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LI's Brandon Hyner competes on History's bladesmith competition 'Forged in Fire'

Brandon Hyner, who grew up in West Babylon,

Brandon Hyner, who grew up in West Babylon, is set to appear on the History channel's "Forged in Fire." Credit: Debrahphotography/Debra Hayes

Among the knife and sword makers competing Wednesday at 10 p.m. on History's bladesmith competition "Forged in Fire" will be West Babylon-raised Brandon Hyner.

"I'd actually started watching 'Forged in Fire' around when it first came out" in 2015, the 23-year-old says by phone from his parents' home during a holiday visit, having recently moved to New London, Connecticut, for work. "Then a neighbor set up a primitive coal forge and said, 'Do you want to come over and try to forge a knife?' And I forged a very crappy little knife out of a piece of rebar."

From that inauspicious beginning, Hyner forged a path to making and selling knives as a sideline through Instagram. "I made my own coal forge at home," he recalls, "and got some basic tools — an anvil, some hammers — and five years later, I have my own shop in a rented space" at the historic Noank Foundry and Artist Studios in Noank, Connecticut, "and I'm making blades every day now."

A graduate of West Babylon Senior High School and SUNY Maritime College who now works as an engineer at the submarine manufacturer General Dynamics Electric Boat, in Groton, Connecticut, Hyner says it took more than two years to get on the show. His initial applications, he later learned, had been set aside because he was then still in college.

Persisting, he eventually landed a phone interview, followed by a Skype interview "where I had to have five to seven blades prepared to show the casting lady," who asked a series of questions. "And she used that Skype call to create a video she sent to the producers," he said.

Because he lives near the episode's Stamford, Connecticut, production locale, he was placed on a standby list in case of COVID-19 issues with scheduled contestants. "Because I'm so local and close, I could get there last minute if a flight got canceled or somebody had a positive COVID test," he explained. His episode is the second of two new episodes Wednesday night.

Born in Mineola and raised in West Babylon — the middle of three children of Ira Hyner, an electrician for the MTA in New York City, and Holly Hyner, a teacher's aide for students with disabilities — Brandon Hyner says bladesmithing focused his lifelong creative impulses.

"I got into music, I played guitar, I was into drawing and painting in high school. But I always was so detailed in my work that it was very hard for me to finish anything," Hyner said. Once he began posting photos of his knives on Instagram and people began offering to purchase them, "I started to realize this is something I enjoy doing and something I can finish — I'm under a time constraint to get it done [for customers] — and it's also something where I can express my artistic style. At the end of the day, I can say this is an artistic piece that's also functional" — in retrospect, the perfect forging of an artist-engineer.

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