Andúril was forged from the two pieces of Narsil -- would it be a stronger or weaker sword than Narsil, being forged into one from two broken halves?

In terms of pure mechanics, I can't imagine the Elves would have stuck the pieces of Narsil together and melded them (i.e. like super-gluing the two pieces together) to make Andúril. It seems like no matter how hard the Elves might work on forging the blade, this approach would never yield a fully strengthened instrument and that it would still have an inherent weakness along the lines where it once been broken.

So how was Andúril properly forged? Or was it properly forged?

Was it melted down and a new blade forged from the original metal? Or is it possible to actually forge two pieces of metal together, just by putting them side-by-side and doing one's best to seal them together, and having the result be as strong and stable as the original?

It seems to me that the latter approach would yield a weak and unsafe sword.

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    Epoxy Glue - for when you have to make sure the new break is in a place different from the old place. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 18 '12 at 19:52
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    Isn't this effectively a shark v gorilla question? – user11154 Dec 21 '12 at 11:25
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    Well, possibly, although I certainly wasn't approaching it like that. I was curious whether Andúril -- which was forged from the broken pieces of Narsil -- would physically hold up like any other sword (Narsil or not) would in battle. It's hard for me to imagine that it would be possible to reforge a broken sword without there still be points of weakness along the lines of the reconnected shards. I wanted to know whether this was true or not. I thought shark vs gorilla is, like, Who would win the fight: Hulk or the Green Lantern? Andúril and Narsil are versions of the same sword. :) – Slytherincess Dec 21 '12 at 13:07

In standard smithing, in order to reforge a blade like that, it is more than just "putting them side-by-side and doing one's best to seal them together." Typically, you heat up the end of the shard until the metal is softened, then take the shard that is cool and still hard, and insert it into the softened metal. Then you heat up the seam, and subject it to tempering: ye olde blacksmith beating on it with a hammer. That produces a fairly sturdy join, but the seam is always visible, and the sword is never as sturdy as it was originally. However, this was not standard smithing. This was elven smithing.

From The Silmarillion, "Of The Rings of Power and the Third Age":

The host of Gil-galad and Elendil had the victory, for the might of the Elves was still great in those days, and the Númenóreans were strong and tall, and terrible in their wrath. Against Aeglos the spear of Gil-galad none could stand; and the sword of Elendil filled Orcs and Men with fear, for it shone with the light of the sun and of the moon, and it was named Narsil...

But at the last the siege was so strait that Sauron himself came forth; and he wrestled with Gil-galad and Elendil, and they both were slain, and the sword of Elendil broke under him as he fell. But Sauron also was thrown down, and with the hilt-shard of Narsil Isildur cut the Ruling Ring from the hand of Sauron and took it for his own...

Thus Narsil came in due time to the hand of Valandil, Isildur's heir, in Imladris; but the blade was broken and its light was extinguished, and it was not forged anew. And Master Elrond foretold that this would not be done until the Ruling Ring should be found again and Sauron should return; but the hope of Elves and Men was that these things might never come to pass.

From The Fellowship of The Ring, Chap. 3, "The Ring Goes South":

The Sword of Elendil was forged anew by Elvish smiths, and on its blade was traced a device of seven stars set between the crescent Moon and the rayed Sun, and about them was written many runes; for Aragorn son of Arathorn was going to war upon the marches of Mordor. Very bright was that sword when it was made whole again; the light of the sun shone redly in it, and the light of the moon shone cold, and its edge was hard and keen. And Aragorn gave it a new name and called it Andúril, Flame of the West.

We are never told how the elves reforged the sword; they may have completely remelted it, and reforged a new blade; they may have done something similar to how a human would have done it (that's how Jackson shows it in the Return of the King extended edition). We do know from the description that it was a mighty blade, with the magical properties of sunlight and moonlight.

From The Two Towers, Chap. 7, "Helm's Deep":

Charging from the side, they hurled themselves upon the wild men. Andúril rose and fell, gleaming with white fire. A shout went up from wall and tower: "Andúril! Andúril goes to war. The Blade that was Broken shines again!" ...Three times Aragorn and Éomer rallied them, and three times Andúril flamed in a desperate charge that drove the enemy from the wall.

This would seem to indicate that it has not lost any of its power from the First Age; we can only assume that is because it was reforged by the elves. Let's not forget that one of their smiths forged the Three. They were definitely talented in that area, possibly even in a magical way. From the descriptions given, it would seem that it was not any weaker or stronger, but the same power.

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    Good question. Narsil was forged by Telchar himself, greatest smith among the dwarves. I doubt any elf save Feanor could have made the blade stronger. – user8252 Oct 5 '12 at 19:20
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    "Let's not forget that one of their smiths forged the Three." That of course was Celebrimbor, grand-son of Fëanor himself... not that there aren't other mighty survivors from the first age amongst the elves of Rivendell, but I'm not sure if you can quite compare them. – leftaroundabout Dec 22 '12 at 0:11
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    "Possibly even in a magic way" is misleading. In Middle Earth, anything that is "Elvish" is called "Magical" by mortal men, because the virtues an Elf can bestow on a crafted item appear to be magic to us. imo, it would have been safe for you to say "In an amazing and magical way" instead of "Possibly" – Nathan C. Tresch Jan 6 '13 at 21:20
  • @NathanC.Tresch I am no mortal man. Magic to me means of the Maiar or Valar... – Gabe Willard Jan 7 '13 at 3:36
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    @GabeWillard The Silmarils themselves were merely elvish.... – Nathan C. Tresch Jan 7 '13 at 5:18

There is a passage in The Lord of the Rings that says Anduril is "as deadly as of old". so the sword is the same. Importantly however, Galadriel gave a magic sheath to Aragorn for Anduril at his parting from Lorien. She says roughly:

"the blade that is drawn from this sheath shall not be stained or broken even in defeat"

so really it's even better now than before -- with its sheath of course.

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And let us not forget that we are discussing a story in a world filled with magic. Magic is a very real thing in Tolkien's books. It is then no stretch at all to assume that the forging of Andúril involved, like other great works of the elves, the use of magic. Thus, Andúril was at least as strong and powerful as Narsil before it.

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    But another recurring theme of the books is that everything is diminishing, especially magic. – Michael Borgwardt Dec 16 '12 at 15:23

This is all great! Just for fun, here's an answer that throws in some Earth metallurgy. There are two processes that could conceivably join a broken sword, such as Narsil, into a seamless piece without melting and reforging the metal from scratch. The first is the phenomenon known as cold-welding: in a vacuum, metal surfaces will bond over time, especially if the touching surfaces are clean and free of oxidation where they meet. This is due to surface diffusion, in which atoms or molecules at the surface of the solids are free to move around, and will end up creating new bonds between the surfaces. The second is simple Brownian motion, visible when you add cream to coffee or dye to water, that causes separate groups of molecules to mingle and eventually become evenly dispersed. Metals, when they are heated to high (but not to melting) temperatures, will experience this too, to the point where a gold and a silver bar held together at a smooth interface will eventually become a single electrum bar. If Elvish magic can in any way aid these processes - say, by magically cleansing, then holding together the shards of Narsil in their original configuration at a temperature that does not render them soft, but allows them to rejoin over some significant period of time - and then the forgers followed this with a proper heat and quench cycle to recrystallize the steel, you could very well end up with a sword that is physically just as strong as the original, not counting any other enchantments placed on it.

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Dwarfs and noldorin elves were the most legendary smiths taught by aule himself; the skill of sindarin elves' smithcraft was aided by dwarfs. an addition to the points above: if the elves that reforged narsil were of noldorin descent, the metal would have a chance to be as strong. otherwise I'd give nod to telchar.

but ESSENTIALLY, it boils down to dwarfs' metalwork vs elves magic... i'd say the metalcraft of narsil was superior and stronger but anduril's magical invulnerability makes it stronger as an object as it is impervious to breaking. though michael borgwardt makes a very cool point. at the very least, anduril was as strong as narsil.

which sword would i rather have? NARSIL!

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