Hammering away at depression

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PROVO — Three years ago, Ben Schwindeman was ready to take his own life. Then, he started a blacksmithing shop. Stone Fox Forge is a place where raw metal is shaped into something beautiful. Schwindeman teaches classes, makes products, and sells his work on Etsy. 

Schwindeman says metalworking has taught him patience. “It’s one focused effort that helps me kind of take a longer view of things and recognize that what is happening now is not going to be what’s happening forever,” said Schwindeman.

When his depression and anxiety all came to a head, Schwindeman and his wife realized he wouldn’t be able to keep working at a normal job. With the support of his wife, Schwindeman opened up the Stone Fox Forge.

Schwindeman has been interested in blacksmithing since he was a little kid, bending nails with a hammer and blowtorch in his backyard. “Blacksmithing really saved my life,” said Schwindeman.

And a craftsman is only as good as his tools. Schwindeman says the four most important things a blacksmith can have are a hot furnace called a forge, an anvil, and a hammer and tongs. “It’s really a bad idea to try and hold hot metal with your hands, so the tongs kind of give you that extension so you don’t burn yourself,” sad Schwindeman.

The forge is popular, too. Schwindeman said he’s “got people coming in here almost every single night and about 12 hours a day on Saturday to make knives, make keychains, do some flowers, date nights, a lot of things like that.”

Blacksmithing helped Schwindeman heal, and it still does. “When things are hard, I come out here and I hammer on hot metal.” 

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