, some coming from junked cars, and hand tools to make masterpieces, hoping to “steel” the show. Submissions have been coming in from across the country.
Judges will put them to the test. Jacksonville 3D artist Ryan Rowe was on the History Channel show. He’ll use his experience to judge.
“I’m gonna be doing the stabbing for the event,” Rowe said.
Yes, he’s testing the strength of the knives by stabbing things, like computer cases.
“It’s not just the very tip, it’s how far I go into the computer cases and the section behind it as well,” he said.
While there will be one clear winner, the real winners are with K9s For Warriors, a local nonprofit that helps pair service dogs with military veterans. Martin chose it because he is a veteran who retired from the U.S. Navy.
“People that have PTSD, or people that are missing limbs, sometimes the wounds are invisible,” he said. “And having a loyal service companion that you can take with you is hugely important.”
Each knife submitted will go on the auction block and the money goes to K9s for Warriors. Martin and Rowe hope their sharp idea makes a big difference and fetches thousands for the charity.
It started in mid-June as judges whittle down the competitors. The finale is July 17. You can watch it all online at https://www.lastbladestanding.com/ or you can go to the July 17 event in person with a ticket.
It begins at 10 a.m. at 7018 AC Skinner Parkway on Jacksonville’s Southside. Tickets are $20 and available here: Tickets.