Welding the Sword Core (A Day at the Forge, Ep2)

Welding the Sword Core (A Day at the Forge, Ep2)


A day at the forge is my escape from a busy
week at work. It’s what I do on most Saturday mornings and
feels almost like a ritual. Today, I am continuing to work on a complex
pattern-welded sword I started a few months ago; the sword is slowly emerging at a cadence
of roughly 4 hours every weekend. Just like any other ritual, there are steps
that need to be performed. They do not need to be in a prescribed order
but are certainly in a rythm and pattern that have become familiar to me. It starts with putting on the leather apron
to prevent holes in my cloth and skin, making sure I have a ruler and marker in my pocket
and protecting my ears from the loud hammering noises. Afterwards, the glides in the power hammer
need to be lubricated with motor oil and the forge turned on. Today I will turn weeks of work into something
that is starting to resemble a sword. This means I am welding multiple pieces of
steel in the forge fire. As I continue following through with the ritual
of getting the shop prepared, I mentally review everything I need to do today. My forge is heated by propane and air forced
through a heavy duty blower. When I start the forge, the atmosphere in
the shop changes noticeably. The deep rumble of the burning propane and
the resulting heat has been likened to dragon’s breath. Over the last few months, I forged welded
and twisted 8 bars of pattern-welded stock. The core of the sword will show different
patterns on front and back side of the blade. Each consists of four of the pattern-welded
bars. The next step in creating this majestic sword
is forge welding the two sides together so that they form a solid core. The sides need to have matching surfaces that
align almost perfectly with each other. To be mated and welded in the forge, they
need to be clean and free of any rust. To create a sword that consists out of so
many different parts, it is important to conduct each step with patience and a sense of serenity. Rushing the process leads to mistakes and
mistakes often lead to failure. As I am preparing the core of what will be
a sword, the sun is shining hot outside and the forge is warming up the shop to a sweltering
heat. By now my little propane forge will have attained
temperatures high enough to allow forge-welding. Forge welding is a creative and a destructive
process. The heat in the forge is so high that it will
slowly eat away at any exposed surface. Ideally, I succeed in welding the first time. There is a limit to have often it can be redone
and any misstep here may resulting in losing weeks of work. The borax I use to protect and coat the steel
will form little bubbles telling me that the steel is hot enough to start hammering it
into a single piece. At this point the liquid borax will be squeezed
out in a spray that quickly burns holes into my cloth and if it gets stuck into my skin. #When working at the forge and hammering the
steel, hot scale frequently flies through the air, depositing heat where ever it lands. As the sword is going to be fairly long, welding
needs to happen in multiple passes. In between welding, I like to clean up scale
with a wire brush and apply borax to the next section that I plan on welding. The repetetive strikes of the power hammer,
the constant roar of the forge and the ever present heat create a space in which the outside
world retreats and I focus solely on the moment. Although the spot welds tore off in the heat
induced expansion of the steel, the sword core is completely welded now. It is a solid piece with different patterns
running through its surface. Before I can weld on the high-carbon steel
edges that will form the cutting part of the sword blade, I need to straighten the sword
core as much as possible. A wire brush on an angle grinder allows me
to remove some of thick scale that is obscuring the interrupted twists and straight lines
of the pattern welded core. As far as I can tell everything looks good
and the steel goes back into the forge so that I can straighten it on the anvil. Getting it straight in both dimensions will
help with the next step. In general, even beyond blacksmithing, if
the work is prepared well, it saves time and headaches later. That is a lesson learned by me mostly due
to experiencing these headaches first. Taking short cuts can be incredibly tempting. While the work speaks for itself even without
narration, I hope you enjoy some of the beautiful visuals created by the glowing steel and curling
smoke that never cease to amaze me. At this point, the core is as straight as
I can make and I am letting it cool down slowly. This helps with refining the grain of the
steel and is required before I can join the core with its cutting edges. Since working under high heat creates scale
on the steel, I need to spend some time with the belt sander to remove the scale and expose
clean steel. As before, I need clean surfaces to successfully
weld in the forge. For my cutting edges, I use W1 tool steel
which contains roughly 1% carbon and can be hardened in water. This welding operation is going to be slightly
more challenging since I only have a small area of support. This makes it even more important that everything
is square and joined well. The MIG welder helps with holding the steel
together while it heats up in the forge. None of the welds will make it into the final
piece but in the mean time it saves me a lot of time and hassle. As the sword is going to be very long – at
the top end of what one usually finds for Viking-era swords, I also need a little bit
of support in the middle. I am using very light tag welds for that. For this forge welding step, I am trying to
be very careful with how hard and precise the power hammer hits. It would be very easy to tear the bars apart
with a misplaced blow. As the sword is very heavy at this point,
creating bends on the power hammer by not working completely flat to the dies is common. While the steel is hot, I correct these bends
as I go. It is a little bit frustrating but really
not unexpected at all. As a day or in my case four hours is not really
all that long, there is a limit to what I can accomplish in one session. For today, I am hoping to get all the material
welded together and perhaps start establishing the tang. If you have paid close attention, you may
have noticed that several of my tag welds popped while in the forge. Fortunately, enough of the sword was welded
already so that this did not pose a problem. I find the best way to creating the tang transition
is by using a blacksmith’s helper. This allows me to be quite precise on how
much material I want to separate. The power hammer can draw it out very quickly
afterwards. I am quite happy with what I accomplished
today and am looking forward to my next weekend to continue creating this sword. If you would like to find out what is going
to happen with this project, I encourage you to subscribe on Youtube, and follow me on
Twitter or Facebook. While producing videos is time consuming and
challenging, I frequently end up posting in progress pictures and am perfectly happy to
answer questions you may have. In fact if you have anything you would like
to know right now, don’t hesitate to post a question below. In the mean time, I am getting ready for call
it a day and for finishing my day at the forge. As at the beginning, so the end, a ritual
needs to be follow here, too. All machinery needs to be turned off and stored
safely. I hope you enjoyed this video and I will see
you next time.

100 thoughts on “Welding the Sword Core (A Day at the Forge, Ep2)

  1. Now you said it was tiny welds, but wont those 2 welds on both sides of the sword obscure(or atleast make a wierd circle) the pattern you are trying to create? or will it be grinded away?

  2. All of your power tools are gorgeous! Your shop has a really cool essence, with the power tools adding to it, not taking away from it. In my opinion.

  3. You are a Viking Guru stuck out of time, and your craft fits the mold so well. I'll try to emulate your patience waiting for your next video. Thank you for creating the most enjoyable channel on YouTube.

  4. Your accent, the background music, and just the way you use your words so nicely and precisely.
    You are really my favorite blacksmith I had the pleasure of learning things from.

  5. He Niels,
    i really enjoy watching your video's! I wish you had more time to make more of them. I frequently reffer your channel to buddy's of mine that are interested in blacksmithing or that are already smithing. And i only get good coments on it!

    Where are you from? Just out of interest because i cant place your accent!

    Keep up the good work so i can learn more and more!

    Best regards

  6. Despite not being a blacksmith I can very much relate to your comments, in my case as a landscape gardener.

    If you want a beautiful compound or park area it will take many years to archive the desired result.

  7. Again an incredible job, Niels! Not only at the forge but with the camera too, your videos are always a pleasure to watch.

  8. is there a difference between using the propane forge and the coal forge for heating metals. does one provide benefits over the other?

  9. Every time i watch one of your videos it is like part of my soul is restored. Blacksmithing is something i have always wanted to do, but sadly both in funding and space to even have a small and simple forge does not allow me to do so. Hopefully in the future i can save up enough to get my own place and the space to set up a forge

  10. The camera work, narration and editing are so beautiful and well done. Thank you so much for using time that you could be using to make stuff in your shop, to present such a high quality and informative video to us.

  11. It just makes you wonder how hard a job this was before the invention of power tools. You als have a coal forge. When do you use that?

  12. Fantastic production Niels, amazing work! Thanks for sharing your craft in such a beautiful way, can't wait to see what it's going to look like!

  13. hey niel I'm a bladesmith myself(Black Scale Forge), im from San Jose as well but i live in livermore now. If you are open to it i would love to visit your shop some time and learn a few things.

  14. Great, informative video, as always. Are you still working on the Serpent in the Sword, sword? I see that the last video was posted in 2012 when you had finished the blade and was contemplating the design of the handle and pommel. I would love to see the finished article.

  15. About two weeks ago I was watching a computerphile video on passwords and someone in the comments suggested to use bcrypt as a hashing function and I googled it and found your name on the wikipedia article. Since then you are one of my biggest inspirations because you are not only incredibly intelligent with actual contributions to science but you also make stuff with your hands and it's exactly what I would like to do in future.

  16. Considering you guys do quite a bit of work around that forge, why not make it better? I think that's worthy investment of time and materials. I know for sure that you could coax a lot more from the bottle if you make the forge better.

    Just a thought nothing more.

    On the other hand i enjoyed this video very much, the story you tell, the motions, the actions, i like them. And then there's the work itself which has always been a pleasant thing to watch and look at. 😀

  17. hey there, love you work, i was just wondering if you are going to finish the serpant in the sword videos? its a truly beautiful sword

  18. This must have been a pain in the butt to film, if you only had one camera. I truly enjoy your videos. ^~^ I would love to see a new video about woods. A sword made out of woods ö_Ö that would be really satisfying. For me at least. xD

  19. so pretentious. we just want to see you hammer on metal.

    no one cares about watching some hipster put his gloves and apron on while complaining about how busy his life is.

  20. Thank you once again for sharing. I have watched many blacksmiths in you tube but I use you as measure to grade (in my mind) their work.

  21. Thanks for the video. I appreciate your work. Too bad that whole PhD in Computer Science thing gets in the way of the important stuff.

  22. I love your work! Your videos are entertaining, informative, and relaxing at the same time. I'm curious though: What is the rate of material loss to forging on a project like this? For example, you start with 'x' kg's of steel and the final product ends up weighing 'x' kg's. And is this loss rate constant regardless of project or is it dependent on the amount of time a piece spends in the forge?

    Again, you have a great channel. I know it's time consuming but I really liked the wootz steel experiments as well! Thanks!

  23. Why do You have so little time to work at the forge ? DO you really like your normal day job, or is it just too lucrative to give up in favor of full time blacksmithing ? are You not getting enough comissions or what is the case. I just really wanted to know that. You are craftsman with VERY refined skills, Your work is really high quality, i just can't imagien You not getting enough clients

  24. Nice work Niels. I know absolutely nothing about forging but I am surprised that the light hits spaced out that far on the power hammer will weld the steel. Is it mainly the temperature that allows welding and not so much the pressure? Looking forward to more updates

  25. Since the dawn of the Iron Age blacksmithing has always had a mystical quality about it. And it's no different in this day and age.

  26. i can not wait for your next episode.
    what do you plan to make the pommel and guard look like?
    have you seen the Windlass sticklestad Viking sword?
    i love the shape of its pommel and guard.

  27. Hey Niels I really enjoy your videos especially when it's a full project from start to finish. Do you have a new watch? What happened to your Damasko?

  28. I feel good watching your videos. As a professional blacksmith with a younger brother that is a Google software engineer I appreciate the time, care, knowledge, and passion you have put into all aspects of your channel. Thank you.

  29. nice work, I love to watch your videos, you have a very methodical, almost meditative way of working that appeals to me, something I try and achieve myself

  30. Great video.  Not only do I appreciate your skill, but you've perfectly described what I love about forging.  It's almost meditative and really allows for a break from one's everyday rush.  I'll be up and in the forge first thing tomorrow morning.  My fiancé thinks I'm crazy for getting up before the sun on a Saturday, but there's something about that still, quiet morning and getting the fire started that refreshes me for the next week.  Thank you for making this.

  31. Out of curiosity, were you taught how to smith or did you teach yourself? And how much does your garage cost, like for the equipment/material necessary to do what you do? Great video by the way!

  32. Beautiful. Thank the gods there are still master craftsmen out there in the world that keep this ancient practice alive to this day. I salute you brother.

  33. You got a video on your forge and how it's built? Mine is propane but not forced air so I'm interested to see how it's set up

  34. I have to say that there is something soothing about beating hot bits of metal. A funny story for you:many years ago,it always is, when I was an apprentice,I was working in the blacksmiths shop. We had a power hammer that was operated with a handle and the striker would drive the hammer. So the company decided that they wanted to do a movie to attract overseas tradesmen and the film guys come to the blacksmiths shop to do a bit of filming. So they decided that they were going to have the camera guy lie on the floor and watch the old mate Mick hammer a bit of hot steel on the power hammer. So old Mick puts a large piece of steel in the forge and gets ready but the camera guy and the directer ague about the camera angle and the steel by now is nearly white,but the guys says we are ready but old Mick says no the steel is too hot but the camera guy says no,go for it,well we all ran away ,that bit of steel just exploded as the hammer came down,we had to hose the camera guy down . We were laughing so hard but they knew best so they reckoned and old mick, he said nothing,just went outside and had a smoke. Cheers Ross

  35. Really love your attention to detail and perfection….. it's what really sets you apart from others. I'm a blacksmith and could make my own sword if i wanted to….and I still would rather buy a sword from you Niels Provos, I really love your work and from what i have seen in your videos and my many years blacksmithing… "you are truly a master sword smith".

  36. I just wanted to say, amazing video. It's rare to find someone who can convey their passion in such a genuine and serene way; it's truly beautiful to watch!
    I'm from Australia and want to get into blacksmithing and knifemaking; what advice would you have given to yourself when you started your journey into smithing and how is the best way to get started?

    Again, beautiful videos and workmanship alike; thank-you!

  37. Sou adimirador de seu trabalho
    Estou montando minha oficina,mas não é tão espaçosa quanto a sua!!
    Gostaria de um dia estar você nun sábado destes.

    I adimirador of his work
    I'm putting my workshop , but is not as spacious as your !!
    I would one day be you these nun Saturday .

  38. Are u doing only one welding process ? or more ? Or is the power hammer strong enough to set those welds strong on first process ? Thanks

  39. Sir, I truly love your work.
    The satisfaction I get from watching a skilled craftsman perform an act of magic with a raw piece of metal can not be described with words.

  40. Recently discovered your channel from another youtuber called green beetle, needless to say he recommended the right man; I'm really enjoying your videos so far sir!

  41. Excellent stuff Niels. I really enjoy your work and particularly appreciated the insight into your Saturday Morning at the forge.

  42. Thanks for sharing with us your work in project.
    It feels very meditative seeing you work and your insights are very much appreciated.

  43. Wow, it's amazing how professional your video is, I mean you have done it from a few different points and than edited it in order to create a single episode. It is so much work to do. Thanks.

  44. What's the temperature of the blade during forge welding? Whats the temperature inside your shop after the forge has been running for some time? Basically, I would like to know temperature of the sword and its surroundings during the different steps.

    I really enjoy watching your work. Good luck with the grinding and tempering.

  45. A thoughtful, intelligent man at one with one of the most elemental of pursuits. Your video soundtracks are also top notch. I like to watch your videos instead of reading a book when going to sleep. The music and narration helps me relax a lot after a stressful day. My one piece of advice, as a fine arts and also commercial painter with 20+ years of experience and 3 years of jeweler's apprenticeship, is that when grinding, let loose on the material at the end of a pass. The end spots will get twice the grind (or paint coverage) per pass just based on our shoulder mechanics if you stick to a back and forth continual motion. I learned to "fade off" on the edges and gently introduce the material so as not to get divots or drips in the case of using spray paint or a power sprayer. It's the same case when I was polishing silver and gold pieces and started to rub away at the metal on a back and forth pass.

  46. May I ask why you don't use longer tack welds? The only logic I can think of is that it would create more pressure due to thermal expansion in the material. I have to ask though because I noticed that the pieces came apart a couple times while forge welding.

  47. Of course I enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing your progress. It really brings me back to earth with all the talk about programming and so on. Good old craftsmanship simply can't be replaced; at least for me. As many already mentioned you created an authentic masterpiece of light and sound

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