Make48 has teamed up with the owners of Brodbeck Ironworks, Ryan and Vince for 2022. They are passionate about what they do, and it shows. The pros are loving their custom tooling line (grinders, belts and other hand-forged items). Their versatile 2x72 grinder is designed with user friendliness and functionality in mind, without sacrificing quality. "I heard through several makers about this particular grinder and the founders story. It really impresses me seeing Ryan and Vince combine their passion with a business venture. While we are yet to use the products at Make48, I know the parts created at our competitions are often custom and unique, and that tells me that many of the grinder's capabilities will be utilized in no time," Tom Gray from Make48 said.
Ryan Brodbeck got his start as a blacksmith and founded Brodbeck Ironworks with a fellow contestant after appearing on Forged in Fire, History Channel's knife-making competition series. Read more about his fascinating journey below.
Brodbeck Ironworks was founded by Ryan Brodbeck when he picked up knife making. “I actually started making knives as a hobby in 2017. I used hand files to shape my first knife. Being a mechanical engineer and having a background in manufacturing and process improvement, using the files was way too inefficient for me.”
In 2018, Ryan created the first weld-together Brodbeck Ironworks tilting 2x72 grinder.
“I began looking into grinders geared towards knife making (mainly a 2x72 grinder) and quickly realized they were well out of my price range. Most beginner knife makers start with a 1x30 or 1x42 belt grinder. I was fortunate enough to come across a 1x42 belt grinder at an estate sale. This was a huge step up from using hand files, but it still was not suitable for what I was trying to use it for.”
Out of frustration, Ryan started researching and designing his own 2x72 grinder. “I was very pleased with how easy it was to put together and I thought others could benefit from my design.”
Ryan started selling the grinder in August of 2018, in hopes that it would pay for other tools he wanted in his shop for blacksmithing and knifemaking. “The first design was a weld together version. After several months, I quickly realized that many people couldn't weld in the industry, so it was back to the drawing board to create a bolt together design.”
Around this time (spring ‘19), Ryan got a call from a popular History Channel TV show, Forged in Fire, where blacksmiths recreate historical edged weapons in a competition series. The TV spot led him to meet his future business partner. “When I got the call….it was much earlier than expected, and I wasn't sure if I had prepared enough to go on the show. I decided to not skip the opportunity to possibly promote my new grinder, and potentially win the show in the process. The first night before filming, the three contestants and I went to dinner. I was sure to bring up my new design to see what interest and feedback I could get from the other more experienced makers.”
“We proceeded to film the following day and one of the other contestants, Vince Molina, asked me if I wanted to have a drink and hang out after dinner. I was happy to do so because he seemed like a really great guy and gave me some good feedback on my work, as well as the grinder design. After a couple of way over-priced bourbons, Vince brought up he had also thought about starting a grinder company. He did take a different approach than I had. He began with a more business approach (he has a masters in business & marketing) by looking at the market to see if a grinder company would be viable and what marketing scheme would be best.”
Vince Molina joined Brodbeck Ironworks in 2019, and they worked together to refine the tilting grinder design which was released to the public later that year.
“He offered me a proposal, why don't we join forces rather than working against each other? He had a business model and I had a solid start of a design. Two months later, I sent him a grinder and flew to his house in Maryland. We went over the design in great detail (Vince also has 20+ years of engineering experience) and made many improvements. We also decided to officially join forces and Vince was brought into Brodbeck Ironworks. We have grown significantly in the past couple of years adding a shop manager, Brad Nightingale, and a customer service representative, Ben Secrist, to the team.”
With a customer base that ranges from beginner hobbyists to professionals to businesses and schools, the tool line can be used for any type of material shaping and finishing. “We currently sell to knife makers, woodworkers, metal fabricators, jewelers and more.”
Today, the Brodbeck Ironworks grinder has been designed with more features and functionality than any other grinder on the market today at an affordable price. “There are A LOT of amazing knives, swords, and tools made with our machine. Some of our more unique makers have made some incredible sculptures, prosthetics, motorcycles, and jewelry.”
The Brodbeck team continues to evolve and develop new products to better serve their customers, with the goal to provide customers the highest value and design quality. A must-have for any knife maker, make sure to check them out at https://brodbeckironworks.com.