Basic Japanese Sword Forging Course

About the Course

This is a hands-on course designed to give the student a working familiarity with the tools and metals utilized in the forging of a Japanese sword blade.

Each student will forge their own blade of at least wakizashi length from forge-welded steel cable. Skills learned will include forging, grinding, filing and heat-treating, with attendant emphasis on metallurgy and proper shaping and aesthetics.

All tools, fuel, and material included.


The price of the course is $2575 and is limited to a maximum of four students per session. A deposit of $575 is required for reservations with the remaining tuition of due  a week before the first day of class.

Sessions Available


For more information on our school and swordsmithing courses, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions section.


17 thoughts on “Basic Japanese Sword Forging Course”

  1. When viewing the photos on this site re: basic forging what came to mind was “America, the land of cultural amnesia!”

    Anyone with even the most rudimentary amount of knowledge about the forging of Samurai blades will shudder upon seeing the methods taught here, and the materials used.

    I am not looking for 100% authenticity as far as compared to Japanese bladesmiths is concerned, but even a small amount would be nice. “forge-welded steel cable”? You’ve got to be kidding.

    1. Dear Zews,

      Regarding your comments on our basic forging course and the use of cable as a material, I will submit these thoughts for your consideration.

      As you may know, I spent a five-year apprenticeship with master sword craftsman Nakajima Muneyoshi. Although he was very orthodox in his methods and materials he nevertheless recognized that conditions in America were very different and he encouraged us to experiment with new materials.

      After many years of experimentation I developed a blade that is forged from cable. What resulted is a sword with superior cutting ability, tremendous durability, and a pleasing grain and hamon. In other words, a real sword and not a “wall-hanger”.

      Although we can and do make more traditional swords of oroshigane we use the cable for teaching the basic forging course . This allows us to teach fundamental forge-welding techniques in the short period of time we have in a five day course. It would be impossible to do the preparation and folding stages in the allotted time frame. It should also be noted that once a bar of steel has been drawn out it is forged to shape and heat-treated in the same way as traditional steel.

      The “modern” sword as it is seen now is over a thousand years old, and it, too, went through a series of innovations throughout its history. Even the swords made today are of a tradition that was more or less reinvented in the 1930’s because several generations had passed since swords were made and much had been lost or forgotten.

      By the way, Tomboyama swords are known to the Japanese and their strength and cutting ability has been recognized and remarked upon with favor. Our Japanese colleagues find it interesting and are generally respectful of our efforts. In Japan it is against the law to forge a sword in any steel except tamahagane or oroshigane, and some smiths are envious of our freedom to experiment with other materials.

      Any Japanese sword whether ancient or modern must still be a functioning sword to have value. Even a blade by a famous maker has little or no value if it is cracked or has compromised heat-treating. Our cable blades posses the same qualities as more traditional swords in that they are strong. cut very well and have beauty. They are art that can be depended upon as a weapon.

      If you care to learn more, I humbly suggest you take one of our courses. You might be surprised at how orthodox we really are.

  2. I’ve been looking into sword smithing for a few months now, actually wanting to committ to it fully and I’ve been looking into many different sites for schools or apprenticeships. I’ve had an interest in forging ever since my father got me started on a sword collection. I’m very curious in your school because u are a few hours away from where I live and I’d love to know if u accept payments or need full cash up front, and also times when u will have openings as I’ve seen ur basic beginning classes are done for this year.

  3. I am very interested in your class. Would we fold the steel before forging? And can we forge longer swords, around four foot?

    1. Dear Sean,

      Thanks for your inquiry. While our Intermediate Forging Course does include the folding and forge-welding of a billet prior to forging the sword, the Basic Forging Course covers the forge-welding process but without folding.

      The length of the sword made in the basic class is wakizashi, between one and two feet. It would be unlikely for a novice to forge a four foot blade in the five days of class. Indeed, I would find it very difficult myself.

      I hope you can join us this year for one of the classes. You might learn that a short sword of quality is a challenge in itself.

  4. Hi my name is Toby Brymer I live here in Willows, CA I would like to know if you know if there is a school like your’s where I live at. Because I would like to know how to make swords because I don’t have a lot of money to go to plcae’s that are way out there hopefuly you can help me out thank you very much ….


    Toby Brymer

    1. Dear Toby

      Unfortunately, I don’t know of anything like Dragonfly Forge near your home. I believe we have the only school in the world that offers the kind of instruction found here.

      If you can’t attend our classes I suggest you try to find a knife maker in your area that forges hot steel and learn the basics from him. The skills are largely the same.

      Check out the American Bladesmith Society. They may have a member smith in your area who is willing to work with you.

      Good luck!

      Michael Bell

  5. Dear Sensei Bell,

    As a long time collector of Nihonto, and practitioner of the Martial Arts, it should come as no surprise that I eventually found myself standing at the head of a forge replete with glowing anthracite, working iron sand into sharpened steel.

    In the tumultuous whirlwind of everyday life, I have discovered that true zen can be found through this primal interaction with the elements. In this light I wish to express my gratitude to you for creating a place where others may experience this intimate connection with nature, and in doing so, reconnecting with long forgotten parts of themselves.

    At this stage in my my pursuit of the craft, I have come to a place where I feel that I have taught myself as much as possible through research, practice, and reflection. That said, I am very interested in taking your course. Prior to that, I have a few questions regarding this eventuality.

    Firstly; I live across the country (long Island, NY), so I would require a decent amount of time to arrange lodging and travel. Can you please tell me (or give a rough idea) of when the next forging classes will be offered in the new year? I see that you will be posting this list towards the end of this month, so even a simple notification of that posting would suffice.

    Second, is there flexibility in the ultimate design of the student’s learning project? I ask because I have set a rather lofty goal for myself regarding the style of Zukuri I wish to attempt as well as the type of Hamon I hope to elicit.

    I thank you in advance for your time and hope to hear from you soon.

    Best wishes and warmest regards,

    Kurt Jw Knabbe

    1. Dear Mr. Knabbe

      Many thanks for your inquiry. I agree that working hot steel can be quite a “high”. I’ve been forging for more than 40 years and there is no end in sight of the challenges and possibilities inherent in the profession.

      Our last class of the year will begin next week. Our first class of the 2013 year will be scheduled for the last weeks of March. We will be happy to send you notice when it is posted.

      The project for the Basic Forging Course is a forge welded wakizashi blade. I have no objections to you choosing a particular zukuri, but some are rather more difficult for a beginner and may be too slow given that it is a five day course. The standard shinogizukuri style blade is a challenge in its own right.

      Also, because we use forge welded cable for this course, the hamon tends to follow the grain of the steel and precludes the use of elaborate patterns. Our Intermediate Forging course utilizes folded, more homogeneous steel that permits almost any hamon style. In this course we forge tanto or kowakizashi length blades with emphasis on the many geometries used in tanto.

      I hope this answers some of your questions, and hope to see you here next year.

      Best regards,

  6. i would love to become an apprentice of yours but first intend to come to a class. i just wander if the skills learned would be able to be transfered to making other kinds of single edged weapons sutch as smaller knives, arabian, spartan, and us naval swords?

    1. Hello Travis,

      Thanks for your excellent question. Because iron and steel have a sort of universal quality, the skills learned in forging one type of blade are also universally applicable to other styles.

      Other than the method of heat treating, most other factors, including basic blade geometry, remain the same. We use basically the same tools and methods whether we’re making carving tools for scabbard making or the odd Bowie knife.

      I hope you’ll be able to attend one our courses.

      Best regards,

      Michael Bell

  7. I am 52 years old and have absolutely no experience with working around a forge. I am planning on signing up for your beginner forging class in April and was wondering if you have any recommendations on what I can do to prepare for the class.

    Looking forward to the class.

  8. Dear Professor
    Would it be possible for you to accept me as a student of Samoan sword making? I love this job

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