Building your own sword



Has any one else every consitered this option rather than buying a sword? I have made a few weapons naginatas, swords, knives etc. and find that I can purchas a decent blade and other parts and make a few of the things I can not get else where. The cost tends to be about 1/2 of what an assembiled weapon would cost me, some times less than that. Let me know of any comments or sucsess/horror stories you may have on this subject.

Despair Bear
I wouldn't considering making it mayself, because it's not that easy spec. if your trying to do it the way the old japanese masters did it.

It's a question of understanding and using the metalurgy that's important. How much carbon is there supossed to be in the metal, and at what tempurature is it to be cooled, and what temp. is the water to have? and how long?

You have to remember that people using swords are going to wave these around in shows or to pratice, and have to withstand some pressure. If the hardning of the metal is done wrong, the sword will break at it's weakest point, thereby bringing the loos end flying through the room. I wouldn't want my name on that sword.

I think Despairbear was talking about *assembling* a weapon, instead of just forging one.

There are a few places on the web that you can purchase a blade, without any of the furniture. Once you have the blade, you can purchase the furnishings from various sources, collecting the parts you need to do it yourself. Difficulty may arise in the tsuka-ito (the handle wrapping), which should probably be professionally tied to look right.

I have considered this as an option in the past, but have never followed up with it. I have instead gone with a reputable company and paid the price for what I wanted done. However, this was also for an iaito, to be used for form instead of for cutting. If I were looking at a functional blade for contact, I might have different considerations.

Despairbear, if you go this route, let me know.....I'll be happy to offer what information I may have as far as links for furniture, etc. I would also be interested to hear of your success!!

Originally posted by tonbo

I think Despairbear was talking about *assembling* a weapon, instead of just forging one.


OK, sorry about that.

.....was that I had to re-read the post myself, to be sure that I hadn't misread it!! Eeeeesh....

But you are very right, Yari, on the concept of making your own sword. I know there are those that can do it, but they are few and far between, and even those guys don't do it the way that the Japanese smiths do. Most of their production blades are a "simple" blade, without all the folding and "teasing". I have seen a couple of writeups in Sword Forum e-zine, and those are pretty fascinating.

However, for the real deal, I would go with a true smith for anything other than just making a blade to see if you could do it. (i.e. anything you would actually consider using).

I have made a few weapons myself, but no I do not forge them myself I leave that to my blacksmith friend. She is increadably talented. As for the folding of a sword, it is simply no longer needed. Modern metalergy is to a point where folding (which was done for blade strength) is redunant. Some smiths still do this folding prosses but unless they are using the increadably tainted pig iron of the last few centurys, the only purpouse is tradition.

Despair Bear
Despairbear, I didn't know that about the metallurgy. That makes a lot of sense, though. I knew the folding was primarily for strength, but didn't stop to think that the process had been made redundant by technology. That is really cool to know.

Tradition is great, and I think that if you really *need* to have a sword forged by having it folded a thousand times, that's good too....but it brings up a question: unless you *watch* the smith make the thing, how do you *know* it was folded? Doesn't sound like it makes much difference anymore.

Again, very cool.

Do you have any pictures of weapons that you have put together? That would be really interesting to see--like I mentioned before, that is something that I would like to try once or twice, just to do it. Also, does your blacksmith friend have a website? If I ever actually get around to putting a weapon together, I might want to look her up, if she's willing. As it is, I was looking at getting the blade from Kris Cutlery. However, if I could support someone associated with this board, that might be even cooler....

Thanks again, Despairbear, for the info. Most informative.

Yeah, all I had to do was wait a bit, huh?

Thanks, Kaith, for the links. Those are nice!!

I still want to see what Despair Bear has done, though....:)

Man, I tell ya.....the *talent* on this board surprises me sometimes, even though it shouldn't......

Originally posted by Despairbear

Some smiths still do this folding prosses but unless they are using the increadably tainted pig iron of the last few centurys, the only purpouse is tradition.

Despair Bear

In one sense this is true, but handy-craft is still handy-craft.
And if your into enima (sp?- things that have spirit), it would matter if your sword was made by one smith or the other.

There is this story, and I know I'm not getting everything in it, but the point is there, about two japanese black smiths, one good and one bad. The made both swords and they were tested by placing the sword in the water. The bad smiths sword cut the first leaf that came in the stream. The good swords smiths sword was also put in the stream, and a leaf came by, and it didn't get cut, but just avoided it. The idea here (I think) is that the good sword would not seek to cut. But the secondary part of it, is that things have soul/spirit, and it's inherated by the owner/maker.

The third is that a sword made by a smith is more personal, and that would be my reason to get a sword made by a smith. A personal sword would fit you in al senses: weight, lenght, size, color or orntment.

Just to clarify. The folding itself wasn't what gave strenght, but the adding of carbon that gives strenght. You see that iron is a very soft metal, and by adding carbon it hardens, but it's not only the carbon. the folding is done to make sure that the carbon gets out in the metal. When you cool down the sword, and the way you cool it down will give the hardning degree on the sword. It's like makin a soup. It's not the stirring that gives the tast, but makes sure that the tast(carbon) gets around .

I'll stop rambling now.

Thanks Kaith for the links.

The story about the Japanese smiths is reportedly about the smiths Muramasa and Masamune. If I remember correctly, Masamune was the master, and Muramasa was the student. Both produced exceptional blades, but Muramasa was a little more "erratic" than his master.

Again, if I am correct, Muramasa had a reputation for producing "bloodthirsty" blades. It was rumored that these blades actually *liked* the taste of blood, and could possibly even "go mad" and bring bad luck or death to the weilder.

In addition, historical smiths (smiths that still use the same traditions) not only produce the Japanese sword, they also bless it. At the time of its forging, it is said to be given a soul of its own, and it becomes, for all intents and purposes, a living, breathing item. That's the level of respect that the hand-forged traditional Japanese sword is given, even to this day.

There are those, however, that don't worry about that, and just like the ownership of a katana. I have one of each--a katana that I purchased from a martial arts store, which is a machine-made "copy" (look at the "chrysanthemum" sword in any MA catalog and you know what I have), and I have a custom-made iaito, made by hand by Japanese smiths. The custom blade is not sharp, but was made to be sharpened. I opted to not have it sharpened for consideration of fellow practitioners (didn't want anyone getting hurt). Maybe from superstition, maybe from real sources, who knows.....but the custom sword *does* feel like it has a personality and a "soul". At any rate, I treat it as such. It has more of a place of honor, and is displayed in my house. The other one is more set aside for practice with.

I would still say that I wouldn't mind putting together a sword myself. True, it would not be handicraft, and I wouldn't consider it to be a Japanese sword. I would consider it a Japanese *type* sword, and I would have no illusions at all about its being a "true" sword. But the thrill of making it would be interesting. If I want the real thing, I will seek out a smith; if I just want to mess around, I'll mess around.

As far as forging methods, I know very little, so I am gonna keep my trap shut on that. :D

No argument here that a sword can have "personality" I use a recurve bow that is a harsh bow to shoot. It will do exactly what you wish it to do, it is a fine weapon, but if you step out of line and do not respect the bow it tends to hurt you. One friend of mine recived a black eye from the weapon in this manner. On the other hand while I would love to have a sword made in the traditional manner, I would be afraid to use it. I enjoy going threw katas with my wepaons as well as test cutting, as you can probably guess this can be a little hard on a weapon and they need to be sharpened and polished from time to time. Had I a traditionaly made sword I would be afraid that one pass of the stone would destroy a tresure of a weapon. Onother thing is price I can make a weapon that while not a work of art is fully functional, <$100 to make on vs. >$500 to buy one. My black smith friend (the one with the black eye...grin) does not have a web site it is not a buissnes she runs but just a hobbie, if you have something in mind you are looking for I can get you in contact with her and perhaps some thing could be worked out.

Despair Bear
Originally posted by tonbo

The story about the Japanese smiths is reportedly about the smiths Muramasa and Masamune

Thanks! Couldn't remember the names. Names always elude me, but meaning and ideas hang on strong.

I'm very interested in refitting one of my Darn Dao. (Chinese Broadsword)

What I need is links to places who sell individual pieces of Chinese broadswords. Handles, steel, ext.

Any information on such places would be very much appreciated :D
Do you just buy the pieces and put the sword together piece by
piece? because I would like to learn how to make me a sword.

Thank You

i know that to make a sword takes many years of practice under the watchfull eye of a skilled maker,if you try on your own (trial and error method)it will take you alot longer for sure. my cousin is a pro knifemaker and does swords aswell and to have him make you a katana as the ones with a soul quality would be is going to cost you around $2500-5000 us dollars.wally hayes in ontario canada still makes the old japanese way but the others are right with the current technology in steel production folding really is not needed for strength,but folding will definitely get you respect from others.
Thank you for your info, is there any sword making schools in

Thank you

Personally, i think it is awesome to be able to make your own blades for knives and swords, i've been dying to try that myself for years, LOL.

About the net, there are different sites teaching how to make simple knives, swords are obviously more difficult because of the greater length, differences in curvature, grinds, differential hardening, etc..

Wally Hayes has a couple of videos out by Paladin, i believe on how to make your own sword!

I've heard all good things about his work, and who knows?? If i had the time, and money, i'd certainly give it a try.

Respects to all,

Guro Jeff