All About Available Now

∴ What is our Available Now page? ∴

If you’ve browsed our site before, chances are you’ve seen our “Available Now” page, where we list one-of-a-kind Balefire swords available to buy on a first-come-first-served basis.

While we operate almost exclusively as a bespoke artisan forge, we set up this page for the rare occasions when we need to rehome orphaned swords after last-minute cancellations, or when we have enough spare parts in the workshop to make up a unique “frankensword”.

As our first priority is always our waiting list, this page hasn’t been particularly active – until now. 

∴ Why the spare swords? ∴

As well as powering through the list, Chris is on a constant quest to increase productivity without cutting corners on quality. One recent experiment is a process picked up from veteran smiths, in which swords are made in pairs: one custom commission, and another similar in shape and style, but much simpler in aesthetic and execution.

The benefits of this are twofold. Firstly, multiple blades are made to our clients’ specifications in each quench. This allows Chris to select the best fit for the custom hilt, and removes the stress around the possibility of one blade not turning out quite right. Previously, such an issue would have meant starting again from scratch, whereas this way there’s always a back-up.

In reality, issues with quenching are so infrequent that we have a buildup of spare high-quality blades. That’s where the second benefit comes in: by creating simple hilts for these blades, Chris is able to practice his hot forging and punching. Not all commissions call for these traditional techniques, but Chris wants to work on them weekly to develop his skills. By creating functional hilts instead of practice pieces, he can keep his eye in while bringing funds into the forge.

∴ How does this affect my order? ∴

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You’d think that double the swords would mean double the time – but we’ve found that not to be true. As many artisan business owners can attest, it can be difficult to balance a busy waiting list with one’s own mental health, and small delays are often caused by the ongoing battle with burnout. By readdressing one of the most stressful aspects of the blade-making process, Chris has found it far easier to work through the waiting list at a steady pace.

While this option makes sense for simple cruciform hilts, you probably won’t find too many complex-hilted swords on the page, as these take a lot more time! We take care to only work on “Available Now” swords when we’re certain they won’t affect our pending orders.

While our custom work flourishes, we’re also excited to offer simple one-of-a-kind options to potential customers who may not be able to wait the usual 6-12 months for a new sword. After all, sometimes the sword chooses the wielder.

∴ How can I stake my claim? ∴

If something on the page catches your eye, you can make it yours by contacting us with an enquiry. We’ll be in touch within two working days to let you know if you’re the lucky first enquirer, and to arrange postage.

Our “Available Now” page is updated whenever we have a spare sword to sell. We recommend checking regularly, as you never know what we might feature next! We also announce newly available swords on our Facebook and Instagram pages, so find us there and be the first to know.

Forging On: How the Waiting List Works

∴ Lessons From Time∴

As we roll into a new year, we can’t help but reflect on the last one – and on how the international ups and downs of Covid and Brexit have affected our business. We have been fortunate as a small artisanal business to have had the support of our clients and community throughout these strange times.

However, the unprecedented uncertainty of the past year has inspired us to revisit our waiting list, which has certainly been pushed about more than we anticipated this year. In striving to maintain transparent communication with our customers, we’re rethinking how the waiting list can best serve us – and you.

∴ Rolling With It ∴

When we add a new order to the list, we are giving it a place in the queue. By paying a deposit, you claim a right to that space, and the guarantee that no one can “skip ahead” of you. However, defining the queue in terms of months is not always as possible as it would be for a larger company. The best we can give is an estimate, based on our current workload and circumstances.

As a two-person company, we’ve discovered that a number of things can have a knock-on effect on the list. Chris may be ill or injured for a few days, a difficult-to-find machine part may need replacing, or a certain detail of an order may take longer than expected. Any of these affect not only the timescale of the piece Chris is working on, but the entire waiting list.

As such, we’ve found that estimating a particular month for completion isn’t always helpful to our customers. From now, we will instead give broader estimates in terms of seasons, and update customers with a more specific timeline closer to the time of production.

∴ Time Sensitive Orders∴

While we love the idea of making swords for special occasions, the way we work means we can’t guarantee completion by a certain date – no matter how far in the future it may seem. If you’re looking for a sword for a particular tournament, event or celebration, we’re unfortunately not the forge for you. Any orders placed with a specific date in mind are done so at your own risk.

∴ Blades ∴

Because of the way Chris works, it is often most efficient to heat multiple blades at once in the forge. Therefore, if you are ordering a bare blade rather than a complete sword, there is a chance we will be able to fit it earlier in the list without affecting the timescale for other orders. Get in touch with us to find out more!

∴ The Next Steps∴

Once we’ve given an initial rough estimate for completion in Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, we’ll issue an invoice for 50% deposit to secure your place on the list. After the invoice has been paid and confirmed, we will have time to further discuss any details of your order.

We’ll issue a balance invoice a month before work is due to begin, taking into account any increases or decreases to the price agreed in our discussions. At this point, we’ll be able to give you a realistic estimate in terms of weeks, and any further delays will be explained personally via email.

When the second invoice is paid, we will send you a document containing all the specs and details we’ve discussed for your final sign-off. Once you give the go-ahead, we will get your sword on the bench and send one or two work in progress photos to ensure you’re happy with the final design.

Once the sword is complete, we will send a separate invoice for shipping based on the actual weight and measures of the final piece. Tracking information and an estimated date of delivery will be sent to you as soon as the sword is booked in for collection.

∴ The Best Policy∴

As a small artisanal business, we’ve been steadily working out processes as we go along to ensure each order goes as smoothly and transparently as possible. We’ve had a lot to learn, but our core values have always been integrity and communication, earning the trust of our clients and building real working relationships with fencers around the world.

We’re always happy to answer questions about the waiting list, or about the ordering process – just drop us a message.