You'll find a little of everything here. Genres covered in this blog include (so far) prehistorics, fantasy, old west, swashbucklers, pulp, Blood Bowl, Ghostbusters, gladiators, nautical, science fiction and samurai in 6mm, 15mm, 28mm, 40mm, 42mm and 54mm sizes. You'll also find terrain, scenery, basing, gaming, modeling, tutorials, repaints, conversions, art and thoughts in general about the hobby.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dropping the hammer! Making your own swords; no fire needed

I prefer durable blades for my minis, so I usually clip the lead blade off my minis and forge my own blades out of brass rod. Above are the tools I use: A jeweler's anvil (about $20-30), hammer, clippers, needlenose pliers, some brass rod and, most importantly, safety glasses! My hammer is a little bit rusty; this is a good indicator it should probably be replaced. You also should grab a metal file to smooth off any burs (rough barbs left on your brass rod after clipping.)

Since I'll be making a katana, I'll need a curved blade. So before I do any hammering, I use my needlenose pliers to gently bend the rod into a slight curve. Do this slowly and in small increments or it will look like you have a kink in the curve of your blade. Done, now it's time to hammer!

I don't think it makes a difference which end you start on, but I prefer to start at the tip of the blade. Lay the rod on the anvil and strike the end of the blade with your hammer, then move down a couple millimeters and strike again. After some practice, you'll find a nice rhythm and striking force. Hammer down the length of the blade and then back up to the tip, making your strikes at equal distances and with as much as the same force as possible. This will keep your blade's height as constant as possible. After couple passes down and up the blade, turn the blade over and repeat the process.

You'll notice the rod starting to curve on you, making for a crooked sword. Simply take your needlenose pliers and gently bend the sword back into shape. The brass rod will build up a little heat as you hammer, so bending and plying should be a bit easier. (It won't get so hot that you can't handle the rod, though.)

After you've hammered a blade to the length and height to your liking, clip the tip to make the point. Since I'm making a katana, I only need to make one diagonal cut. Make the cut, then use your file to smooth off any burs.

Clip the blade off the main rod, viola! You have a blade! Drill a hole using the same drill bit you use for whatever size of rod you use. There will be that part of the blade near the hilt where the flat blade merges with the round rod. Enough of this area will be hidden in the drill hole in your mini, but if it bothers you, you can use a sharp, flat file to carve out more of a slit-shaped hole so that more of the blade fits into the hole, making for a more natural look.

So this blade turned out pretty good! It's a little long, so I just need to clip the tip further down the blade, otherwise, it just needs to be fit and glued! And Bob's your uncle.


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  2. Thanks for the lesson. I don't think I would have the patience for that.

  3. It only takes about 5 minutes per blade- that include the cutting and filing time. But I guess when you have two kids, 5 minutes is a long time :)
    I imagine you're stuck in the snow right now? I-35 is closed between D.M. and Ames, even to plows.

  4. Looks good! And timely too. After reading about you making your own blades in your last post I was wondering how you did it. I didn't even have to ask. :)

    Does the same diameter work for 28mm too? Or is there not much variation in the end size of the blade with larger or smaller rods?


  5. I use 3/64 brass rod for banging out blades. You could use the next size down (I forget what size increments the company uses), but the blades will start to get thin; then again, 3/64 is still a bit large for some 28mm hands. You just have to find a balance that works.
    But 3/64 is perfect for 42mm! :)

  6. I normally use 1X2mm or 1X3mm Brass strips (which you should find in the same rack as the brass rod at the hobby store).
    Simply clip & file to shape and you are done.
    Pin into place by filing the tang a little (roughly into a 1mm round cylinder) and pin this into the hilt.

    I like the idea of hammering out swords from rod though. I'll have to keep this in mind.