Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, March 23, 2022

South Dakota Mines Takes Second Place at International Bladesmithing Competition

South Dakota Mines 2022 award-winning bladesmithing team. Pictured from left to right are Nicholas Stogdill, Metallurgical Engineering; Tyler Reinarts, Metallurgical Engineering; Antonio Romero, Electrical Engineering; Emma Soehl, Metallurgical Engineering; Christopher Mercado, Metallurgical Engineering; and Connor Heath, Computer Engineering.


A team of South Dakota Mines students have captured second place in a global knife and sword-making competition. Mines was one of 20 international university teams vying for top spots at the 2022 Mineral, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) bladesmithing competition.

Every component of the sword was designed and hand made by undergraduate students. The entry was also accompanied by a technical paper, poster, and video produced by the team. The sword is heavily inspired by the US model 1860 light cavalry saber and other examples from the same time period. The sword features a concave fuller that runs half of the blade's length to improve balance and reduce weight without sacrificing strength. The blade's mirror polish is contrasted with a hand-drawn, electro-etched pattern near the hilt. The guard and pommel were hand carved in wax and were poured from scrap cartridge brass through a shell/vacuum casting process. The handle was made from a hard wood block, hand carved with fluted twists and wrapped in a stingray skin and braided brass wire. The details in the guard, grip, and pommel mimic historical examples from this time period.

A second team of Mines students took home third place in a TMS trivia competition featuring university teams from around the world called the “Materials Bowl.”

Mines students at the TMS events topped competitors at several universities, including MIT, Purdue, Colorado School of Mines, and many others.

“The accomplishments of this team add to the proud legacy of 137 years of innovation in our metallurgical engineering department and across our entire campus. This achievement is one example of many that show our students are highly-competitive when pitted against other top research institutions,” says Mines President Jim Rankin.

The team credits its success to a strong ethic of cooperation where each individual was valued for their contribution to the team. “You can’t really create something like this on your own without collaboration,” says Antonio Romero, a senior electrical engineering major who is also president of the university Blacksmithing Club. “The highest placing teams were those that did the most teamwork.”

2022 SwordThe student-forged cavalry saber included a type a modern steel that closely matched historic weapons of this type. The steel required careful testing and documentation prior to forging. The team spent about 110 cycles of heating and hand hammering to forge the blade. They then undertook a unique metal treatment method that involved placing the red-hot sword in molten lead for an hour, which gave the blade a unique steel structure called bainite. This difficult tempering method included liquifying about 200 pounds of lead, which involved taking apart and melting several hundred tire balancing weights in a safe and ventilated environment in the university foundry.

“Our lead bath was across the foundry from our forge, so I had to heat up the sword and move quickly to the bath to property quench it. There were a lot of logistics to the safety aspects we had to maintain,” says Tyler Reinarts, a sophomore metallurgical engineering student.

The team cast the brass pommel and guard from a wax model they made by hand. The handle was wrapped in white stingray skin and secured with brass thread. Finally, the team etched a design on the blade using an electro-etching technique. The entire sword-making process is captured in this team-produced video.

Emma Soehl, a metallurgical engineering junior, credits her upcoming internship at Newmont this summer to her participation in the Mines bladesmithing team. “This was a great experience to add to my resume that gave me the edge to land employment,” she says.

The award-winning sword will be placed in the university’s Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering display case where it can be viewed by the public.

The TMS international bladesmithing competition is generally held every two years, but was delayed in 2021 due to the pandemic. It has been held three times since 2017, and Mines has placed or been given special recognition each time. Mines won the global competition in 2017 with a 34-inch, single-edged blade students forged, based on the Arhus Farm sword from 10th century Norway, and is now on display in the Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering at Mines.



About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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