Forged in Fire: Local bladesmith wins $10K on national TV show

BLACK FOREST, Colo. (KKTV) - UPDATE: For those of you who missed the episode, Weston Paas of Black Forest won the "Forged in Fire" competition Wednesday night!

Weston Paas forges a knife blade at his shop Heart's Fire Forge on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.

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PREVIOUS: A local bladesmith will be featured on a televised knife-making competition that’s set to air Wednesday night.

Weston Paas runs Heart’s Fire Forge in Black Forest.

“What we do here is all manner of things dealing with metal,” Paas said. “So we do a lot of ornamental iron, which is like your fireplace surrounds, handrails, furniture bases, some lighting, chandeliers, stuff like that and then I get into custom knives. So specializing more in hunting/outdoor knives since we’re here in Colorado, but a little bit of everything.”

Paas said the show “Forged in Fire” reached out to him about competing after seeing some of his knife posts on Instagram.

“When I first got chosen, it was a little daunting because all of a sudden you’re going … first off, what are the challenges going to be?” Paas said. “So there was a bit of nervousness in what’s going to go on with that, as well as who are my competitors? There are some really talented smiths out there, and the unknown of not even having a clue who they are until you get on set or what their backgrounds are. It’s daunting.”

Paas said he went out to New York to film the show in August. He competed against three other bladesmiths from around the country for the chance to win $10,000.

“I’m really good friends with all of the guys that I competed against. Still communicate with them,” Paas said. “We swapped a lot of blades or set up time to do … collaborative builds. It’s a good community to be in.”

During the competition, Paas was only allowed to use three of his own tools. Other tools were provided by the show.

“That creates one of the challenges because you’re in somebody else’s shop. Walk into somebody else’s kitchen and cook something, you’re, like, looking for where the flour is and the honey is and trying to find it on a timed clock,” Paas said. “It’s really good because it puts everyone on an equal playing ground. There’s no home court advantage there.”

Due to a nondisclosure agreement, Paas wasn’t able to announce he’d been on the show until about a week before his episode was set to air.

“It was great to represent Colorado,” he said. “I’m born native. I grew up here, raised here. It was really good to go against guys from different states and know that I’m representing my hometown and representing my state.”

Paas isn’t the only southern Colorado bladesmith to be featured on “Forged in Fire.” Back in November, a father-daughter duo competed on a family edition of the show. Ron and Jessica Hardman run and teach at Kilroy’s Workshop, which is the largest blacksmithing and bladesmithing school in the United States. Paas also teaches classes there. He said Ron Hardman helped him train for his episode.

“He was able to work with me, and he’d set up some challenges, and I’d show up in the shop to teach class, and he’d say, ‘You have two hours before your class starts. I need you to build me this, with this, with this, and it needs to be this size and this shape. Go,’” Paas said.

The timed practices really helped Paas get ready for the competition.

“I don’t usually have a time limit here. So where I’ll take a week to a month to do a build here depending on the complexity; all of a sudden, you’re doing three hours,” he said.

During the Hardman’s episode, which aired Nov. 27, Ron Hardman won the competition. Paas is hoping he’s just as fortunate.

“I can’t wait to see the show to see how well I did,” he said.

Paas’ “Zulu War Axe” episode of “Forged in Fire” is set to air Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the History Channel.