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Sword Forging Part 7: Hardening and tempering the Blade

This is part 7 of my series of tutorials on how to make a sword. In this part I how you how to harden and temper the blade of the sword.


Okay, in this part of the series we will harden and temper the sword. This is very important and let me give you a quick overview. We first harden the sword because well, we need it to be hard as steel! That might sound funny but it would be of no use as a real sword if it wasn't hard.

But..... Steel can be too hard and that means that it is also brittle. And brittle is bad. It can crack or even shatter if you hit it with something. So we also soften it up just a little bit. This softening is called "Tempering" the sword. And this gives is a little bend and a little flexibility. Now the sword can take a whole lot more use and punishment. It bends rather than breaks. And we do this hardening and tempering with Fire.

Quenching the Sword

A forging quench

Along with the normal blacksmithing stuff we also now need a new piece of equipment. That is the sword quench. This way we can quench the entire sword in oil.

It can be just about anything that will hold enough oil to fit the whole sword and you can make up something like I have here.

The picture shows my sword quench.

It is simply a 24 inch piece of PVC piping that is 4 inches in diameter. It is inside a basic wooden frame that I made. I have a tutorial on how to make this right here: How to make a sword quench.

The basic idea is to just have some kind of vertical container that will hold enough oil to quench your hot sword.



Hardening the Sword

the sword in the forge

This will depend a little bit upon the type of steel you are using (in terms of the temperature).

What you do is heat the whole blade of the sword in the forge. Get it all to red/orange hot. And keep checking it with a magnet. When a magnet no longer sticks to it you can quench it in the oil to lock it in.

The picture above shows my sword in the forge. And there are a couple of things to note when doing this. You have to get the heat uniformly distributed along the length of the sword. So, tinker with the coals a lot and move the sword around as you need to.

And... be careful with the thin parts of the sword like the tip. It is easy to overheat the tip because there is so little metal. In the picture above you can see that the tip is out of the main part of the hot coals. This helps keep it from overheating.

dipping the sword


Here is the sword as it is going into the quench.


The sword in the quench

And this is the sword fully in the quench. It is going to get hot and cause some flaming which is normal. For the quenching fluid you can have used motor oil, used transmission fluid or vegetable oil. The vegetable oil is probably the best, it will cause minimal flaming.

Don't hesitate, put it fully in and quickly. Stir it around a little bit.


A Note About the Oil: We don't want to put the hot sword directly into cold oil. What you should do first is put a poker or rod in your fire, heat it up, then use that to heat the oil in the quench before hand. This warms up the oil nicely before quenching the sword.

Use emory paper to clean the scale

And there we go. The sword is now hardened. Use rough grit emory paper to clean the scale off it. We will need to get a good look at the color of the steel in order to temper it correctly.


NextOkay, this sword is hardened. Let's move on to the next part of the tutorial and learn how to temper it


This is the Video that shows how to do the hardening and tempering of the sword.




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