New Farmington resident Jon Nagel is introducing himself to the community in a big way, as a contestant in the History Channel’s July 29 “Forged in Fire” super-championship blacksmithing competition.
On active duty with the U.S. Army Reserves, Nagel moved to the community this month with his wife, Alyssa, and stepson, Ryan. He belongs to a core group of civilians and soldiers who keep Reserve operations going across the country.
Always interested in the craft, Nagel picked up blacksmithing at a time when he was working behind a computer.
“I’m the kind of guy who needs to do something tactile,” he said, “so I was looking for a hobby… I’ve always felt drawn to blacksmithing, and the idea that a person can take something cold and hard and with the application of heat and pressure, turn it into something useful.”
Nagel learned how to make a forge by watching YouTube videos, and the first time he heated up a piece of steel, he was hooked. His practice is to make 100 of a single item to get it perfect, and then move on to the next one. In time, he was making his own tools.
On a whim, Nagel decided in 2017 to apply to “Forged in Fire.” Within an hour of submitting his application, he received a questionnaire, and took part in Skype interviews the following day. In his first appearance on the show, he took the top prize.
“It was a whirlwind at first,” he said. “Once you’re under the lights, the clock is ticking, and the pressure is there. I just decided to have fun.”
Nagel can’t say much about the July 29 “Forged in Fire” episode, which airs at 9 p.m. He has stayed in touch with his fellow competitors, and one of the judges has become a mentor to him. He describes blacksmithing as a “small, tight-knit community.”
Whatever the outcome. Nagel has committed to blacksmithing as his post-military career.
“It’s something I’m passionate about and really enjoy,” he said.