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I Forge Iron

First Sword!


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I took a class at Peter's Valley last weekend to learn how to make a sword. My expectations were not high, as I was warned beforehand that most smiths want/need more than five days to create a sword, and I didn't have enough experience prior to walking in; Sam suggested a minimum of one year of experience with a stronger recommendation of two years, yet I've only just started in November.

Regardless, I thought I could at least learn the theory behind the process and complete the project later. This was especially true as, on day one, we lost almost half a day due to a power outage and I ended up melting my sword near the end of the day.


This is what bad timing gets you, apparently.

Even with the setback, I didn't stop. Thankfully I had some W-2 in my car that was close to the same size (the extra metal available was a bit shorter), so I was able to hammer out part of the blade with what time I did have left on day one and finish it on day two, with all of the finishing and fittings done during the last three days.

This is the end result.


I know there are a number of flaws with it (not quite symmetrical guard, hammer marks I cannot remove, leather not quite folded under the guard, etc), but for all of the setbacks and my lack of experience, I'm impressed I was able to finish! I'll try to snap some better quality photos later and share them here for better input.

Edited by Steve Sells
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I can make an educated guess that the pointy end weight is less than the not so pointy end.

 Its not the falling down but the getting back up thats important. good job on getting back up and getting it done. A deep Bow to Sam for pulling this class off, I have been impressed with his classes.

The  real trick to making swords is........making swords. congratulations on the birth of your first sword.

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Thanks Shamus! When I get some better photos, you might see what I mean.

Thomas, I'll try to weigh it this weekend on my mail scale and see what it gives me.

Basher, my hat is off to Sam as well. While he was stressed (especially since we lost about nine hours or so thanks to power outages), he somehow pulled everything off.

For comparison, here's a photo of everything made in the class.


There were some amazing swords here. The goal was to make a single-handed Type 15, but most of the class walked away with bastard swords of some nature, a few two-handers, and one particular smith walked away with that gorgeous saber.

I do plan on continuing on, I just lack the space to store the tools to heat treat a long blade without it growing legs and walking off (for scrap metal) or without a township citation. For now, I'll stick with knives, but returning to make another sword (or more) is on the docket!

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We used standard coal forges for the forging, then uses a 100(?) gallon drum for normalizing and heating up for quenching.


This is the general forge. Electric blower on the side with a handle that controls how much air is moving through, handle to remove clinker and an ash bucket underneath. Really basic setup for a coal forge.

I normally work with gas when I'm not in class, but I'm getting the hang of it!


This was our set up for the normalizing and heating prior to quenching. Typical drum with kaowool and holes cut into it for the burner and to drop in the swords. Simple as that, but it worked very well!


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Sorry for the delay! For some reason, I couldn't submit a reply this weekend. Could be my internet connection at home causing problems again.

In any case, the sword weighs in a 2lb 7oz according to my mailing scale. I keep forgetting to get an actual length measured out, but it's somewhere in the 2.5ft range for the whole length. If I can find one of my two renegade tape measures, I'll get right to it!

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For those curious, the blade itself is only 27 inches long, but the entire length of the sword is 35 inches.


Charles, it sounds like an interesting idea, but I cannot bury things in my yard. I share my yard with three other households (the apartment is a house split into four), and my landlord specifically put a "no digging" clause in my lease. I'm lucky to be able to set up my smithy in the yard and tear it down with how strict the lease is. . .

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I assume this passes as a sword then, Thomas?

Charles, parking is a mixed bag. Some days, there's not a car on the street. Others, I'm fighting tooth and nail for a parking spot. About half of the houses on my block are rentals, and the rest are rather affluent households (there's at least three Jaguars on my block o_O). I'm set up in our "driveway" (a small patch of concrete in our yard); not too sure how well the police will like me making knives close to the street. *laughs*

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Not at the moment, no. I was considering it, but the township has ordinances against things sitting in yards, and the parking situation doesn't permit me to have it on the street.

I'm rolling with what I have for now. Not ideal, but it is still good enough to set up for basic blades and other small projects.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My wife and I have been joking around about setting up a trailer or something and finding a way to get it settled (bigger vehicles are ruled out as I'm still paying off my car). Right now, we're holding off on everything. I have an interview this week and, if my contacts are as good as they seem, possibly another one in the coming weeks. Relocating to certain parts of Pennsylvania, New York state or Connecticut might help with the issues at hand.

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A trailer is like a clean slate and can make a fine portable smithy or whatever kind of shop. A reasonably solid vehicle hauler, even an ATV trailer is good. You'll need something solid under the anvil and vise, yes? Simply carry along some jack stands, unhitch from your tow vehicle and use the trailer jack to lower the tongue to the ground, slip the jack stands under the anvil and vise then jack the tongue high enough to unweight the tires and slip a couple jack stands under the front corners. Let the tongue down and you're on a solid foundation. Easy peasy.

Not enough room? Make a side and the back hinge up for a canopy and work on the ground next to and behind a small trailer.

Get a deal on a 9,000lb. Car hauler?! That's a mobile shop just waiting but probably too big for your situation. Just needs sides and a roof.

The world is full of people who can't afford or don't want to practice a hobby, business etc. and nice trailers are going for reasonable to the patient shopper.

Frosty The Lucky.

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