From Blacksmith to Arms-Bearer: Forging Your Own Sword at Home. Part 1
The most traditional and technically challenging way of creating swords is forging from a steel billet. In essence, it means continuously heating a lump of steel until it becomes pliable, then hammering it until it begins to take on the shape of a sword, dagger, axe, or really whatever it is you're trying to create.
All ways of constructing swords have the same end processes, which include shaping the blade by grinding, hardening and tempering the blade, mounting the blade with a hilt and pommel. This article will only scratch the surface of what is a very in depth field of study, however, it will give some basics to the beginner smith to expand upon.
A bare bones forge will need the below listed items to succeed:
Forge & Blower (you can use coal or propane. If using coal do not use commercially available charcoal, buy bituminous coal)
Grinder with array of attachments
Safety Equipment: Gloves, eye protection, fire extinguisher, apron
Heat up the steel until it is pliable before you begin hammering.
As a general guideline, the area you will be working on should be 1900 F or burning orange and spark when you strike it with the hammer.
The fundamental methods include bending, flattening, twisting, tapering, and upsetting (striking a bar to thicken and enlarge its hot end).
Due to the fact that creating a sword is both an art and a science, you must learn how to feel the steel and determine where and how much force to use in order to give it the desired shape.
Below are six of the most commons hammer strikes in blacksmithing.
When striking the object on the anvil, a parallel hit is made by maintaining the hammer's head flat.
The hammer face should be perfectly parallel to the anvil during this hammer hit, as the name suggests.Depending on whether you need to hold your workpiece perpendicular to the anvil or flat against it, there are many ways you can hold it.
You may flatten and smooth up your working material by parallel hammering.
By using this method, you may also begin shaping the point of a knife or other sharp object that you may be forging.
2. Edge of Hammer:
The near-edge hammer and the far-edge hammer are the two variations of the edge hammer strike. The difference between this technique and the half-face hit is that with the edge hammer, the hammer never touches the anvil's edge.
By using this method, the material hanging off the anvil is kept in its original shape while the material on the anvil side is compressed.
On the side of the anvil that is closest to you, near-edge hammering is done, while far-edge hammering is done on the opposite side.
Similar to the half-face blow, the edge hammer technique concentrates all of your force on the material on the anvil, leaving the material hanging over the side of the anvil in its original shape. To flatten down a very particular area of your content, use this approach.
3. Half Face:
The close half-face and the distant half-face are the two different kinds of half-face strikes. Because the hammer is halfway over the anvil when it impacts the material, they are known as half strikes. The material is struck with the hammer face flat on it, leaving an outdent on the side not supported by the anvil. The location of contact determines whether a half-face hit is near or far. A near strike is when you make contact with the anvil's edge that is closest to you. As an alternative, you can strike on the far edge, which is known as a far half-face strike. Although the shapes alter, the technique for near- and far-half blows is the same.
Your material will develop a shoulder on one side as a result of the half-face blow. You can condense either the far- or near-side half-face of the working material by using this approach.
4. Angle Strike:
With this hit, you will be angling the hammer's face such that it makes contact with the material. Holding your piece of work at an angle is another option. An angled depression in your material will result from doing this during your stroke. This kind of hit is frequently used by blacksmiths to smooth down the edges of materials. Additionally, doing so makes it simpler to hold the object at an angle from its other edge.
You may further shape and improve your materials by using angle strikes.
To make a blade or other tool's tip sharper, angle strikes are frequently used. By holding your object at an angle, you may sharpen this edge.
An even, smooth point will be created by combining parallel and angle strikes.
5. Back Face:
By pounding your workpiece from the rear of the anvil, you may shorten and condense it. This procedure is known as back-face hammering.
For this hit, place your material so that the end hangs over the anvil's far edge. To achieve the correct shortness, repeatedly tap the flat end of your hammer or mallet against the far tip of your metal workpiece.
You may flatten and condense the material at the very end of your sculpture using the back-face procedure. This technique might assist provide the desired look if you wanted your finished product to have a thicker end.
Access metal is taken out of your working component through the process of shearing. You must heat the metal to make it more malleable, then line your metal or other material over the far edge of the anvil in order to shear it from the remainder of the piece. Till the unwanted end is broken off, strike over the overhang on the far side.
The end of the material you are dealing with is removed by shearing strikes.
Use the shearing technique to remove the piece's end if you require a shorter tool or if the part you are using has been damaged.
Heating the steel:
If the steel is not heated properly prior to hammering your life will not be an easy one. One of the most prized skill a blacksmith can obtain through years of experience is knowing the temperature of the steel just by looking at the color of it. Below is a short guide.
-Bright Yellow = 2000°F
-Dark Yellow = 1900°F
-Orange Yellow = 1800°F
-Orange = 1700°F
-Orange Red = 1600°F
-Bright Red = 1500°F
-Red = 1400°F
-Medium Red = 1300°F
-Dull Red = 1200°F
-Slight Red = 1100°F
-Reddish Grey = 1000°F
-Dark Grey = 800°F
-Blue = 575°F
-Dark Purple = 540°F
-Purple = 520°F
-Brown/Purple = 500°F
-Brown = 480°F
-Dark Straw = 465°F
-Light Straw = 445°F
-Faint Straw = 390°F
Conclusion (for now):
As mentioned above, this article barely even scratches the surface, but hopefully you found it informative enough to continue your research into the amazing art of blacksmithing. There will be more articles to come.
The majority of would-be blacksmiths start out by forging a knife or two to gain a feel for the process before gradually lengthening the blades they work with. Very few of them rush right into making swords. The best way to get started is to enroll in a local blacksmithing course.
As with many hobbies there is a lot to take in when first starting out. The key advice is to not get overwhelmed and just start somewhere. Absorb all you can from articles, videos, and those who have been there before you. Blacksmithing can be a self-taught art, however, it is best to work with established smiths and learn from them.
Good luck and happy smithing.