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John Lundemo

Odin beginings

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It was hard in the beginning for me to understand making swords. There were very few if any books or videos of sword making available except maybe tech journals, and I probably wouldn't have read em anyway as I was very headstrong. So very different nowdays, the information is everywhere. This forum for instance is bristling with questions and answers.
I'd spent many years doing the full contact steel on steel sword fighting before attempting to make my own fighting swords, but breaking the swords being made at the time everytime, was making up my mind to try. I luckily worked in a metal shop with access to all kinds of grinder and etchers polishers etc and I was proficient in their use also from jewelry making in shops in the southwest, also I was allowed to use said equipment in my free time.
All of my first swords were benders. Heat treating and steel types were a constant plague. Then I came upon 1075, "then there was steel". I'd built a portable brick forge with a steel pipe in the bottom and used barbique coals with forced compressed air and started to get the pretty even colors of the heated steel and quenched in snow or cold water. Tempering was then not a big deal just heated up the blade a little. This was of course all wrong but after years of doing these things I got some real good heat treats, at least I thought so at the time. While all of this was going on I was doing the fantasy shapes and fancy etchings on the blades, you know man they were some beautiful pieces, if not a little too overly ornate. I understood weight and balance from user experience, but construction methods were my own and historical examples of swords weren't even worth considering.
So being an eager self taught would-be smithy with shop access got my foot in the door, but it wasn't until I started doing custom knife shows and studying antiques did I really start to get the hilting and blade geometries going. Heat treating I learned better after I got myself a real 5 burner gas forge and started using heated quenching oils. There again was problems. Which oil was best, what temperatures to quench and what colors? Got to know some other smiths mostly knife makers and a lot of what they told me was wrong for swords. This messed me up for a few years getting mostly benders again. Now I quench in 400 degree peanut oil and temper in that same oil, instead of transmission fluid or any other oils made especially for quenching. Most of those are for industrial use and not good for your health, plus for me do not give the results I was looking for. Heck I even use Peanut oil for milling fluid, because the ones made for milling don't work as well for me and I have tried a ton. Haven't busted a single carbide cutter since I've been using it.
There are meager beginnings I'm sure for every maker, these are some of mine. Everybody will find what works best for them and there are no absolutes. There is science but that changes every minute it seems. There is alot of black and white but there is a lot of grey areas as well.
So, to all you folks who want to get into making swords, hang out in the forums ask the questions, read the books, watch the vids, save yourself a few decades of struggle. Maybe even apprentice for someone. Try not to go in half cocked, full of pride and bulging with ego yet knowing nothing. Could be a fun trip but could cost you a few years of useless sweat

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  1. William Swiger's Avatar
    Good article John.
  2. M.K. Ridgeway's Avatar
    Thanks for writing this John! You looking for an apprentice?

  3. Jeff Ellis's Avatar
    400 degree Peanut oil makes me think of fries
  4. John Lundemo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by William Swiger
    Good article John.
    Thanks alot William, just a quick thought. Don't really know what to say and don't really like to really talk about how I do stuff but thought I would throw it out there especially the waisted years not listening.
  5. John Lundemo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by M.K. Ridgeway
    Thanks for writing this John! You looking for an apprentice?

    God's no0)
  6. John Lundemo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Ellis
    400 degree Peanut oil makes me think of fries
    It;s great long lasting high temp oil and safe to eat, swords like it
  7. Brock H's Avatar
    Thanks for posting this John, quite interesting. Using peanut oil for quenching is a great idea--you can fry up a turkey, then quench a sword!
  8. Lance Chan's Avatar
    Good stuff! Thanks for sharing! It makes me want to make some orders with you actually, to compensate your dislike in disclosing how you work your swords out. I'll since now on fully recommend your swords to my students and friends.