Some sword smiths and knife makers do courses, which give a basis to the individual's journey, but mostly sword makers, armourers and knife makers learn what and where they can, and develop their own particular skill set. With the internet and books that are available today, it is a lot easier to get the information than when I started, but it is still a lot of hard work.
Having said that though, there are many good books out there, and a lot of good practical information on the internet, it is just a matter of learning what works for you.
6. Micah: Since you make so many swords for movies, how many swords do you own yourself? Are they all from movies you made for or something else?
Peter: I own two swords, both historical European patterns, which I made many years ago.
7. Shaun: Hello Peter, I have a technical question. How did you create the hilt of Anduril? Namely, how is the open pommel fixed to the tang? I've studied pictures and I can't figure it out. You do amazing work. I'm sorry I missed out on getting one of the Anduril swords that you made.
Peter: Hello Shaun, the pommel is glued onto the tang; this is more secure than it sounds, as the tang goes right up into the pommel and is a tight fit, so the glue is only needed to fill any gaps and stop the pommel working itself loose. I know from having to remove a pommel, that it will never come loose on its own, and it was quite a job.
8. Oliver: Are there any plans for a new sword in the Master Swordsmith Collection?
Peter: Always. Keep tuned!
9. Sheridan (16), Lower Hutt: Can you make light sabers if neccersary?
Peter: I wish I could, but I would need to become a padawan first to learn the skills, and I haven't run into any Jedi lately.
This time you get to hear what Weta Master Swordsmith Peter Lyon has to say about his craft and his inspiration.
The second Ask the Weta Crew article follows hot on the heels of sculptor Craig Campbell's two weeks ago.
We were delighted with the response and the breadth and depth of the questions asked and we had a hard time picking a manageable bunch of questions for Peter - as you can understand, his skills are in very high demand these days.
Nevertheless - Peter has been very generous with his own time and given some great answers to your questions.
1. Maarten and others: There is a great controversy among sword collectors regarding the looks of a sword versus its potential functionality. To what extent do you take into consideration its potential functionality. Are swords today updated or upgraded to suit a different purpose to the swords of old.
Peter Lyon: Whatever the design shows, even if it has features that would add weight or otherwise reduce its functionality, I look at how to make it a more "real" sword. By that I mean a sword as a real weapon as well as any artistic value it has in its proportions and details. Swords today are obsolescent as weapons in a world full of guns, so the artistic aspects have often taken over, but they can still function as weapons if weight, balance and other details are carefully worked with.
2. Eloise, Charles and others: I'm a huge fan of Weta, and all the movies it's done, and I'd like to just ask- How long on average does it take to make a sword for one of these movies? What kinds of materials do you use for them? And in mass production, for say, 'Lord of the Rings' or the upcoming 'Hobbit', are all the props handmade? And if so, how on EARTH is it done?!
Peter: For a steel "hero" sword it varies from four days up nine for the biggest and most complicated ones, probably averaging seven days. Hero swords have spring steel blades, heat treated for hardness and flex, and the hilts are made of the same materials that would have been used in the past - steel, bronze, wood, leather, and so on. The hero swords are all hand made, with some help from technology, and the stunt swords have aircraft grade aluminium blades with urethane hilts moulded from the original hero sword.
As for how it is done, it involves a series of inter-related techniques and years of experience to use them to get the best results. That doesn't sound too helpful, but it would take a book to explain properly - actually there are many books out there about knife and sword making that could explain it better than I can.
3. Asher, Wendy, Lu, Johan, Rhonda and others: If there was ONE sword that you could forge out of the pages of literature, from any character, any mythos, what blade would it be? And which of the ones you've made is your favourite? Which sword (you have made) would you choose to wield in a swordfight?
Peter: That is easy, it would be Excalibur. But not Excalibur as it has been rendered in films so far - usually a later medieval style sword - but a kingly sword of the period Arthur would have lived (480-520), with distinctive features.
My favourite of the swords I have made, is Andúril, but in a life and death fight I would use Strider's sword, as it is very close to a 15th century European longsword, which was a very practical weapon.
4. Thomas: Which sword for LOTR was the most difficult to make?
Peter: Each one had its own quirks, but the most difficult technically would be Anduril, because of the cutouts in the cross and pommel that are filled with bronze.
5. Neill, Jean, Dmitri, Mel, Daniel, Emily, Enzo and others: How do you see yourself passing your skills onto the next generation? Do you have intern programs? How would someone get in the swordmaking profession? Any literature, schools, etc.
Peter: This is a big one, and more complicated than it might seem. In the middle ages, there were established industries and apprenticeships, but today it is mostly individual sword makers who have to build their own path, and learn in their own ways.
Very few take on apprentices today because it is hard to make a living even with a high skill level, let alone having to teach somebody else as you go.