Large Seax Style Shortsword -Hotforged

Another gift, I made a seax styled shortsword for my grandfather. I decided to do a seax both because I love the blade style and because my grandparents live in Sussex, home of the Southern Saxons for whom the seax is named.

I had a bit more time on my hands than usual, at least at the start of the project, so I decided to forge the distal taper into the blade rather than grind it out. As seaxes have a really unusual taper where the thickest point is towards the tip of the blade, this would allow me to make that area extra thick and give a real dynamism to the feel of the finished weapon.

I cut a bar to the approximate edge taper I wanted and through precise hammering moved the bulk of the metal of the blade from the base up to the tip, ending up with about 3mm thickness at the handle and about 1cm at the tip. Here is a little forging montage, starting with the rough cut bar and ending with the pointed and tapered blade. Because of the unusual section, it doesn’t appear to change much but in each photo the blade curves a little more as the edge is thinned and the spine thickens.

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So here is the finished rough blade. I gave it a quick cleanup on the belt grinder, turned off the lights and heated the forge up to quenching temperature:

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After quenching and tempering the blade I spent a few days profiling and detailing the handle. These pictures were taken in the early stages of work as I burnt the blade into the handle to get tight fit. This is a bit of a tricky operation as if you push too hard or too fast the handle will split but if you go too slow it will char a huge hole in the centre and the handle will not fit. Practice and a tolerance for acrid smoke are a necessity!

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Here the handle is fitted, and I could continue with the carving without fear that I would put hours of work into it only to have it crack as I fitted it! In the end I removed the rounded end and covered the whole surface in basket-weave knotwork  stained to an almost ebony shade. The raised bands were then covered with gold leaf which was a pain in the a**e but gave a great and gaudy look that I think is appropriate for a blade from the dark ages.

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I don’t have any pictures of the finished sword but I’m hoping my Grandfather will take some glamour shots for me as he is an amazing photographer and it would be nice to have some better pictures than my phone can produce!

Edit: Finished sword: Finished Seax style shortsword

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Tolkienesque Leaf Shaped File Knife

I love fantasy literature. Pretty much every swordsmith I have ever met loves fantasy literature. Not, perhaps, a huge surprise but it is really nice to meet up with people who whilst being very practical are also massive geeks.

This is my current project, a leaf shaped knife blade to be hilted in the manner of Sting from the Lord of the Rings films. I may even engrave or etch the elvish script onto the blade as I do find it rather lovely.

This is not intended to be a slavish copy of the film prop, but rather my own version with a similar form. I have collaborated with my master on a number of extremely accurate replicas of medieval weaponry, and although it is always a challenge it does lack a certain spontaneity so I rarely do it in my own time.

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This is the first photo I took of the knife. Its the point when it transitioned in my mind from idle fiddling with steel to having a larger purpose. I had ground the fuller into the “raw” file, as its much easier to grind an accurate trench into a flat surface than onto the peak of a profiled blade. I then roughly ground in the edges and the ricasso to get an idea of the proportions of the blade.

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At this stage, the edges were still parallel and I wanted  more leaf shaped profile. There are several ways to do this and they vary from fairly simple to incredibly tricky. I did the simple one, obviously, and ground the edges to the shape I wanted before restoring the bevel at a stronger angle. It is possible to develop the leaf shape straight from the bevel angle, but it is painful and tedious work and the result is exactly the same.

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After I had the shape I wanted, I gave it a rough normalising cycle by heating it to a dull red and allowing it to cool slowly. it may seem counterintuitive to soften the steel before hardening it but will reduce the chances of failure during the stresses of quenching. And it looks really cool, right?

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In a similar vein, I forged this crossguard to shape with the intention of using it with this blade. I decided not to use it in the end as I want to make something a little more fantasy, but I think the glowing metal looks really cool so it makes it into the post nonetheless!

Square Twist Jormungandr Bangle

This post is more of a record post for myself, as I didn’t take any work in progress shots of this one.

It was one of those moments where I was seized by the desire to make a present for someone I love, and also took the opportunity to try out a new technique. I have seen this style of blacksmith twist done before and have always thought that it looked fantastic. Given its angularity I thought it would look great as a serpent like skin texture and as it was a work of love the eternal world snake of Norse mythology seemed like a perfect subject.

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I did the chisel work for the twist first, which was quite a challenge as for the effect to work it had to be really precise and uniform. Any mistakes would be massively amplified by the twisting process and as the metal stretches there would be a real danger of it shearing off as it deformed. In the event it was a resounding success, and I am very happy with how the twist turned out. After I had my twisted bar, I forged the head and tail and chiselled in some minimal lines to indicate serpent like features and heated it again to bend into a ring.

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In the end I think she liked it, but it is rather massive and has perhaps more validity as an art piece than as jewellery. Never mind, I loved making it and its one of those rare pieces where I feel a part of my soul was burned into the metal. Its moments like that which raise the job to a passion.

 

 

Finished medieval Quillon Dagger

It’s always the way, without an event in my social life projects can spend years on the bench as I have the attention span of a butterfly. In this case, my fencing club had a raffle at the Christmas Banquet and I volunteered to provide the first prize. With the deadline approaching and work at the forge entering the final stages of the Christmas rush, I cast about for something that already had most of the work done on it.

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I came across the dagger I have been working on for a couple of years, its so old in fact that this was one of my first experiments in drawfiling a diamond section blade as a new apprentice. So after I’d had a good laugh at my previous efforts i polished up the blade and did some work on the crossguard and pommel to make it a more elegant weapon. The crossguard was shortened and given a convex cutoff to give it a bit of movement and I lightened the pommel to improve the balance (it sat a bit too far towards the heel of the hand before). I also carved six shallow radiating trenches in the top, a common detail on medieval daggers. Sadly due to the looming deadline, I forgot to take more glamour shots, the only ones I had were taken for the Banquet webpage.

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The grip is the same wood as it was in the beginning, spirally carved and then overlaid with soaked leather. I added dagged (spiky) collars at the top and bottom to add a little visual interest and to mimic the carving on the pommel.

All in all I think it turned out a rather handsome knife, and the raffle winner was very pleased with his prize. It is currently razor sharp but I have offered to blunt the blade for him should he want to use it to fence. Personally I rather think that would spoil it but I’d always rather see something used than just sitting in a drawer!

Original Quillon dagger post!