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Teddy Hall




Location: Oklahoma
Joined: 10 Sep 2014

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu 25 Sep, 2014 8:57 pm    Post subject: Real Vs Fake sword making         Reply with quote

Hello i recently watched Conan the barbarian staring Arnold Schwarzenegger and saw them forging a sword in winter. I loved that scene till i saw them quench the sword in the snow. NOW in all fairness if you didn't have water or oil you used what you had. So did they do that back then? I have no doubt. BUT! what bothers me is it didn't do a thing to the sword. Obviously that's because its a movie but it makes me ask. If historically someone (and i'm sure this has happened) did the final cooling or quenching (sorry i know next to nothing about sword making) wouldn't that cause the sword or anything such as glass to break, or explode? I have no doubt there is some historical accuracy in using snow to quench a sword, and in the movie's own defense the sword was not glow in the dark fresh out of the forge bright orange. But was still hot enough to need tongs to hold and make the ice sizzle. I cant help but think that would ruin the temper or simply break the sword. Can anyone help me out with this? or is that accurate in that nothing would happen it would be like using water for quenching/cooling the steel. just a bit faster? Just a random thought after a movie and question i thought i might want to ask.
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 2:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Heh. Awesome as it is, that scene goes off the rails right off the bat with the pouring of molten iron into a sword-shaped mold...
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,436

PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 3:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Heh. Awesome as it is, that scene goes off the rails right off the bat with the pouring of molten iron into a sword-shaped mold...

avatar the last airbender makes the same mistake when sokka melts down iron from a meteorite and pours it directly into a OPEN TOP sword shaped mould to make his new sword
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Theo Squires





Joined: 23 Jul 2012

Posts: 64

PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 3:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Heh. Awesome as it is, that scene goes off the rails right off the bat with the pouring of molten iron into a sword-shaped mold...

avatar the last airbender makes the same mistake when sokka melts down iron from a meteorite and pours it directly into a OPEN TOP sword shaped mould to make his new sword


I'm pretty sure Game of Thrones does the same thing when they reforge a Valyrian-steel sword. Film and reality often have only a tenuous relationship.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,436

PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 3:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theo Squires wrote:
William P wrote:
Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Heh. Awesome as it is, that scene goes off the rails right off the bat with the pouring of molten iron into a sword-shaped mold...

avatar the last airbender makes the same mistake when sokka melts down iron from a meteorite and pours it directly into a OPEN TOP sword shaped mould to make his new sword


I'm pretty sure Game of Thrones does the same thing when they reforge a Valyrian-steel sword. Film and reality often have only a tenuous relationship.


its also in books as well, ive been told that the scene of ice being melted down is described the exact same way in the books
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Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 3:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To be fair to GoT, we are given no idea what valarian steel is, so pouring it into a mold a la bronze is not as silly as it often is. My understanding of the Conan scene is that using snow as a quench medium is not a problem because it is so cold it will make the sword shatter, it is that it does a really bad job of absorbing enough heat to work as a quenchent.
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 4:13 am    Post subject: Re: Real Vs Fake sword making         Reply with quote

Teddy Hall wrote:
...did the final cooling or quenching...


The quenching can cause the steel to crack, but it is also a necessary step to harden the steel before the final annealing phase.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 6:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:
To be fair to GoT, we are given no idea what valarian steel is, so pouring it into a mold a la bronze is not as silly as it often is. My understanding of the Conan scene is that using snow as a quench medium is not a problem because it is so cold it will make the sword shatter, it is that it does a really bad job of absorbing enough heat to work as a quenchent.

Snow contains a lot of trapped air, which acts as a good insulator and, hence, a bad quenchant.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Coupla things. First, there are a number of swordsmiths today (including some big-name high-end ones) who were inspired to get into making swords by that very scene! So you are not alone in being "lit up" by it.

Next, yeah, starting with pouring molten steel into an open mold is all wrong, unless you want to make a nice sword-shaped frying pan. Not much chance of getting a nice piece of steel that you can forge a sword from.

The rest of the scene isn't bad, in fact I've *heard* that some of it actually shows Jody Sampson making that actual sword. Dunno how true that is. The quenching may not be entirely wrong--it's apparently an actual red-hot sword being thrust into actual snow--though as folks have said it might not be the best way to do the job.

As I understand it, quenching is NOT the last step. It hardens the steel greatly but leaves it very brittle, and can crack or shatter the piece if done incorrectly. Or just warp the heck out of it. Quenching must be followed by tempering, carefully reheating the blade to get very precise color changes, leaving the metal as hard as possible but no longer brittle. THEN you can clean and polish it, and sharpen it up. (Or sharpen and then clean?)

The best description I ever heard of the process was from a blacksmith at an 18th century house. He showed the process on a chisel he was making, and said that you can not temper steel until you harden it--"It's like trying to slam a door open." Conversely, you don't want to quench-harden a blade and then NOT temper it, cuz that will be like running through the door without opening it!

Shoot, now I wanna go watch Conan again! Though I always fast-forward through the useless witch...

Matthew
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can only say from burning trash in the winter (stirring the fire with an iron pipe) that thrusting hot metal into snow is an extremely slow way to change the temp. of the hot metal - not to mention a very inefficient way to melt snow. Just pokes a hole in it, and the pipe is still very hot......
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Jerry Monaghan




Location: melbourne australia
Joined: 29 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi
Still watch the first Conan movie when I get the time and never get tired of it love the making of his fathers sword and still have mine number 52

Regards

Jerry Monaghan
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Craig Johnson
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Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 2:29 pm    Post subject: Quenching and tempering         Reply with quote

There are several threads and some of the articles touch on these things pretty well if you are interested. The component to remember in discussions of working period steel is they did not work with accurate measurements of temp or time. It was experience and eye. In the case of quenching the smith would have seen it as imparting something into the iron. This was viewed as what components did he put into the quench to affect the steel. Now that is not how it works in the way we view the world, but to them it made sense and they got results.

One element of this is the interrupted or slack quench where the item is quenched but removed while it still has some heat at its core which will self temper the piece. Its more art than science in absolute so it would not give you an absolutely consistent result but much like hand grenades close enough was good enough for their needs.

Best
Craig
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 4:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Coupla things. First, there are a number of swordsmiths today...


Great post, Matthew.

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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Fri 26 Sep, 2014 8:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Heh. Awesome as it is, that scene goes off the rails right off the bat with the pouring of molten iron into a sword-shaped mold...


Which has been repeated again and again, most recently in the season premiere of Game of Thrones where the blades for the Valeryan steel swords Widow's Wail and Oathkeeper were shown being poured, molten into sword-shaped molds.

The same was done for the Uruk swords in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, though with all the sorcery involved, not knowing anything about the source metal, and crude nature of the blades, that could maybe be forgiven.
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Jarno-T. Pälikkö
Industry Professional



Location: Helsinki, Finland
Joined: 18 May 2007

Posts: 98

PostPosted: Sat 27 Sep, 2014 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Heh! Been there, done that!
2006 I helped a friend to make an Atlantean-sword demo for his company's site. We did a fairly good version of the said Conan the Barbarian sword making scene, with the tongue only very slightly in the cheek. The quenching part we did for real. During the week before shooting the video I collected a huge mound of snow right next to the door of the smithy - luckily it was one of them very snowy winters! I heated the sword blade in the forge and when it was in nice orange glow, I dumped it into a steel tube with the bottom sealed and rushed out of the door and then with the camera rolling, thrust it into the snow. I had to move the blade quite a lot around to keep it in contact with the snow and it took surprisingly long time to cool the blade. However, something like a top third of the blade had actually hardened, the rest remained soft. Without that 20 meters spurt between the forge and the snow mound, the results might have been better...
So basically, the snow actually works - to a degree - but I must stress that it is Not my preferred method of quenching blades!
In the movie, they wanted to make the creating of the sword look cool and I have to say that they succeeded!

Tried to find the video from Youtube, but apparently it has disappeared.... pity.

JT
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Kirk B.





Joined: 05 Aug 2007

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Mon 29 Sep, 2014 5:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVx4LafsvSU

-Kirk
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Oct, 2014 6:38 am    Post subject: Real vs Fake sword making         Reply with quote

In that movie it was Conan's father (William Smith) who quenched the sword's blade with snow shortly after completing it.
In real life maybe we haven't seen blacksmiths who work outdoors do so.

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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