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Josh Hibbs




Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
Joined: 23 Jan 2005

Posts: 23

PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 9:50 am    Post subject: Smithing         Reply with quote

As someone that is very interested in creating historical arms I have come to wonder what kind of things I might need to do to become a swordsmith. Would I have to find someone to apprentice with? Spent endless amounts of money to start? or what. If anyone has any idea as to how to to get into this kind of trade it would be much appreciated if you replied.
Thank you very much.

"We men are retched things"
~ Achilles
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Scott Byler




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 20 Aug 2003

Posts: 209

PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 11:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi, Josh.... Getting started isn't that hard if you have a place and a bit of a budget. It doesn't take a ton of money to get set to work, though getting set up to do serious blade work does begin to add up in cost over time. However, you can get by on a surprisingly small amount to start with, and you don't have to hunt an apprenticeship to do it (though if you can work with an experienced smith, you'll likely get a big jump on the learning curve...).

Pick up some books on the subject, at least The Complete Bladesmith by Jim Hrisoulas. It can be found in a number of places and it is probably as good as book getting the basics of smithing work covered as I've seen. There are, ofcourse, other sources, but this one is usually at the top of the list for a bladesmith recommendation.

There are also more than a few bladesmith oriented message boards spread around the net. Just do a search and you may come across some of them and reading there will be a valuable source of information, usually. I know I still find myself searching the various fora I hang around on for various technical info on things I haven't gotten a chance to work at yet...

I wrote a small little, albeit very basic, outline to getting a start in bladesmithing on another forum board.... I wonder if there is a similar posted article on here somewhere?... Hmmm... Can't recall seeing one, but I might have missed it...

There are also various videos about that show a bit of the smithing trade. I have seen one or two, anyway, for sale. I imagine some of them are good for basic info at least...

You may want to check your local library system to see if they have any books on either bladesmithing or blacksmithing (also very valuable source of info, actually... A lot of the work done in blades can be enhanced with basic blacksmithing skills and tools...).

You may also want to look around to see if there are any smithing classes offered at local universities or other similar venues. And check to see if there are any local smithing organizations you might could become involved in....

Just a few thoughts on the subject, anyway....
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Matthew Kelty





Joined: 22 Jun 2004
Reading list: 61 books

Posts: 164

PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 12:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Pick up some books on the subject, at least The Complete Bladesmith by Jim Hrisoulas


Dr. Jim (AKA Atar) is an excellent place to start:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-hand...12-6237510

His "Complete Bladesmith" book is where you start, and he includes all kinds of information on how to build your shop.

His site is at http://www.atar.com, and he has a forum where he will answer questions.

Also check out http://www.anvilfire.com

I'm not sure how far north you are, but the Eastern seaboard has a lot more resources for used smithing equipment than in California, so you'll probably have more available, and far closer to you than I did.

You can pick up a lot of equipment fairly cheaply (*do* shop around) from Ebay. I picked up a 6" Post Vise for $150, and they can run up to about $300. Anvils will be a lot more expensive for the good ones, but if you live in a rural area, you may find people willing to give them to you if you'll just get it out of their way.

Most tools you can make, once you get started, so I'd focus on a couple tongs, maybe a good cutting hardie, and a bending fork, and work on your basic skills. Once you get those out of the way, you can start building the more esoteric tools you'll need, and actually making your own tools give you lots of practice work before you embark on blademaking.

Good luck!

Matthew
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Matthew Kelty





Joined: 22 Jun 2004
Reading list: 61 books

Posts: 164

PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks like my Amazon link failed. Just search for Author: Hrisoulas to find all his stuff.
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John Schaefer





Joined: 14 Jun 2005

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Tue 14 Jun, 2005 11:04 am    Post subject: Anvil and Forge         Reply with quote

One of the hardest things for me to find was the anvil. Were I live there are not that many blacksmiths/farriers so I had to get lucky or search the net. I did find a store and thats where I got my anvil. If you have a Harborfreight were you live you can get a pretty good anvil at a cheap price and there website is www.harborfreight.com and is the same place I bought my angle grinder. My anvi is only about 110 pounds and was only $70 dollars(US). My forge however I bought on ebay and was like $200.

It was not professionally made but was well worth it since i dont know how to make one and the other ones cost $3-400 for a small one. It is a gas forge and burns a lot cleaner than my charcoal and is less costly. You will need an area to work that is well ventilated. One of the most imortant things you will need is a quench tank to cool your steel. In the book
the Complete bladesmith they show you everything you need to know from building the workshop to getting started forging.

You will need to pick up a vise form the same website still pretty cheap. My whole workshop only cost about $400 which
is pretty cheap considering some anvils cost that. If you can afford brnad new tools which most of us cant check out
www.centaurforge.com they have everything you need and even if your like me and cant afford to spend $80 dollars on a
one fuller it is a good place to look for Ideas of what you need. I hope this helps and if you have any questions just ask
even though im not a master smith I can try to answer all your questions my email is jayman2982@yahoo.com.
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Ryan Brault




Location: Camarillo, CA
Joined: 08 Aug 2005

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 3:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hi josh, if you don't have the buget to buy a forge, you can always do what i did, make one, i use charcoal, but i hear propane is easier to use, http://sjaqua.tripod.com/forge.htm
"OH SWEET METAL CUTTING PARADISE, THY NAME BE BEVERLY"
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Greyson Brown




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

Posts: 790

PostPosted: Tue 09 Aug, 2005 4:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since I don't see mentioned above, ABANA (Artist Blacksmiths Association of North America) is a good place to check and see if there are any smiths in your area. Most of the blacksmiths that I know, at least the ones that do it as a hobby, are rather willing to take someone under their wing and show them the ropes. There was also a website called the Blacksmith's Virtual Junkyard (www.keenjunk.com) that had a decent forum, but I haven't had much luck conecting to it recently.

One final thought: beware of the icky smoke. The icky smoke is that stuff that comes from burning green coal and it carries The Bug. If you get bit by The Bug, you way become adicted to blacksmithing and find yourself pounding hot iron a lot, or (in my case) suffering withdrawls when you are unable to.

-Grey

"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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Jesse Frank
Industry Professional



Location: Tallahassee, Fl
Joined: 04 May 2005

Posts: 144

PostPosted: Tue 09 Aug, 2005 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey,

What you actually NEED to get started is fairly basic. Big Grin

There are lots of good resources for those just getting into it.

http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index.php?act=idx

http://www.abana.org/ find a group in your area.

http://www.dfoggknives.com/
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Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Sat 22 Aug, 2009 5:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Anvil and Forge         Reply with quote

[quote="John Schaefer"]One of the hardest things for me to find was the anvil. Were I live there are not that many blacksmiths/farriers so I had to get lucky or search the net. I did find a store and thats where I got my anvil. If you have a Harborfreight were you live you can get a pretty good anvil at a cheap price and there website is www.harborfreight.com and is the same place I bought my angle grinder. My anvi is only about 110 pounds and was only $70 dollars(US). My forge however I bought on ebay and was like $200.

I am seriously thinking about buying an anvil. I have been researching anvils for the past week. I want to get a name brand, since I figure this is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. I am looking at the Cliff Carroll 35 lb. Anvil or their 70 lb anvil. I wonder if anyone has recommendations. Is the 35 pounder too small for making knives.....or what ever else I decide to make... this metal working is way more addictive than I expected it to be.

Any comments or suggestions.

I am making my second knife by stock removal, and I just want to get more in touch with the blade making process. Seems like the anvil is the way to go since I will not be grinding so much metal to dust.

Thanks for you help.

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Sat 22 Aug, 2009 10:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Josh,
All my life I have been interested in this very same dream, and it has been within the last year that i decided to act on it. I am by no means a smith of any kind, however I too aspire to create such pieces. I am not going to beat this into the ground because a lot of the info i have read in this thread is great. If this is something you are truly interested in then you will find yourself learning more and more everyday.
I am in the process of collecting equipment to hopefully someday be able to be blade smiting if not sword smiting. In fact just today I got out bid on a 113lb anvil at a local auction and I was bummed all day. Surly getting set up with equipment is the first step in actually doing, and if you don't have a lot of money to invest it can be a tricky ongoing process. however there are many things you can do to prepare without having the shop or equipment.
Read, read , read!!!! If an apprenticeship is out of reach... teach yourself by reading and obtaining a good plan of attack and then do. Doing is the real way to learn what will work for you, but reading can be a real education. I also recommend "The Complete Bladesmith", but I also would suggest picking up a good book on general smiting.
Here is the cool part. In my opinion the hardest part of obtaining this goal is actually smiting a blade and tempering it properly. Who is to stop you from learning some other skills next week or even tomorrow? I am not being very clear here, so let me explain. A bladesmith must make a blade, and then fit it right? Well who is to stop you from working on a exsisting blade. What I am getting at here is that there is a lot more that goes into a finished product. Creating the hilt, the scabbard, and so on. If you don't have the equipment to be smiting right away, try other stuff to prepare you for creating a finished product that is your own in the future. Buy a a sword and modify it, build a scabbard for it and so on. If you are interested check out my thread called "Pompei Gladius Modifications ". Here I have taken a production pompei gladius and began to modify it to be historically accurate and hopefully just better in general. Let me just tell you though, it has been a lot of reading and help from this community in order to do it to the best of my ability.
Also you have mentioned an interest in creating historical arm. Don't limit yourself to swords. Try modifying a war hammer or axe. Build a shield. Do some leather work. Do some wood carving and shaping. There are a million and one project that you can do that will both be educational, and a hell of a lot of fun too. I hope this has been motivational, and I look forward to seeing your work someday. Keep at it ,and if it is really something you want to do then you will. Oh yeah and remember that things are not always going to go as you planned. Good luck

Best wishes

Luke
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Philip C. Ryan




Location: Omaha, NE
Joined: 04 Nov 2005
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon 24 Aug, 2009 11:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mr. Montgomery, I would suggest acquiring an anvil at least in the 100 lb. range. Preferrably heavier, as it gives you more work surface, and a more solid base.

To those who want to pick up a hammer and tongs, and instantly start making blades....please take your time! Start by reading up on books/ websites (ABANA), and talking/working with smiths who have time under their belts first. Then start making simple things (nails, hooks, etc) to begin developing skills. Proceed to larger projects to start honing your skills (simple tools). Bladesmithing is an extremely sophisticated aspect of blacksmithing (proper iron/steel, proper blade geometry, proper hardening then tempering), and requires LOTS of practice. Work up to the skill level slowly, and you will end up with a better outcome.

Skjaldborg Viking Age Living History and Martial Combat
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Michael Pikula
Industry Professional



Location: Madison, WI
Joined: 07 Jun 2008

Posts: 411

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip C. Ryan wrote:
Mr. Montgomery, I would suggest acquiring an anvil at least in the 100 lb. range. Preferrably heavier, as it gives you more work surface, and a more solid base.

To those who want to pick up a hammer and tongs, and instantly start making blades....please take your time! Start by reading up on books/ websites (ABANA), and talking/working with smiths who have time under their belts first. Then start making simple things (nails, hooks, etc) to begin developing skills. Proceed to larger projects to start honing your skills (simple tools). Bladesmithing is an extremely sophisticated aspect of blacksmithing (proper iron/steel, proper blade geometry, proper hardening then tempering), and requires LOTS of practice. Work up to the skill level slowly, and you will end up with a better outcome.


Last night I was trying to word a reply and it just wasn't happening, but I think Philip said it really well.

Going out and buying an anvil and forge and just "figuring it out" from a book is very difficult and without proper training you can end up hurting yourself in ways that you can't imagine. Unless you have access to someone in the trade that can show you the ins and outs of forging, I personally think that starting out with some simple stock removal is a better way to get started. Also like Philip said start out making simple objects, learn what the 7 basic forging operations are and how to perform them, then start applying that to forging blades. In my opinion investing the $ in a good grinder and using it to figure out your basic blade geometry and handling will be a huge step forward since you can just stop at 36 grit, look at the blade, and have a model for about what your forged blank should look like.

I donít want to sway anyone away from forging, or make it sound really difficult. You just have to understand and know what is going on so you can start working with a certain level of success. When you take small bites and can see progress and be successful in your efforts, then it is inspiring to move forward onto the next project. It took me several years before I started forging blades that I thought were good enough to finish.

Best of luck to you, and remember to have fun and play safe!
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Justin King
Industry Professional



Location: flagstaff,arizona
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 551

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to echo some of what Phillip and Michael said. Forging blades is not something that one can teach one's self to do well in a month or two. Without some decent instruction the first few years of smithing can be quite a struggle. Learning how to build, tune, and operate a forge (gas or coal) in itself is no small undertaking. Setting up your own quenching tank and tempering apparatus can also be a huge learning process. As has been mentioned, grinding/stock removal is another aspect that requires it's own skill set which can take years to hone.
The point is that a well-rounded bladesmith has many skill sets, each of which can be considered a trade/skill in and of itself and may take months or years to learn. I keep waiting for a prospective smith to come on the board and ask how to make a set of tongs, or a hammer, or a similarly appropriate project for a beginner, instead of going straight to blade-making.
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 8:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When I finally have a place to work which at this point is at least two years in the future the first thing I plan to do (besides just practice trial and error stuff) is make some tools. I figured I would try some tongs and then move onto somethings that require specific hardening like chisels and hardy tools. I have found a lot of good tutorials online for making tongs. I am sorry if I gave the impression that it could be figured out from books, but you can prepare yourself for an apprenticeship or basic skills by reading. As I mentioned before actually doing is going to be better then just reading about it.
Speaking of actually doing. Does anyone know of any smiths in PA?
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Barry C. Hutchins





Joined: 07 Jul 2009

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 11:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Which part of Pennsylvania?
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Tue 25 Aug, 2009 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I live in a town called Lock Haven. It is West of Williamsport, North of State College. Located in Clinton County along the West Branch of the Susquehanna.
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Bruno Giordan





Joined: 28 Sep 2005

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 916

PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 5:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin King wrote:
I have to echo some of what Phillip and Michael said. Forging blades is not something that one can teach one's self to do well in a month or two. Without some decent instruction the first few years of smithing can be quite a struggle. Learning how to build, tune, and operate a forge (gas or coal) in itself is no small undertaking. Setting up your own quenching tank and tempering apparatus can also be a huge learning process. As has been mentioned, grinding/stock removal is another aspect that requires it's own skill set which can take years to hone.
The point is that a well-rounded bladesmith has many skill sets, each of which can be considered a trade/skill in and of itself and may take months or years to learn. I keep waiting for a prospective smith to come on the board and ask how to make a set of tongs, or a hammer, or a similarly appropriate project for a beginner, instead of going straight to blade-making.


True. Even making a medieval spike will be difficult at the beginning.

Practicing bladesmiths are encouraged to start forging small knives.

I have just smithed a falchion, approaching the final shape , especially in terms of distal taper and blade section, very very closely to the final shape.

It took three years to reach for this level and I'm still committing lots of errors, a little distraction and an hammer blow can ruin the work ( a typical one: putting the blade at a slightly too wrong angle under dies of the power hammer .. causing nicks in the blade. ).

I think for an hobbyist stock removal is quite appropriate as well, as the first smithed blades will be just very thick blanks, whose final shape will be reached only by a lot of grinding: which basically will sends one back to stock removal.

I'm quite satisfied with smithing as an hobby and as an extremely interesting cultural search path but I feel some more excitement in studying originals and laying out the design for a new blade.

Learning smithing is not difficult but one has to mind many factors when dealing with a forge, coal/charcoal type, strength of airflow, power hammer's tricks etc.
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Barry C. Hutchins





Joined: 07 Jul 2009

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

small world Luke, I am less than a 100 miles to the East of you.

Anyway, the reason I asked is I have a small list of blacksmiths other than farriers, I will give you the contact information of the ones closer to your location.

Just as a note, there is a Surplus City at 3365 Lycoming Creek Road, Williamsport PA 17701 which is worth looking into as a metal source. Although I have not yet gone to the effort to harden and temper a test piece of the 5/16" rod I just picked up, the 'spark test' on a grinder compares favorably to the sparks off of an old file. In addition to the low prices on flats and rounds, there is a good selection of plate and sheet metal in various dimensions. Not all of it will be suitable for forging into another object, but the prices will make it worth the trip for you. They also carry some hard to find fastners (at least in this century) such as real rivets as opposed to 'pop rivets' in various sizes.
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
Joined: 18 Jan 2009

Posts: 278

PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is fantastic. I Have actually been to that store. It is right down the street from Harbor Freight. I didn't even think about it as a place to get materials. I was there very briefly and bought some rollers to paint part of an apartment. Thanks for the advice!!

Luke
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