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Chip F.

Joined: 05 Jan 2015

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 3:06 pm    Post subject: Swordsmithing - where to begin?         Reply with quote

I've been a long time collecter of swords and blades and have recently begun studying HEMA, but there is another aspect of sword culture that has yet evaded my grasp: swordsmithing. It is a dream of mine to some day make a sword, but to me this seems like the hardest branch of the sword world to enter into as a clueless beginner. So my question to anyone on this forum who has experience crafting swords is: how did you get started? My best guess at the moment is that I would need to find an experienced smith who could walk me through the process, probably beginning with an extremely basic knife design before working up to forging a sword. This seems expensive and unlikely however, as I imagine sword smiths out there are too busy to spend time with a total novice hobbyist. Still, the dream persists...
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Glen A Cleeton

Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,968

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A couple of old threads that may be useful

The world is your oyster to open.

The makers section here has many in progress threads and the depth of information available to you, the reader, to go through and cherry pick. Short of apprenticing with someone is starting at the beginning yourself and those first two links a start. To start is half the work.

The following is a forum you should join and participate at.


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Aaron Hoard

Location: Seattle, WA
Joined: 01 Sep 2009
Likes: 4 pages

Posts: 176

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 5:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Owen Bush teaches a class on sword making:

I've taken one of Owen's axe making classes - it was an enjoyable experience. I imagine the sword class would be similar.
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Ryan Renfro

Location: Reno, NV
Joined: 27 Dec 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 117

PostPosted: Fri 27 Nov, 2015 5:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Depending on where you are based and your ability to travel, Owen Bush runs a 7-day swordsmithing course on the outskirts of London which a few people on this forum haven attended and which I can recommend:

As for books, "The Complete Bladesmith" by Jim Hrisoulas is a fairly good introduction to the topic.

If you don't have a place for a forge or, since you'll need a lot of other equipment such as a belt grinder anyway, you might want to take a look at Tinker Pearce's stock removal method here or also The Sword Geek podcast #14 on equipment. Starting with the stock removal method or even just doing the final grinding and hilting on a heat-treated Albion bare blade would get you started making something and teach you skills that you will need to develop anyway if you wish to proceed to hot work.
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Greyson Brown

Location: Windsor, Colorado
Joined: 22 Nov 2004
Reading list: 15 books

Posts: 809

PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote


If you happen to live in or withing reasonable driving distance of Northern Colorado (Loveland, specifically), there is a free informal blacksmith get together the first full weekend in June each year. It is called Hammer-In and the idea is to help introduce people to smithing as well as get just hang out with other people who share the blacksmithing interest. You probably won't find anyone who has made a sword, but there are a lot of friendly people willing to help you get started and recommend resources. The Hammer-In web site ( doesn't get updated religiously, but at least has some info to give you an idea about the event.

-- Greyson

"So long as I can keep the path of honor I am well content."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company
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Jeroen T

Location: Holland
Joined: 23 Oct 2013

Posts: 56

PostPosted: Sat 28 Nov, 2015 12:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I started with some classes wich i was lucky enough to have nearby.

But here is simplefied crashcourse.

Start with a simple knife.

Search on the web for a "making a forge" video.
Choose one that fits your needs and posibilites.

You need an anvil of some kind and a Hammer.

Buy some Carbon steel ( scrapsteel is possible but there is the risk of cracks you don't see.)

Heat up the steel till it's Orange apple orange and then let it cool of.
Try not to leave it out in the wind because some steels can air harden.
This is called normalizing and reliefs the steel from stress.
You can do this a couple of times.

After that you can start forging.
Heat up the steel till orange and start hammering till it's cherry red.
Brigther then orange has the risk of burning the steel/carbon, especially when the piece get's thinner from forging.
Darker then cherry red has the risk of hammering cracks in the steel.

After the forging is done and your happy with the shape and dimensions you can normalize the blade again for 2 or 3 times.
Make sure you leave the edge at least 1mm thick for hardening.

For hardening heat up the edge evenly till a dark orange(a magnet comes in handy, when it won't stick it's ready for hardening) and quench it in used oil or water depending on. What kind of steel it is.

After that temper the steel in you kitchen oven for about 2 hours at 200 degrees celcius.

Now finish the knive with a vile, sandingpaper etc. .... if you use grinders of some kind make sure the blade doesn't get hot.
If it's too hot to hold cool it. Other wise you ruin the temper.

In a nutshell these are the basics, getting started is that simple.
But getting good and making excellent knives or swords will need some practice. Wink
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Chip F.

Joined: 05 Jan 2015

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Mon 14 Dec, 2015 2:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great - thank you all for your input and information! I forgot to mention that I am currently in the Boston area - I am of yet unsure as to whether or not there are any smithing classes near me, but it sounds like starting on your own is not entirely out of the question, provided that one has done all of the proper research and assembled adequate materials and work space.

This may be something I have to wait and try a little down the line, as I cannot exactly make a forge in my two bedroom apartment Razz However, I will use the resources you all have shared and continue to be on the look out for opportunities. Cheers!
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