James Neilson is widely recognized for his achievement as Mastersmith in the American Bladesmith Society. He appeared as one of the judges in the History’s series, Forged in Fire. He has been married to Beckie Allen-Neilson since 2013.


Neilson was passionate about crafting the blades since a young age. His interest in knife making and forging encouraged him to pursue his career as a bladesmith. In 1995, Neilson started working in his workshop in the woods of Towanda, Pennsylvania where he developed his lifelong passion into a full-time career.

James Neilson is testing the blades on the set of Forged in Fire.

He started his professional career as a full-time bladesmith in 2004. Initially, he earned recognition for his traditional techniques of knife making with both forging and stock removal method with on-site heat treating. He specialized in fixed blade knives like daggers, Bowies, historical replicas but also worked on tomahawks and swords occasionally.

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Neilson’s career leaped towards the spotlight when he achieved the rank of Mastersmith in the American Bladesmith Society in 2008. With an experience of over 20 years as a bladesmith, Neilson became an expert in individual authorship blade making.

James Neilson forging a knife on his workshop.

His breakthrough came in 2015 after he appeared on the History’s competition series Forged in Fire as a judge alongside David Baker, and Doug Marcaida. The series, hosted by Wil Willis, features four contestant bladesmiths who compete in the three-round elimination battle to forge the bladed weapons. Out of all the judges, Neilson appears as a rude one who makes snarky comments during the competitions. He judges the contestants by testing the durability and technical aspects of the blade.

What happened to James Neilson?

Neilson appeared as one of the regular judges in the first two seasons on Forged in Fire. However, in the third season, he took a long break from the screen to have surgery on his hand. During the time, another master knife maker, Jason Knight replaced Neilson on the seat.

James Neilson working on his workshop with some Damascus welding.

He returned in the premiere of the fourth season and continued his role as the judge. But towards the end of the season, Neilson disappeared from the show again and was replaced on the judge seat by two-time Forged in Fire champion, Ben Abbott. Neilson has not appeared on the show since.

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Since disappearing for the second time, fans have been wondering if the knife expert has left the show. However, neither History Channel nor Neilson has confirmed regarding the topic as of now.

Net worth

Despite being a well-recognized bladesmith, Neilson has not disclosed his net worth yet. Although History Channel has also not revealed his salary per episode, it is apparent to make a significant add up to his net worth. He also earns a lucrative amount of cash from his custom knife shop, Neilson’s Mountain Hollow.

Married life

Neilson is married to Beckie Allen-Neilson. The pair tied the knot on January 2, 2013. They have been sharing a blissful married life for over a decade.

James Neilson along with his wife Beckie Allen-Neilson.

Together, Neilson and Beckie share a daughter and a son. Neilson currently resides in Towanda, Pennsylvania along with his family.

Social media

Neilson is relatively active on social media platforms. He usually posts and share pictures about knives and swords. However, he is not hesitant to share photos with his wife and children on social media. As of March 2018, Neilson has 32.8k followers on Instagram and 1.8k followers on Twitter.