Jonesborough, TN

Jonesborough Knifesmith on History Channel's "Forged In Fire"

John M. Dabbs

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Jason Lowe in his forgeJohn Dabbs/Photographer

Rescue Tech forged in fire

Rescue Technician and Knifesmith Jason Lowe appeared on National TV last night as a contestant on the History Channel's Forged In Fire. Lowe didn't win this round but concedes it is a game show of sorts.

Jason Lowe says he'd "always been fascinated and interested in knives and swords since he was young, as most boys are." After coming to work at Washington County-Johnson City EMS as a Rescue Technician based out of the Limestone Volunteer Fire Department, he met a professional blacksmith. Lowe says Jamie Tyree would come by the fire department and visit, and I expressed an interest in his blacksmithing and he invited me down to his shop. Lowe says Tyree is a professional blacksmith who would build hinges, and most anything you'd imagine a blacksmith making. He taught me how to make nails and hooks.

Lowe began to study forging and metallurgy on his own in addition to what he was taught by Tyree. Lowe constructed his own primitive coal forge out of a brake drum. He's been forging for about eight years now.

The passion for blades

His passion for smithing has focused on blades. Lowe says he's made a few swords, but knives are his real passion. He has made and sold many knives all over the world at this point. Several of the local law enforcement and survival enthusiast in the region have been his customers and carry his blads on outings - which has led to more business and interest in his work.

The first knife he made turned out rather well and it spurred him on to create more blades which have become a hot commodity. Lowe says he likes making a solid knife that is meant to be carried and used as a real workhorse. This is in contrast to some knifesmiths who build beautiful blades that are meant to be displayed and admired but not really used.

Camaraderie

Lowe isn't the first knife maker in Jonesborough to compete on the History Channel's show. His friend Brandon Franklin appeared on the show in January 2022. Franklin and Lowe teach classes together. Recently they taught a group of five people how to make a Damascus Bowie Knife, complete with antler handles.

Franklin and Lowe often get together to learn and network with other bladesmiths in the area. Lowe says Jason Knight has really taught them a lot. Knight is a master bladesmith with a national following, who recently moved from South Carolina to Kingsport, Tennessee.

Filming Forged'

Lowe says Franklin's episode was actually filmed after his, even though Franklin's was aired in January and Lowe's was aired June 8, 2022. Lowe says his episode was actually filmed on May 6, 2021, in Stamford, Connecticut.

Lowe has nothing but high praise for the whole experience - even if this was his first time flying. His initial flight from Tri-City Airport to Asheville was delayed several times due to thunderstorms. He survived the ordeal with some direction from locals and his friends whom he called to see what he needed to do next.

His high praise of the show includes the attitude and friendliness of the judges, and how both they and his competition formed a network of friends and continue to message each other today.

Armchair quarterbacking and backseat driving are too easy, until you are the one up there. It is really easy to make mistakes when you're under that much pressure with only three hours and lots of people watching you. You make mistakes there you'd never make at home in your home forge. - Jason Lowe

Lowe says everyone he met and dealt with was super-nice. He says there aren't any gimmicks on the show and that when they say you have three hours to complete your blade, you only have three hours. There are no breaks or time-outs, even if you have to use the bathroom.

Lowe says they were required to wear a mask during filming, except when they were working at their anvil. He had heat issues, as he was not used to dealing with the heat from a forge on both sides of him. Lowe says he had to step away and go off-stage to the fan and cool down a moment, even with the clock ticking.

Takeaway

Lowe says everyone should realize, that given the pressures, these people are performing under, you will see the competitors produce the "best worst knife they can." He reminds those watching the program that the competitors are very good, but that a quality knife can take days to make in reality. The show is a game to see who can make the most passible blade under severe time constraints.

Results

Lowe believes Forged In Fire, now in its ninth season, has been an excellent tool for getting young people interested in blacksmithing and forging. He was unable to share any of the details of his experience on the show due to his contract until he was officially released - about two weeks ago.

Since Lowe has been able to share his experience, he says his social media and website have "blown up" with people interested in his knives. He has also been contacted by the Jonesborough Historical Society about setting up a demonstration later in the year.

Background

Jason Lowe is originally from Oliver Springs, Tennessee. He moved to the area with his wife so should attend college and they ended up staying. He is a state-licensed Advanced Emergency Medical Technician, now working at Rescue Station 10 in Washington County. He's been forging for about eight years, with his daughter keeping a watchful eye. Lowe says she seems to have more of an interest in forging than his son.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

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