• Anvil

    The anvil holds a special place in the forge. It is the place where we as smiths form steel. You have the main body, with a tail and a horn.There are two holes through the anvil, one square, one round. The square hole holds spike like fixtures for different operations in bladesmithing. The round holes are used for hole punching. Traditionally the horn should face North and the striker should face East. This anvil is an old anvil and has a forge welded hard plate on the top. Under the anvil (something you cannot see) there is a void which is filled with molten lead to dampen the ring of the anvil.
  • Hand hammers

    The hand hammer is the tool that defines the smith. The first photograph is taken from an archeological grave find of a Viking smith. The heads of his hammers have a very particular form as regards to a European form meets function tool. My hand hammer is styled on a hammer my grandfather used. It has a slightly off centered handle with a peen side and hammer head which is slightly concave. Headweight is 800 grams made of 1:3505 ball bearing steel, differentially hardened (this means that is has a hard face and a hard peen and is soft in the middle). The hammer is perfectly balanced to bounce without shifting to left and right. The hammer has to be perfectly balanced so it will sit on the long handle, the long handle enables every kind of blow from super light to bone crunchingly heavy. The addition of a collar at the junction of the head to the handle, significantly increases the handle's ability to deliver the different types of blows used in bladesmithing. It also protects against miss hits which sheer hammer heads from handles.

    I am a European smith, so I use a European hammer. There is one photograph of three Japanese hammers that I made during my apprenticeship in Japan. I can honestly say these hammers are useless for a European to use. A tool that is developed for the use by smaller and weaker people and are vastly overrated for use by Europeans. Lastly there is a picture of a rawhide mallet. This is a very useful mallet for moving hot steel without damaging the surface. You also get a nice smell of burnt hide in your forge after using it.
  • Air striking hammer

    An air striking hammer (Kick Ass 35) runs from a 500 liter compressed air tank at 8 bar. You will see two air cans at each side of the air strikking hammer with the combination die in the middle. The second picture is the control paddle. The control paddle controls the release of air from the air cans. You press the paddle quickly and the head will drop quickly, you press the paddle slowly and the head will drop slowly. One depression of the paddle gives one blow. To repeat you have to take your foot of the paddle allowing air to refill the cans and pushing the striking block up. It takes a bit of practice to use the air striking hammer, but once you are used to it, it becomes a very usefull hammer. It simulates the striking of a sledge hammer in many respects. It is my preferred hammer for forging blades. 
  • Bladesmith's apron

    A bladesmith's apron is a vitally important piece of protective clothing. It has to fit the wearer very well and protect him/her from the sparks, borax splashes and possible flying debris. I made this apron myself and it fits me perfectly. The leathers are all 4 mm thick and in some areas 8 mm thick. It has on the left side a pocket for a spike driver, a hot steel chisel, a smith's square and a vernier caliper.
  • Rolling/reduction mill

  • Tongs

  • Hydraulic press

  • Propane forges

    I use two propane forges, a large and a small. The small one is used for knife forging and is run from 3 bottles of propane connected together running through a regulator. The regulator has a gas proof quick relief valve. The large forge ("Puff the magic dragon") is a 4 inlined burner propane forge. I use this for damascus making. This runs continuously at 1400 Celcius and I can heat 60 cm of length to 1400 Celcius if necessary.

    I do use charcoal in a specific forging and heating processes. This shows me using charcoal to heat a sword.

    I was trained using a coals/coke forge. Whilst this is a good way for a beginner to learn the impracticalities of smoke and the size of fire make it problematic for high end damascus forging. With my large propane forge I can heat a 8 kilo block of laminated steel to weld temperature. Try making a fire big enough for that size of billet in a coals/coke forge. Though it is possible, the amount of coals/coke you would need would make it extremely expensive. It is important that a beginner learns to control a fire but for modern bladesmithing the propane forge has exactly the same controllability as a coals/coke fire.
  • Blacksmithing

    The fire

    The fire is the heart of the forge. Learning to use a fire correctly and keep it running well is a skill that takes time to learn. Keeping a fire small enough to do your work, but hot enough as well also takes skill and this is only learned by standing in front of a fire for hundreds and hundreds of hours. How do you keep a fire running well so that the coal waiting becomes coked to make a stronger and fierce fire? By practicing it for hours on end!

    It is a fact that blacksmithing is the core disclipine of blade smitihing. You can't get around it and if you don't train to learn all of the aspects of blacksmihting before learning to be a bladesmith than you are only one fifth of the way there. You are not fully trained as a blade smith, if you haven't learned all the skills of a blacksmith. Fact. 

    I started at 13 years old learning the blacksmithing skills. Upsetting, tapering, cutting, hot cutting, forming, scrolling, forge welding in a coal fire. I learned how to use swage blocks properly, flattening setters, moving setters, dies, the different types of hammer necessary, how to use a penne vertical and horizontal correctly. All these have to be understood to be able to move steel correctly before becoming a blade smith. If you haven't done the proper training as a blacksmith before becoming a blade smith then you will never be a properly trained blade smith. Fact.

    Blacksmithing and blade smithing has become an open profession. It is open to anyone and everyone. That is ok if you are a civil servant in a some ministry looking at blacksmithing and blade smithing as if it is just smashing hot steel with a hammer. There are no standards being set to become a properly trained blade smith. Hence there are so many low level blade smiths around. And the level is going down.

    Personally and frankly I am fed up with any dweeb who comes along who buys an anvil, a fire and a hammer and ten minutes later says he is a blade smith. This is bullshit! I started when I was 13 years old moving steel. I have been a professional bladesmith for 20 years and still there are no standards for anyone to strive for in blade smithing in Europe!
  • Forge

  • Sand blasting