The repeated heating, hammering, cooling relieves the stress of the molecular structure of the steel, which makes a hand forged sword far superior to swords made by the stock removal method
Once a sword or a knife is selected after careful research both historically and for accuracy, by our team of historians and designers, the master parts are made by the most skilled craftsmen, and the item is handed over to the various teams.
Based on the design, cross section, and other attributes of the blade, the engineering department selects the most appropriate grade of steel based on its carbon content ranging from 1065 to 1095. The master blacksmiths then decide the size of the billet that has to be forged into a sword or a knife. Forging of the blade is not only the most time consuming process, it also requires great skill of the master smith, who works with his two assistant workers. These assistant workers learn the art of forging under the careful eye of the master, and after years of labour graduate to being smiths themselves. The billet is heated in an open hearth charcoal furnace, and the shape, cross section, length and the distal temper are hammered out. This is achieved by heating and hammering the billet/blade several times over. The master smith uses his hammer to point at the spot where his assistants need to beat with their bigger hammers, and the beat becomes a fine rhythm. All this while proper care and attention is taken not to overheat the blade at any given time, so as to prevent crystallization. The repeated heating, hammering, cooling relieves the stress of the molecular structure of the steel, which makes a hand forged sword far superior to swords made by the stock removal method employed by many modern sword makers. This art of forging has been kept alive at our factory, where the master smith passes on his knowledge and expertise to his understudies.
Once the shape of the blade is hammered out, and inspection is carried out by our QC personnel, the blade is sent to the Grinding and polishing section. Highly skilled grinders then start on the forged blades using different grits of stone and belt grinders. Any imperfections from the forge are eliminated and the cross section and distal are perfected, by hand. Inspection is carried out at every step of the process. The ground blade is now ready for an initial polish, once again by highly skilled polishers.
process of hardening and tempering, which is done under the careful eye of a metallurgist, and skilled blacksmiths
The blade is now ready for the most vital process of heat treatment, involving the twin process of hardening and tempering, which is done under the careful eye of a metallurgist, and skilled blacksmiths, using state of the art, temperature controlled electric furnaces, which have been developed exclusively for us after years of research, by internationally known furnace company. Depending on the length, cross section and the steel employed in the blade, it is heated to a certain degree and hardened by quenching it in temperature controlled oil, that is constantly running through cooling pipes. Proper measures are taken by employing specially made jigs to prevent warpage. The hardening process puts a lot of stress on the blade and it is ready for the tempering or stress relieving process, which is again carried out in a specially designed furnace, and the blades are kept at constant but lower temperatures than the hardening furnace, for a period of 45 minutes to an hour. Once the tempering process is complete, there is a window of 10 to 15 minutes, when blacksmiths take out warpage, if any, using jigs and soft metal hammers. This is a very vital process.
The resulting hardness of the blade is then checked to ensure it is between, 48 to 52 Rockwell. The blades are also checked for flex and made sure they return to true after bent over 5 inches. Rockwell hardness of a blade is a relative term, the most important aspect is that the blade should not be too hard so as to become brittle and not too soft to bend and stay bent. Improper heat treatment will make the best steel perform poorly.
to maintain the authenticity of our historical pieces we rely on skilled leather craftsmen to hand sew each and every scabbard or grip
The blade is now ready for final polish by hand and after final inspection is sent to the assembly section. During the time the blade is going through the process, parts are being made using a combination of methods, lost wax, sand casting or fabrication. Our tool room is fully equipped with several lathes, milling machines, shapers, EDM and wire cutting EDM machines to make the dies and moulds in-house. The parts are then cleaned with the help of pneumatic tools, polished by hand or specially designed proprietary machines, and are then sent for lacquer coating by electro-phoretic Swiss process. A variety of finishes can be given to the parts or the sword in this process, and in the most modern electro-plating shop equipped with all kinds of plating including 24K gold and silver. Grips, handles, and other parts of the sword are made in the wood department. The wood is first seasoned in European made Kiln, and services of highly skilled wood workers are employed coupled with the accuracy of numerous machines specially imported from the U.S., Italy and Taiwan. Similarly our leather department is fully equipped with presses, cutters, sewing machines, splitting machines (including Tippman from USA), and other Italian and Indian made machines. However, to maintain the authenticity of our historical pieces we rely on skilled leather craftsmen to hand sew each and every scabbard or grip. Every aspect from the selection of wood, leather and other raw material to the crafting of the historic piece is carefully carried out under the watchful eye of knowledgeable engineers and experienced supervisors.
The resulting parts and the blades are then assembled by hand by experienced workers, and inspected before being sent to the packing department, where the swords are married to their sheaths and a last round of inspection is carried out before the packaging.
This above is just an overview of the manufacturing process, involving several steps and painstaking work. Due to our commitment to constantly improve on the quality, provide better and cleaner work environment to our workforce of over 500 people, Windlass Steelcrafts has been awarded numerous awards by the Indian Government, and is fully approved by the International Standards Organisation, ISO-9002, British Ministry of Defence, United States Marine Corps, and several other countries around the world.
- Windlass Steelcrafts