A passion for knife-making has landed a Kenosha teacher a spot on a national cable TV show.
Pat Biggin, Kenosha Central High School’s metals teacher, will appear on Wednesday’s edition of “Forged with Fire,” a competition show on the History Channel.
In the episode “Barbarian’s Spatha,” which airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Biggin, 31, and three other contestants, face three challenges — making a knife out of random provided items, testing handles and guards, and a final task that allows them to work at their home forge.
“I have been applying for the show since Season 2,” said Biggin, who is not allowed to talk about the specifics of the episode until after it airs. “Finally, in Season 7, I made the cut.”
Contestants are allowed to bring up to six tools or materials from home for the first two challenges and could only use three.
Biggin, whose home forge is in Elkhorn, brought two hammers, tongs, a small carbide drill and forge welding flux.
The flux, which passed inspection on the way to Connecticut, was confiscated as contraband at John F. Kennedy International Airport prior to his departure home.
Biggin has been honing his craft since age 15 when he was given a knife made by his great-grandfather. The knife was made for his grandfather prior to his enlistment into the military during World War II.
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“I started reading library books about it,” Biggin said.
He made his first home forge out of a charcoal grill and attended knife shows to pick up techniques and advice from experts.
His skill in metalsmithing grew while at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where he met others with the same passion. He dropped out of the pre-med program to pursue a career as a technical education teacher.
The hobby-turned-career led Biggin into the classroom, where he has inspired the next generation of metal workers for the last nine years.
He also established Howling Wolf Knifeworks, making custom knives he sells at two annual events — the Badger Knife Show in Janesville and the Midwest Fire Fest in Madison.
He said he hopes to get a forge for the high school to help students gain skills that could be used at local companies like Scot Forge. But, for obvious reasons, he can’t teach students how to make knives at school — no matter how many ask.
No stranger to television
It’s not the first time he has appeared in a knife-making contest on the History Channel. Biggin also appeared in an episode of “Knife or Death,” where competitors test their best blade against a number of trials.
The knife he made for that show had a handle made of scrap bamboo with a grip made of rubber stripped from old flooring.
Biggin said he made it to the fourth of five possible tasks before being eliminated in the sudden death round when his blade failed to cut through a chicken.