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I Forge Iron

This is crazy!!


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So I have been forge welding and making larger and larger knives and am slowly working towards a short sword. As a result, I have started reading through books and posts on this topic.

The crazy thing is how many people pick up a hammer and declare...'I am going to make a sword!'

When I first saw these posts, I was amused and even a little dissapointed at some of the predictable responses from seasoned IFI members. But as I read more posts, I too, became a little agitated by the number of people that have never struck hot steel that are now going to make a sword. So I went from thinking you guys were harsh to thinking you weren't harsh enough.

Anyhow, I will push forward. My initial billet is complete and it is 73 layers of 1084, 1095 and 15N20. More to come.

Forgot pic of my latest



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I actually got into blacksmithing because I watched a history channel special about swords. I was that kid at the age of eleven, sketching fantasy blades and watching Lord of the Rings and going into my backyard ruining all my dad's tools by putting them in a bonfire and hammering on them. I was a fanboy, and wanted every single sword in the Buck catalog.

It didn't start as a passion, it evolved into one. I have been doing it for going on a decade and a half, and I love it more with each hammer swing. That being said, if I had been responded to the way some are on these forums I don't think I would have stuck with it. Not at the age of eleven.

I have a habit of being an elitist at times (like whenever someone tries to make a railroad spike knife and sell it for a couple hundred bucks) but I really try to guide more than correct. Keeping people interested is about nurturing that initial interest, not scolding them.

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First question I always got in school when we started the forge unit was "Can we made a sword".  I always responded that if the principal would approve the project(never going to happen) sure.  But first you have to learn to hammer, bend, twist, handle the hot steel, and do all of the other basic operations.  By the time they did some of the learning steps, they came to realize that it is not like a video game or movie.  This is work, and a skill, and a craft.  Some of the students really took to forging, most found out that you have to work at it, and took the lazy way out.  But they all did learn what forging is all about, and will have that knowledge forever.

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The innate skill and ability to be a master blade smith isn't in anyone...  The potential to be a master blade smith is in some people.  Skills are mental tools that have to be developed and sharpened through experience, and in order to get the experience you need the compulsion to just do it, until you have mastered it.  The physical skills examined independently aren't too taxing, but putting together the whole package that takes a level of determination or compulsion...  There is a "10,000 Hour" rule to achieve a level of mastery, that is debated because some people can become a grandmaster chess player in 2 years of concentrated practice and others might practice nearly as much and take 26 years. I suspect that the solid fuel in the rocket booster is a level of compulsion, it is an obsession, it occupies your mind and you are always thinking about it.  It MATTERS like few things do, and you devote your time and energy and attention to achieving the goal.  The other factor is the other things in life aren't nearly as important and aren't as distracting as for normal people.  I suspect that there is no line between Genius and insanity.  If you have achieved that level of mastery there is some form of dysfunction present, because normal people are too distracted with life to accomplish all that much.  I read a book a number of years ago titled "The History of Human Accomplishment" very interesting book, especially the appendices in the back where he talked about the meta trends and concepts.  He pointed out that many of the most significant figures in all the disciplines across the board had health problems, family problems, and social issues particularly in early childhood.  There is a more recent book called "The Geek Shall Inherit the World" that examines some of the richest entrepreneurs and looks at them during high school;-) Some times the popular jock hits his peak in high school and it is all down high from there, he is relegated to being a "high school Harry."  The Geek however tends to develop other skills other than social skills navigating high school, and is focused and determined and then succeeds...


If you want to get good, get determined, and don't get distracted. Priorities are crucial, if you aim at nothing that is exactly what you will get. If you set goals and work to achieve those goal, even if it is thought exercises, or planning to block off some time to work on things...  You stand a much better chance of achieving those goals.  


Giftedness isn't as much of an issue as most people think.  There are people who have physical and metal gifts, but they often don't appreciate them, and more importantly don't capitalize on them...  If you have the desire, the determination, and might I say the compulsion, you can go a long way, the physical skills can be developed, the aesthetic can be learned.  Skills are honed and sharpened like a knife, you work diligently to get it sharp, and then you keep it honed to keep them sharp. Which is why you are always working to keep your hammer control good, you movements quick and sure, without being rushed, and work efficiently to produce high quality ironwork...  :-)


Oh and I agree with MrMaelstrom ;-) it is best to not pounce on the noob wannabeswardsmith in a malicious rush to burst his bubble, reeducation and adjusting unrealistic expectation is in order, but gently redirecting them is a better course of action.  Remember "Do unto others as you would have them, do unto you"  Most of us don't thrive on criticism, and aren't so oppositional that we will persevere just to prove some one wrong. If you want more blacksmiths to play with, you have to play nice;-)  

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I've never thought about making a sword but have considered a knife or two. Like I Hope, a lot of others I bought Steve's book on the subject. I recently went to my Ortho Surgeon about a knee problem I had that was effecting my working in the shop. In conversation he discovered I'd had this for over 5 yrs, he asked why I showed up then and I told him I had a new shop and didn't want the problem effecting my use of it.

Making knifes came up and he asked it I could make a scalpel? I said I doubted it in the time I had even a crude one he said well if I did and he liked it he would use it on me! Only making 2 1/2" holes for putting camera and tools in.

When I showed up for the surgery the lady at the check in area opened my record book and there was a sticky note saying, "ask him if he brought the scalpel"? When I said no she looked disappointed. When I got to the prep area and they opened the book I got asked again and then they wanted to know what it was about. Everyone had a good laugh and changed the mood, especially mine, in the whole area. I was the last of the day and they were running ahead of schedule so the operating room nurses came out and said they would finish the prep. in there. On the way in one of them asked me about it and when I said I didn't get a chance to make one she chuckled and said most likely a good thing, but again the whole place was in a laughing mood Talking about patients having to bring their own surgical tools! Last thing I remember in there was laughing and joking going on.

When I came awake the surgeon and anesthesiologist were waiting to see me and we all had a good laugh, they told me the conversation had started that morning during the first operation and it had made the day for everyone and thanked me for going along with it. I told him when it warms up I'd see what I could do, he told me he would like to have one to put in his surgical tool collection.

Will admit this was the 3rd operation the doc has done on me but the most enjoyable by far, and it helps it was in his own groups surgical center. I don't think Steve has instructions for a Scalpel in his book. Will have to do some research. I'm sure he wouldn't have used it but the thought is what counts.

They say Laughter is the best medicine and I figure keeping those working on you laughing doesn't hurt either.

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I would have TOTALLY done that:-) LemiShine dishwashing additive is citric acid, polish the snot out of it with a FRESH buffing wheels, and then soak in hot water with the lemishine to try and pasivitate it.

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