Sword Making - Experience
"I've never done any metal work and I want make a sword."This may sound naive but it is a real question that has been asked here more than once. It is almost as bad as the fellow that described the entire forging scene from Conan the Barbarian, then stated "I know all that, now what?" He knew nothing. Much less the difference between fantasy and reality.
The craft of the Swordsmith is one of the most difficult and demanding of blacksmithing skills. It requires both physical and mental discipline. It requires many hours of practice at a wide range of hand skills such as forging, carving, filing, engraving and finishing. It requires a practiced artistic eye and technical knowledge in a wide range of subjects.
Like anything else, you do not start at the top.
If you have never worked at the forge then you have no business asking for lessons at the top of the skill level. Forging takes many hours of practice making items over and over until you can make every one perfectly. Using a file a saw properly, or drilling holes are skills that you do not need to learn from a Master Swordsmith. But they ARE skills that you need to not just learn, you should master them.
Forging Damascus, laminated steel or Japanese blades is mostly forge welding. Welds are made over and over and every one must be perfect. This is a skill that the self taught can learn and practice until perfected without bothering a Master about basic lessons.
Traditionaly in almost every culture the labor of sword making was divided at a very early date. An Ironmaster made the steel. The cutler forged, ground and heat treated the blade. Later these were each specialized tasks further dividing the labor to bladesmith, grinder and heat treater. The "hiltsmith" made the furniture and the grip. A scabard maker made the scabard. A presentation piece would probably go to an engraver or jeweler to have more decoration added. As many as eight seperate craftsmen and an untold number of helpers may have worked on a single sword.
Today, due to economics, most makers do it ALL. This means that they must be skilled in many crafts. A few sub out heat treating and most sub out engraving. Making scabards is still a specialty.
This is not the only item that was made by many. Violins require three experts in entirely different crafts, the violin maker, the string maker and the BOW maker. Stradivarious made what are considered perfect violins. But bows are just as finicky and a poorly made bow can debase the finest instrument and the best bow can raise a mediocre instument to greatness. Stradivarious did not make bows, just cello's, viols and violins which ALL required a fine bow. Specialists are often required to make perfection.