The Rustic Blade…

While I do like the funky curves and and sharp angles of many contemporary knives, I also tend to find certain kinds of knife primitives interesting, not really for any specific aesthetic purpose, but rather for the transparency and deceptive simplicity of their design…

Blacksmith Twister Shank Knife

Blacksmith Twister Shank Knife

[view full size]

Take the above knife for example. This knife is a modern recreation of a very old knife making style. Seeing as it would be rather costly to make something like this in the old way, I imagine it was made using modern forges and hydraulic equipment, etc. However the design idea is a fairly old ornamental wrought iron one.

Essentially, the traditional medieval black smith would have started with a steel (or iron), blank. This blank would have been heated in a furnace and the middle section (if not the whole thing) pounded out slowly, section by section, into a long rod. In order to get the twist, the black smith would have heated the rod up, clamped one flattened end section of the rod to the anvil, and used a pair of tongs to twist the other section.

The smith would do this over and over, heat and twist, section by section until the desired amount of twist was attained across the appropriate sections of rod. Then the center would he heated, and the rod folded over on the point of the anvil to provide that very useful loop. The ends would then be heated to welding heat, and pounded, heated and pounded, heated and pounded, until the ends were one seamless piece of iron/steel, and it was the right blade shape.

Then finally it was time to take it to the grinding wheel, usually a great hand turned stone wheel, which was used to grind a useful edge onto the knife. This took a lot of patience and skill to do properly. At this point the metal could then be tempered, and further refinement of the edge could be performed. The end result was a good and very useful knife which probably wouldn’t win any beauty awards, but would last forever. And all that work was just for simple knives, like the one above.

It is hard to imagine how much more work went into things like swords. When I Imagine how much pounding, grinding, perfect tempering, polishing, etc. it would have taken to make a single high quality Knight or Samurai sword I can’t help but have a lot of respect for the Medieval black smith…

Blacksmith Twister Shank Knife – [True Swords]


11 Responses to “The Rustic Blade…”

  1. 1 Niccolo
    May 3, 2008 at 3:01 am

    Yeah, it’s amazing the amount of work that woulda gone into those things. One almost cries for the arts being lost these days – very few people practice these old crafts.

    The world will be a sadder place.

  2. May 3, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Well, the thing is, the exact same effect can be created using modern equipment… While it’s a shame that so few people still engage in the traditional arts, I guess eventually the old must give way to the new… Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes bad… But it is what it is…

  3. 3 Brad
    May 3, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Ah but alas there are still the precious few who carry on the noble traditions and skills of the art of blacksmithing.

    There is a man in my area who is founder and leader of the South Tower Armouring Guild (I know, I know, it sounds like a bunch of dwarves from LOTR who make armour or soemthing like that) and he forges weapons and armour of medieval quality in his own home. He even gave out chainmail making courses. He carries on the ancient art of smithing and passes on the knowledge and skills to any who are willing to learn. There are many others like him all around the world. One need only look around to find them.

    BTW I DO realize that little tirade of mine sounded like something out of a fantasy movie or somesuch. I’ve been reading some R.A. Salvatore recently okay? Cut me some slack.

  4. 4 Niccolo
    May 3, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    *Nodnod* We will. ^^ Good author, he is.
    Anyhoo, yeah. I prefer the older methods; they take longer, tend to be unique in some manner or form, and… well, it sounds corny, but a good smith will put love into the weapon. I can’t really explain this, but it’s like singing a song. Two people can sing the same song, but the one who puts their heart and soul into singing it will sound better.

  5. May 3, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    LOL @Brad

    Hey I wasn’t gonna say anything, your tirade actually sounded fine to me… 🙂

    Yes, I agree. It’s not really that corny. It’s just that there are pros and cons to both. There is a level of detail, uniqueness and quality that goes into a hand made weapon that is hard to duplicate with modern mass production techniques. Not that it can’t be done, but it’s usually really very cost prohibitive to do so. The advantage is that when it’s done right, you can churn out high quantities of high quality weapons.

    Unfortunately, they will also have no individuality and often no character either. With a hand made weapon each will be unique, and each will be special. And each new one could be better than the last, no matter how good it was…

  6. 6 MoZZA
    August 26, 2008 at 7:59 am

    im attempting to find an apprenticeship witha black smith just so i feel as though im trying to keep the old ways alive but also to expand my own weapons collection 😉

  7. August 27, 2008 at 12:23 am

    I think they are a bit hard to find nowadays… there is really no reason to use old school blacksmithing methods unless you live in an undeveloped/developing country…

  8. 8 MoZZA!
    September 14, 2008 at 7:31 am

    ah but you see in the east midlans of england there are a lot of country houses, where theres country houses, theres wrought iron gates, where theres wrought iron gates theres a blacksmith

    not to mention theres quite a few reenactment places around here …

  9. September 15, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    OK, come one now Mozza, you aren’t really trying to convince me that every home in the east midlands of england that has a wrought iron gates has a blacksmith living there now are you? LOL 😛

  10. 10 MoZZA
    September 16, 2008 at 11:21 am

    shhh you know what i mean, the big country estates full of posh gits with more money than sense …. so i wanna leach their money bit by bit ::evil grin::

  11. September 17, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    LOL Got it… More powah to ya!!

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