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Mines students forge blade for international competition, take home 2nd place

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 6:03 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota Mines isn’t always known for being artistic, but they are known for their science. During the International Bladesmithing Competition, a team from the school forged the best of both worlds.

A sword used to just be some old metal, until a team of eight Mines students took a crack at it, by “saboring the blade,” explains Nick Stogdill, Junior at South Dakota Mines, “polishing, grinding, and making the handle by hand using files.”

“Everything was pre planned out before hand,” adds Tony Romero, Fourth Year at South Dakota Mines and Team Captain.

The blade itself is a blast from the past, because Romero says “the sword is an 1860 cavalry saber.” Where just the curvature of the steel took a few students alone trading off blow after blow, and fine tuning it for cutting and durability.

Stogdill says that took “a lot of direction from who has experience making a sword rather than knives, or hammers or whatever.”

Direction coming from the team’s captain, Romero, “that means I’m in charge of all the stress that goes along with making sure that everything happens.”

Stress, because the competition was intended to take place a while back. However, the previous team had since graduated, but their efforts weren’t all for not, because Romero says, “we kind of took on their idea.”

Romero calls it a historical blade of the past, mirrored in present day, “everything down to the balance we wanted to get out of it.”

Where teams were slated two years time, Romero says they had 3 months, “and that’s a lot of logistics on my end to make sure that everything comes together at the same time.”

Delegating resources, so people were constantly at work. Earning them second place.

“Picking each person to do what they need to do. I’m so proud of the team,” says Romero, “that we were able to come together so quickly on this.”

Although only one person may hold the sword at a time, it took teamwork to build. One or two people with sledge hammers, and one person precisely directing each hit. A role that Stogdill was in on both ends, “it was a lot of work to get it to the shape we wanted.”

Done in front of a fire cooking at a thousand plus degrees.

“So,” says Stogdill, “it’s hot. You know, you’re four feet from it. Hitting the hot metal,” time and time again. “I’m kind of used to that work and standing next to the forge, hitting the hot metal. Builds muscle.”

Plus, Romero says it also builds a decent amount of sweat on the brow they say each team put into their blades, because “everyone does a really good job.”

Even though they do hold their creation dearly, Romero says “I have a lot more pride in the team overall. We could make another one of these.”

Second place out of roughly 20 teams, not so bad. However, Romero says, “we’re always aiming for first, and we’re going to make something even better next time.” They’ll lean on each other, more than the metal, because “the team’s what’s important. I have more pride in that.”

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