Recap: Milwaukee Blacksmith Episode 1, “The Forge Awakens”


Ozzie, you shouldn’t call your older brother that on national TV! Ozzie and Miles butt heads and egos while making a Death Star fire pit in the first episode of Milwaukee Blacksmith.

Boys will be boys, right? Kent Knapp, father of six and owner of Milwaukee Blacksmith, has his work cut out. Kent built the business from the ground up and wants to pass the skills he’s learned — and the business — to his kids.

We meet three of the Knapp kids in the first episode:

Miles (21) is the foreman of the shop. He’s intelligent, analytical, responsible and sometimes can be rigid. Maybe he’s too rigid for his brothers.

Birdie (18) is probably the most naturally gifted blacksmith, according to his dad. He reminds Kent of himself when he was growing up. Birdie’s cocky and isn’t convinced that he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Ozzie (17) is as strong as an ox but has the attention span of, well, a 17-year-old. He looks up to Miles and Birdie, and is dedicated to the business. But remember, Ozzie is just a kid.

The crew lands some business with a Star Wars fan who wants them to create a Death Star fire pit. For those of you unfamiliar with Star Wars, the Death Star is a moon-sized space station with the ability to destroy an entire planet. Here’s the catch: The client wants the fire pit this weekend. They take on the work because it’s too cool to pass up, but they have to work fast.

They plasma cut 24 metal panels that will create the Death Star sphere. And they prep the 100-year-old screw press that will bend the metal. But when they are ready to fire up the forge, they don’t have enough coal. Birdie is in charge of making sure the shop has enough coal. One job, Birdie! One job. Already strapped for time, they have to wait for Birdie to make a coal run.

Actually, Birdie probably has a number of responsibilities around the shop. You’ll see him save face later in the episode. Here’s the thing: Birdie has other interests in mind. He wants to be a mechanic.

The Knapp boys go home after a long day at work. There we meet Shannon, Kent’s wife and business partner. Miles, Birdie and Ozzie quickly disappear to hang out in the basement. Shannon asks Kent about the boys. Birdie is Birdie; Miles and Ozzie aren’t killing each other. Dinner’s ready. Kent jokes that maybe he should get some food before he calls the boys up from the basement. Just imagine that classic large family at the dinner table, everyone fighting for the last helping of the home-cooked meal.

Back at the shop, the panels are cut and ready to be bent. Miles places the panels in the screw press. Ozzie swings the big arms of the press. But Ozzie’s not doing it right. He has to put more force into the press or the panels won’t have the proper curvature, according to Miles.

Miles works 70 to 90 hours per week at the shop. He’s dedicated to the business, his family, and wants to help Ozzie understand the business. But sometimes it’s hard for Ozzie to get told what to do by his brother. “He’s definitely the smartest of all of us [but] he’s a douche,” Ozzie explains. Classic! At 17, my younger brother would’ve paid good money to call me that on national TV.

Miles isn’t a douche. But he goes a little overboard instructing Ozzie on how to properly work the screw press. Ozzie gets upset, a little weepy, and you realize how young both brothers actually are. Kent steps in and rights the ship.

OK, back to business. The Death Star is coming together. The frame is complete and the panels are all bent. Kent wants to weld the panels together from the inside so the outside has a nice, smooth surface. That poses a problem: how to weld a sphere together from the inside. Birdie to the rescue! They carefully insert Birdie into the sphere and for 90 minutes, he meticulously welds each of the 24 panels together. Perfection!

Kent adds the artistic detail to the fire pit. The client is amazed. Money well spent.

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Dave enjoys growing potatoes, riding bikes and quoting Jesse Pinkman from "Breaking Bad" (in that order, Yo).