While I do like the funky curves and and sharp angles of many contemporary knives, I also tend to find certain kinds of knife primitives interesting, not really for any specific aesthetic purpose, but rather for the transparency and deceptive simplicity of their design…

Blacksmith Twister Shank Knife

Blacksmith Twister Shank Knife

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Take the above knife for example. This knife is a modern recreation of a very old knife making style. Seeing as it would be rather costly to make something like this in the old way, I imagine it was made using modern forges and hydraulic equipment, etc. However the design idea is a fairly old ornamental wrought iron one.

Essentially, the traditional medieval black smith would have started with a steel (or iron), blank. This blank would have been heated in a furnace and the middle section (if not the whole thing) pounded out slowly, section by section, into a long rod. In order to get the twist, the black smith would have heated the rod up, clamped one flattened end section of the rod to the anvil, and used a pair of tongs to twist the other section.

The smith would do this over and over, heat and twist, section by section until the desired amount of twist was attained across the appropriate sections of rod. Then the center would he heated, and the rod folded over on the point of the anvil to provide that very useful loop. The ends would then be heated to welding heat, and pounded, heated and pounded, heated and pounded, until the ends were one seamless piece of iron/steel, and it was the right blade shape.

Then finally it was time to take it to the grinding wheel, usually a great hand turned stone wheel, which was used to grind a useful edge onto the knife. This took a lot of patience and skill to do properly. At this point the metal could then be tempered, and further refinement of the edge could be performed. The end result was a good and very useful knife which probably wouldn’t win any beauty awards, but would last forever. And all that work was just for simple knives, like the one above.

It is hard to imagine how much more work went into things like swords. When I Imagine how much pounding, grinding, perfect tempering, polishing, etc. it would have taken to make a single high quality Knight or Samurai sword I can’t help but have a lot of respect for the Medieval black smith…

Blacksmith Twister Shank Knife – [True Swords]