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The first time Garrett Elting was asked to appear on History Channel's "Forged in Fire" was a few years ago.

Elting of Lincoln makes knives with his father out of his garage at Steel Pig Forge, which the two founded in 2014.

They were set to compete against three other families on the show which challenges bladesmiths to recreate some of history's most iconic edged weapons.

As the Eltings prepared to fly out, they were told the episode was canceled.

"We were pretty let down, just really disappointed," he said.

But Elting will finally get his airtime at 8 p.m. Wednesday when he competes against three other members of the Marine Corps in a "Battle of the Branches" tournament. The champion will take on winners from the other three military branches -- Air Force, Army and Navy -- for a $50,000 prize.

Elting, 28, who works as a contract armed guard, was contacted by the History Channel about the tournament early this year. The episode was shot in Connecticut.

"They said, 'Let's do this,' and I said, 'Alright, let's do it.'"

Elting said around a dozen people filmed the show, many operating multiple cameras.

"It was crazy," he said. "There was so much movement, so many people doing so many different things. But you don't ever see a camera guy (in the finished episode)."

Elting had no experience with forging or knife-making when a friend received a custom knife while the two were serving in Afghanistan in early 2012.

Elting was amazed by the knife and said he had "never seen anything like it."

"I really wanted one like that," he said. "I had only owned just kind of cheapo knives."

After his service ended, he waited in California for six months for his wife to get out of the Navy.

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During that time, Elting talked with his father about his growing interest in making knives. His father, who lived in Nebraska, wanted in with his son, who he hadn't seen in years.

"He was excited to do it because it was something that we could kind of do to get to know each other again," Elting said.

When they started the business, he said, there was a lot of trial and error and they gave knives away after they had finished them.

"We would make a knife and then figure out what we did right and what we did wrong, and then try to make a different one that was better," Elting said. "It really picked up 2016, 2017 ... when we started to kind of hit the good spot where we’re making really quality knives at a good price point."

Elting said Steel Pig Forge can do pretty much anything when it comes to forging a knife. He uses a 200-pound Trenton anvil from 1915 that belonged to his grandfather and a power hammer from 1921.

The Eltings make knives that can be used for hunting, fishing or cooking. While some simple knives made of stainless steel can take six to 10 hours to create, a pattern welded steel can take up to 50.

Elting said he'll talk with a customer to make sure they're getting the right knife.

"Each knife has a specific role," he said. "You don't make a chef knife and then have somebody go and try and cut through a cow bone. It's not going to work."

Steel Pig Forge also provides a limited lifetime warranty on its knives. If the knife was chipped or broken using it for its intended purpose, Elting said, the forge will replace or fix it for free.

"Now, if you bring a knife back and it looks like you tried to use it as a screwdriver or a pry bar, that's on you, buddy," he said.

Elting said Steel Pig Forge will continue to make knives, but will also focus more on forging steel billets to sell to other knife-makers. The company also plans to expand and start giving lessons.

"I have a full-time job right now, but hopefully in the near future, I can turn my passion into my job," he said. "I'm excited to see what the future has for us."

Elting said he's eager to get the company's word out to 25 million viewers with Wednesday's episode.

"It was a fun time," he said. "I had never had that much fun forging. I love forging, that's my thing, so being able to go out and do that, that was fantastic."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7241 or cspilinek@journalstar.com.

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