- My Sword Making Information, Methods and Instruction
Here is a start at passing along what I've learned about making swords (and knives), for those who might want to get started. My wife says I should try to write a book about it! Or even have a "Sword-making course workshop camp". I don't feel that I know enough about it for that yet, and there are the inevitable liability problems when it comes to working with power tools, too. And with red-hot steel!
So you want to make a sword! Well, the hardest part is getting started! And the hardest part of that is figuring out exactly what you want. We KNOW you want a sword. But you have to know exactly what it is to be able to actually make it! The best thing to do is find a design you like, make any changes you think it needs, and then draw it out in full detail on paper, as large as you can make it. Put in every dimension! Figure out what weight, too, and where you want the balance point. Write all this down. That will be your map or guide line. Then the rest is easy! Just lots of small, simple steps all put together.
You will develop some new skills and abilities, too. You'll have to in order to successfully complete a sword! It's a bit like learning to ride a bicycle or drive a car or play a game that needs good hand-eye co-ordination. You have to learn from experience just how hot the steel has to be when you hit it with the hammer. And you have to learn how hard to hit it with that hammer. And it takes some co-ordination to hold the blade at a constant angle as you pass it very evenly and smoothly across the grinder. Don't plan on your first attempt being your final product. I think you should plan on at least two 'practice models' before you start on the 'real thing.' If you're really careful and the first ones turn out well, that's all the better! But it's not very likely. Don't give up! If you REALLY want to do it, you REALLY can! Keep on trying and keep on learning. There's no 'instant sword' kit available here, and no instant skill. The good stuff ain't cheap - you have to work for it.
In 2001, this page got about 400 hits per week, and 1600 for the month of April, 2002. I do get emails from people who want me to send them "all the information I have about how to make a sword." It wouldn't do any good, anyway. They haven't even read this far, so I'm sure they wouldn't read the rest. And it's all here in this web site already, just waiting for them to click and see it. Well, I don't provide 'instant gratification.' The other common question/statement is 'I don't know where to start.' Well, that means they didn't even read the second paragraph on this page! Fortunately, you've gotten farther than that.
On this site I try to describe the thought processes, physical work processes, make a list of recommended books with helpful information, and a list of the tools that are basic necessities and the ones that make the work easier and a lot more fun. But this will be the ways that _I_ do things, or like to have them. There's a lot of personal preference involved. Other people's opinions will vary, as they should.
For example, I like to do things the 'easy' way, or the most efficient (as I see it) way, and sometimes I go to a lot of trouble to find that particular way. And I like to have the tool or equipment to do things the easy way. Lots can be done without big power tools like the lathe or belt grinder. You don't really need them for making a sword. But for me, having and using the tools is part of the fun. And I do this just for the fun of it. Also, working with "scrap" or found materials is something that makes a project more fun for me, as well as making it less expensive. See the materials sources page.
This isn't the place to find information on forging sword blades. Any sword blades that I make I saw to shape from spring steel bar stock and grind the bevels. In the beginning I did try forging but it was too difficult to be worthwhile to me. I plan on trying again some time in the future, but for now I'm pretty much just making hilts for commercial schlager blades anyway.
My main interest is with rapiers, but quite a few site viewers have expressed their desire to make a broadsword or Japanese Katana. So I've added aBroadsword Page with what help I can give on that type as well. (on May 16, 1999.) It's fairly big already, and I hope to add lots of feedback with beginning builder's suggestions and hints and tips. Please help!
Katana Page (added June 13, 1999) - limited info, mostly lots of links.
I found a newsgroup posting by a smith who mentions the cost of his custom made swords. Click here to read it.
Custom Swordmakers who will consider your requests
None currently known.
Now, to begin the sword making,
This isimportant! Be sure to start with Information Sources:
Most of the questions people email me are answered on that page. If you ask, all the answer you'll get is a link to it anyway. So read it carefully!
It covers books, classes, videos, web sites, magazines, etc. If there were any apprenticeships, they would be in that section too!
See a nice, 9-part article, with pictures, on the swordmaking process at http://people.howstuffworks.com/sword-making.htm
NOW GO TOSword Making, Gen X
There's also some good, basic information about the basics of what makes a good quality sword can be found at Information about what makes steel and a sword on
including metallurgy, hardness, weight and balance, quality of steel, heat treating, and more.
Before you can start, you have to know just exactly what you want.
Make drawings and sketches. Then make a simple wooden model.
Then, after you've figured out what you want and how to go about it, you need to gather some
It doesn't have to take many tools, but the more tools you have the more fun it is.
Once you've got information and tools, you'll need some
Mainly steel, of course. But you'll also need hand grip, hand guard and possibly a scabbard. And then you'll actually be able to use them.
I'll help by explaining my own
The steps I plan to work on describing are:
Planning Cutting. Bending. Welding.
Dishing. Start by doing a web search, looking for Bowling / Raising Process - By: Scott J. Swindell . My link to the article has gone bad.
I've also got some basic info from "The Best of the Hammer" by Brian Flax. There's also a short description of my process, inspired by a recent urge to make an 'oak leaf' shaped hand guard out of some 16 gage steel I picked up at the local scrap yard.
More dishing. On 10/25/1998 I added a nice article by Tom Holt, from the U.K., which he posted on rec.crafts.metalworking
Grips. Created 9/26/98. Added pictures 5/29/00.
Blade layout and cutting. Created 9/30/98.
Heat treating. Added (begun) 9/5/98. More added on 1/2/1999.
Forging and Armouring. Not from personal experience, but information I think is useful and worthwhile. More added on 1/2/1999.
Each Procedure section has its own page, and many also have links to other sources of relevant help.
A few personal feelings about swords and sword making.
And now, my favorite part:
Rapier hilt-making section (begun 9/4/98 and updated many times already!).
Site first begun in 1997. visitors since March 28, 2000
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