The Essential Tools of the Bladesmith & How to Get Them Cheap…

Hello Fellow Smiths!!

If you’re reading this, hopefully you’ve got a feeling within you that lights up at the sight of a blade, if so…greetings, you’re as crazy as I am! The art of making a tool that cuts is deeply apart of our history and is rightfully an awesome path to explore. Craftsmen, hunters, and warriors for millenia have saught to perfect their cutting tools of bone, obsidian, stone, metal, and steel, and yet still to this day the blade is a popular as ever!

If you have an interest in knife making, understanding the tools of the trade is basic training in our world as bladesmiths. Every tool has a purpose, if you understand what purpose a tool serves, finding alternatives to the expensive hardware becomes much much easier.

Lets begin…

The Anvil

The anvil has one sole function in bladesmithing, and that is to be harder than your heated stock. The hardness of the anvil allows for its form to remain constant, thus directing the energy the hammer blows to your softer heated stock, allowing you to manipulate the form of your material. Our forefathers would use large stones as anvils, which is one of the cheapest and most abundent source of anvils out there. However, along with hardness, anvils need to be tough! Meaning they need to withstand force without cracking or breaking.

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The Hammer

Finding a hammer for knife making is much easier than finding the anvil. However, I would make the point that your hammer should be a little bit softer than your anvil. Why? Because it is much easier to fix a hammer than it is an anvil! Ideally a good hammer for knife making will have both a round face and flat face, one for stretching material and the other for flattning. A professional blacksmithing hammer can be expensive, but very worth it. I currently use a 3lb Lilie hammer, and it has made my life much easier. However, if you don’t want to break your bank, a cheap functional hammer is extremely easy to find; Yard sales, thrift stores, antique shops, Home Depot… etc.

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The Forge

Moving material is possible when the metal is cold, this is called cold forging, and is primarily only used for smaller material. However, if you want to work with bigger material and maintain the strength of the steel, you’ll need a forge. A forge is simply a tool to get your material up to a temperature in which the metal becomes malible. The most common types of forges are; charcoal, coal/coke, gas, and electrical (convection).  The simplest and cheapest forges to make are charcoal forges. Like coal/coke forges, charcoal needs an air source to add oxygen to your fire, which generates lots and lots of heat. This air source is useally in the form of a bellows or blower. The first forge I ever made, was just me blowing through a pipe into a pile of hot charcoals with my breath! There are many plans online on how to make your own forge. Charcoal forges are easiest to make, Coal forges are best for forge-welding, and gas forges are best for large materials. I’ve never used a convection forge so I have no comment on them yet.

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The Anvil, Hammer, and Forge are the three fundamental tools that a bladesmith will use in making a knife! Smiths have been using these tools and variations of them for thousands of years. Making knives is an awesome way to learn blacksmithing and the language of steel. Now go have fun!

Inspire Creation: Story of The Gentle Sword


Once upon a winter, in the cold valley of the Sagami province of Japan, legends tell of the swordsmith Masamune. Whose reputation as Japan’s greatest swordsmith sparked a challenge from his ambitious student Muramasa. The challenge was to be a contest of who could make the better sword.

Both smiths returned to their forges and began the tireless work of crafting the sword. After many days and nights, their Katana’s were revealed; glistening in the sunlight, brightly carrying the marks of the smith. Marks that span time; frozen in silent steel.

The competition was to be held in a slow flowing stream. Both smiths revealed a naked blade and lowered the cutting edges into the current of the the stream. Both watched the effect each blade had on the surrounding flow of life.

A fish swam gently, using the current of the water to slowly guide itself down the stream. The fish did not seemed phased when Muramasa’a blade divided the fish in two. Floating up dead, the fish continued down the stream. A leaf bouncing atop the ripples of the stream was cut swiftly and seamlessly, as if the sword was never there, the leaf continued its journey.

All the while, Masamune held a calm expression in his presence and attention to the stream flowing beneath him. The fish simply swam around the edge of his blade, and the leaf treated the great sword as just another ripple in its path downstream.

With grin, Muramasa mocked Masamune for creating such a dull katana, unable to cut even a delicate leaf. Unfazed by the mocking, Masamune calmly dried the blade and sheathed the katana once more. Before both smiths departed from the stream, a monk who had been watching the whole contest walked up to the two smiths, bowed, and explained what he had seen.

“The first of the swords was by all accounts a fine sword, however it is a blood thirsty, an evil blade as it doesn’t discriminate as to who or what it will cut. It may just as well be cutting down butterflies as severing heads. The second was by far the finer of the two, as it doesn’t needlessly cut that which is innocent and undeserving”



One brought the gardener to the war

The other brought the warrior to the garden



A sword made by Masamune, in the Tokyo museum.




Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford. 2004. “TALES OF OLD JAPAN”
Masamune. Wikepedia. (
Image source:

Shops Open: Story Behind the Red


The story and how to live

It is a journey. Endure and be one’s self through pain and suffering. The letting go of whats not you… that is freedom.

The Story:

Long ago, the Krow was known as the creator of rainbows. He was gifted with a vast arrangement of colored feathers; and when he flew the sun glistened a rainbow reflection off his wings. And when Krow sang he made everybody around stop and enjoy his beautiful song.

However, the earth was growing colder and colder with each new year. And the winters were becoming unbearable for the animals without thick hides and large stomachs to keep them warm. Henceforth, a grand council was held with the attending of all the animals. A question was brought forth to the center.

Who would be the one to travel to the sun and bring back his warmth and light before he leaves for the winter?

The room was silent, the animals gazed up to the sky seeing the long journey ahead of whoever clamed this deed. Moments passed, then Krow walked to the center; sparking conversations because Krow was liked and loved by everyone.

“My life is full of happiness. I never feel sad or lonely because my rainbows always bring me smiles and compliments while my voice pleases all who listen, yet … I do not feel fulfilled. It’s like an itch in my mind that I can’t reach, that I can’t comfort with compliments and good feelings. But I believe that if I can share the happiness with everyone by bringing back warmth and light, then I will be fulfilled.”

The animals cheered at Krow’s loving and courageous spirit. And in an instant, Krow bounded into the air and took flight. The animals watched the rainbow gleam in his wake and finally when he was too small to be seen the animals grew quiet and waited.

Days passed and finally the animals saw a little black dot appear in the sky above. But the rainbow that once trailed behind Krow had been replaced with a trail of smoke. Krow clumsily landed in the circle and opened his beak to reveal a beautiful red coal. But the animals did not cheer or dance, for what lay before them was a mere remnant of the entity that had left mere days ago. All his feathers had been burned black and his voice had become rough and hoarse.

Finally, one of the animals asked Krow if he had found the fulfillment he had been longing for. Krow was silent for a long time and with a loud laugh “kah! kah! kah!” Krow said in his rough voice “yes my friends, I am happier than ever but not for my generosity but for the freedom I feel!” The animals were confused, so Krow flew into the nearest tree and told all animals to gather around to hear about his journey. However, nobody came because they couldn’t stand the sound of his voice. So krow looked around and laughed “kah! kah! kah!” for what he had discovered was true happiness. Finally a young wolf cub, that had been abandoned by his kin sat under the tree howled for Krow to tell his story for the wolf was blind and took an appreciation to all sounds.

Krow with smile began to speak…

“There is a pain greater than pain. When I was in the sky, the sun made no effort to make my journey easy. One by one, the heat burned off my colorful feathers and the light pierced my eyes turning them black. And with each breath, I could feel my voice burning. But all this pain was not greater then the pain I had felt in my heart … so I flew on. I don’t remember how long I flew, but at one point everything that could’ve been taken from me had been taken, and it was at that point – (Krow looked to the sky) – it was at that point that I began to glow. The sun could do no more but give me his beauty. It was clear then, I had not been losing anything, I was only clearing way for something more. As I got closer and closer to the sun, I became redder and redder. Finally, I felt it … freedom. And that is when he spoke. The sun opened his great gates and sent forth a single coal that would not extinguish to any condition. “Fly on” said the sun and continued to close his gates once more.”

The little wolf looked at Krow up in the tree and understood the meanings of the words, which he spoke. The wolf cub was free from the sights of the outer world; henceforth he now understood that he had eyes that could truly see. With a howl, the wolf cub shrieked with joy and bounded through the snow and emerged as a great white bear. Wearing a white hide, the bear ran to north to stay in the cold where he could remember the teachings he learned on that cold day.

Krow laughed and flew on.





Live Powerful

The smiths and artisans are the seniors to the powerful because of their ability to live on without power.

Its an interesting interpretation of the world. A lifestyle that views this thing of power as coming from not the ability to buy stuff but from the ability to use unique skills and personality to make stuff in a way that makes money far less valuable.

The idea of power, however, is a small byproduct of this lifestyle of the artisan, the true jewel of the arts is the amount of joy and fulfillment experienced in your progression in the overall craft. You see growth, you see awareness, you begin to see the little things in a piece that differ it from the rest … and yes this thing before you now has a soul.

Each and every person was gifted with a specific set of talents and interests that they are naturally inclined to pursue. The amazing expressions happen when their own unique personality brings forth these talents in a entirely new and engaging way.

The true essence of the artist is within the joy and abundance of the self-relient path.

Call to action:

  1. Start with a hobby (eg. knot tying, storytelling, weaving, etc.)
  2. Make from your values/ideals – answer (ask) the hard questions about yourself
  3. START CREATING. skill level doesn’t matter. just start.
  4. Travel the world. learn more.

Explore your talents. Create.