If you’re getting into DIY blacksmithing to start making your own interesting metal worked items, then it’s likely the idea of creating a sword has crossed your mind.
While it is quite a complex process, with the right tools at your disposal and enough patience you can start to forge your own creations.
We’ve given you a basic outline around what you need to forge a sword and the process for creating one.
Tools for forging a sword
The basic tools that any blacksmith requires are an anvil, a hammer, a forge, and a pair of tongs. These are absolutely critical pieces of equipment you’ll need for any blacksmithing project.
You’ll also likely need some tools for sharpening, such as a belt grinder, and some additional tools can make the whole process easier.
If you have a hydraulic press in your workshop, this can be used to acquire to desired flat shape for the metal if the materials you’re using need extra processing.
Making a sword – step by step
Picking a design for your sword and drawing it out will always be the starting point. You’ll need to know the rough size and shape of what you’ll be making so you can pick the right materials.
Make sure you choose a good piece of metal to work with to ensure your sword looks and feels of good quality at the end.
If your metal needs any refining before you start working with it, now is the time to do it. Using reclaimed metals can be a good option for a DIY project, but you may want to reshape what you have into a more workable state before getting stuck into your design.
Getting the proper sizing upfront will make your metal more manageable and help you to visualise the final piece better.
Next up is heating and forging – the core of all blacksmithing projects. Once you have your hammer up to the necessary temperature, you’ll want to hammer carefully and consistently across the length to bring it in line with your design.
You can use a pneumatic hammer to do some of the finer work if you need to do some more intensive, percussive work. Getting the length, width and thickness of the metal right is the key to turning it into a blade.
You’ll need to go through the annealing process too so the metal can take on the properties which will make it into an excellent weapon.
Once you’ve achieved the rough uniform shape for your blade and the metal is no longer malleable, it’s time to start grinding. This is how you achieve the desired profile for your blade as you grind the metal into the right style.
You’ll also need to factor in the tang within your design, but a simple design will still be very effective, as well as the bevels.
After you have the design sorted, you can go about removing all the slag on the steel but using a flap sander or a wire brush.
Next comes heat treatment which will help to harden the steel. Quenching your sword in oil will lock the carbon molecules into a tight lattice that gives it the required strength. Warm the oil before putting the heated blade into it, let it rest of 30 seconds at least, then bring it out for air cooling.
Now comes the tempering to bring back some of the flexibility to avoid the blade shattering. You’ll need to heat the steel and check the colour of the blade, ensuring the edges look like a light golden yellow with a reddish plum down the centreline.
Once it reaches that suitable temperature, quench the blade and buff out the blade to give it the smooth and shiny finish.
Finally, you’ll want to grind the edges to give it a satisfying edge on the blade. You can use different grits of sandpaper for this and slowly work your way up to a finer level.
Polishing the sword will also give it an even more professional finish, with a wrap for the handle being a great finishing touch.