WorldBuilders: Adam Savage Learns Swordmaking at Weta Workshop

In Tested’s trip to New Zealand earlier this year, Adam stopped by Weta Workshop to meet Peter Lyon, Weta’s Master Swordsmith. Spending a day with Peter, Adam learns how the armorist designed and created the swords for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, and learns swordmaking to fabricate his own Strider-inspried blade!

Comments (114)

114 thoughts on “WorldBuilders: Adam Savage Learns Swordmaking at Weta Workshop

  1. Hmm- I wonder why they didn’t decided just to drill it out and peen it- Would’ve taken off some of the pommel weight- not much, but some-

    Fun build though- Adam should really think about replacing those steel tubes with some leather covered wood- cut out a lot of that weight.

    Though- at that thought- I’m sure Adam is just going to dual wield it and sting and swing it at his T-Rex head..

  2. Good Timing on this. I have a prop sword to make for my band. So I learned a bunch about sword design that I didn’t know. 😀

  3. woah nelly. Had to pick up my jaw off the floor. Year’s subscription worth it in one video! (not that everything else doesn’t also make it worth it) 😀 😀

  4. I went into this video with little more than a “Oh, that’s a nice sword” kind of interest or appreciation of swords, but now I am quite adamant that I need to make one at some point. What a great video. Peter’s tidbits of knowledge about balancing and weight distribution throughout the blade were really fascinating, especially alongside seeing that steel blade bend so uniformly.

    Since seeing Adam’s knife maker’s belt grinder in the cave I have been on the lookout for something similar for myself, but having not found anything, a while ago I started pondering making my own. Peter’s grinder looks exactly my cup of tea.

    Adam, if you read this, I don’t suppose you got any nice photos of the construction of that grinder? Or maybe some measurements? If not I’m sure I’ll figure it out, but that would be a super handy starting point!

  5. It’s an excellent video and exactly what I love to see on this site.

    Peter is just full of “little things I do” and interesting insights into all the whys and wherefores of sword design. (Hint: they’re all about losing weight without losing strength.) I have to admit, though, that I snickered a little when he offered to “tap that”.

  6. Peter is a hero! what a great, genuine guy.

    This is what premium is all about 🙂

    More awesomeness like this (and the blade runner blaster) please 🙂

  7. This is fantastic. Best piece of subscriber content in a long time!

    I know he’s halfway around the world, but if there’s any way to get more content from him (solo or with Adam), that would be incredible!

  8. Funny to have Adam’s audio on the opposite side of where he’s standing in the initial shots…but great stereo/recording quality!

  9. I was about to go to bed, now it is 1:30am and I’m up for work in five hours. Totally worth it. 😀

    When you told us about this shoot, I wasn’t expecting an hour and a half at this depth. I expect multiple people trying this themselves, and having decent success based on the level of advice found in this video!

  10. Love this build! I am really pleased with the premium content we are seeing coming out right now. Keep it up! As a longtime LOTR fan, I must say I am a bit jealous, but more than jealous, I am SO happy Adam got to do this! Though I am curious, why did you choose that sword? Why not Narsil or Glamdring?

  11. Great Video! loved every minute of it 😀 I’ve already added a few sword related props to my christmas list since i watched!

  12. Rather an excellent video! The feel in that shop was quite spartan, very minimalist, many shops are jammed with every sort of tool and machine. I guess these guys have a really focused workload.

    I was about to go to bed, now it is 1:30am and I’m up for work in five hours. Totally worth it. 😀

    Likewise although it’s 3am for me, totally worth a miserable morning of tiredness!

  13. Awesome! Hope you invited Peter (and Richard and everyone else from WETA) to drop by your cave if they are in SF!

  14. as a blacksmith, building/buying a grinder can be very expensive. There are tons of plans out there on the internet that are a great place to get started. Be careful and learn grinder safety. They can and will yank a piece of metal out of your hand a fling it through a cinder block wall.

  15. This was a great one! Was going to go to bed an hour and a half ago…but ended up watching this entire thing. I can’t wait to have a workshop of my own!

  16. There was just a photo posted on Adam’s instagram of Peter Jackson in the cave, I’d love to see the other Peter visit too 🙂

  17. Thanks. I’ve looked at quite a lot of belt grinder designs but none have really stood out like Peter’s. I like the simplicity of the overall structure while affording so much versatility and adjustability in the various tool rests and accessories and the ease of swapping those parts in and out. It just perfectly fits the bill.

  18. Amazing, one of the best videos on Tested I’ve seen. It was both fascinating and entertaining seeing a master craftsman teaching Adam a new skill, especially one I’m personally so interested in. Thank you!

  19. Definitely one of the better videos in a long time. I like listening to Peter explain the process as well as his tools/machinery utilized in making a sword.

    So much better than those craptastic ones of Simone Gertz’s “hey I am going to throw crap together builds”.

    Brian

  20. Echoing everyone else- amazing video. Was late for work thanks to this puppy. So, SO good. Learned a ton, enjoyed the utter joy Adam clearly took in the process, loved the peek behind the curtain. Thanks guys!!

  21. First, Excellent video and a wonderful thing to watch and fantasize about replicating. One questions though:

    1. What type of aluminum were you using? I built steel swords as a kid with simple hot and cold rolled steel from home depot, but they didn’t bounce back when bent like the swords shown in the video did. Aluminum is a different animal but I assume it behaves similarly when untreated or in a simple mass consumer form.

  22. That was brilliant! I usually play the videos while I work and keep an eye on the image. But I just sat through the whole thing watching every detail. I’m so glad you went to Weta, so I get to see more of their amazing work!

    Also: I love these 3M sponges, they really changed my life!

  23. Adam mentioned that he was making a belt grinder in the podcast a while back. I think it’s a safe bet that this was the motivation!

  24. 2×72’s are awesome. I built one this year and it’s turned out to be fantastic. I didn’t plan the build particularly, just made a start and used what I had.

    A lathe is pretty much essential if you don’t plan on buying the idler wheels etc. (which are pretty damn expensive).

  25. Amazing video. Adam’s usual infectious enthusiasm and Peter’s vast experience made for a great watch. And, it made the process seem much more accessible to attempt (not to say that it’s easy in anyway, though).
    It’d be awesome to have more videos with Peter, if at all possible.

    Many thanks as always, Tested 🙂

  26. great video, so interesting! would be great to know what aluminium that blade was though, never seen it flex quite like that before!

  27. thanks, true the Boromir one is steel, but there is a part where Adam gives his blade a flex and I expected the aluminium to stay crooked but it bounced back.

  28. ah. hmm, i wouldn’t be surprised if that was mainly caused by the taper. i know from bowmaking that once you have a roughly correct limb taper, even a subpar piece of wood will become surprisingly springy. mostly because the taper allows the bend to be distributed and not overstress one spot.

    but that’s mere conjecture. 🙂

  29. Thank you Adam – and thank you Peter and Weta – for this one, what an awesome video. There’s just really nothing like getting up close and personal with a master craftsperson, and look out, guys, this one makes bl**dy swords!!

    )

  30. Probably buried too deep in these comments but the sound for this was amazing. I watched while wearing headphones and the sounds I heard seemed like they were in the same room as me. Several times I thought a noise I heard was actually in my room and I took off the headphones to investigate. A 3D quality that really helped make it immersive.

  31. Its interesting to see how well Adam telegraph’s subtle experience in making. I picked up the physical stance and shuffle right off as Peter did, as well as the way he planted his hands and body to trim on the bandsaw. What’s great is that Joey is spot on and seems very in tune to where to be and look to help that come across for other makers. As I’m watching I’m thinking about how I would hold and shift as well and its rewarding to see it performed as I’m coming to my own decisions.

    It was equally rewarding to see Peter relax and really enjoy teaching as he saw Adam perform so well, it made for a good dynamic and you could tell both were enjoying the effort equally.

    Superb video and very well might be my favorite on Tested overall.

  32. Just another subscriber here chiming in – what a great video. Peter came off so genuine. Seemed happy to be teaching his craft. It was also fun to see Adam soaking up the process like a sponge and defer to the master. I also like the incremental tweaks and changes along the way – back and forth to band saw, tapping, grinding, filing, rinse and repeat to get the right fit. Seeing these guys do it totally “normalizes” that process.

    I don’t know what it is, but blues music seems to work so well in build videos. Takes me back to This Old House or something. Maybe because there’s just something so raw about simple blues stuff that works well over just raw materials and building.

  33. THANK YOU TESTED! This is the sort of stuff I joined as a premium member for! So glad to see masterclass type of videos going up for premium members!

  34. Really enjoyed this video. Peter seems such a lovely guy. Some great premium content of late. Thank you all involved.

  35. This is why I pay premium. Awesome video, truly heartwarming to see two enthusiasts exchange experience in the workshop. Really nice.

  36. I loved the face shield you used. If you or anyone knows a reliable source to get one I would love to have it. Amazing video

  37. great build and i know it wouldnt have been a one day build but i they would have actually forged it from a bar of steel rather than just grinding a bar of aluminum

  38. Wow, just wow what a video. Great to see this at last after seeing it in person. Fantastic video to all involved great job.

  39. Fantastic video, loved this behind the scenes look at the work that goes into the craft. Thanks for making this!

  40. Absolutely loved his comment on how people used to live and die by these swords, and the slight variations could make the difference between a sword that kills and a sword that gets the user killed by breaking. Fascinating to think about the golden age of sword smithing and all the technology, development, and artistry that went into it.

  41. I feel like I must have missed it, but does either Adam or Peter mention which alloy is used for the blade? Thanks!

  42. Amazing one day build! Totally worth the premium subscription. I wonder if any clear coat is put on the blade to keep the sheen?

  43. He is so accommodating and willing to share. Thanks Tested, its always fun to watch Adam be the pupil rather than the master. Never stop learning!

    A few of the sword makers I’ve seen do fullering vertically on a thin grinding wheel, neat to see them done horizontally like this.

  44. Wow…this is a great video! Watched it over 2 days. This is why i decided to join up to the premium content! Such an insight into the techniques and processes and skill that goes into making this famous weapons!

    Loving all the videos coming out of Weta!

  45. m9????? nearly as bad as when i asked some old machinest to replicate a thread on a 2″ pipe for a projector mount, turned out to be a no 11 1/2 taper thread!! he just turned it on a lathe £25.

  46. Can someone please tell me what kind of aluminum Adam used? 6061? Or maybe 7000 series? Any help would be awesome.

    Great video btw, I was just gonna watch a bit next thing you know an hour has passed!

  47. It was also panned to the wrong sides. I think they might have started a new mic, recent videos have been boosting audio.

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