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Sword Tutoral.


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Sword Tutoral - (this is not a joke)

This is intended as a tutoral for those with no smithing experience and those with 2 or more years of actual Smithing experience.

No experience part-

Tools required,
1. about $70 to 100 grand for expenses and to live on till you can get more,
2. medium sized forge with a ton or more of coal in reserve, (a 2 or 3 burner propane forge will work),
3. forge maintenance tools
4. a good forge blower in top condition,
5. a good smithing anvil with a nice smooth defect free top,
6. at least 3 sizes of hand hammers,
7. at least a 25lb power hammer,
8. several pair of appropriate tongs,
9. appropriate safety gear, (fire extuinguisher, gloves, safety glasses, apron, earplugs, dust mask steel toed boots, big emergency burn first aid kit,)
10. a decent belt grinder with lots of belts of different grits,
11. a 20 or 30 gallon quench tank for water,
12. a 30 or 55 gallon long quench tank for oil,
13. a chop saw or horizontal band saw,
14. a weatherproof year round building to put everything in and work in,
15. a good exhaust system for said building,
16. building wired for lights and outlets for power tools with lots of windows for daytime.
17. check with your insurance company first to see if you will be covered for forging operations
18. check with local codes and fire department pertaining to operating a business in your area and electrical, and building codes,
19. make sure all your work clothes are cotton and not synthetics,
20. make sure you have a telephone with doctor, hospital, fire dept and eye doctor numbers on wall by phone, have 911 on speed dial on phone.
21. buy every book you can on basic smithing,
22. join a smithing group and attend all the meetings faithfully,
23. learn how to start and maintain a forge fire,
24. learn hammer control and use so you don't hurt or injure yourself with bad habits.

Beginners are now ready to start smithing.

Read every smithing book you have acquired, cover to cover at least 3 times.

Get a good supply of 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch round rod. 3 or 4 hundred feet of each.

1st month, using 1/4 inch rod make nails, (teaches hammer control, drawing and heading experience).

2nd month, using 1/4 inch rod make S- hooks, half of them round, the other half squared from 1/4 round rod, (teaches drawing, measuring, bending, hand eye coordination, forming)

3rd month, using 3/8 inch rod, make drive or beam hooks, you will have run out of 1/4 rod. (teaches drawing, bending measuring, bending, hammer control, forming)

4th month, using 1/2 inch rod, make flat bar, 1/8, 3/16 and 1/4 inch thick. (teaches drawing spreading, fullering and stamina).

5th month, using flat bar make a tool holder for tools, (teaches measuring, bending, layout and design)

6th month, practice forge welding flat bar previously made into 3/4 inch square bar. (teaches, forge welding, hammer control, working to dimension)

7th month, close up shop, offer yourself to a good smith at no pay for a year to acquire the skills you don't have and let him correct the bad ones you taught yourself.

Experienced Smiths jump in here, you have already accomplished the preceding.

19th month, get more money, enroll yourself in a college metallurgy course so you will be able to understand what you can and cannot do with metal.

43rd month, get more money, apprentice yourself without pay to a competant knife maker for a year to learn the basics of blade forging.

55th month, get more money, apprentice yourself without pay to a competant and known Sword maker for at least 2 years to learn the basics of sword making. (they are few and far between, and you may have to pay them to work under them.)

79th month, you have learned to live on bologna sandwiches and water, and you are in debt so far you can't borrow a dime from a banker. But , you are now ready to attempt a sword on your own. Prepare to fail the first at least 5 times.

80th month, go back to the first 3 months and make enough of what hooks and nails to afford bologna sandwiches. You have traded your vehicle for a used bicycle because you can't buy gas and bologna and the choice is easy, you can't swing a hammer when you are malnourished.

OH, yes, enjoy your first quality sword.

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I think I must be at about the 43rd month going on the 80th
years ago when I got out of the army I wanted to build a Hawken rifle ... I didn't have the tools or the skills I stared collecting to tools and learning how to use them...I now have a shop full of tools and the parts to make the rifle and the skill... one of these days I might put it together but for now its a reminder of where I came from...same thing here it takes a long time to get it all together you just don't say I think I'll make a sword today

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hmn, did you overstate a little?
Personally I seem to get by with the smithing part of making a blade, its the heat treating bit I eff up on..
I have a single blower propane forge, and a coal forge..
I hate to say it, because I really do respect everyone here on this forum to the Highest extent.. but I think some people enjoy overstating and making what they do seem far more difficult than it actually is.. I realize it is complicated.. (I've messed up quite a few times so far because of things I was unaware of) but really what did the first smiths make due with? A few stone or bronze hammers, a big flat rock or stump to hit hot steel on.. and a hot box of charcoal.. obviously the results weren't the same as modern blades but still.. there was no controlled heat treating kiln, or tempering oven..
I do fine without a power hammer although I would really love to have one.. Straightening out coil springs in a rivit forge is not the most pleasant thing to do..
The average beginner already has a far more stable learning and working enviorment than that..

And anyway, do you guy's know how hard it is to find a good knifesmith or even just blacksmith to apprentice under? I know at least up here they are sparse, I think I know 3 by name and one by this forum.

ehh, dont take offense to this please.. just try and look at it yourself, this is a great place for Beginners to learn when there is not a place for them to apprentice. I swear if I had someone to learn from I would never ask another dumb question for you guy's to "ponder" on here again.. but sometimes the classic, you're to unskilled/ knowledged to hit hot metal, back to making nails with you!! response just XXXXX..
I just waisted a few feet of 1/2 rod practicing my welds to relative success... and enjoyed it. just like I enjoy everything else about this craft..Maybe its not up to your guy's standards yet but who cares? currently.. Im trying to learn, and I bet thats how most newer people on this forum feel..

but ya, way to do your part in stomping someones fire out..maybe you'll be successful and stop one person from chasing their interests.. way to go!! Not me ;)


Where are the photos of all the swords you have made, we tried to post a link to them

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I know I can't make a sword, not enough knowledge. I know my limitations.

And you wrote the "serious" tutorial?

I think it depends on your interests.. if you are more interested in crafting authentic looking replications of colonial iron work, modern steel fences/sculpture, or blades you study more towards these different branches of blacksmithing. they're all interconnected, so by learning and having a mastery of one you have a head start on the others.. It's to late at night to finish my thought.. but I think you see it..

I feel like such an xxx for talking like this to more experienced, older people..
sorry if I'm being a rude little twerp.. its just late, and im kinda frusturated..
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And anyway, do you guy's know how hard it is to find a good knifesmith or even just blacksmith to apprentice under? I know at least up here they are sparse, I think I know 3 by name and one by this forum.

Hard to find a bladesmith? Ever hear of a guy by the name of Wayne Goddard? He is about 45 min drive from you.
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I say - ask a guy that makes his sole living on making swords about the list Jr has made. I'd be willing to bet that they could easily add more things that would double or triple the the length of the list. Jr is not really so far off base. Yes some people can say "it didn't take me that long to learn that" or "I didn't have to do that to learn this", what he's saying is - in a serious/kinda joking but still serious is like it's been said before start with the bare bones basics of forging, then slowly move to more involved items. High end swords are the results of many many years of lots of metal pounding and skill honing. I personally have never tried to make a sword, even though I get asked about it all the time. I'm not interested in making one either - even for myself, maybe some day. Anyway getting back to the list or "a list", I think it's really like a good joke.... everyone can laugh at it, but deep down lots of times it's very close to the truth. - JK

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I have only been serious about blacksmithing for about 3 months and finally hit my first red hot piece of metal only a couple of weeks ago. I didn't know what to expect as far as expense but collecting the few tools that I have has been more expensive than I could have imagined. I have only just begun to look for a source for bar stock. So far all I have done is draw out some rail road spikes that I picked up off the ground.

My 21 year old college student step-son stopped by the other day so I took him out to show him my stuff. I fired up the propane forge and heated a RR spike and started flattening it out on the anvil and the first thing out of his mouth was "You should make a sword!" :rolleyes:

I'm not a tree hugger and I'm not a liberal but weapons have never interested me. Violence has never held any fascination with me. I don't hunt. I don't even like to set a mouse trap. I didn't even read the last few chapters of The Art of Blacksmithing.

Don't get me wrong. If it's dead, cooked and on the table...and if I'm invited...I'll help you eat what ever you killed. (unless your last name is Dahmer :o )

I just don't get the fascination with blades. :confused:

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You speak of mastering one part of this craft. In "A Blacksmiths Craft the legacy of Francis Whitaker" on Page 137 he is quoted as saying "After twenty years you may think you are a master...Forty tears later you realize that you were just crossing the threshold"
No one here is trying to discourage anyone. They are just asking that a person put forth a little effort. There are a thousand excuses why a person says they cannot do something. There's one reason why they can...Because they have a true desire to do so.
JR Strasil has dedicated alot of time and energy into this site. He has shared an enormous quanity of hard earned knowledge. I would like to spend a week or two with JR to absorb a very small part of what he knows. He is not trying to discourage people he is trying to warn them ahead of time that it's not a weekend project that can be taught in 2 days.
None of the people on this forum wish to discourage anyone. I have 20+ years in welding and Fabrication and have been fortunate to finally have the time to pursue Blacksmithing 20-30 hours a week. I help the local 4H program, I have helped several people get started and offered advice to many, I have authored several BP's on this site and other contributions that I can make. But I am truly only a beginner who has a long way to go.
I listen, ask questions and watch but even if I think I have seen or have done something a different way I watch because that technique must work for the demonstrater or if it did not he would not be taking his time to share it with me.
Once again I feel it's only fair to ask for a little effort on everyones part.

Next time I have a good fire going I'll burn this soap box.


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rainsfire -" I just waisted a few feet of 1/2 rod practicing my welds to relative success... and enjoyed it. just like I enjoy everything else about this craft.."

You just proved my point, in Smithing nothing is a waste if you want to take the time and have the patience to actually "waste" some time learning a part of it. The whole point of my post was aimed at those that don't want to "Waste" some time and material to actually learning the basics before performing "Master work".

The only job I have ever had that you start at the top is "Well Drilling" and you just get in deeper and deeper until its over your head. The only direction you can go when you want to start at the top is down.

I know I have passed my prime long ago. I ain't happy about it, but its a fact. I just have to direct my energies to some of my other hobbies. Yes, Smithing is a Hobby, even if you made/make your living at it. Most people never get the opportunity to make a living at the Hobby they enjoy most.

And Sam, I apprenticed for 10 years before joining the Navy at 17 and then apprenticed in the Navy, learning other aspects of the trade. I started my own business at 21 when I got out of the Navy as well as working in my Fathers Blacksmith shop to make ends meet.

If you have the determination and desire to take the time to actually learn the trade and realize that its going to be a long learning experience. By all means go for it. I was the same way when in my youth, I had the world by the tail and in my own eyes, I was pretty far up the ladder of learning. I found out rather abruptly that I still had a lot to learn and every day of my 55+ years of Smithing experience I learned at least one new thing and even tho I can no longer work at my trade, I still am still learning about it. Guess I must have been a slow learner.



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Nice tutorial. .but i think that after getting your own shop ..all you have to do is try try try until you've developed your own style. . ..You might make a decent pile of "alternative rebar" for your concrete. . but if you follow some basic guidelines . .and just work passionately you might have something pretty unique. . .your own style of sword.

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Interesting points of view and they apply to most types of business.

Two of my sons want to be tattoo artists. Both are gifted at drawing and have done tattoos on living people, plus have a lot of their own ink. One of them recently began an email conversation with a nationally known artist who runs within that social circle. In a very limited exchange, he told my son pretty much the same thing that Jr posted - but of course, with regard to tattooing.

There is no easy road to any learned craft if you want to stand above the pack. It's fine if you want it as a hobby and can dedicate some time and money - there is nothing wrong with that. Some of the finest gunmakers, knifemakers, potters, glassblowers, etc. etc., alive today started as hobbyists. However, every one of these pursuits were once trades that a man or woman did daily to put food on the table, but for the past several hundred years (at least since "wealth" has existed), there have been also been people who could pursue hobbies without having to worry about income from the effort.

This is where the division still occurs today. If you live at home, eat at your folks' table and walk to work, you might be able to live on a couple thousand bucks a year, maybe less. In that case, you can practice {insert desired craft here} fulltime and truthfully call yourself a professional. On the other hand, if you employ a dozen people and want to eventually retire without having to work all your life, the annual take would probably top $1,000,000. In the latter case, you'd need most of what JR listed and maybe more.

A person who creates one really excellent work per year using only hand tools might be admired more for his level of commitment than someone who puts in 60 hours every week making more affordable items with a power hammer - but neither one is wrong. I personally put in about 50 hours a week at an unrelated day job and then another 20-30 in the shop - am I a professional or hobbyist? It doesn't really matter to me because I am simply enjoying the ride...

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Rebar is not what I would suggest working with unless you can get the high grade rebar used for mission critical concrete work like bridges and skyscrapers.

Better to work automotive springs or best see if you can buy new drops from a spring shop.

This will at least train you in working a higher carbon steel so you don't make the mistake of treating it like LowC when you get to the "good stuff".

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You need three things to make Smithing work:

Passion, Time and Patience.

Passion will keep you pounding on steel even when your bellies empty and you don't know where the rent money's coming from.
Time will reward your passion with the skills that make it much less likely you'll go hungry or wind up homeless.
Patience will keep you sane between the two.

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I believe he was describing what our "finished" blades would resemble when we were done.. not the steel we would use.

Yup ..your're right ..

Pick-up truck Leaf springs for big blades .. .and tool steel for small stuff . ..It's usually sold or found in hexagonally profiled bars.

You could also reforge old files . .raid old machine shops for those. .even if rusted through . .

BTW. .a cheap way to get the rust off ANYTHING if vinegar ..just keep it in a bath of vinegar for a day or two . .and even paint will peel . .let alone rust . .

you will also see the heat treated parts of the tools as they will be darker in color than the rest of the steel.
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