Movie swordmaking is a big long orange-glowing lie



In one final bit of nitpicking, >99% of steel is cast. True, usually not net shape. Though the remaining <1% is formed in a way that is a close relative of casting.

Also, if the magic sword isn’t actually steel, then casting might be the only option. I once had to play with all sorts of exotic alloys for a project to make an advance blade. At least 3 completely unrelated alloys (Al based, Ti based, and Co based) had to be cast then ground (they were too tough to machine). And a few others that were just far easier to cast than forge for the same properties. I even had a machinist say to me “I’ve done this work for 30 years and never heard a piece of metal make that sound.” Jokes on him, it was an inter-metallic!

In the end, I learned about some alloys (and a few ‘alloys’) that would make some awesome swords. When raw material price isn’t a worry, there is some cool shit out there.


Hang on a minute - what if “Valerian Steel” is just aluminium with a magic-spell added at the end to keep it sharp? That would explain everything: it’s lighter and way preferable except for the edge-keeping and stength issues.

And in D&D, all magic swords scored major hits on undead creatures, so the whole ice-monster-killing aspect is explained as well.


… go on


Casting in an open mold isn’t the issue. The resulting material can be hammered, ground, files etc in to shape. If the sword is bronze this is actually how it’s done.
Casting iron/steel on the other hand gives you junk. Well, unless you do the David Boye technique.


I kind of want to see a lockpicking expert (e.g Bosnian Bill) take down some jewel thief movies.


I dunno the show would have brought him back after this long without reason. The geek money is on him not just living but having some key plot duty, likely having to do with making weapons to beat the White Walkers.

So I think we’ll be seeing him pour hot aluminum into open stone molds.

Now. The subject of the video is medievally fantasy. I guess you could say crucible steels are technically cast even if you just let it cool in place in the crucible. But I dunno if you could “technically” bloom steel into being cast.


Now you went and did it. You encouraged me…

For something as close to “Valerian Steel”, I have a fondness for titanium aluminide. It almost takes magic to make and cast it. But a better choice would be some of the amorphous alloys. They take just as much secret knowledge and are stronger.

My favorite go to alloys are the cobalt-chromiums. They cast beautifully (but is available in flat sheet stock), are tough as hell, shrug off heat, abrasion, and corrosive environments. Related versions are used for engine valve seats, chain saw blades, rocket nozzles, and hip implants. Heavier than steel. So I’d go with a laminate. Or really over the top would be CBN impregnated CoCrW with boralyn laminate.

And finally, another alloy that is pretty magical is SE Nitinol (you might be familiar with SM Nitinol). I’ve made some cool stuff with it, but never had a piece big enough to make a large blade. Half the weight of steel but just as strong. Crazy flexibility. Which is why it stays so sharp. The blade edge will bounce back to shape. It can be forged, but cold forming is hilariously ineffective.


Swords, knives, daggers… anything with a blade, really.




He does eventually get to this point at 5:09 in the video.




Pan shot!


I make my living machining titanium forging dies out of H13 tool steel and inconel for aerospace parts and artificial joints. I myself forge things outside work as a coal fired blacksmith too.

I have always complained about this and I love 80s fantasy movies! Noone ever took me seriously.

No one casts swords! This guy hits every. single. nail. on. the. HEAD!

I could see casting a blade blank, but only in a vertical shaped mold- which you would never see in the pour, so not Hollywood worthy. It would still have to be forged afterward.

Yes, you can forge with meteorites, but only the nickel-iron pallasites that make up 2% of all meteorites. And the stuff crumbles easily. I can tell you it cuts like mild steel with a jeweler’s saw- but it can crumble like shale at any second. Made an ex a pair of star shapped metorite earings in watchmaking school, heat blued them too.

Don’t even get me started on Forged In Fire. While my day job does employ a blacksmith who won an ep of that show for our custom titanium forgings tongs, the show skips over a lot of technical details a regular smith would already know. I watched the redemption episode yesterday, and was cringing at how people on TV were melting off their steel in simple coal fires (easy to do really, but not by experienced smiths), and hitting steel at way too cold colors, causing cracking.

Why does noone learn basic metallurgy anymore? arrgh


I was sort of expecting something like this.

While the narration is worth listening to, Lindybeige’s videography strikes me as, well, beige-- dull focus, unsaturated colours. For a video series that so often focuses on photogenic subjects, this is disappointing.


The particularly annoying point is that it’s not hard to make proper sword making look cool in the movies.

The glowing metal bar is pulled from the hot furnace. A couple of big, burly men bang on it with big hammers, working it into shape. Sparks fly everywhere, dramatic loud clanking noises along with the rising score. etc, etc.

What I mean is that if real sword making was boring to watch, I’d have sympathy with film makers who get it wrong. But it isn’t! Proper sword making technique makes for really good visuals (when edited for time); so why not do it right?


How do you think they made bloomery steel?


Read “Nine Lives” some time. It’s the memoirs of an actual jewel thief. He knew how to pick locks but never did.