Swordsmithing, or the art of forging a sword, is an ancient tradition that has been passed down through generations. In Japan, swordsmiths are regulated by law and must apprentice with a master for at least five years before going out on their own. Though the United States does not have these regulations, apprenticeship, classes and studying about swordsmithing can help prepare you for this ancient and fascinating art.
Take classes about swordsmithing and forging. Swordsmithing classes can be difficult to find, but there are a number of sword forges throughout the United States. If you have little experience with forging, begin by taking introductory courses that will familiarise you with the processes and machinery of sword forging. Continue to take more advanced classes as you become more familiar with the process.
Create sample swords through these sword forging classes. Try to make these swords as well-made as possible. They will serve as a portfolio once you've completed your classes and are seeking an apprenticeship.
Read books about the history and techniques of sword forging. "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" by Leon Kapp, Hiroko Kapp, and Yoshindo Yoshihara provides information and history about modern and ancient sword forging techniques. The more knowledgeable you are about these subjects, the easier it will be to get an apprenticeship.
Contact sword forging masters in the United States and Japan and apply for an apprenticeship. Interview with the masters and show them your best swords. Because most masters will only take on one apprentice at a time, it can sometimes be difficult to get an apprenticeship. Be prepared to move across the country or across the world to study with your master. Complete your apprenticeship with your master, gaining skills and practice in swordsmithing techniques as well as the business of swordsmithing. Most masters require a five-year commitment, which will provide you with plenty of time to become a swordsmith master.
Set up your own forge or blacksmithing shop. Purchase the materials you will need for blacksmithing, including a coal- or gas-powered forge and an anvil, as well as metalworking tools. Consider your master's shop when setting up your own. Mimic things you liked about that shop, but tailor the set-up to meet your own needs.
Smith your swords and sell them online, at trade shows or at stores. Consider advertising in sword trade magazines.