The $9 Hardware Sword




About: AKA Roborovski, and Cowscankill for several years. I'm a mechanical engineering undergrad.

This is a simple, cheap sword I made for about nine dollars and a few days of work. I use it only for display and not as a real sword, ,because the steel is not tempered. It could easily be made functional with a sword forge.  Not that hard at all to do and all the materials were sold at the hardware store.

Here's a video summary and assembly video:

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    11 Discussions


    1 year ago

    mild steel will stab and cut just like hardened steel!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Just to point out, don't be fooled about this sword being made "functional"
    If you picked up the metal at the hardware store (for 6$ as you say in the video), you picked up a piece of mild steel, which cannot be hardened. The hardening and tempering all has to do with the amount of carbon in the blade, so with mild steel you're out of luck!

    Also, you mention something about losing the galvanized coating from sanding it- here is where you need to be very careful! If it's a piece of mild bar stock (looks like it) no worries it's not gonna be galvanized, but if you do ever pick up a piece of galvanized steel, don't ever think about heating it up in a forge or foundry. The fumes that come off from burning the galvanization can kill you! (and hopefully sanding it off isn't a good bet either, my advice stay away from it completely!)

    If you're looking for some good steel to work with (keeping in mind you're gonna need a forge of some sort to aneal it) I would recommend checking out your nearest car junk yard or shop. More than likely they're gonna have some old truck leaf springs lying around- These are high carbon spring steel, usually around 1095, and this is the kind of stuff real swords of made of.

    That was a lot of info/criticism, but keep plugging with this!
    Looks like you've got a good eye for it and your finished product is quite nice for what you had to work with, well done!

    I personally started out with a small aluminium foundry before I got into building forges/forging, so I know how much work goes into stuff like this!
    A really excellent job for your first (what they call) "stock removal sword"! (rather than forging out, filing off)


    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I wish I could tell you that I knew most of that information so as to save you the trouble of typing it :P But thanks, I appreciate the tips!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    don't be fooled... just cause it's mild steel NOW doesn't mean it needs to STAY that way ;-)

    (sorry for reviving the old conversation, but the 'ible was a quick link from a fresh 'ible i was reading, and i couldn't help revisiting this one)

    For starters, Mild steel is perfectly usable.
    Heck, compared to the stone, copper, and even bronze swords of the past, mild steel is down right miraculous. Sure, you'll sharpen it after every fight, and probably have to straighten it after every fight too, but that's OK, you won the battle, and have TIME to fix your weapon by the firelight on the campaign trail. As an added bonus, when you stick it in the fire, either to move logs around, or to heat it up to make the straighting easier... you won't ruin the temper on your expensive sword!

    Now to making it "functional" in modern terms...
    what we are after is Case Hardening!
    Obtain a large fire resistant pipe(clay, or steel work well).
    Fill that container with fine carbon dust(powdered charcoal works pretty well) and lightly seal off the ends(stainless steel toolwrap works well. or a handful of fireclay plugs it well enough).
    Now, heat the whole shebang to a nice cherry red glow(if using steel pipe... 1400F if using clay). now hold it there for an hour or two.
    Either a nice hot bonfire, a low and slow forge(tough given the size of your sword) or even stick it in a ceramic kiln(cone 16 or so is good).
    Now, take it out, and let it cool and then harden/temper like normal carbon steel. Or if you're feeling lucky, While it's still redhot, reach in with a pair of tongs, pull the sword from the pipe, quickly knock off the carbon(quick tap on a log, or brick should knock off MOST of it. good enough for our purposes), then plunge it into a quench bath(oil works pretty good, but water WILL do the job)

    You now have a nicely case hardened blade. The core is still going to be soft, but it will hold an edge TONS better, and be less libel to bend in usage.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Finally someone who is both knowledgeable and not a snobbish moron who believes all ancient weapons were perfectly made and NEVER got scratched, marked or bent. Know why japanese swords were made to suck a high standard? Because japanese steel is total crap. It took a very long time for them to finally make the sword design we have now, and up until that point they had around a 50% rate of sword breakage per battle.

    Europeans are in about the same boat. Claymores are cool, right? Nope, they were mostly Iron. Not even steel. They were so over built so that they would not break or bend so much when used. After EVERY fight you got to straighten your blade, remove major knocks and dings, and try to make it servicable again.

    Remember, in midevil (sp?) times they did not have proper metalurgy. They had whatever crap impure nonsense was brought in to them, they had a coal forge, and they had a hammer and anvil. They DID preform miracles, but only in perspective. By today's standard, their best steel ever crafted is total crap.

    Dont let fools discourage you. Keep up the good work.


    5 years ago

    Used motor oil is not as good as new motor oil for quenching


    6 years ago on Introduction

    If you try to harden it, DO NOT quench in water. This will likely cause it to crack, if not shatter. A very good, if not ideal, quenchant would be used motor oil. If someone at your house changes the oil themselves then it's no problem to get. If not, ask pretty much any place that changes oil, and they will likely be happy to give a gallon or so away. you won't need that much, but still. If you want to do more legitimate blade work in the future, I would suggest building yourself a 'tempering tube', basically a 2-6'' diameter pipe, mounted vertically on a simple, sturdy base. You'll want the connection to be water-tight so the oil doesn't leak out. Heat your steel, keep the pipe filled with used oil, when the steel is right, pull it out and plunge down the tube. it should come out nicely tempered. the thinner parts (aka edge) will automatically be harder, since they'll be slightly hotter.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    That is a nice looking sword! i really like handle!
    You may want to stick in a little warning in there about not trying to use this like you would a real sword.