LORANGER, La. (WAFB) - The craft dates back to Medieval times when brawny men folded hot iron into legendary weapons like King Arthur’s Excalibur or William Wallace’s broadsword. Today, the younger generation has found the art of blacksmithing and knife-making. One of the trade’s rising starts is based out of Loranger.
“I love living in the country,” said Cade Jenkins.
It has been said that inside every man is a 13-year-old boy clamoring to get out. Jenkins met his inner 13-year-old when he was 12 while standing next to his grandfather’s forge.
“He told me I could get a forge when I had straight 'A’s in school. The straight 'A’s never came," Jenkins said.
But young Jenkins’ fire for metal and making noise had taken hold.
“It burns about 3,000 degrees,” he said.
First, there’s banging crude shapes out of iron bars.
“Everything I learned, I learned from either old men, or YouTube,” he said.
He stoked, heated, and pounded unyielding iron until it matched the vision in his mind.
“Some people get satisfaction out of hearing something beautiful. Some people get satisfaction out of painting, and they see something beautiful. Me? I get satisfaction out of the time and the blood, sweat and tears that went into something,” he said.
Jenkins has poured his blood, sweat, and tears into knife-making. First, crude versions were made out of railroad spikes, and gradually, Jenkins’ knives got better.
“Knife-making is probably the most blood, sweat, and tears you can put into anything. I cut myself all the time. I sweat all the time, and quite often, I cry,” said Jenkins.
On a dare, just before his 18th birthday, Jenkins applied to be a contestant on the show, Forged in Fire, a competition program pitting knife makers against each other in a loud, sweaty free-for-all. The producers liked his moxie. Jenkins made it through the first two challenges and into the final round, where he had to make a knife he had never heard of.
“A rooster-headed french pioneer sword is the technical name for it,” Jenkins said. “Good luck researching it. If you search it now, the only thing that comes up is me and the swords that we made.”
Jenkins took his inner 13-year-old to his backyard forge and banged around a few ideas. He went back to New York to test his metal. He left as the youngest winner in the show’s history.
Most afternoons, you’ll find Jenkins in his shop
“Just like a regular 13-year-old kid, I love to come out here and play with fire and beat on things. I’ll stay 13 forever,” he said.
“Lord willing, I really want to turn this into a full-time business. I love this with all my heart,” Jenkins said. “I don’t ever want to grow up and go get a job.”
What 13-year-old does?