How to Make Steel Swords


When making steel swords, it is important to understand the basic principles of metalworking, shop safety and metallurgy, as well as the use of hand and power tools for cutting, grinding, heating and polishing.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 piece of hardened high-carbon steel
  • 1 piece of mild steel for the cross guard
  • 1 piece of mild steel for the pommel
  • 1-inch diameter steel gas pipe long enough for the handle
  • Contact cement
  • Garment leather
  • 4-inch or larger right-angle grinder
  • Vice, clamps or other tools for holding the blade, guard and pommel while grinding
  • Abrasives for grinder: 24 grit, 80 grit, finer grits if available
  • Abrasive saw blade for grinder
  • Electric drill or drill press
  • Drill bit of same thickness as the finished tang of the sword
  • Chainsaw file
  • Large hammer (ball peen or cross peen preferred)
  • Propane torch (weed burners or roofers' torches are ideal)
  • Block of scrap wood
  • Permanent magic marker
  • Proper safety equipment
  • Find a suitable piece of hardened, high-carbon steel from a used sawmill blade, power hacksaw blade or other large cutting tool. You can also buy a piece from your local hardware store.

    Scuff the steel with 80-grit abrasive until it is mostly shiny. Make sure the steel is clean and has no oil on it, as oil will hide the tempering colors. Use a propane torch to evenly heat the steel until it turns a dark royal blue and then allow it to air cool. Repeat this process three times. Scuff the steel one final time.

  • Use a marker to lay out the shape of the blade and the tang of the sword. At the tang end, draw two parallel lines the same width as the thickness of the blade steel, approximately 3/8ths of an inch longer than the pommel. This will be the pommel stud. It will go through a hole you will drill in the pommel and be riveted over on the end. Draw the sword tang so that it is the same width as the inside diameter of the gas pipe. Draw your blade shape, noting how and where the guard, handle and pommel will go. Think twice and cut once. Lay out the pommel and guard in the same manner, making sure that the layout markings for the blade slot in the guard and the hole for the pommel stud are as precise as possible.

  • Use an abrasive saw blade to cut the blade, guard and pommel profiles, and then grind it with 24 grit until the pieces are suitably sword-like yet rough. Use the propane torch to turn the pommel stud orange. Allow the pommel stud to cool as slowly as possible. This process is called "normalizing." It softens the steel so it can be riveted over later.

  • Drill a hole for the pommel stud in the pommel, as well as holes for a blade slot in the guard. Use a chainsaw file to turn the holes in the guard into a blade slot. Use 80-grit abrasives to finish the pieces. Use a grinder and file to ensure that all of the pieces fit together as snugly as possible.

  • Slide the guard and pommel onto the blade. Mark the length of the sword tang on the pipe with a marker so that when the pommel is riveted down, it creates tension on the handle and keeps it tight. Cut the pipe with an abrasive saw and remove burrs with 80-grit abrasive.

  • Place the blade guard and pipe on the blade and then heat pommel stud to bright orange with a propane torch. Place the tip of the sword on the wood block and slide the pommel onto the tang stud while it is still hot. Hammer the tang stud over like a rivet so that the pommel is tight against the pipe; allow the stud to cool slowly. If the handle loosens again, tap it with your hammer until it tightens. Cut the leather into a strip long enough to spiral wrap the sword handle. Coat the pipe and the back side of your chosen leather with contact cement and then wrap the pipe with leather.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most local community colleges offer metalworking classes, including courses in blacksmithing, that can be helpful for swordmaking. Twenty-year veteran swordmaker and blacksmith Gypsy Wilburn said, "When I was young, I knew I wanted to make knives and swords. It was all I thought about. When I asked blacksmiths and swordmakers at Renaissance and county fairs, I got a bunch of hoopla about all the expensive equipment it takes and was fed a good dose of the makers' egos. I made it happen, just like our ancestors. I took what I had available and kept beating and grinding until I had a knife, then a bigger knife, then a sword-like crude weapon [and] then a sword. Don't let those guys who want to bloat their own egos get in your way."

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