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As artisans who use forging machines to shape metals into swords, knives and others blades, bladesmiths have a detailed understanding of metalworking techniques. They combine their aptitude for practical work and training in bladesmithing to make blades that can meet the user’s functional requirements. A career as a bladesmith is suitable for those with little formal training.
To become a bladesmith, begin by pursuing bladesmithing courses at community colleges, trade schools and technical colleges. The New England School of Metalwork, for example, offers a bladesmithing program that provides training in frame handle construction, welded steel development, forging, grinding and fitting. Programs typically take up to a year to complete. Alternatively, you may join the American Society of Bladesmiths as an apprentice. Apprentices learn the art of making knives and other edged implements from veteran bladesmiths for as long as three years.
Master Important Qualities
Bladesmithing requires the artistic ability to make products that are functional, unique and appealing to the eye. When a client gives you a general description of a knife or sword he'd like, you need strong visualization skills to conceptualize the idea and transform it into a product. This also calls for strong practical skills and physical stamina, because you must be able to use tools such as hammers, anvils and vise grips. Observation skills are important, too, because the job may involve heating metals and noting changes in color.
Gain Professional Recognition
Obtaining the American Bladesmith Society’s Journeyman Smith designation can make you more attractive to employers. To become a Journeyman Smith, you must demonstrate your ability to make quality knives through observation by a Master Smith. ABS apprentices qualify for testing after three years in a program, while those pursuing bladesmithing courses must join the ABS as regular members at least two years before testing.
As a beginning bladesmith, you can find job opportunities at blacksmithing workshops and companies that manufacture knives, daggers and swords. While job- hunting, attend bladesmithing symposiums, where you can showcase your products and interact with other industry players, including potential employers. With several years of experience, startup capital, some business acumen and customer-service skills, you can move into self-employment by establishing a bladesmithing workshop.