TROY — Most 16-year-olds spend their free time playing video games or hanging out with friends, but Keagan Carsey spends his with a forge and anvil.
Carsey, a junior at Miami East High School, former Miami County Fair king and Future Farmers of America (FFA) member, said he spends as much time as he can learning to make better items at his forge.
On some Saturday mornings, when most of his peers are sleeping in, Carsey is loading up his equipment and driving into Troy to sell his handmade hooks and tools at the Troy Downtown Farmers Market.
Carsey, who is splitting the cost of the forge with his father, said he uses the money he makes selling his items to help grow his blacksmithing operation.
“Right now, all of the money I make (with blacksmithing) is going directly back into it so I can expand what I’m doing,” he said.
Carsey said he receives little help from his parents when making and selling his wares because he wants to be as independent as possible with his forge, The Lost Creek Forge and Anvil.
“Eventually I’ll have it all paid off and it’ll be just me,” he said.
Carsey, who has been taking classes and blacksmithing since earlier this year, said his interest in blacksmithing was first sparked by a family trip.
“The first time I thought about it was when we took a vacation to West Virginia,” he said. “We were looking through a bunch of shops and there were hand made blades and stuff like that. I thought it was really interesting. I thought it would be cool to try to do it.”
Since he began taking classes in January, Carsey said he has learned to make everything from hooks to knives. Someone helped him print business cards for free, and he said he’s even received an offer to help work on an old cast iron tractor.
Carsey said in addition to learning a lot about blacksmithing, he’s also learned about building a brand. Still, he was hesitant to call his blacksmithing practice a business.
“It was never really a decision to take it from a hobby to a business,” Carsey said. “It’s still a hobby, but I can make something out of it, too.”
Carsey is also using his blacksmithing to fulfill requirements for FFA. Every student who is part of FFA must complete a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) to complete the program. Carsey, who is in the ownership/entrepreneurship category of the SAE, is able to fulfill a school requirement, run a small business, and participate in his hobby at the same time.
Carsey still isn’t sure if he wants blacksmithing and metalworking to remain as a hobby or progress to a full time job, but said there is a lot of potential in what he does.
“Give me an idea and I can make it,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot of limits to it.”
Reach Bennett Leckrone at firstname.lastname@example.org