Forging a Future

By James Dryden, Reporter

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Cleveland junior Stephen Rautio is using his unique talents to make some incredible weapons. There are certainly some wild professions out there, but one that has almost completely faded out of style is that of the blacksmith. You think of a blacksmith and you see a medieval castle, a person hammering in a forge into the night creating armor for their allies. So imagine my surprise in finding out we had one right here at our school.

It all started when Stephen’s father allowed him to take classes on smithing, and the instructor asked if he wanted to work outside of the class time provided. From there, his teacher sent him to a man who worked in a smithery and was a friend of Rautio’s father. Rautio began working for him in 2016, making money by assisting in his forge. Despite his youth, Rautio shows skill and proficiency in this ancient art form, using premium materials to ensure a product that is worth the price.

“A typical day at the forge starts with getting the forge lit and checking the inventory,” Rautio said. “Then I start work on the orders that I worked on the day before.” As the day goes on, he has to keep the forge going so he can forge well with the heat. “After I make the swords, I have to test them to make sure they are sharp and strong,” Rautio said. The testing process involves slashing different substances such as wood, paper, and ice to make sure the sword is sharp.

“People buy these swords for many reasons. Some for display, some for cosplay, and some even practice with them,” he said. He also makes wooden weapons, but those he crafts at home. “I’ve made a warhammer and am starting on a dagger,” he said.

The forging process is incredibly difficult and time-consuming. Using high-quality materials such as Damascus steel, he heats the material in a 900-degree celsius flame. After the metal reaches an orange hue, he begins hammering it. He repeats the process until the intended length and shape are achieved. After treating the metal, he grinds the edge to sharpen the blade. “After that, I add details, like etchings and create the handle for the sword.”

Stephen determines the pricing for his work based on the materials, as well as the time taken to forge. “A standard sword is in the range of $2,500 to $3,000, and a dagger is in the range of $500 to $1,000,” he said. “It really depends on the blade materials and the time.” But unfortunately, if you wanted a Cleveland crafted sword, you would have to place your order soon because the forge will not be around for much longer.

The high-quality blades are outside the price range for most potential buyers, which sadly means the forge is unfortunately closing its doors this summer. It is set to officially end on June 30, but Stephen’s days of smithing are far from over. “I don’t see it becoming a career for me as an adult,” he said, “but I’ll probably build a smaller forge at home for fun.”

With the valuable skills he’s collected in this modern day forge, he’s sure to grind out a future as beautiful as his weapons.

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