Tag Archives: viking

Finished Seax style shortsword

I finished up the sword I was making for my Grandfather but totally forgot to take photos! Luckily I visited a couple of months later and was able to take some quick shots.

The biggest challenges of this sword were the handle details. The entire thing is knife carved, and the gold leaf was really tricky to apply and in the end I had to touch it up with a liquid gold suspension. Something I look forward to mastering one day!

I really like how it came out, it has the slightly garish look I associate with the Dark Ages! The scabbard is a little on the simple side, but it did get a small tassel for bling:



The first post on making this bad boy: Large Seax Style Shortsword -Hotforged

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.




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:


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!


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.


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

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.


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.


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.



Viking/Norman Sword: Having fun with an open commission.


I was asked by my Grandmother to make her a family sword for her birthday. It was a really nice commission as I normally deal with sword junkies who know exactly what they think they want (but do often need some practical guidance). To most (normal!) people though a sword is a sword so I had really free reign to make anything I wanted.

I decided to go with a transitional Viking/Norman style of sword, as they are shorter than later swords and much easier to display. They also often had wonderful decoration and I really need to work on my inlaying skills, so I threw caution to the winds and chose a design that would feature simple but extensive inlay. Did I mention I am not a very organised person? I had three weeks to make it! In the end it took about 50 hours squeezed in over weekends and around work.

Technical info: The blade is heat treated EN45 carbon steel, the crossguard and pommel are both made of mild steel which is the closest analogue I had to hand for medieval iron. The grip is cored with oak and covered with veg tanned leather stitched over leather risers.

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Here the pommel has been formed and tested for balance, then I laid out my design and ever so slowly started cutting in the lines with gravers. Slowly shaving off layers of steel I cut the trenches about 2mm deep and then undercut the edges to grip the copper. Then I heated my copper wire to dull red and quenched it in order to soften it, at which point it becomes much easier to deform. I then hammered it in and polished the whole thing.

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This is the crossguard, hot forged to shape and with the tips carved into a fishtail shape. I inlayed it in exactly the same way as the pommel, but I got a bit carried away and came back later to add more. Grinding down the second layer destroyed the undercut lip that was holding the first layer (seen above) down, and it fell out! I had to recut the lines, lesson learnt.

As I was in such a hurry, I didn’t take too many photos of the making process, but I made sure I took a lot of the end result as I am pretty happy with how it turned out. So here it is in all its glory, weighing in at 1100g and with the balance and feel of an excellent cutter. I’m happy with the inlayed and punched decoration, but I still want to get more practice in!

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Every sword is still an exciting journey!

Making a Stock Removal Viking Axe Part 3

I have made a bit of progress with my Viking Axe project. I made my first attempt at inlay, and learnt a lot on the way:

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On the sides the inlay came out quite nicely, the annealed copper was fairly easy to hammer into the grooves. I used the ball pein on the back of my workhorse hammer, but next time I think I will also use a rounded punch to give really fine control over how the metal deforms. Another thing I think will help is choosing the right gauge of wire, the one I used was a tad thin and it was harder to get to to fill the entirety of the groove.

The really hard bit was continuing the inlay around the edge of the axe and into the eye, it seemed to have a mind of its own and it was firmly set on not binding to the graved lines. I think that in areas like this I need to go much deeper with the graving and roughen the surface with a hacksaw blade.



I have started to smooth down the branch I want to use for the handle, I don’t remember what tree it came from but it has a lovely pale dense grain that I think will carve just below the head, maybe some knotwork? I cant wait to get going on this again!

Part 1

Part 2

Prototype Leather Daneaxe for HEMA fencing

I study Highland Broadsword with my local HEMA group every week, and reading more Scottish and Irish history has made me want to have a go with one of the longaxes used before the Renaissance. In addition I am thinking about joining the local Anglo-Saxon reenactment group, so a Daneaxe could also be applicable within that context if I one day rise to the giddy heights of being one of Haralds Huscarls!


The axe is made of 6mm thick veg tan leather, with two strips of 4mm leather sewn onto the extreme edge. This is useful both for recalling the forge welded steel edge of the original axes, and thickens the edge diameter to spread the force of the axe strike to minimise the sting of a strike. It also adds some stiffness to the edge which stops the axe from curling with use.


The body of the blade was water hardened then wax hardened to give it a bit of strength for when it hooks a sword blade and to help it keep its shape. The edge is left soft to act as a cushion. After the hardening, I found that the thin section where the blade passes into the steel was too weak and brittle from the water hardening so I pinned a strip of copper to the top, before binding it on with artificial sinew. I think that it actually looks rather fetching, and I might put some inlay on the steel to complement it.


I still need to finish the haft, its 1m20 long, it needs tapering at the top to fit the head and some sanding to smooth it down. And it still needs rivets in place of the rather ugly bolts that are holding it together at the moment!

Cant wait to give it a go!

Stock Removal Viking Axe: Progress

I have made some more progress on my stock removal axe. Most of the heavy grinding had been done so I heated the axehead in the forge to soften the steel before I started chiselling it.


Here it is after the first round, under the camera flash the scale took on a lovely blue colour! I was shocked to see the ghostly face in the blade, I wish the axe was closer to being finished as it would have been really cool to try to preserve the face in the final axe. As it is though I had a lot more to do so sadly it was polished off.

After I removed the last of the metal, bringing the blade thickness down to around 3mm behind the edge, I edge quenched it. I was talking to my Boss while it heated and totally lost track of time, with the result that it got quite heavily scaled in the forge, but a heavy polishing took care of that and the edge hardness is unharmed:


You can see the scale flaking off of the eye where it was hottest. You can also see two lines on the narrow part of the blade. These are channels I have chiselled in order to try out a copper inlay, which will be a new challenge for me!

Here it is rough polished to 120 grit, ready for inlay and sharpening:


The grooves are first cut with a square graver before being undercut into a “W” shape with a knife graver. Took a little while, but I want a really strong base for my copper. The grooves continue over the top and bottom of the axe and into the eye to help tie off the ends and stop them from getting pulled out during use.

Not a lot left to do now, its got to the stage where I could use it as is! But I still want to:

-Do some inlay

 -Give it a really high polish

-Possibly try out some etching?

-Make a handle for it, I already have a suitable branch drying.

Cant wait to hang it above the fireplace!

Part 1

Part 3

Love of Seaxes


Working as an apprentice swordsmith, I have handled hundreds of swords, but there is one style of blade that has always delighted me: The Anglo-Saxon Seax. I adore its simplicity and the chunkiness of the blade, despite having far fewer opportunities for refined decoration than, say, a swept hilt rapier or a smallsword.

One of the things I am going to teach myself to do is engrave and inlay in order to replicate the decoration found on the Sittingbourne seax and the other high level examples that have been excavated. Here are a few of the best :

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My final target will be to make a sword hilted seax in the style of the recent Staffordshire hilt discoveries currently on display in the British Museum. May take a few years though!

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I will probably cast and carve brass in place of the original gold, and enamel the recesses rather than insetting garnets, but the effect should be very similar and it will leave me a further, far more complex and expensive, project for later.

The seax at the top of the article is the first sword I made after getting my apprenticeship, I have also made a fair number of smaller ones as gifts to friends, I think pretty much everyone i know has got one now!

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I always engrave a phonetic rendering of the recipient’s name onto the blade, mainly to make them a little more visually stimulating than just plain steel. I really need to pay more attention to my photography!

Making a stock removal viking axe

I took a break from work today and as i was digging around the forge I found an old axe blade I bought ages ago at the boot fair. I thought it would be fun to trim it down to a more manageable shape, and started grinding…

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The first picture is the axe before anything was done to it, then partially cleaned and roughly marked up to make best use of the available steel. I really wanted to use an early dane-axe shape with the undercut blade, so lost quite a bit of the edge but I felt it would look best like this in the end.


Here it is after the initial cuts to create the broad shape.


Cleaned up again, and the arches of the axe further accentuated, I started removing masses of material from the axe sides, as rather than the thick wedge it started as I wanted it to have the thin butcher style blade of a fighting axe.

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The blade thinning down it took much longer to grind the faces as for the sides I had just cut off the material, here I had to slowly work my way through it whilst not making too many dips and hollows. Next stage is going to be a normalising of the axehead, as its definitely getting harder to grind! There is an obvious join on the axe where the carbon steel blade was added, so hopefully this should soften it.

Next step to come!

And here it is: Second post in WIP