I have often been asked how to make a sword, or get into the film industry as a swordmaker or other specialist. How to get into the film industry is changing all the time, but swordsmithing has a history of thousands of years. Here, I recommend some ways to learn and some resources to educate yourself.
Classes are your best way to learn
Today there are a range of blacksmithing, knife making, and swordsmithing classes available. For example, in the Wellington, NZ area, The Learning Connexion arts centre is known for its ‘hot work’ and often has knife making classes. Search for ones in your area. Your local Society for Creative Anachronism may also host workshops and demonstrations.
Most swordsmiths and armourers today are largely self-taught, through necessity, as there is no “industry” as such and no training system.
Much of what I have learned has been from others, far better qualified than myself in their fields of expertise. Unfortunately I am not in a position to take on apprentices, and may never be, so please do not ask. Apprenticing today is very difficult, but most especially in the older crafts. If you can even find someone willing to take on an apprentice, you will need to convince them that you are in it for the long haul; they are running a business not just a teaching course.
To learn more about the history and hands-on work, see my Research and Recommended Reading page.
Dedication and craft
Anyone can make a sword; but to do it well and make a living at it, takes years of practise, dedication and enthusiasm for the art and process (not just the finished product), and the willingness to make many mistakes and learn lessons from them. There is both a craft aspect, in the creation of the sword, and an academic one, in learning about the forms of swords from different cultures, their use in combat, and cultural contexts. This is a huge field, worthy of a lifetime of study, and one website is too small a place to do more than touch on the subject.
As well as metal trades people working today, books are the main source of information to learn the techniques and avoid some of the pitfalls, so what follows are a few starters. The internet is also a very valuable resource, especially for photographs, but you will need enough knowledge to judge the worth of information from it, as sources there often lack the rigour needed for publishing printed works. Internet news groups, especially those where you can access the experts in their fields, are especially valuable.
As far as getting into the film industry – work hard, know your stuff, and be in the right place at the right time to get lucky.