Hunter makes finalist on ‘Forged in Fire’
By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer
Local fans of History Channel’s ‘Forged in Fire’ saw a familiar face during the Aug. 21 episode as Steven Hunter of Maplesville made it to the final round.
“I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything,” Hunter said. “I know I finished runner-up, but I really don’t feel like I lost anything. I feel like I came away a huge winner just getting to experience something like that.”
The last challenge was making a Napoleon’s Saber. Hunter’s blade broke during the strength test and his opponent won.
“I had never made anything that long,” Hunter said. “It was the largest weapon I’ve ever made.”
The strength test consisted of hammering the saber against ram horns.
He said he had to add on to the end of his gas forge in order to properly heat treat the steel he was using.
He said five days was not a lot of time to finish the task.
“You were hurried to get it done,” Hunter said.
However, he said he was careful.
“I knew if I made a mistake and had to start over I might not finish,” Hunter said.
Previously, the largest thing he had made was a machete to use for clearing brush on his farm.
“Everybody has been thrilled,” Hunter said. “Tons of phone calls last night (Aug. 21), it was a lot of fun.”
Hunter, who is the transportation supervisor for Chilton County Schools, started blacksmithing two or three years ago.
“I started doing different little things like fire pokers and dishing, then I started moving up and doing some blades and that’s when me and my son were watching ‘Forged in Fire’ and he said, ‘Dad, I think you need to try this.’”
Hunter applied for the show online and went through a questionnaire and video conference interview.
He said he found out two weeks later that he had been selected to be on the show. The competition took place in Connecticut. The set was bigger than it seemed from watching the show.
“It was really pretty cool,” Hunter said.
His first challenge was to forge a Ladder Pattern Damascus blade on Dec. 10. As with many of the contestants that have been seen on the show, Hunter had never done a Damascus blade.
“It didn’t go as we had hoped it would,” Hunter said. “I think all of the contestants made a mistake on the ladder pattern itself.”
Hunter said he had never attempted this technique because he does not have a power hammer and does all of his forging by hand.
“That was one of the questions in my interview was had I ever made Damascus,” Hunter said. “I told them I knew how to do it, but I had never done it because I don’t have a power hammer. I felt like that was probably what they were going to ask us to do.”
The competition was the first time he had used a power hammer.
“I think what I enjoyed the most was just getting to travel and see and do new things,” Hunter said. “I loved getting to compete. I have always loved to compete and meet new people who do the same thing.”
This is the first time that Hunter has competed in anything related to blacksmithing or bladesmithing.
Hunter has stayed in contact with the other contestants.
“The other smiths that were there were great people,” Hunter said.
He said the judges are “super nice.”
“They are great people,” Hunter said.
Since his time competing on the show, Hunter has made a Damascus chef knife for a friend and started selling knives. His work can be viewed at stevenhunterknives.com.