Although we no longer run to the blacksmith every time we need a kitchen knife, or commission every bit of metalware in our homes, the art of the bladesmith is far from gone. There is an undying fascination with weaponry of old, and this is something that History Channel realised could be an asset to their network; thus “Forged in Fire” was born. Ben Abbott started by competing with other bladesmiths on the show, but rose to the position of judge in recognition of his prowess. Predominantly self-taught, Abbott usually has to sate his desire for forging blades by creating kitchen knives, but while he is an expert in this field, he relished the opportunity to create historically significant weaponry.
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Early Life and Family
Although his exact birthdate is unknown, Ben is believed to be in his mid- to late-40s. Abbott was born in England, but his family moved to California, USA in 1975. He has a brother, Rich. Abbott related how periodic visits to family in the UK exposed him to castles and ancient weaponry, and sparked his interest in what would one day become a career.
When he was 12, Abbott attempted to make is own sword with some leaf spring (a type of simplistic spring used for suspension in vehicles) that he found lying around.
There wasn’t exactly a local forge at which he could make his attempt, and so Ben created his own, consisting of Kingsford Briquets, a hairdryer, and a galvanized steel buck. Unsurprisingly his attempts were unsuccessful, but he’d found his passion.
Around the same time, Abbott tried to make riveted chain mail, after researching all he could in the local library. Again, he struggled with the limited resources, and eventually landed a meeting with the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The curator was also at a loss, but provided him with further materials to research.
Ben Abbot is predominantly a self-taught bladesmith, spending hours researching and studying.
In the days before the internet, he would have to cobble together any scraps of information he could get. After the internet became available, he was able to tap into the almost endless resources, contact masters, observe others at work, and take classes. Ben has professed to take several blacksmithing classes, but has never actually taken one in bladesmithing. He claims that this has given him an edge in the field, as he can craft tools as a blacksmith that enables him to do his work as a bladesmith with greater efficiency.
Ben is also highly intelligent and is qualified as an electrical engineer. He also studied at Binghamton University from 1989 to 1993, where he graduated with a degree in anthropology.
He also studied at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1997 until 2000, from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.
Before “Forged in Fire”
Ben has not always been able to spend his time fine-tuning blades and knives, and for many years he had to make do with making practically anything that came his way. Tools, furniture, ornamental ironwork, jewelry – these are just a few of the things he made to satisfy his need to create.
Ben Abbott worked as an electrical engineer at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 2000. Ben was also part of a group of scientists working on LIGO – a highly technical apparatus constructed to detect the effects of gravity and related waves.
In 2012, a group of students began lobbying for a smithy to be built on the premises after student Tom Harris completed his research on the apparatus behind “Greek Fire”. Already having two decades of experience, Ben volunteered to teach metalwork once the smith arrived, which was accepted – an LIGO report in 2018 reveals that he did leave LIGO to pursue his career on “Forged in Fire”.
“Forged in Fire”
“Forged in Fire” is an elimination competition that airs on History Channel. Four contestants are run through a series of tests to ascertain their ability as bladesmiths. The final round culminates in the contestants crafting historically themed weapons that are then tested on ballistics dummies. The show premiered on 22 June 2015, and is now in its seventh season.
Ben Abbot first appeared in episode nine of the second season on 12 April 2016. Although it was his first time making the sword, he had long lusted to do that, and won the episode with his recreation of a Khanda sword, and walked away with $10,000. His performance on the show was so remarkable that he was invited for the “Champion of Champions” episode on 23 August that year, and again won with his Scottish Claymore, claiming additional prize money.
With judges taking time off from the show to spend time on other passions and their lives, Ben Abbott was invited to fill one of the empty spaces on the show.
He made his first appearance as a judge in the 21st episode of the fourth series, and continued to make appearances in subnsequent episodes.
Ben now operates his own forge on which he creates pretty much anything you care to imagine. The forge doesn’t necessarily stock a huge quantity of products, mainly focusing on custom orders. Ben sank his winnings from the show straight back into his business, upgrading and progressing until he had a workable forge. He pairs woodworking with smithing, allowing him to also create beautiful knife handles, jewelry, and much more. His wife credits him with all their kitchen elements, from carving knives to pots and pans. His creativity stretches to the food industry too, where chefs praise his knives for their efficiency and functionality.
Although Ben is currently in a relationship, he was once married. Although the length and details of his marriage with Mandy are unknown, he was still referring to her as his wife in 2017. In 2019, choreographer Heather Rabu made her appearance in his life and the two have become incredibly close, and are apparently in a loving relationship. The two are expecting a child, which Ben announced in an endearing Instagram post on 8 May 2020, captioned “I’m getting tired of making things all by myself, so Heather and I decided to make this one together! He won’t be ready until October 25th, however. We’re over the moon!”.
Ben Abbot has an open and friendly face and dark hair.
He currently wears his hair neatly combed over, with a substantial but well-maintained beard. He has brown eyes, a little grey in his beard, and a strong figure – probably due to his hours spent in the forge. His body measurements are unknown, but he certainly displays a trim figure on all photographs, no doubt the result of his work over his forge.
Net Worth and Salary
Ben has had an interesting career, crossing the boundary between electrical engineer and bladesmith. His income consists of his salary from the show, his winnings, and the money he makes for his creations. His net worth is currently estimayed at over $500,000 as of mid-2020, accumulated from his primary career and from his apearances on TV.