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Colton Arias (@barbell_blacksmith)


Welcome to this week's #benchmarkspotlight (formerly the #weldershowcase) - we had the opportunity to sit down with Colton from @barball_blacksmith and talk a little shop.
If you would like to be featured in our weekly spotlight (100% FREE) and have a chance at winning one of our Grinder Hoods please send us an email to to get you scheduled in an upcoming week. These spotlights are intended to highlight your skill, your business, and your tips and tricks.  Most of all it's to have a little fun!
Enjoy and Grind On!


Name: Colton Arias
Business Name:  Bridger Forge Blades
Location: Ceresco, NE
Socials: IG: @barbell_blacksmith  TikTok: Bridger Forge
Specialties:  Bladesmithing (Damascus and monosteel, bowies, swords, hunters, kitchen cutlery)
Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade? And how long?
I began my bladesmithing journey when I was only 11 years old with tools that I built, I went on to teach myself the craft and begin an LLC in 2016 at the age of 15. From there I made and sold blades through my highschool and college career. I was fortunate enough to compete on the History Channel’s Forged in Fire and become the youngest 2x champion. I’m 22 now and just graduated business college, so I am now a full time bladesmith!
  What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
I genuinely love the craft, specifically making raw materials into beautiful art and useful tools to share with my customers and collectors! I also feel that helping other smiths in their own journey and sharing my knowledge is extremely important and is greatly satisfying.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
My favorite tool in the whole shop is my 2x72” belt grinder, which I use every day for hundreds of different tasks.
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
My favorite project I’ve worked on is most accurately whatever big project I’ve worked on last! However I recently finished a falchion sword that was a super fun build!
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
I would certainly love to continue my current job as a full time bladesmith as I love the craft and it allows me to make art and tools that reflect myself as an artist!
What BA product is your favorite and why?
I am a huge fan of the benchmark abrasive belts for my 2x72” belt grinder because of their durability and versatility. I especially like the ceramic belts as they are most of what I use.
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
I was surprised by the quality of the carbide burrs, which are fit for any task requiring delicate or aggressive spot removal of metal, and can even be using on hardened steel.
What tips and tricks do you have for us that might be different or eye opening for others to try with BA product?
While using the drill bits from benchmark they can be made to last a very long time and rarely need sharpening if you are careful with the speed you run them at on your mill/drill. The use of cutting oil is also very important. I like a speed of 400rpm on high carbon steels with 1/4th inch bits and 550rpm with smaller bits like 1/8th.
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
I would love to collaborate with Eric Finch, as he is a good friend of mine and fellow bladesmith who has also won forged in Fire!
Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
I recommend that instead of learning through trial and error(which is needed for a lot of processes still), learn from an experienced craftsman in your craft to lessen the learning curve and speed up your processes. I am 100% self taught, and after teaching several apprentices I have witnessed them make 4-5 years of progress in only a year or two under my guidance. I wish I would’ve looked for other smiths to learn from sooner!
What are your future plans for your shop?
I just recently completely upgraded my shop and doubled the space, so I hope to host more classes and other educational events as well as hire on a couple new production smiths to help out!


A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Colton! Can't wait to see what you forge next!!
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