While we no longer run to the blacksmith every time we need a kitchen knife or every scrap of metal in our house, the art of the knifemaker is far from gone. There is an undying fascination with ancient weapons, and this is something that History channel realized can be an asset to their network; thus “Forged in Fire” was born. Ben Abbott started out by competing with other knifesmiths on the show, but rose to judge in recognition of his prowess. Abbott, who is mostly self-taught, usually has to satisfy his desire for knife forging by making kitchen knives, but although he is an expert in the field, he enjoyed the opportunity to create historically significant weapons.
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Early life and family
Although his exact date of birth is unknown, Ben is believed to be in his mid to late forties. Abbott was born in England, but his family moved to California, USA in 1975. He has a brother, Rich. Abbott told how periodic visits to family in the UK exposed him to castles and ancient weapons, and sparked his interest in what would one day become a career.
When he was 12, Abbott tried to make his own sword with a leaf spring (a type of simplistic spring used for suspension in vehicles) that he had lying around.
There wasn’t really a local blacksmith shop he could try, so Ben created his own, consisting of Kingsford briquettes, a hair dryer and a galvanized steel trestle. Unsurprisingly, his efforts were unsuccessful, but he had found his passion.
Around the same time, Abbott was trying to make riveted chain mail, having researched everything he could at the local library. Again, he struggled with the limited resources and eventually got a meeting with the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The trustee was also a loss, but provided him with further material to investigate.
Ben Abbot is primarily a self-taught knife maker, who spends hours researching and studying.
In the days before the internet, he would have to gather all the bits 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 claimed to have taken several blacksmithing classes, but never took one. He claims that this has given him an edge in the field as he can make tools as a blacksmith, allowing him to do his job as a knife maker more efficiently.
Ben is also highly intelligent and qualified as an electrical engineer. He too studied at Binghamton University from 1989 to 1993, where he graduated with a degree in anthropology.
He also attended Virginia Commonwealth University from 1997 to 2000, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.
Before “Forged in Fire”
Ben has not always been able to spend his time fine-tuning knives and blades, and for years he had to make do with making practically everything that came his way. Tools, furniture, ironwork, jewelry – these are just some 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 who worked on LIGO – a highly technical device built to detect the effects of gravity and related waves.
In 2012, a group of students began lobbying for the construction of a forge on the property after college student Tom Harris completed his research on the device behind “Greek Fire.” With two decades of experience, Ben volunteered to learn metalworking as soon as the blacksmith arrived, which was accepted – a LIGO report in 2018 reveals that he has left LIGO to continue his career on “Forged in Fire”.
“Forged in Fire”
“Forged in fire” is an elimination match that airs on the History Channel. Four contestants undergo a series of tests to determine their prowess as knifesmiths. The final round culminates in the contestants creating historical-themed weapons that are then tested on ballistic dummies. The show premiered on June 22, 2015 and is now in its seventh season.
Ben Abbot first popped up in episode nine of the second season on April 12, 2016. Although it was his first time making the sword, he had long desired to do so, 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 to the “Champion of Champions” episode on August 23 of that year and won again with his Scottish Claymore, claiming additional prize money.
As judges took time off from the show to devote time to other passions and their lives, Ben Abbott was invited to fill one of the empty spaces in the show.
He made his first appearance as a judge in the 21st episode of the fourth series, and continued to perform in subsequent episodes.
Ben now operates his own forge on which he creates virtually anything you can imagine. The forge doesn’t necessarily have a huge amount of products in stock, mainly focused on custom orders. Ben put his profits from the show right back into his business, upgrading and progressing until he had a workable forge. He combines woodworking with forging, which also allows him to 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 also extends to the food industry, where chefs praise his knives for their efficiency and functionality.
Although Ben is currently in a relationship, he was once married. While the length and details of his marriage to Mandy are unknown, he still referred to her as his wife in 2017. In 2019, choreographer Heather Rabu appeared 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 after on May 8, 2020, captioned “I’m getting tired of making everything alone, so Heather and I decided to make this together! However, it will not be ready until October 25. We are overjoyed!”.
Ben Abbot has an open and friendly face and dark hair.
Currently, he wears his hair neatly combed, with a hefty but well-kept beard. He has brown eyes, a bit of gray in his beard and a strong figure – probably because of his hours in the forge. His body measurements are unknown, but he certainly shows a slender figure in all the photos, no doubt the result of his work over his forge.
Net worth and salary
Ben has had an interesting career, crossing the line between electrical engineer and knife maker. His income consists of his salary from the show, his winnings and the money he earns for his creations. His net worth is currently estimated at over $500,000 as of mid-2020, built from his primary career and from his TV appearances.