"I want to find a Master Swordsmith to teach me how to make a sword."

We get the "who will teach me" question above on a regular basis from people that have not looked for or read a single book on the subject. They have never suggested that they were willing to PAY for lessons. Education costs money everywhere else, why not in this case?

We had one questioner on our forums bitch and moan about the cost of the books we had recommended (less than $100 worth). Maybe he thought that if he claimed poverty long enough that someone might GIVE him a book to shut him up. His excuses were water thin. He had not been to the library and after being pointed that way made more excuses. He was looking for charity and had demonstrated clearly that he was not worthy of it. Don't be this person.

Books as already mentioned are a cheap part of learning this trade. Not only are many how-to and educational texts, they are often necessary references listing steel specs, heat treating information and other things too numerous to remember in detail. Books are tools that are just as necessary as a hammer to a smith.

For the average self employed craftsperson to make a living in North America in 2003 they must charge a shop rate of at LEAST $100/hr. I will not go into the detailed breakdown but if they charge anything less then they can (and do) end up making minimum wage or less. A master craftsperson should be able to charge more. Their education is that of a doctorate, a Phd. or equivalent. No matter how it was obtained, their education cost them time, their life's blood, AND money. So why should anyone think that they should be willing to take someone into their shop to teach them for anything less than what they normally must charge to make a living?

Oh, so you think working in the Master's shop should offset the costs. . . HOW? Sweeping and cleaning? Lets see, a janitors rate of $10 hour vs. $100 hour. . if you worked full time for two weeks and do not incur any costs (distractions, breakage, use materials) then you might have earned one full day of the Master's time. Just how much cleaning and sweeping do you think there is to do?

The fact is that even at a 10:1 ratio the craftsperson probably cannot afford to have you in their shop. Materials, even cleaning tools and supplies cost money. When the cleaning is done then what? Painting, maintenance, carpentry work? These are skills that the average apprentice does not have. The materials for these cost more and like the cleaning the amount to be done has a finite limit. Apprentices also tend to break things and damage tools due to lack or experience and often lack of respect. There are sound financial reasons why schools with a dozen people in the classroom dividing the costs among them have replaced the old fashioned apprenticeship.

Think about that $100/hr before you ask a professional to give you individual lessons. Think hard about how far the education from a couple hundred dollars worth of books will go.