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How to Make a Sword Part 4 -Shaping, Hardening and tempering

Ok, now lets get the sword to its final shape and look then harden and temper the blade.


Now we need to sand out the blade and get it to it's final shape. You can do the rough work on any kind of belt sander. Just be careful not to over do it with the power tools. You can easily take too much off in spots.

I did it almost all by hand using emory paper. I started with a 60 grit to get the blade to the shape I wanted. This means cleaning it all up and working it so everything, including the bevels are nice and smooth. From there you work you way up the grits to 10, 220, and then 400. We don't want to polish the blade any more than that because we still need to put it in the forge. We will do the final grinding and polishing later.

Grind the sword to clean and shape

You just have to take your time at this step. But it is worth the time. It will take a few hours. I use clamps to hold the sword down while I work on it.

Once this is done it is time to harden and temper the blade.

Hardening and Tempering the Blade

Hardening and Tempering the sword is a two step process. Well, i guess that is easy to guess. We first harden the sword then we temper it.

Heating the sword in the forge

Each of these steps means heating up the whole sword. So we crank up the sword forge and heat the whole sword.

Difficult to see it but the sword is in that pile of coals.

( This forge is a home made sword forge. I have a tutorial on how to make one right here: . How to Make a Sword Forge )

Check it with a magnet


We want to bring up the temperature of the whole blade to about 1800F. And It will get red orange hot. And we can know when it gets to the right temperature if a magnet no longer sticks to it. So, as it is heating up check it with a magnet.

Quench the sword in oil

Once it is up to temperature you quench it in the oil. This locks the hardness in.

About the Quenching

Different types of steels require different quenches -either oil or water. You have to look it up. This is O1 steel which needs an oil quench. And you can use just about any type of oil like motor oil, used or new; transmission fluid or vegetable oil.

I have a quench stand that I made. It holds a nice PVC tube for the oil. I have a tutorial on how to make one right here: . How to make an Oil Quench for swords



Now that the sword has been hardened it is actually a bit too brittle to use as a sword. It could possibly shatter when struck up against another sword or some type of hard object. So we have to soften it up just a little bit. But not so soft that it will not keep a sharp edge. This process of softening is called "tempering". And we do this by heating up the sword again. But this time not to 1800F but only to about 800F.

And we can't use our magnet test this time. But we can use the color of the sword to know when it is at the right temperature. Yup, as the sword heats up the steel goes through a progression of colors. When the sword is a nice wheat color we are done tempering it.

Before you start this process you have to use emory paper and clean the sword off pretty good. It will be easy to do. You need it clean so you can see the colors of the sword blade.

temper on the forge

Put some bars or something on your forge to stand the sword up away from the fire about a foot. The picture here shows the sword on bars and held up over the fire. This will heat it slower and less hot.

Turn it frequently and dip it closer or hold it in different positions to allow it to heat evenly, depends on the fire too.

Once it gets to a nice wheat color you can take it out and dip it in the quench again to lock it in.


Wheat colored blade

This picture gives you a little bit of a look at the wheat color. But the sunlight washes it out a bit. Not the greatest of pictures.

temper with a torch

Alternate way to temper the sword. You can also use a blow torch to temper it. You slowy move the torch up and down the length of the sword. And be sure to flip it over often and do the other side. That way the heat goes into the metal.

But be careful, move slow and don't get close with the torch. You can quickly over temper it.


NextOk, continue with the tutorial and make the handle assembly


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