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Cutting-Edge Technology Pairs Well with Centuries-Old Smithing

Ridgeway's Bennett Forgeworks born out of love at first forge


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BENNETT FORGEWORKS  |  Product: Home + Lifestyle  |  Made in: Ridgeway  | 

When Tom Bennett was introduced to blacksmithing, it was love at first forge.

"I was instantly smitten with it," he says. "I went to an auction the next weekend and picked up a coal forge and an anvil."

Bennett's mentor, Smyth Boone of Paonia, taught him the trade in the late 1990s, and he used it to make staircases, railings and other forged ironwork for the high-end residential market in Telluride.

After incorporating in 1999, Bennett was based in the tiny town of Rico until 2008 when he moved north to Ridgway "to be closer to the grocery store," he half-jokes. Soon after the move, local construction crashed during the Great Recession, and he started making fermentation tanks for craft breweries. It turned into a nice side business that he spun off as a separate six-employee company, Forgeworks Inc., in 2015. The tanks are now made in nearby Delta.

Bennett isn't firing up the forge quite as much as he once did, with modern design all the rage in Telluride, but he's still making a wide range of staircases, doors, railings and light fixtures for the local construction industry. 

"There was a lot of traditional-type construction in Telluride," he says. "When it came back, it came back very contemporary."

It follows that the company's crew of five now employs cutting-edge technology alongside centuries-old smithing techniques. 

"The modern stuff relies on a lot more machines, like waterjets and lasers," Bennett says. "But when we do forge work, it's still those same processes."

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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