Exploring a new passion is one of life’s most exciting qualities.
Emmitsburg’s Tanner Shorb, 12, is a middle schooler turned entrepreneur, finding joy in one of the oldest-known industries in existence.
At just nine years old, Shorb began crafting metal, creating tools, hooks, knives, and anything else he could come up with. He has become tremendously good at forging metal by keeping it simple, “I just start with a bar of whatever I want to make something out of, and then I bend it on the anvil to make it look the way I want,” Shorb said.
He initially drew his inspiration from an unlikely source, but he has since found that he’s got a natural knack for blacksmithing. “I started from watching Forged In Fire,” Shorb said.
Forged In Fire is a popular game show on the History Channel, where four contestants compete for money to create the best bladed weapon they can make.
Shorb’s skills forging metal have come a long way, and he’s been able to turn his hobby into an official business. “He just set up for the first time on Mother’s Day weekend,” Tanner’s father DJ Shorb said. “They had him all set up out there at Frontier Bar B Q, and he’s going to go back there Father’s Day weekend. He fits in well there, too, because you have pit beef, Jason carving logs with a chainsaw, and [Tanner] as the blacksmith.”
Locals were able to get a glimpse at the craftsmanship that goes into Shorb’s handmade pieces, and despite the rain, he even made some sales on his first big weekend.
“I had people stopping by just to watch.” Blacksmithing is a hard-to-find skill these days, and the sight of a 12-year-old intricately shaping metal is not one you see every day. Shorb has even built his own display set to show off some of his finest pieces, including detailed metal Mother’s Day flowers.
His father, DJ Shorb, has seen his son’s craftsmanship and attention to detail for a long time. “He forges everything himself,” DJ said. “I’m a carpenter, so he comes and helps me all the time with projects.”
He’s no stranger to woodworking either. In addition to helping his father, Shorb has made his own walking sticks, too.
“He isn’t afraid to get dirty, and he isn’t afraid to work,” DJ said.
Blacksmithing is something Shorb has had the drive to do for a long time, and with a little help from his family, he has been able to make it a reality.
“When he was nine, all he wanted for Christmas was a forge, an anvil, and a vice,” DJ said. “He’s a real hard worker, so if he wants to do it, I’m all for it.”
The young go-getter already has a logo and a business name branded. While ‘Tanner’s Forge’ is just getting started, he has a lot of room to grow and to continue cultivating his metalworking. This industry may even be a long-term destination for him.
“I could see a career in this,” Shorb said.
Aside from his gig producing professional-quality products, Shorb goes to school and has a full schedule of baseball.
Kids with the attitude and drive that Tanner Shorb has inspire hope that the next generation will do great things. That ingrained hard-working nature leads down a road toward a bright future.
To catch Shorb in action, stop by his spot at Frontier Bar B Q on Father’s Day weekend to see something truly unique.
Tanner demonstrates how he operates his blacksmithing forge.
Starting with a red hot piece of metal, Tanner hammers the substrate on his anvil into a small horseshoe for a decorative item one of his clients custom-ordered.
Tanner displays a small portion of hand-crafted items he has produced. The forged metal items include crosses, hanging hooks, delicate flowers, and jewelry. He also specializes in making “Squirrel Cookers,” to be used over an open flame or around the campfire.