Video: Making a traditional Korean sword from smelting to embellishment

The above video has crossed my Facebook feed from several different sources. As cool as it is, I was hesitant to pass it on because I do not know Korean, I know nothing of Korean bladesmithing, and I only know a little about traditional smelting techniques. My archaeology experience tended towards stones and bones, my knowledge of the post-neolithic is a bit lacking.

That said, I kept seeing this video, and it is really cool. Enjoy it, and I have a little background reading on historical smelting below the jump.

I did a little Google-fu so you don’t have to and this is the best single post I have found explaining the process of traditional smelting in a succinct manner.

an excerpt from The Ancient Art of Smelting Iron:

The furnace burns for around four hours. During this time a magical alchemy takes place within. A waste material called Slag is produced from the boiling chemistry within the furnace – it is composed of silicates, iron and other elements. As the lump of metal or bloom is formed in the belly of the furnace, the liquid slag drops down and forms a boiling pool of magma in the bottom of the furnace. You can hear it ‘wumping’ in the furnace as it boils.

Once the gestation period is over, it is time for the birthing. Very hot, and spectacular! First, the furnace is pierced to release the liquid slag – which pours out like volcanic magma, and cools to form a brittle, crystalline crust.

It is not a long read, and the photography is excellent. Highly recommend.


liquid slag


If you want to really geek out and have an hour and a half to kill, I can’t recommend the video below enough. I found it a while back, but wasn’t sure how I could feature it in the right way.

It is long, but shows the process from start to finish in a traditional African setting, complete with goat-skin bellows. Unlike the video at the top, the narration is in English and explains both the technical and cultural aspects of ancient smelting.


  1. Sam L. says:

    Interesting. Thanks!

  2. cmeat says:

    we smelt with lanterns. used to get thousands, now maybe a dozen. but as long as the coleman is glowing the cops let you drink at the lakefront.

  3. sagebrushracer says:

    please, by all means don’t hold back cool stuff on account of featuring it…

    we love knives, metallurgy and all related historical activities, post away!

    I like that african smelting vid!

    1. I get it. I just have a hard time just sharing something without “value-adding” to the post.

      I had to digest it a bit and come up with a pairing to make a complete post.

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Video: Making a traditional Korean sword from smelting to embellishment

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