Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Sword maker Francis Boyd
April 16, 2013 5:10 PM   Subscribe

Blood, Sweat, and Steel: My Afternoon with the Ace of Swords. “When I got this sword, it was completely covered in blood rust.” Sword maker Francis Boyd is showing me yet another weapon pulled from yet another safe in the heavily fortified workshop behind his northern California home. “You can tell it’s blood,” he says matter-of-factly, “because ordinary rust turns the grinding water brown. If it’s blood rust it bleeds, it looks like blood in the water. Even 2,000 years old, it bleeds. And it smells like a steak cooking, like cooked meat. I’ve encountered this before with Japanese swords from World War II. If there’s blood on the sword and you start polishing it, the sword bleeds. It comes with the territory.” [Via]
posted by homunculus (13 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Assuming the business about blood rust is true, isn't it kind of a terrible thing that he's polishing away all that potential data for future historians just to make these ancient objects look neater?
posted by RogerB at 5:22 PM on April 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


From the picture, that anvil in Boyd's backyard *hasn't* seen a lot of action, at least not recently, otherwise the face wouldn't be covered in rust.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:35 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Awesome story. Thanks.
posted by sacre_bleu at 5:37 PM on April 16, 2013


Gorgeous.
posted by cthuljew at 6:43 PM on April 16, 2013


I don't know if it's got blood rust on it, I just know the sound it makes when it takes a man's life...
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:04 PM on April 16, 2013


Interesting article. It seems there are a lot more ancient swords around than I imagined.
posted by Harald74 at 11:41 PM on April 16, 2013


“If you just fold the metal,” Boyd explains, “the math doesn’t work out because you’re just folding the same metal over and over again. The number of layers would go 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. How do you get 30, 50, 80, or 100? Well, you take a piece of lower-carbon metal and weld a hard layer of high-carbon steel on the top of it. Now, you got two layers. Hammer it out, cut it into three pieces, stack it, and weld it: Now, you got six layers. Draw it out, cut it, stack it, and weld it again, and now you got 12 layers. Then you take that, draw it out, notch it, and before you fold it, you add another thin layer of a soft material between the two hard layers that you’re folding back on themselves. Now you got 25 layers. Fold it one more time, and you’ve got 50 layers. Put a hard cutting edge in the middle of that and fold it one more time and you got 100 layers [by convention, the cutting edge is not counted in the total number of layers]. So it was a combination of both stacking and folding.”

I'm gonna show this to my kid and tell him that even a blacksmith has use for mathematics.
posted by three blind mice at 4:58 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


> From the picture, that anvil in Boyd's backyard *hasn't* seen a lot of action, at least not recently, otherwise the face wouldn't be covered in rust.

The working surface also has a lot of dents. It's probably retired and the current working one is inside the shop.
posted by ardgedee at 5:10 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Question, going through his website he is not listed as a blade master like Bill Kraemer. How does reputation and certification work in the swordsmithing world?
posted by jadepearl at 5:15 AM on April 17, 2013


Swords are dangerous (warning, SLYT, strong language, fake blood).
posted by surazal at 5:39 AM on April 17, 2013


Don't people wipe the blood off? I seem to remember Aslan getting quite tetchy with Peter about not wiping on one occasion.
posted by Segundus at 6:30 AM on April 17, 2013


Man, I can't believe they didn't run a picture of his favorite blade. The heck?
posted by Malor at 7:40 AM on April 17, 2013


Man, I can't believe they didn't run a picture of his favorite blade. The heck?

If I'm not mistaken, it's the one shown at top with the dragon on it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:03 AM on April 17, 2013


« Older "Orphan theology" in the evangelical Christian mov...  |  "There have appeared in histor... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments