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Camden native brings back ancient art of bladesmithing, appears on ‘Forged in Fire’

Carly Stone
Staff writer
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Posted 12/1/22

Nearly seven years ago, Rob Lallier quit his job in corporate information technology.

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Camden native brings back ancient art of bladesmithing, appears on ‘Forged in Fire’


WESTDALE — Nearly seven years ago, Rob Lallier quit his job in corporate information technology. Two years later, he found himself spending more and more time in front of the bright flames of his recently constructed at-home forge, learning the ancient trade of bladesmithing. This would quickly become both his passion and full-time job as well as the reason for his recent reality television debut on History channel’s “Forged in Fire.”

The 42-year-old Camden native didn’t always have an interest in taking on the trade. He’d worked in corporate IT for nearly 17 years — making good money but losing precious time with family, he said.

With a wife and two boys, he couldn’t stand to keep missing holidays and being gone for long periods of travel. “My boys were growing up, and I wasn’t around a lot to watch it happen,” he reflected.

After leaving his demanding job, he began to reclaim more of his time. He worked as a seasonal fishing guide, giving him time to spare in the winter.

All the while, he and his wife had been devout watchers of “Forged in Fire,” the show where skilled bladesmiths re-create historical edged weapons in a competition, since it aired on the History channel in 2015.

One day while watching the show, his wife told him she wanted to give knife-making a try. So Lallier assembled the basic tools needed to do so in a shop next to his home in Westdale.

It was “nothing spectacular,” Lallier remarked of the setup. “Just an old brake drum off a truck, and [I] welded some pipes to it, and put air to it, and got some coal, had a railroad track for an anvil, and we started playing.”

While the hobby didn’t stick for his wife, Lallier took to it rather quickly. Attending “YouTube University,” he joked, Lallier learned about the art largely from online videos. He soon upgraded from complete novice, to hobbyist, to professional in a matter of about two years.

His business, Lallier Artistry, has been running full-time for nearly three years now.

Becoming a bonafide knifemaker took a big leap of faith, but it was worth it, Lallier said.

“I needed a change. I didn’t care what it cost me” — which was all of his retirement funds. “I had turned it all in to keep things going and build the shop. I plan on doing this until my body says ‘no more,’” he said.

During his only five years in the trade, he’s created hundreds of pieces forged from infinite imagination. His knives can be standard and simple, like a classic cooking knife with a wooden handle. Or they can be ornate and ostentatious, like a viking ax with a mammoth tusk for a handle.

“You name it, I make it,” Lallier remarked.

Depending on his client’s budget, Lallier can use all sorts of materials. Along with mammoth tusks, Lallier has created handles from mammoth tooth, buffalo horn, deer antlers, 7000 year-old bog wood from Russia, old Redwood, exotic woods, and camel bone, to name a few.

The look and shape of the blades can also take on a number of styles and variations. Swords, hatchets, axes, boning knives, daggers, hunting knives, and more can be crafted with mono steel or damascus steel, a layered steel with unique patterns produced by a complex hammer-welding technique. The latter is Lallier’s favorite to work with, he said.

His expertise in the trade eventually landed him a spot on season 9 episode 26 of “Forged in Fire,” which aired on November 2, 2022. He made it to the first round where each of four contestants made a hog splitter, a traditional butcher’s tool. Lallier said his knife ended up being nearly 4 ft long.

While he didn’t go on to win $10,000 or a championship title, Lallier said being on the show was a great experience. Filming took place over the course of three days in Connecticut and all expenses were paid for. He was also paid for his time on set, he said.

The feedback from his community has been all positive, too, he said.

“Coming from a small town, that’s good. Even though you lost, people are still behind you, trying to help you chase this dream.”

And being on the show has only been good for business, he said. Lallier had 20 knives to create in less than a month before Christmas.

To get a sense of the time required for his craft: it can take nearly a day and a half just to make one standard one-foot-long chef’s knife, he said.

Today, Lallier’s “small” shop consists of four forges (a furnace for melting the metal), a press, a power hammer, an anvil, and a belt grinder. He recently acquired a 1830s pre-civil war Bradley beam hammer. Weighing in at 4,000 pounds and built in Syracuse, this historic piece of machinery used to run on a line shaft and water wheel, Lallier shared.

“I like keeping things going that you would never see again,” he remarked, adding, “I love [knife making] because it’s a dying art. There’s not too many blacksmiths around anymore.”

One of the things he loves most about the craft is that “everything I make will still be around after I’m dead and gone,” he reflected. His pieces can be family heirlooms passed down through generations. “We’re still finding swords from way back when, and they still got the maker’s mark on them…Somebody made that sword at some time and it’s still around hundreds of years later. To me that’s cool.”

Lallier hopes to start offering blacksmithing classes starting in January to make more than just knives.

Visit Lallier Artistry on Facebook to learn more about his business, or contact Rob at


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