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Meet the Real Steel Experts Who Judge 'Forged in Fire'

By Amber Garrett

The smiths competing on History Channel's Forged in Fire get plenty of attention for their craft on the reality competition series, as well they should. They're performing hard, dangerous work under strict constraints with the pressure of a $10,000 prize hanging over their heads. 

But equally impressive are the credentials and works produced by the Forged in Fire judges. If you've ever wanted to know more about these skilled experts, read on to learn about the current judges, J. Neilson, competitor-turned-judge Ben Abbott, Doug Marcaida, and David Baker.

J. Neilson

James Neilson, who goes by his first initial professionally, holds the rank of Mastersmith with the American Blacksmith Society (ABS), a title shared by just over 100 people in the world. He has been with the show since Season 1, Episode 1 — though that's not to say he's been in every episode. In fact, back in Season 3, fans worried J. has decided to leave the show when he went missing from the judges' panel. It turns out, he needed to take a leave of absence to have surgery on his hand, and fellow ABS Master Smith Jason Knight stood in for him while he recovered.