I’ve done something that many nerds want to do, but never learn the skills to do it. Many people walk into a smithy for a class or demonstration and demand to know how to make a sword, not understanding the techniques, time, and effort involved in doing so.
As much fun as I had over my five days, I’m not certain when I’ll be doing that again.
Making a sword is much harder than it seems. Imagine making a sandwich: you take your bread, throw on whatever sauces and contents you want, and close it. Now imagine making a twenty foot sub that has the same consistency with each bite as your first sandwich. That will give you a very simple idea of the differences between making a sword and a knife.
The class gave me a much stronger appreciation for the work that is being done by bladesmiths, an why a proper blade can command such a high pricetag. In my case, I spent five hours on a sword (and melted it, doubling my material costs), twelve hours hammering out the sword I did leave with, about three hours working on my guard (and having to scrap one, doubling my material costs there), almost two hours for every step involved with my pommel (and I used an power hammer!), about two hours for cleanup, a number of specialized tools that needed to be made or purchased, a specialized heat treat setup, and plenty of fuel. Just in a rough estimate, being paid minimum wage and just material costs (without the material lost from screwups), the pricetag for that sword is nearly $280.
Think about that the next time you see a high quality, hand-forged sword selling for $300. The same is true for any craft, really; we’re not trying to rip you off, we just want to be paid for producing a quality product that may or may not literally involve blood, sweat, and tears.
I did get more than just cost insight. I got to learn how to make something from a bygone era, witness a skilled bladesmith quickly hammer out the taper for a blade and expertly straighten out a mistake, and acquire a number of contacts that I hope will be beneficial to me in the future. Skill-wise, I not only know how to make a sword, but I’ve learned a number of techniques that will help me with my next bladed endeavor and the fittings for it.
For me, blacksmithing is a fun hobby. Would I like to make money off of it? Who wouldn’t! For now, I’m rather content with learning how to make things, maybe sell things for material costs just to keep going and, maybe someday, be skilled enough to do this as a more full-time endeavor. Until then, I’ll keep learning, keep studying, and strive to improve.
I’m sure most of you are really just here to see the finished product. As a man of my word, here it is. I named it. . .