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1.
One who smithes (or "forges" is you're a purist) blades. Which, by the old ways would involve: Heating an iron rod to cherry red in a forge, and hammering into whatever shape you wish your sword to be. Iron is lighter than steel, but doesn't hold an edge as long. So, many times, the bladesmith would turn the blade on edge, and with a hammer and chisel, would split the edge of the blade in for a half inche or so, and insert an edge of steel. They would then re-heat the item, and hammer the iron down onto the inserted steel, fusing them together. They would then temper the blade by heating the entire piece to cherry-red, and then submerging it in water, or oil. This would harden the blade. However, if left like this the sword would be to hard and brittle to use, and would break opon the first blow. So they would then re-heat the blade to a deep red, and stick it in dry ashes to cool slowly. This would partly anealIn this way, they would aneal, or soften the metal, while not entirely removing the temper. The would then be hard enough to use in battle, but soft enough, and springy enough, that in wouldn't shatter on impact. They would then polish and sharpen the blade. In this way the smiths would create a sword with a steel edge, but that wieghed much less than a sword of only steel.
The modern way is to: Use a high-speed grinder to grind a bar of steel down into the shape of the blade you wish to make, then switch to a finer grinding wheel, and finally a buffing wheel to polish. With a whet stone, you can then put an edge on it. The modern method isn't nearly as good as the old methods, though. Sword created by this method are really only good as display models. It's a shame that so many of the ancient ways have been lost. In this era, you could spend your whole life studying the art of bladesmithing, and never even come close to the skill level of an apprintice. The blades of old could cut through solid stone without scratching the metal. Many of them had edges that where only a few atoms in width, but were strong enough to slice through armor like paper. With the finest, you could hold the sword out in front of you, and a silk cloth dropped on it would be cut cleanly in two, of its own wieght. Smiths were held in the highest regard in the middle ages, placed in the same ranks as the priests and poets. The smith was the only craftsmen to work with all four of the basic elements (for they belived in only four at that time). He used fire in his forge, air in his bellows, to blow the fire hotter, water to quinch the metal, and earth, the iron he used. (iron was known as the "black metal," the metal of the earth.)
There are still many people who blacksmith and bladesmith as a hobby. (I, am of course, one of them.) It really is a wonderful hobby to take up. Anybody can do it, it just takes a lot of work. (I'm only 15.)
It's a very rewarding and interesting thing to do! Ask around, there's probably a forge near you, that you could use. (Or, you can build your own, like me.)
Good luck!
I'm sure that my definition is example enough.
by Whind Soull February 03, 2005