Brandon Hyner typically takes 10 to 25 hours over a few weeks to make a knife. But while on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” show, he must have made one in less than five hours.
“Honestly, the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Damn, what am I going to do?’ Hyner said.
Thankfully, the 23-year-old West Babylon native’s initial shock wore off pretty quickly. After two rounds in which he forged a knife and a sword, Hyner was declared champion in a season eight episode of “Forged in Fire”.
During the first five-hour round, he and three other blacksmiths were given carte blanche to craft any knife blade they wanted – as long as it was 12 to 15 inches. Hyner chose his Damascus steel, “a steel that I know how to work very well, and it’s something that I can get some creativity from and a bit of a mind blowing factor,” he said.
The ‘Wow’ factor was key, as the knife the judges found most impressive bypassed the rigorous series of tests, sending its blacksmith straight to the final round.
“Out of the four blacksmiths, I had the most trouble with my blade between the small texture and the saw teeth I put on the blade, as well as the damask pattern and intricacy of my handle,” said Hyner.
The handle of his sheep’s foot chopper sported an ornate red and white swirl that gave way to a charcoal black when he encountered the blade and its engravings.
“All of those things, they told a lot of stories and they had enough of a ‘wow’ factor on the other contestants to send me to the final round,” Hyner said.
The final round
Bypassing the practice round, Hyner entered the final round of the competition on a positive note. He and his competitors were tasked with forging a Firangi sword, an Indian sword with a Western European blade.
Precision was the key to this challenge. The blade should be between 31 and 33 inches long and have a curve between 2.5 and 3.5 inches.
“It was very difficult to figure out that one,” Hyner said. “I had to do a full-size render in chalk on my large soldering table and that’s about what I used and I made sure I did all the math right. I used the tape measure to make sure it was accurate.
“It was a life-size rendering of the sword, so I could kind of go back and forth and put my blade up to the drawing I made. So it was as close as I could get it, ”he added.
After examining his sword with its bronze brass hilt, the judges declared Hyner the winner.
Invest in himself
Hyner, who moved to New London, Connecticut last year, began blacksmithing around the time he graduated from West Babylon Senior High School in 2016 and enrolled at SUNY Maritime to study l engineering in naval architecture.
“In high school I was a very artistic fart,” he said. “I took a lot of AP art classes and was a huge fan of music. I play guitar a bit, and I couldn’t figure out what I liked to do, it just kept me constantly interested.
Around this time, he started watching the very show in which he became a champion. Then a family friend made his own coal forge and invited Hyner to test it out.
“My friend and I both made some very primitive and very rough knives, if you want to even call them that, from a piece of rebar,” he said. “And from that point on, I was pretty much addicted. “
“I realized this was something I could finish,” he added. “It’s not something I could spend weeks and weeks and weeks on like a painting or a drawing, and I’m very detail-oriented. This is one of those outlets where I can finish it off, I’m happy with it, and it’s essentially a functional work of art.
He decided to start selling this functional art through his Instagram page, where he still sells parts today. He balances this hobby turned into an entrepreneurial business with his work at General Dynamics Electric Boat, which designs and builds submarines for the US Navy.
Along with pride and good publicity, the “Forged In Fire” award includes $ 10,000, most of which Hyner said he would reinvest in his business. He plans to buy more equipment, bigger tools, and put some of that money aside to buy a badly needed new car.
“The best experience of 2021”
Hyner knew he won the competition six months ago, but he was under contract with the producers to keep his victory a secret.
“My family is a very talkative family, so I was a little afraid that they said something, and I had to hide it from everyone,” he said. “It was really cool because we had a little sleepover during the episode, and once they finally called my name and said I was the ‘Forged In Fire’ champion, everyone was delighted, I got it on video, which is a great memory for me for the future.
“Just having everyone super excited and screaming and screaming and hooting and screaming. It was a very memorable and very positive experience, especially at the end of the year,” he added. “It was probably the best experience. of 2021 and a good highlight for the end of the year. “
Above: Brandon Hyner (Photo by Debra hayes).