A beautiful blade

Posted by
On April 25, 2024

Members of the Missouri S&T Bladesmithing Team developed this dagger for the Wadsworth-Sherby Bladesmithing Competition. Photo courtesy of Harrison Smith.

Members of the Missouri S&T Bladesmithing Team developed this dagger for the Wadsworth-Sherby Bladesmithing Competition. Photo courtesy of Harrison Smith.

S&T students earn commendation at international competition 

When viewing a curvy Damascus steel-styled dagger with feathering and a bronze and titanium handle on display on the first floor of McNutt Hall at Missouri S&T, many students and faculty members have stopped and marveled that it is a thing of beauty. 
Those passersby are in good company, as the judges at the Wadsworth-Sherby Bladesmithing Competition sponsored by The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) earlier this spring in Orlando, Florida, reached a similar conclusion and awarded the Missouri S&T Bladesmithing Team a special beauty commendation.
“When our team first decided on a design, we agreed to make a ceremonial blade from Indonesia called a Kris dagger and use the feather pattern due to its difficulty,” says Harrison Smith, a senior in aerospace engineering from St. Charles, Missouri and the team’s captain. “We didn’t specifically set out to win the beauty commendation, but countless hours of hard work and attention for one project is, in itself, a beautiful thing.” 

Members of the team pose with their special commendation. Back row, from left, Harrison Smith, Jeremiah Cohn, Benjamin Rodrigue and Hans Pommerenke. Front row, from left, Allison Rush, Tatiana Reinbolt and Abigail Rosendahl. Photo courtesy of Smith. 

Smith says the team handled all aspects of the blade’s creation, including the metal-casting and later using hand tools and silicon carbide paper that made the blade, which includes a type of steel with a high amount of nickel, both literally and figuratively shine.
“For this tyle of blade, you can’t use power tools for the filing” he says. “There are just too many curves. Instead, we used a hand file to give the blade its perfect look.” 
People have worked as bladesmiths for thousands of years, but Smith says this team can be beneficial to students of all academic majors. 
“I am an aerospace engineer, but I still learned some important lessons and gained valuable experiences through this team,” he says. “For example, I completed an internship that involved heat treating metals for aircraft, and I was already familiar with the general concepts.” 
Jeremiah Cohn, a master’s student in explosives engineering from Palo Alto, California, says he has been involved with the Bladesmithing Team for several years, and he has been proud of the team members’ hard work and dedication. 

“This is my third TMS event, the first one being in 2018, the second in 2022, and the last one this year,” he says. “It has been a unique experience because I got to go from apprentice to team leader to mentor. The team has changed drastically from that original one, but it has the same drive to win. 
“Making this blade was an experience in going all out and seeing if it could work. One of my favorite parts of it was coming into the back room just about every day and seeing people still hand-filing the blade, almost as if they hadn’t moved at all.”  
Dr. Eric Showalter, a teaching professor of civil engineering, serves as the team’s advisor.  
Other members of the team include: 

  • Hans Pommerenke, a Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering from Germany 
  • Tatianna Reinbolt, a master’s degree student in electrical engineering from Rolla, Missouri 
  • Abigail Rosendahl, a junior in metallurgical engineering from Shawnee, Kansas 
  • Benjamin Rodrigue, a junior in metallurgical engineering from Baton Rogue, Louisiana 
  • Allison Rush, a senior in chemical engineering from St. Peters, Missouri  
  • Michael Fitzmaurice, a senior in metallurgical engineering from Wildwood, Missouri. 

Smith says the S&T Blacksmithing Club and other S&T students, faculty and staff members also supported the project, as did a business named DMG MORI Co.   
A video showcasing the team’s work is available here. For more information about the group, email matlsci@mst.edu

About Missouri S&T

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit www.mst.edu.

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On April 25, 2024.

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