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I Forge Iron

Bladesmith's Dictionary

Chris Waldon

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I've sitting on this idea for a while. I'd like to put together a resource for other beginning bladesmiths like me that defines the basic and crucial vocabulary that we use all the time and I'm asking for your help.

If you have time, could you post a few definitions of words you consider crucial to this craft.


distal taper
hidden tang
full tang

And anything else you can think of.

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Tang---the end opposite the pointy end.

Bladesmith---the idgit holding 1/2 of a blade in a set of tongs with the other half now a mess of clinker in the firepot and sparks over the fire.

Click---the sound/feel that tells you you guessed wrong about what quenchant to use (again)

Really most books on the craft will have a nice drawing of a blade with all this pointed out on it. Why re-invent the wheel? Pictures are much better than descriptions, at least a lot of what you have listed gets drawn on the face of my anvil in soapstone while waiting for the steel to re-heat in one of my classes on bladesmithing.

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I have a few:

Ricasso: Part of the blade at the bottom. Usually left unsharpened.
Forte: Bottom third/half of blade, closest to the handguard (Forte=strong)
Foible: Upper third/half of blade, closest to the tip (Foible=Weak)
Fuller: Groove down the middle of the blade, to make it lighter. (supposedly it also makes it stronger, because it's more like an I-beam [i can't confirm or deny that. More experienced people please?] and supposedly there's less suction when pulling it out of some unlucky bloke what made you angry... but that may be another myth [again, experienced people should confirm/deny this claim]

I think these definitions are right. If not, please feel free to correct me, as then I too will learn. :)

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Bloodgroove: another term for fuller. The idea that the fuller helps "breaks the vacuum" of a blade inserted into flesh is totally erroneous as any butcher can tell you.

A fuller makes a blade stronger per weight; but not stronger than the same blade without a fuller. As weight is a problem with hand held weapons fullers were considered a good thing and so were used for over 1000 years in using swords. (Migration era - Modern cavalry---I have a 1918 "Patton Model that is fullered!)

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