FOSSTON, MN--This week’s Gem is keeping an old art form alive, and he says in the process, it saved his life.
At nearly 15-hundred degrees, Tony Roed’s blade is hot and ready for his latest handmade knife.
“Got the Hollywood fireball for you,” said Blacksmith, Tony Roed.
It's what earned the Fosston blacksmith some Hollywood fame.
“When my stuff can hang with the best it means I'm on the right path,” said Roed.
It's a path Tony had to take.
“Blacksmithing literally saved my life.”
A debilitating back injury forced him to retire from the family landscape business six years ago.
That injury left him with very few options for work.
“I started getting real depressed.”
But it also fueled the 42-year-old's inner fire to chase a dream.
“I was like I was always wanted to make myself a knife, I'm just going to try this and get out in the garage and do something to keep me from going insane.”
That first knife has helped Tony carve quite a career path.
“This is the size I like to make, a useful knife, nobody needs a 12-inch bowie or a sword, we aren't sword fighting anymore.”
He now operates Stony's Custom Designs, making custom knives for people across the country.
“It's awesome knowing I'm creating a functional work of art that can be passed down for generations.”
And now Tony's work is being recognized around the globe.
The History Channel's hit series Forged In Fire put his skills to the test.
“I thought my heart was going to stop.”
He was ready.....kind of....The biggest size blade he had ever made was 12-inches. The show wanted a 15-inch sample.
“Everynight before I would go to bed I'd be watching reruns of past seasons episodes and then the next day I come to the shop and recreate all the challenges I could.”
When it came to taping in Connecticut over the summer, Tony faced another challenge--just three hours to make a blade. Personally, Tony likes to spend 4 to 20 hours on each of his masterpieces.
“When I applied for the show, it wasn't for the money, it was to see if I could hang and just being chosen just showed I'm good enough to compete in a world televised knife-making competition.”
Now back at his Fosston workshop - sparks fly as Tony is busy shaping the perfect blade....
“It's almost like they are my children, watch them develop.”
At the same time, he hopes his experience provides a spark for the dying art of blacksmithing.
Passionate, Tony often takes his workshop on the road for kids to see.
“It gets kids interested in doing something instead of playing video games, get out and create with their hands.”
An artist striving to be one of the best--to save an art form that saved his life.
The average knife typically sells for a few hundred dollars.
As for those blacksmith classes.
They do cost money, but Tony fundraises to make them free or reduced costs for children and veterans to get then interested and keep the art of blacksmith alive.
To learn more about Fosston Area Metal Arts, click here.
If you’d like to see Tony’s Facebook page, click here.
To view Tony’s Instagram account, click here.