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I Forge Iron

New swordsmith


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The best first sword to make is three or four dozen bowies complete with scabbard/
Follow up by 12 to 20 roman short swords. Then 8-12 machetes.

When you have completed that then start on a broad sword.

Actully I'm joking. The first question we want answered is what is your experience in forging. How many years have you been hitting steel with a hammer?

BTW If you would go to USER CP and post your location we might be able point you toward someone that can help you in person. Read this

Edited by Charlotte
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How long have you been blacksmithing?

Can you draw a piece of high carbon steel evenly over a 30+" length with a bevel for half it's width the full length? A double bevel leaving 50% on the width flat and even?

Have you forged a leaf?


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were all different.

My challenge to me is my first sword is going to be a replica of the Sutton Hoo blade, 8 bars patternwelded back to back, and im gonna do it without defects :D

Ive been smithing for a bit over 2 years, and recon another 12 months and ill be ready to have a go at it, I am prepared to fail though!

If your knives are turning out like (and I quote) crap, then any sword you try will look like crap to. Youve just gotta start small and build up to it! its a fun journy though.

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Make your mistakes on knives, *much* faster turn around time and so the learning process is faster.

Once you can reliably make a *good* large knife start working towards a sword.

Now as to which is best, what type of swords do you want to make?

For japanese start with tantos, then wak's then katana not moving forward till all the mistakes of the previous versions are dealt with.

For european I would (after the knives) start with a single edged saber and then go to a double edged blade like a roman gladius and then to a double edged with fuller(s) like a viking blade and then onto high middle ages blades and then on the renaissance blades---both great swords and rapiers.

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Why am I just sitting here...shaking my head...sighing to myself..."why.. why?.. why?"

I have seen far too many folks with a lot of potential just jump into swords way too soon and when they blow it..simply walk away in disgust and never pick up a hammer again...

If one is going to start using welded materials for a sword... you HAVE TO know how to make 100% SOLID welds or else you are asking from problems on several diferent levels..

Oh well...folks will do what they will do I guess....


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If you are a pro swimmer guy and a 15 year old tells you that he or she cannot connect two strokes in the pool with out stopping would you feel that competing at an international level would be a good idea as a starting point? Or might learning to swim be good basics?
Blade making is the same learning system. Learn forging and get all the steps down. That should not take two years for most folks. Then move on to blade.

OR: get a bar of pricey steel, whang on it until you figure out wot it is about sords you do not know and are unable to manage. Then you have three paths to follow: get more steel and do the same to it. Back up to the beginning and learn forgeing basics through to advanced. Or the option that has been seen a lot of times. Quit and live with the frustration of the experience.

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hey there pro swimmer - ive never made a blade crap or otherwise so good on you! good advice from the guys above - keep at it and work your way onto more complicated blades, and like john N said - be prepared for a bit of frustration like in any learning curve i guess. Dont be put off by the hard work tho - if its what you want to make then you go for it and you will do it! Everyone starts somewhere and youve already made a start :)

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JPH, I blame the last chapter of your book for me wanting to make a Sutton Hoo type blade!!! :D

Whilst its obviously over ambitous for a first try at a sword Ive been practicing the techneques on knives (multibars, edge wraps etc!)

Thanks for taking the time to put it all on paper, I really learnt a lot from it, (and am still learning), its somehow easier to digest information from a book than online.

Proswimmer, one bit of advice on making blades, your grinding, heat treating and finishing skills have to keep up with, or be on a par with your forging skills, and thats the bit that takes some learning.....!

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Thanks for all the advice my name is ben by the way thanks rich for the comparison it make s alot of sense and im not using expensive stuff yet and i wont try till i have more experince i was just wondering and doing some research. and jph im just doing research still. thomas again thank you for the advice i would like to make Scottish claymores eventually, i now its going to take a few years to get to there, i was also thinking of doing Turckish Sabres/ sckimatars (not sure of spelling).

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Stock removal on WOOD is a good place to start for blades of all sizes. Cheap, you can knock out something in an evening and get practice on skills you will need for finishing and for designing.

And since fire is not involved parents may have a different opinion about supervision. Then again power tools are dangerous too.

I've only made one sword, it is pine with silver paint on it. I was about 10 at the time and made it with my dad for a costume. Might be the only sword I ever make. I have made a few wooden knives, again as costume pieces. I usually scrap one or two before I finish one. There are many articles about knife making that recommend starting in wood. Apparently the knife used in Rambo was made in wood several times before being approved to be made in steel for the movies.

Don't get discouraged.


Edited by pkrankow
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  • 5 months later...

proswimmerguy, I know that the excitement and intrigue of making a knife and making sword makes you want to make these things now. However there is no replacing Black smithing basics, take a piece of half inch round bar, and make it square, try to get good sharp corners, when you have done that make a octagon, turning the square on edge and hammer the edges to create a new flat, once again try to make as crisp and clean lines and edges as you can, then make the bar round again, make a square taper on the end, then make the square taper almond shaped, this is a very basic exercise, and you should do it till its easy.the experience you can gain from something like this will be very useful, and maybe your next knife won't look so much "like crap"

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Not being disrespectful or anything, but "New Swordsmith" is almost an oxymoron.

Kinda like being a "Novice Surgeon" or a "Neophyte Fighter Pilot".

Sure, there's always the first solo success, but it's a long road to get there.

I second the above... get Dr. Jim's books.

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I started blacksmithing when I was fifteen also. I have only been blacksmithing for a year and half so that just makes me a few months short of seventeen know. When I started I just made rr spike knives and ball pein hammer tomahawks, and.....well..... they looked like crap to :( . All that I have been doing since then is perfecting the tomahawks and spike knives and I am finally getting pretty decent at it.

One thing is just don't get discouraged. If you start to get burnt out or discouraged, then do something that you know you can do like forge something simple or piddle around in your dads woodshop, that's what I always did. If you burn yourself out completely then you will probably drop the hammer for good.

I don't have a whole lot of experience, however, I was just sharing it with you, and hopefully it helps.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Junior Member

Members Posts:
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16-April 09 Posted 02 February 2010 - 03:33 PM

Wow I just realized this post that JPH is James P Hrisoulas. For Christmas I got just got "The Complete Bladesmith" and it is by far the best book that I have read on knives and swords. Thanks JPH for such a great book

Ditto. it's a treasure trove of information. kuddos JPH!!
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Don't let the old pharts and experts fool you, they all started with lots of enthusiasm too, just like you and were told they didn't know xxxx either and look at them now, yeah, old pharts and experts. In a few years you will be one too so hang on to your enthusiasm and who knows you maybe the next great sword smith of the twenty-first century. We all started banging iron some where and some how we became proficient at it over time and with the help of our betters. Don't let the naysayers get you down. Keep on forging, the more you do the better you get at it. I wish you the best at the forge.

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  • 4 months later...

Ditto, well said Jerry!

Best thing to do is get off the computer and DO IT, and keep trying til you get it right.

Ditto, well said Sam =D. I know this is an older post, but if my minimal experience can be helpful, I'd like to give it.

Take the advice of the others...make a couple knives from rail spikes first. See if you naturally have the skills and hammer control necessary. If you don't, practice...and don't get discouraged. A LOT of flubs in forging can be fixed in finishing, just be sure to forge with room for error at first.

I've made four blades I count as successful in my life, of five attempts, over the course of about six months or so. The last being a 25" nagasa (blade length) Japanese style katana. I had no previous bladesmithing experience, nor blacksmithing experience. All I had was the internet, a serious amount of determination...a willingness to learn, with an understanding that LEARNING meant BEING CORRECTED...sometimes very abruptly..and the advice of some VERY skilled craftsmen, including Sam from above, and many, many others.

Here is my entire body of work for you to browse through:

My First Knife
Knife #2
Osoraku Tanto (same tanto as below)
Shobu Tanto
First Full Length Katana
First Japanese Sword (Cont. from above)

The common theme in all the above threads is that I made mistakes, kept on going...and took criticism with gratitude and respect. If you can do the same there's no reason you can't forge anything you like, given enough time and effort =D.

By the way, I'm just now getting back to the forge after a year or so break, so I get to start the learning process all over again lol!

Good luck to you!

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  • 1 month later...

could you suggest a book

I own those JPH books and that was where I started over 5 years ago. (I've been forging steel for about 8 years, knives for 5)I did what others have instructed you to do. I started with knives. Small ones at first, and by the stock removal method to understand the grinding process before I started forging the knives. After reading JPH's books, I tried doing some knife forging and I was making slow progress. Don't get me wrong, his books are great and I still refer back to them, but my knifemaking really took of when I found a master bladesmith to teach me how to do it.

I would suggest that you find a blacksmith's group where you live, join it and start going to the meetings, demos and hammer-ins. You will learn so much faster with a good teacher. Then all of that stuff in JPH's books will start to make sense. Try finding a blacksmith assoc. at ABANA.org
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