Mines News

Release Date Thursday, October 6, 2022

Oppelt Brothers Win Mines Junior Bladesmithing Championship for the Second Year in a Row

Caleb and Evan Oppelt, the 2022 winners of the South Dakota Mines Junior Bladesmithing Championship. 

Caleb and Evan Oppelt from Goodwin, SD have landed the top spots in South Dakota Mines Junior Bladesmithing Championship for the second year in a row.

“Each of their blades were so exceptional that the judges decided to make them co-champions,” says Michael West, Ph.D., head of the Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering at Mines.

Caleb Oppelt forged a 10-inch hamon blade using W-2 tool steel. The blade has a spine of softer steel and a hardened edge. The paper he wrote Calen Oppelt's 2022 winning blade accompanying the blade entry, titled “The Science of Differential Hardening,” outlines his process.

“I love the science behind bladesmithing. The competition has encouraged me and made me excited about pursuing metallurgical engineering as a career,” says Caleb. “Thank you to South Dakota Mines and to Nucor for hosting and sponsoring this competition.”

Evan Oppelt's blade 2022Evan Oppelt smelted his own wootz type carbon steel in a homemade foundry and then forged a Finish type hunting knife blade called a Puukko. The accompanying paper he wrote, titled “The Wootz Puukko,” outlines his process.

“I am very thankful to South Dakota Mines for hosting this competition,” says Evan. “It's an excellent excuse to try new, experimental ideas and techniques. It's a chance to stretch the boundaries of our skills. I love that Mines is encouraging young people to grow their skills.”

The Junior Bladesmithing Competition is open to high school students around the nation who are challenged to craft a knife or sword by hand hammering or trip hammer forging. Entrants are also tasked to write a technical report detailing their fabrication efforts. The competition encourages high school students to work with local blacksmiths or experts in their own communities to build hands-on metalworking skills while engaging in a learning process around the science of metallurgy.

Mines’ Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering hosts the annual competition thanks to a sponsorship from the university’s industrial partner, Nucor Steel.

Entries were judged by former South Dakota Mines metallurgical engineering alumni Luke Shearer, Daniel Nagel and Isaac Hammer, who led blacksmithing and bladesmithing activities as students. Blades and technical reports are judged on the following four criteria: scientific merit, technical communication, creativity, and difficulty level.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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