Custom Sword Maker is a skilled, all-around craftsman (blacksmith, woodworker, leatherworker) who makes swords and other types of weapons. A modern swordsmith will use modern tools combined with traditional techniques to create a variety of practical and decorative swords, rapiers, daggers, etc. In the past, swordmaking was widely practiced craft, but in recent years, it’s actually hard to find a decent and trustworthy master of the art. Oh, and if you do, don’t be surprised by long production times, because in the end, it’ll be worth the wait.
This craft has roots in ancient cultures all over the world. Historically swords were forged from copper, iron, and bronze, but as technology developed (mostly after the Industrial Revolution), steel became the number one metal of choice.
Most Popular Custom Sword Maker Guide
Even though swordsmithing is not as popular in the modern era, as it was back then, there are still communities which are interested in learning this art. Unlike in the past, where a swordmaker was either born into a family of smiths or apprenticed at a young age, nowadays, smiths are enthusiasts, which are being taught by expert swordsmiths. Mastering this craft is far from being easy, and it can take many years to become a true swordmaker.
Table of Contents
- Most Popular Custom Sword Maker Guide
- A huge list of Swordsmiths
- How to pick the best swordsmith for your needs?
- The 10-steps process of custom sword making
- Most helpful bladesmithing books
- The Sword: Myth & Reality: Technology, History, Fighting, Forging, Movie Swords by Thomas Laible
- German Swords and Sword Makers Edged Weapon Makers by Richard Bezdek
- The Complete Bladesmith: Forging Your Way to Perfection by Jim Hrisoulas
- Swords and Sword Makers of England and Scotland by Richard H. Bezdek
- Index of Japanese Swordsmiths A-M by Markus Sesko
- Modern Japanese Swords And Swordsmiths by Leon Kapp
- Damascus Steel: Theory and Practice by Gunther Lobach
- Forging Damascus Steel Knives for Beginners by Ernst G. Siebeneicher-Hellwig
- Forged a Guide to Becoming a Blacksmith by Liam Hoffman
- Becoming a custom sword maker – swordsmithing schools and classes
A huge list of Swordsmiths
Because the community of medieval enthusiasts is growing, every custom sword maker needs to work even harder to attract potential customers and fulfill their needs. You may not believe, but the actual swordsmithing industry is very competitive, and it can be hard to find the best possible custom sword maker for yourself in a short amount of time.
We dug through the web, to find the best of them, so let’s see which are the most popular swordsmiths at the moment.
|US||New Glarus Wisconsin||Albion swords|
|HU||Pécel||VB Sword Shop|
|US||Laurel Mississippi||Darkwood Armory|
|US||Princeton Indiana||Dark Knight Armoury|
|JP||Kamakura||Masamune Sword and Blade|
|PL||N/A||Art of Swordmaking by Maciej Kopciuch|
|UK||Isle of Skye||Castle Keep|
|US||Wolcott Connecticut||Dragon's Breath Forge|
|US||Driftwood Texas||Angel Swords|
|US||Pinetop-Lakeside Arizona||Allenson Armory|
|US||Zanesville Ohio||Lonely Wolf Forge|
|US||Chattahochee Hills Georgia||Bronze by Jeffrey J Robinson|
|US||Saint Paul Minnesota||Omega Artworks|
|US||Markhamville New Brunswick||Jake Powning Swordsmith|
|US||Coquille Orlando||Dragonfly Forge|
|US||Frenchtown Montana||Josh Smith Knives|
|US||Leesburg Virginia||Longship Armoury|
|US||N/A||Walter Sorrells Blades|
|US||Rogers City Michigan||Gardiner Forge|
|US||New Glarus Wisconsin||Peter Johnsson Swordsmith|
|US||Grapevine Texas||Valiant Armoury|
|UK||Kent||Owen Bush Swordsmith|
|FR||Saint-Julien-du-Serre||Gaël Fabre Swordsmith|
|CZ||Brno||Templ by Patrick Bárta|
|US||Johnson Vermont||Anger Knives|
|US||Newland North Carolina||Hoffman Blacksmithing|
|US||Petersburg Alaska||DesRosiers Knives|
|US||Hubbardston Minnesota||Cashen Blades|
|US||N/A||Custom Knife Gallery of Colorado|
|US||Alton Illinois||TomKin Forge|
|US||Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin||Door County Forgeworks|
|US||N/A||Vince Evans Bladesmith|
|US||Tucson Arizona||Pokabu Forge|
|US||Claremore Oklahoma||Helton Custom Knives|
|US||Naples Idaho||The Pilgrim Soul Forge|
|US||Morgan Georgia||Purgatory Ironworks|
|UK||Durham England||Harding Knives|
|US||Austin Texas||Christopher Farrell Bladesmith|
|US||N/A||Knives by David Roeder J.S.|
|US||Portland Orlando||Bridgetown Forge|
|US||Buda Texas||Huse Knives|
|US||Pahrump Nevada||Seymour-Made Knives|
|US||Ponte Vedra Beach Florida||Arizona Custom Knives|
|US||Wolcott Connecticut||Maumasi Fire Arts|
|US||N/A||AmeRRuss Blade Arts|
|US||N/A||Harris Custom Knives|
|US||Lancaster Massachusetts||Venier Forge|
|US||Bellville Texas||Phenix Knives|
|US||South East Wisconsin||Peter Martin Knives|
|US||Madill Oklahoma||Harkins Blades|
|US||N/A||Jason Morrissey Bladesmith|
|US||Hettick Illinois||Camerer Knives|
|US||Tahlequah Oklahoma||Raker Knives|
|US||Bella Vista California||Buccaneer Forge|
|US||Wilmot New Hampshire||Jonas Blade & Metalworks|
|US||Tonasket Washington||Promethean Knives|
|US||Bisbee Arizona||J.P. Wick Bladeworks|
|US||N/A||Stone Haven Knifeworks|
|US||Asheville North Carolina||The Surly Anvil|
|US||North Milan Michigan||Osborne Forge|
|US||Fletcher North Carolina||Angry Giant Forge|
|US||Boston Massachusetts||Tempest Craft|
|US||Dallas Texas||Kelly Potter Blacksmith|
|US||Bristol Virginia||Burt Foster Knives|
|US||Portland Maine||Kevin Klein Blades|
|US||Brooklyn New York||She-Weld|
|US||Moravian Falls North Carolina||Gahagan Knives|
|US||Ozark Missouri||Ozark Knife Makers|
|US||Richmond Virginia||Join or Die Knives|
|US||Brighton Colorado||Hooligan Kustoms|
|US||Chandler Arizona||Mustache Forge|
|US||Broomfield Colorado||Burdett Metalsmithing and Design|
|US||West Jordan Uah||Jared's Forge|
|US||Southwick Massachusetts||Wilderness Ironworks|
|US||Minneapolis||Arms & Armor|
|US||Lowell Arkansas||Allen Newberry Bladesmith|
|US||Kalamazoo Michigan||Wilder Forge|
|CZ||Kelniky||Vladimir Cervenka Swordsmith|
|US||Tampa Florida||Sterling Armory|
|CA||Saskatoon||Royal Oak Armoury|
|US||Brick New Jersey||Morrows Blade and Blacksmith Shop|
|CZ||Hradec nad Moravicí||Swordmakery Elgur|
|PL||N/A||Historical Swords Zone|
How to pick the best swordsmith for your needs?
If you are a HEMA fencer
HEMA fencers mostly use rapiers, longswords, sabers, sideswords, and feders, because these are weapons which are used on the tournaments. Fencers (usually) don’t care how polished their weapon is, because they prioritize other things such as durability, balance, and flexibility. So if you want to hold shiny weapons and wear a shiny armor, you need to check SCA or LARP.
We prepared the article, which explains what HEMA is here.
If you are a SCA fencer
SCA is an interesting mix of HEMA and LARP. Fencers are allowed to wear heavy equipment (if they participate in the SCA heavy combat category), which looks very similar to armory which was used by medieval knights. Participants in this heavy category can pick almost any weapon they want as long as the striking surfaces of the weapon are made of rattan. They can also use foam, leather and duct tape to construct the weapon. Non-striking surfaces (such as quillons and basket hilts) can be made of more rigid materials like metal, rubber, or plastic.
Fencers can also participate in the lighter categories, in which participants use rapiers, foils, and épées.
You can check the official site for SCA here.
If you perform LARP
If you’re searching for a new fun hobby, then LARPing is the best choice for you. LARP means Live Action Role-Playing Game, which basically means that you pick a character which you’ll portray in the events. These events aren’t too competitive, because organizers prioritize hanging out and having fun.
The rules for the gear, however, are very strict. Every official LARP event must have an experienced member who checks the equipment of each participant. You can use a lot of different weapons, but they need to be blunt and protected by the rigid foam. Each event has its own rules, so it’s crucial that you read everything before you decide to sign in.
You can check the official site for LARP here.
The 10-steps process of custom sword making
Here’s how custom sword maker do his/her amazing products:
Step 1: Most common tools
- Hammer (recommended: power or air hammer, induction heater)
- Belt, bench and angle grinder
- Cutting Torch
- Drill press
- Wire wheel
- Sandpaper (different types)
- Drill bits
- Linseed oil
- Utility knife
Step 2: Picking the type of sword
As we mentioned in a few articles on our site, there are many different types of medieval weapons. For HEMA, the most popular weapons are feders, longswords, rapiers, daggers, and smallswords. But as you probably know there were a lot of different weapons used through the history and custom sword makers most of the times offer custom orders as well.
Step 3: Finding a proper steel
The intended purpose is very critical at this point. Blades can be made from spring steel, which can be found on a junkyard, or they can be made of much better types of steel. Most popular are Damascus steel, alloy special steel, high-carbon steel and a few other harder types of steel.
Each custom sword maker offers specific types of steel, so don’t forget to adequately explain what you need and how you gonna use the sword.
Step 4: Collecting measures
Most of the swordmakers offer some examples of their finished work on their websites. If their products don’t fit your needs and if you know exactly what you must have, you can communicate with them, and they’ll give you a price and production time of a custom-made sword.
This step includes every part of a sword, not just the blade. If you want a custom-made sword, you need to provide details for handle, crossguard, pommel, shoulder, and point as well.
Step 5: Let the forging begin
When a swordsmith picks the best possible steel for your blade, it most certainly hasn’t got the right measures and proportions. Forge, power hammer, and pneumatic hammer are mostly used in this step, with 1 goal, to create a blade with a proper profile (length, width, and thickness).
When the blade has the final shape, some swordsmiths start a process called Annealing, which makes the blade softer and easier to grind. This is basically up to 24 hours long process of cooling down the blade, which is wrapped in an insulating material.
Step 6: Grinding the blade
Next up is grinding, which means working on the blade’s edges to achieve the desired profile. On this step, a custom sword maker needs to be precise. Nowadays most used tools on this step are angle grinder and belt sander.
On this step, swordmaker also picks how blade’s cross-section will look like. Each cross section has its own properties. Most popular cross sections are diamond, hexagonal, and lenticular. Basically, the cross-section is one of the ways of determining the blade’s function.
We also need to mention taper. There are 2 known tapers: distally and in profile.
- Profile taper: is a measure of the blade’s width along its length.
Some swords may have a more continuous taper others may have a more acute taper.
- Distal taper: refers to the thickness of the blade.
Usually, the thickness lessens from the cross guard towards the tip. Massively produced (and cheap) modern swords have no distal taper. This means that they feel heavy in your hand and the handling of this kind of a blade is awful.
Step 7: Heat treatment
Heat treatment of a blade is very much needed if you want to fence with your weapon. Proper heat treatment will make your blade more flexible and more durable. Every swordsmith does this differently, but the principle is the same.
Step 8: Pommel, cross-guard, and handle
When the blade is finished, it’s time to create the other parts as well.
- Its function is to be something like a counterweight and to balance the weapon.
- They usually hold the entire sword together.
- There are many different types of pommels.
- Its primary function is to protect your hand from opponent’s blade.
- There are many different designs of cross-guards.
- Rapiers have the most stylish guards.
- Its primary function is to provide you with enough grip and space to hold the sword properly.
- It’s usually made of wood or metal and covered with leather or cord
Step 9: Putting it all together
There are many ways of assembling everything together, but the 2 most popular ways are the hex nut and hot peen method. Albion is one of the most popular representatives of hot peen method, and their swords are known to be one of the most durable and well-made. Hex nut method, on the other hand, is also prevalent amongst swordmakers, and it’s quite effective as well.
Step 10: Final polishing
Every swordsmith is doing this differently. It also depends on when you intend to use this sword.
Note: every swordsmith has his/her own way of doing his/her work.
Most helpful bladesmithing books
We often get asked which bladesmithing books are best to buy, mostly by people who like to craft their own stuff.
So we decided to prepare a list of our favorite bladesmithing books, mainly for beginners but several of them have useful tips and tricks for intermediate craftsman too. These books are not ranked in any particular order. They’re all great books, so check our short description for each and pick which one(s) best suit your needs.
The Sword: Myth & Reality: Technology, History, Fighting, Forging, Movie Swords by Thomas Laible
This book is covering everything about swords, not only the actual forging. It still includes the manufacturing processes of a sword, but that’s not all there is. Basically, it covers the historical uses and manufacturing processes of swords in Europe, all the way from the 5th century until today. This book brings out all sorts of information that will surprise you. It’s definetly oe of the most interesting bladesmithing books you can buy.
German Swords and Sword Makers Edged Weapon Makers by Richard Bezdek
This book isn’t focused so much on the actual process of sword crafting. It’s more like a giant list of most German sword manufacturers. It has 12 chapters, and probably the most interesting is the 8th chapter. It’s a 70 pages long list of the German sword makers from the 14th to 20th centuries. This list is probably the largest ever published. This book also has exciting sketches and pictures of swords, swordsmiths, and factories.
The Complete Bladesmith: Forging Your Way to Perfection by Jim Hrisoulas
This is one of the best bladesmithing books, and it’s perfect for all sword making enthusiasts. It’s written in a no-nonsense style, so whenever you’ll need something from this book, you’ll find it quickly. It covers everything, from beginning to the end of a process, and what we particularly liked about this book are drawn how-to explanations, which are incredibly helpful. This book contains some information suitable for intermediate-level swordsmiths, but it’s also very beginner-friendly.
Swords and Sword Makers of England and Scotland by Richard H. Bezdek
This is an excellent companion to German Swords and Sword Makers book. It doesn’t cover medieval swords, it’s more focused on the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian era. It’s 400 pages long, with 34 pages long list of Scottish sword makers and at least 100 illustrated swords. Some of these illustrations are small, so don’t expect to see every possible detail in each photo.
Nevertheless, it’s still one of the bladesmithing books, which are worth every penny.
Index of Japanese Swordsmiths A-M by Markus Sesko
This book is basically a list of more than 20 000 Japanese swordsmiths, from the kotô (early days) right down to shinsakutô (modern times). Every swordsmith in this book is introduced to the reader with picture and name, in which style did he work, how did he sign, and few other important things.
And here is the second part of this book.
Modern Japanese Swords And Swordsmiths by Leon Kapp
If you’re in the process of buying a modern Japanese Sword, or merely a fan of Japanese craft, this book will be an excellent pick for you. You’ll get information about how these blades are done, blade characteristics, tang markings, etc. This book is also filled with remarkable b/w photographs of swordsmiths, swords, soldiers and even Shinto priests. This is a must-have book for all collectors of Japanese swords and other enthusiasts.
Damascus Steel: Theory and Practice by Gunther Lobach
If you’ll join a bladesmithing course about working with Damascus steel, there’s a high chance that Damascus Steel: Theory and Practice will be used as a reference by the teacher of this course. It’s very informative, with lots of diagrams, illustrations, and photos. The text is easy to understand, and it covers exciting techniques.
Gunter Lobach did a great jo explaining everything all the way from the start. So if you’re a fan of Damascus steel, this book is one of the bladesmithing books you need to read.
Forging Damascus Steel Knives for Beginners by Ernst G. Siebeneicher-Hellwig
Forging Damascus Steel Knives is like a notebook with lots of pictures. The instructions are clear and easy to follow; however, it doesn’t have enough details for a beginner to create his/her first blade. More experienced crafters will enjoy reading this book. We suggest that you buy the Damascus Steel: Theory and Practice by Gunther Lobach before getting this one.
Forged a Guide to Becoming a Blacksmith by Liam Hoffman
This book was written by a Forged in Fire champion Liam Hoffman. It’s a fantastic book for beginners, who wants to explore the art of blacksmithing. Liam covers important aspects of this craft, like what you need to start, how much it costs, why something is needed or not needed, and everything in between. One of the interesting points in this book is that you don’t need expensive equipment to start and that sometimes less is enough.
Let us know down in the comments, which book you like the most and if we missed any.
Becoming a custom sword maker – swordsmithing schools and classes
If you’re serious about becoming a custom sword maker, then you need to consider finding an expert swordsmith near you and be his/her apprentice.
There are many courses and schools available, either online or live for just about everything. You can be a beginner or an intermediate student, everyone will receive a lot of useful information and someday, maybe have their own workshop.
Here’s the list of a few swordsmithing schools and classes
Dragonfly Forge (US)
All of the classes are taught by renowned custom sword maker Michael Bell, who teach courses such as Basic Forging, Intermediate Forging, Koshirae, Habaki, Kajioshi, Tsuka-maki, and Oroshigane. These classes were made for people interested in hands-on learning of the Japanese sword arts.
Bushfire Forge (UK)
Owen Bush is an experienced custom sword maker, who run classes such as Axe Making, Swordsmithing, Bladesmithing, Pattern Welding (Damascus steel). These classes are suitable for beginners and more experienced students.
Find more information here.
New England School of Metalwork (US)
This school offers a wide range of bladesmithing classes. Professional instructors have specific levels to which the course is designed, that’s why each student needs to have his/her skill evaluated first, before joining any of these classes.
Find more information here.
Allenson Armory (US)
Allenson Armory offers a small workshop for one student, at once. They offer a few classes such as Apprentice Bladesmithing, Knifemaking, Pattern Welding, etc. These classes are suitable for beginners and more experienced students who want to become a custom sword maker.
Find more information here.
Royal Oak Armoury (CA)
Royal Oak Armoury offers a lot of exciting classes, ranging from learning to build your own Viking helmet, to creating your own pendant. They accept 4-5 students per class and students can be beginners without any previous experience.
Find more information here.
Dragons Breath Forge (US)
Dragons Breath Forge offers public and private classes for their students. They also have a Youtube Channel, which you can see here.
You can find public classes on their Facebook here. They can prepare private classes for 3-14 students at once.
Find more information here.
If you’re interested in finding a swordsmithing course near you, we suggest that you use Google and try to find one near you. Having an experienced custom sword maker teaching you everything you need, is a lot better way of learning the craft than buying books and looking videos.
We hope you like our Finding the Best Custom Sword Maker article, and please let us know what’s your experience with them below.