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As an Albuquerque city councilor, Dan Lewis’ job is to help make policy.
In his spare time, he also makes knives.
And it’s bladesmithing that has landed the West Side legislator on a popular reality TV show. Lewis and his older brother, Tony, earlier this year filmed an episode of “Forged in Fire,” a History Channel competition show. It will air on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
The show, now in its ninth season, describes itself as a forum where “world-class bladesmiths recreate historical edged weapons in a cutthroat competition.” Each episode typically pits four contestants against each other in a challenge, with the winner earning a $10,000 prize.
Lewis said his episode is slightly different, saying it will be promoted as two teams – one with him and Tony, the other with two friends from Colorado – going head to head, with the winners then competing against each other.
Does that mean Lewis ultimately squares off against his own brother?
He’s keeping mum about that, and other details. But the councilor said filming – which took place in both New York and his brother’s shop in Phoenix – was an “incredible experience” overall, even if it was also sometimes tense.
“We had cameras that were watching our every move and we were under time restraints. … It definitely was nerve-wracking at times,” he said.
Bladesmithing has become something of a “family thing” in the Lewis world, the councilor said. The brothers have a small company together, selling their work under the name Desert Forge Knives.
He helped carve a path for Dan Lewis, who followed suit about four years ago after finding a chisel while going through his late father-in-law’s belongings.
“I took that and forged my first knife out of it and, hundreds of knives later, here I am,” Lewis said.
The councilor, who works as operations director for an oil company, in addition to serving in city government, said he pursues the craft in his spare time, sometimes toiling into the night on the propane-powered forge in his home shop.
As someone who dabbled in woodworking previously, he said he found bladesmithing appealing because it combines materials that may not otherwise be useful into something with function and flair.
“One of the goals I had was to try to create a superior hunting knife for outdoor enthusiasts,” said Lewis, an avid hunter who said he and his brother want to make knives that are both artistic and useful in the field.
Most of the brothers’ knives sell in the $200-$400 range.
Lewis said he and his brother were already fans of “Forged in Fire” when producers reached out last year and offered the chance to apply to be contestants. After some vetting, they were invited to film an episode in February.
The episode’s original 6 p.m. airing on Aug. 31 will be the first time Lewis has seen the final cut.
He said the show generally focuses on the camaraderie of the bladesmithing community.
“It’s not like a lot of typical reality shows where they focus on a lot of the drama; it’s a real competition,” he said. “It is a reality show, but it is respectable in the sense they really highlight the bladesmith community.”