Every medieval fantasy book or table top game (ie: Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, etc.) has swords involved.  In ancient times, they were a means of defense, competition, and status.  Only those wealthy enough could own them, and only master blacksmiths could make the best kind.  After all, you don’t want your sword falling apart as you battle your enemy, right?  

     When most people think of swords, their mind immediately goes to the knights of old England or the warriors of ancient Rome.  In both cases, the wielder of the sword worked for a ruler, who in turn provided the sword.  

     In medieval times (400 – 1400 AD), it would take a blacksmith days, possibly weeks, to make a long sword.  Short swords didn’t take a much time.  Blacksmiths used hot coals and heavy hammers to pound out the metal they worked with.  It was hot and tiring work, but great for upper body strength.  Still, it required heating the metal, pounding it out, heating the metal, pounding it out, and sometimes cooling it in between.  Leather and wood were sometimes used to decorate the handle.  Other times, the handles were left polished metal.  Etchings and decorations were especially difficult during that period.

     I found a couple of good youtube videos that show how swords were made, although both use modern tools now; which shortens the process just a bit. Check out How do Blacksmiths Make Swords and Forging a Sword out of a Rusted Iron Chain.  Neither video is very long, but it will give you a good idea of what goes into building a sword.  Just remember, medieval blacksmiths did it all by hand, not power tools.