Swordsmithing – an ancient art

From The World Newspaper, Coos Bay, Oregon

By Jo Rafferty

Michael Bell started up the electric motor on a gigantic press he uses to shape the blades of Japanese swords.

“Bam! Bam!” The dies clanked together on the approximately 3-foot-long flat piece of steel, turned red from the heat of the forge fire.

“It’s 1,500 degrees, but it will go all the way up past 2,000 as it warms up,” Bell, 61, said loudly over the hissing of the forge, which sounded like a heavy wind storm.

The warmth of the fire quickly spread throughout the cold workshop.

The press is one way of shaping the hot metal. The other is by hand, using a hammer on an anvil.

Read the rest of the article online at The World Link.

“Michael Bell, Dragonfly Forge” by Dennis Ellingson – Knife World

This article is also available in PDF format with photographs.

I met Michael Bell on August 26, 1984 at a knife show in San Jose, California. It was a momentous meeting which I recall vividly. There were some star players at this show. Of special import was Bernard Levine who introduced me to Michael Bell and, in turn, also introduced Michael to Bob Loveless. Michael lived in San Francisco and was the owner of Mission Cutlery; and in addition to selling, sharpening and repairing cutlery, he also was making and repairing Japanese swords.

Continue reading ““Michael Bell, Dragonfly Forge” by Dennis Ellingson – Knife World”

Reflections of Steel, by Win Prue

It has been said the Japanese sword possesses a soul of its own–that it is an extension if not the very counterpart of the warrior’s soul itself. I believe this to be true, though I also maintain that the sword is a reflection of its creator–the tosho, the swordsmith. The swordsmith is charged with the arduous task of upholding a tradition that has existed for well over a thousand years. With only the barest of resources–iron, sand, fire–combined with his knowledge and the strength of his hands, the tosho must strive to create something greater than himself, instilling life in each blade with every strike of his hammer. Continue reading “Reflections of Steel, by Win Prue”

Alabama Forge Council Bladesmithing Symposium, Michael Bell on Japanese Swords

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An older article from Swordforum Magazine.

” This year, the Alabama Forge Council’s (AFC) annual Bladesmithing Symposium featured special guest Michael Bell – a swordsmith from Oregon and one of the premiere smiths working today, trained in the Japanese tradition by five-year apprenticeship under Master Swordmaker Nakajima Muneyoshi in 1970.”

The rest of the article is available here.

Article and photographs by Adrian Ko.