Adam Savage’s One Day Builds series for Tested has taken him everywhere from making faux Apollo-era spacesuit parts to a ping pong machine gun, but this time he went a little more medieval. In this week’s installment, Savage decided to remake the legendary sword from 1981 fantasy film Excalibur using some of the same techniques deployed by prop technicians for films like the Lord of the Rings series.
Historically, forging truly good swords was generally a lengthy, labor-intensive and highly skilled process, and elaborate ornamental swords could take much more time and resources (this 2015 interview with master katana maker Norihiro Miyairi details the process, which requires multiple craftsmen including an expert polisher). Fortunately for the one day build format, Savage went the easy route and just cut the damn thing out of aluminum and bronze rods.
To achieve the right look, Savage uses his own, custom-made linisher (a type of belt sander “specifically for grinding swords and blades”) to grind the blade out of an aluminum bar, fashions several unique metal components including a pommel, wraps the handle in silver wire and hand-details various components. It certainly seems like a lot of effort for one day, and by the end of it, Savage admits to being somewhat exhausted by the amount of manual labor involved.
Though we don’t actually get to see the thing in action—absolutely for the best, as there’s a real difference between a machine-tooled aluminum cosplay replica and real forged steel that could actually withstand some punishment—it does look quite good compared to the original, which will just have to do. And Savage looks impressed with his work, though I’d ultimately bet on the guy who built a molten metal squirt gun if it came to a fight.
* Correction: The 1981 film is named Excalibur, not King Arthur, who is just the guy who gets to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at him.