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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 14 Aug, 2017 7:14 am    Post subject: Smiths Using the Most Traditional Tools and Forging Methods         Reply with quote

Of the various sword smiths and armourers who operate in Europe, I am curious which ones produce arms and armour using tools and forging methods most similar to those found in medieval Europe. If, for instance, people wanted to travel to see a smith who operates using very similar tools and technology found in the Middle Ages, who would you recommend?
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Sep, 2017 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe if there's a bladesmith or armourer at Guedelon.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 06 Sep, 2017 9:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I hadn't thought of that, but it makes sense. Does anyone know if there is such an individual there?
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Guillaume Vauthier




Location: France
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Sep, 2017 11:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm, there was a blacksmith, but more to make tools, if I remember well. That said that was a time ago, and since the castle begins to be closer to its end, maybe there is one today... but honestly, I don't think so.
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Alexander Hinman




Location: washington, dc
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PostPosted: Thu 07 Sep, 2017 9:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So from what I gather, you are as much interested, or perhaps more interested, in the smithing process vs the final product.

There are many things that smiths can do to get closer to historical forging or a historical-ish product. Using wrought iron (albeit a technically post-medieval) and welding in steel or case hardening, not using power tools, using charcoal, etc. are all valuable, but one must ask how far one needs to go.

Most (the vast majority, I think) of the weapon or armour smiths in the Middle Ages were not operating alone. They were either one step in the process (e.g. blade -> hilt -> polish) or worked as part of a much larger shop. This also extends to materials. Even 19th century wrought iron is not the same as the bloom iron or steel that medieval smiths would typically work with. And even if they get bloom material for the weapon, what about the tools? Is it ok for their hammer, their files, their anvil to be made from modern materials (or by a modern factory)? What if their anvil is of a 20th century pattern? It's also comparatively hard to find a smith that uses historical fuel. Charcoal is less space-efficient than coal or coke, less controllable than gas, and more expensive than either.

My point is not to rain on your parade, but rather to help define your limits of verisimilitude, because you're going to have to make some concessions to the limitations of the smiths you might want to see making any kind of blacksmithing into a career.

So! To be a bit more supportive, there are two smiths I know of that probably get quite close to what you want. Thijs Van de Manakker does a lot of historical smithing and smelting, though he specializes in pre-medieval stuff. http://www.thijsvandemanakker.com/

Jens Olesen is also pretty good, and demonstrates at Museum Thy in Thisted http://museumthy.dk/forside.aspx

If you're really interested in product over process, I think Fabrice Cognot's work is really exceptional, and also Burgundy is beautiful. http://www.historicalbladesmith.com/

I expect you know a lot of this already Craig but I wanted to make this post more useful to potentially less-informed readers as well, so I hope it doesn't feel like I was talking down to you. Happy
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 07 Sep, 2017 11:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If there's none at Guedelon, then it might be worth checking other medieval parks like the Danish Middelaldercentret or that medieval village where Roland Warzecha holds annual training sessions (Geschichtspark Barnau or something?).
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Arne G.





Joined: 31 Jul 2014

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PostPosted: Thu 07 Sep, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IIRC Johann Schmidberger and his son(s?) work out of a smithy that dates back to the Middle Ages, and uses antique forge and tools. This is in Austria somewhere. I think he still has a website, but it is in German.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 07 Sep, 2017 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
If there's none at Guedelon, then it might be worth checking other medieval parks like the Danish Middelaldercentret or that medieval village where Roland Warzecha holds annual training sessions (Geschichtspark Barnau or something?).


Having been to Geschichtspark Bärnau with Roland this summer, I can confirm that there is no resident smith of any sort at the present time. Most of the people in the park are house patrons who have agreed to look after the maintenance and upkeep of a certain house in the park while having jobs or careers elsewhere. These house patrons are expected to be available certain times of the year for events. However, the house patrons are really just volunteers who are members of the Via Carolina group the park has set up, rather than paid staff available full-time.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 07 Sep, 2017 8:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Arne G. wrote:
IIRC Johann Schmidberger and his son(s?) work out of a smithy that dates back to the Middle Ages, and uses antique forge and tools. This is in Austria somewhere. I think he still has a website, but it is in German.


Thanks Arne, this could be worth investigating further.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 07 Sep, 2017 8:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexander,

Fair enough, and no offence taken. I am asking on behalf of someone who is interested in organizing trips to see people who still practice traditional activities and trades, or people who re-create historical activities and trades. This person does like the "romance" of historical craftsmanship, so the closer and "purer" one can get, the better. Obviously, the fact that medieval sword production typically involved at least two craftsman from entirely different areas means there are limitations to realism, not to mention difficulties with bloom iron and charcoal, and the like. So I guess I am trying to find out those people whose work most closely approximates the type of tools and technologies used.
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Fri 08 Sep, 2017 2:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Alexander,

Fair enough, and no offence taken. I am asking on behalf of someone who is interested in organizing trips to see people who still practice traditional activities and trades, or people who re-create historical activities and trades. This person does like the "romance" of historical craftsmanship, so the closer and "purer" one can get, the better. Obviously, the fact that medieval sword production typically involved at least two craftsman from entirely different areas means there are limitations to realism, not to mention difficulties with bloom iron and charcoal, and the like. So I guess I am trying to find out those people whose work most closely approximates the type of tools and technologies used.


In the brescian area, one of the foremost centers of production of armour and sword, tradition was totally lost some three centuries ago.

Swords were replaced by firearms, getting something of a revival during napoleonic occupation, while the whole industry languished again under the Habsburg rule.

Also already in venetian times bursts of high taxation would cause a freefall in the numbers of shops, with emigration of talents towards other areas.

In short, we have had traditional shops, with water powered power hammers, many set up in late middle ages or Renassince, being still operative in the late XXth century.

Some forges are still operated as living museums.

But the memory of armour and sword making had vanished totally in the last three centuries. Such forges had been producing just agricultural tools, other shops evolved in firearms factory, and all such shops kept modernizing with the passing of time: smiths just adopted innovations like electricity or modern machinery, seamlessly incorporating them in their traditional workflow, abandoning and forgetting more traditional techniques of drilling, welding etc.

It is easy to see XVIth century walls overseeing arc welders and modern anvils, power tools and ancient cutting tools like a big scissor powered by a big branch acting as spring living together peacefully.

The few bladesmiths and armourers that I know are all mixing reconstructed hypothetical techniques and modern tools, almost none of them will for example use correct period hammers, preferring to adapt modern ones with some grinding/forging
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Alexander Hinman




Location: washington, dc
Joined: 08 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 11 Sep, 2017 11:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Alexander,

Fair enough, and no offence taken. I am asking on behalf of someone who is interested in organizing trips to see people who still practice traditional activities and trades, or people who re-create historical activities and trades. This person does like the "romance" of historical craftsmanship, so the closer and "purer" one can get, the better. Obviously, the fact that medieval sword production typically involved at least two craftsman from entirely different areas means there are limitations to realism, not to mention difficulties with bloom iron and charcoal, and the like. So I guess I am trying to find out those people whose work most closely approximates the type of tools and technologies used.


OK, I get you. I don't know where your friend is travelling, but the smiths I mentioned earlier would all be quite good. Thijs would be your best bet for a personal show, if they want to spend the extra money for that (http://www.thijsvandemanakker.com/index.php/demonstrations)

The other two I mentioned are generally good, too, though Fabrice is really the only specialized weaponsmith of the three.

Brunos points are all correct. If they really want to see water powered trip hammers, Northern Italy and Austria seem like the places to go. The museum in Bienno is where I see a lot of trip hammer videos on youtube coming from, but I've never seen them make weapons or armour, so there is that side to it too.
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