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How To Forge a Sword

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This method of pattern-welding, used as late as the 11th century, can utilize inferior metal and still result in a strong and resilient weapon.
Difficulty: Hard
Time Required: One month

Here's How:

  1. Case-harden three or four thin rods of malleable wrought iron in a charcoal fire.
  2. Heat the rods red hot and tightly twist them together, then hammer-weld them at white-hot heat to form the center of the sword.
  3. Fold a long billet of relatively homogenous steel into a tight V to form the blade edges.
  4. Hammer-weld the V to the center rods in a white-hot fire; three to six inches of the center should protrude from the blade for the handle.
  5. Shape a fuller (a shallow trench) down the center on either side of the blade.
  6. Allow to cool completely.
  7. Grind and file the sword so the flat of the blade is smooth and the edges are keen.
  8. Heat the blade again and quench it to give the steel edge its hardness.
  9. Weld a crossguard of hard iron to the blade at the point where the handle protrudes.
  10. Attach a blunt, rounded pommel of soft iron to the end of the handle.
  11. Polish well, then use acid to enhance the pattern of the fuller, if you desire. You may wish to etch your name or an identifying symbol on the blade just beyond the crossguard.
  12. Decorate the pommel with enamel or carve a design into the soft metal.
  13. Wrap the handle with leather or wire.

Tips:

  1. Keep the sword in a scabbard lined with fleece. The lanolin in the wool will curtail rust and its springiness will keep the weapon tightly sheathed.
  2. You may wish to name your sword. The sword Beowulf borrowed from Unferth was called Hrunting, and of course Arthur's was Excalibur.
  3. If you're interested in forging a sword in the 21st century, please visit the Anvilfire FAQs first.

What You Need

  • A charcoal fire
  • Standard blacksmithing tools, including a hammer
  • Malleable wrought iron
  • Lots of water
  • A mentor to teach you swordsmithing skills
  • A time machine to take you back to the 10th century
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