Forestville grad to appear on ‘Forged in Fire’
On cutting edge
When people sit down to watch a sport, show, or movie, there are many of them who envision themselves in the thick of the plot or competition, often fantasizing about what it would be like to be in the place of the people on their screen. For Angola’s Kodie Brewster, that fantasy will become a reality.
Brewster, a graduate of Forestville Central School, has been working on the forge for around two years now, and his inspiration for picking up the hobby was the very show he will be a contestant on.
“I had time off from work when my daughter was just born,” Brewster said.“So I binge-watched ‘Forged in Fire’ and decided I want to try it.”
“Forged in Fire,” which airs every Wednesday at 9 p.m. on The History Channel, is a show where participants “re-create historical edged weapons in a cut-throat competition,” according to the description on the channel’s website. It features four professional blacksmiths working to condense their craft into just a couple hours time. It’s a competition for the masters of the craft.
And so Brewster’s work began.
For his birthday that year, he decided to buy supplies to make his first knife, and he has been doing it every day since for the last couple years.
“It was kind of weird, after I made the first one to see if I liked it, I started building my own custom stuff,” Brewster said. “I built the forge, and then three months after I started I said ‘I’m going to try to be on the show.'”
In order to take that jump, Brewster needed to up his game. Still just a beginner, he became determined to make his appearance on the show, originally hoping they may do an episode with all beginners.
“Every time they sent out applications for the season, I threw one in even though I had no experience at all,” Brewster said. “I just said I was going to try it anyway. I thought maybe they’d do a rookie edition or something. That was hope.”
Despite not hearing anything for a while, Brewster dedicated himself to his new craft. He had to try and challenge himself to do new things, such as make a knife in a three-hour window. Hours and hours were spent at his forge, most of which came in the waning hours of the evening, into the early morning hours, as he was still balancing a full-time job with his goal.
But after a year and a half of sweat, blood, and steel, Brewster finally heard back. “I finally got a call back saying they were going to interview me to be on the show,” he said.
Brewster’s appearance on the show did hit an early snag due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as his initial interview came before the pandemic came on full force, but after those in charge of the show were able to adapt to the new protocols, they gave Brewster a call back and told him to come down. And within a couple weeks, after the contestants had all taken their COVID-19 tests to make sure they were safe, Brewster was on his way to begin filming.
It’s safe to say that Brewster’s initial dreams were satisfied by his appearance. “I loved it,” Brewster said.
But with that love, came a challenge, and as Brewster said, one of the most difficult challenges he’s had to face. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Brewster continued. “They make you do things you’d never think you’d be able to, and that was cool just to see what you’re able to do as far as what you’ve learned.”
The harder part for Brewster though? Having to deal with the protocols required by COVID-19.
“The harder part was wearing a mask the whole time,” Brewster said. “It gets hot, and then you start sweating, then the mask gets wet, and it’s like breathing on a wet washcloth.”
Brewster’s preparation didn’t change while he was getting ready for his appearance, rather he changed what he would try to do. “I tried to challenge myself and do more complicated stuff,” Brewster said.
What started off as a hobby for Brewster is now his career aspiration. And it’s been his full-time career for over a month, on top of all the work he put in before. Sharing his space with T&T Welding in Silver Creek, Brewster arrives at the shop every day at 8 a.m. and works until 5 p.m., crafting both blades of his own, and fulfilling custom orders for people in the local area and beyond. This Christmas season in particular has shown an increase in his custom orders.
“It’s been a little bit stressful,” Brewster said. “A lot of work I do takes a week or two to actually do. I usually tell people if I have nothing to do and you need one knife, to give me five days, but multiple orders can take two to four weeks. It gets crazy when you tell people a timeline and then have to call them back and move it around.”
While he doesn’t have a preference for what kind of knife he specifically likes to make, Brewster does have one knife in particular he is most fond of.
“My father’s knife I made for his birthday,” Brewster said. “Not only because of the shape, I like the shape, but that was the first time I did a three-type steel damascus, which is throwing more steel in fire than I normally do.”
Slowly and surely, Brewster’s effort to transition his hobby into a full-time career is coming to fruition. While he has to do other jobs on the side to help balance his income, he is starting to make a living forging steel. Brewster’s ability to go from watching Forged in Fire to appearing on the show is a testament to the dedication and passion he has for his craft.
“If it was one of those whatever hobbies I picked up, there’s no way I would’ve been at the shop as late as I was,” Brewster said. “I was doing late nights, treating it like a business, I set up my website. I was getting two or three hours of sleep, five days a week trying to make this a career.”
And despite him sometimes having a lull in orders, a career he has certainly made for himself.
His goals for smithing didn’t end with his ‘Forged in Fire’ appearance. If anything, that was just Brewster’s beginning.
“I want to get my journeyman’s,” Brewster said. “I want to learn more, I want to take classes, and I want to move on and try to become a master smith. A lot of people will say “oh you’re on ‘Forged in Fire,’ you don’t need anything else,” I want to do more. “I don’t want to just be on the show, I want to spend the time to get my masters.”
Brewster still has work to do to get to that point. The fundamentals of smithing are difficult to master, even the most basic techniques. But he has definitely noticed his improvement.
“My ability to forge weld has been my biggest improvement,” Brewser said. “When you do layered steel, so much can go wrong so easily. You have to get good at the cookie cutter methods, but the cookie cutter methods are hard.”
Through hours and hours of his own work and dedication, combined with his appearance on “Forged in Fire,” and advice from a master smith, black smithing is something that has worked out very positively for Brewster and it’s something he will strive to improve at, on the way to someday potentially becoming a master.
And despite having much higher aspirations than just being a contestant on the show, another Forged in Fire appearance wouldn’t be so bad for him either.
“I had so much fun I would love to go back, if I could put that on my list of goals.”
If you’re looking to order one of Brewster’s custom knives, you can place an order at niceaxeforge.com. Brewster can be found on Instagram at niceaxe–brewster, and on Facebook at Nice Axe.