What happened to J Neilson? Accident, age, surgery, biography

Who is J Neilson?

James Neilson was born in Pennsylvania, USA – birthdate unknown – and is a bladesmith as well as a reality television personality, best known for being one of the judges of the History channel show entitled “Forged in Fire”. He holds the title of Master Smith from the American Bladesmith Society, a title that is held by around 100 people.

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The Riches of J Neilson

How rich is J Neilson? As of late-2019, sources inform us of a net worth that is over $1 million, accumulated through success in his various endeavors. He earns significant income through his work on television, while is also one of the top rated consultants and blade smiths in the country.

As he continues his endeavors, it is expected that his wealth will also continue to increase.

Early Life and Career

There is very limited information when it comes to J Neilson’s family and childhood. It is known that he grew up with a passion for crafting blades, and the steps he took early in his life would eventually lead him to his career. In 1995, he began training and honing his skills.

He created his own workshop located in the woods of Towanda, Pennsylvania though he did not intend on making it a career just yet. It wasn’t until nine years later that he started forging and selling his wares professionally. He gained recognition for his use of traditional methods for knife making – his forging techniques, heat treating, and stock removal method, are those taken from more traditional smithing practices which has helped in crafting high quality blades. He slowly gained recognition, and became a member of the American Bladesmith Society.

J Neilson


Tea American Bladesmith Society (ABS) is a nonprofit organization mainly composed of knifemakers, and promotes techniques on how to forge steel blades. The organization dates its history back to 1972, when they were founded by knifemaker William F. Moran, who was at the time Chairman of the Knifemakers’ Guild. They started doing an annual show where he introduced Damascus steel blades, comprised of material taken from India and Sri Lanka. They are mainly characterized by their pattern which resembles flowing water. The organization was incorporated in 1976 before becoming non-profit around nine years later.

Most of the knifemakers of ABS forge their own blades, and they’ve created their own system of rating which include Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Smith. They’ve also partnered with several colleges for courses in bladesmithing and even launched their own museum. Due to his skill, Neilson was awarded the title of Master Smith, which he had to attain through rigorous tests. One of the tests required to become a Master Smith is forging a Damascus steel blade with a minimum of 300 layers. The blade must be tested to cut free hanging rope, chop through lumber, and still maintain an edge capable of shaving hair.

Did an interview with Craig @ KnifeTalk yesterday… www.knifetalk.net/j-neilson

Posted by J.Neilson. Knives & Instruction we Thursday, January 18, 2018

After the knife is tested thoroughly for sharpness and durability, the applicant must then submit five knives to a panel of judges, who will look at all aspects of these knives.

Forged in Fire

J Neilson’s fame started to gain mainstream attention when he became one of the judges of the television competition series entitled “Forged in Fire”. The show airs on the History channel, and is produced by Outpost Entertainment. Each episode sees four bladesmiths competing in a three round elimination contest with each round having them forge different bladed weapons.

The winner of the episode will receive $10,000 and a championship title. The show is hosted by Willis while Neilson is a member of a three judge panel with Doug Marcaida and David Baker. The judges are either master smiths, history experts, weapon masters, or a combination of all three.

The show has been running for a total of seven seasons, and over the years they’ve added differences with some of the episodes, including a “champions of champions” match with previous winners returning to compete. There is also a “Judges’ Pick” episode, when judges must pick a smith from past seasons to compete once more. The show has been highly successful, leading to a spin-off show called “Forged in Fire: Knife or Death”.

Personal Life and Social Media

For his personal life, it is known that Neilson is married and has two children, though he has not shared a lot of details about his family. While he continues to forge, he places a lot of emphasis on spending time with his family. Due to his passion, his children have shown an interest towards forging as well, and with very few of them in the world, he is intent on training his children. His daughter forged his first blade at the age of nine – he often shares the creations of his children.

Similar to numerous smiths and reality television personalities, he is active online through accounts on social media. He has an Instagram account with over 25,000 followers, using the platform to promote his work and business. He often displays some of the commissioned work he does, while also promoting his work in “Forged in Fire”. He also has a Twitter account with over 3,500 followers, though he has not been active on the account since 2018. Another account he has is on Facebook, on which he has over 17,000 fans. The account is not very active either, only posting every few months.

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