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jake cleland

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Everything posted by jake cleland

  1. This is kinda' a no wrong answers situation. Generally a blade between 3" and 4", single edged, spear point or clip point, but much slimmer and pointier than Americans tend to make them Flat handle no more than 1/2" thick, preferably thinner, Basically as slim and sleek as possible. Here's an excerpt from an email I wrote to a customer a few weeks back: 'the idea of what constitutes a 'traditional' sgian dubh is a bit complicated. Prior to the 18th century it was just a small, plain knife. In the first half of the 18th C. These started to get decorated with carving in a similar style to dirk handles, but after the '45 any such distinctively 'Highland' forms were banned, outside of the British regiments, which is when the regimental sgians developed - straight, flat handles suitable for wearing in the Kilt Hose, usually with carving, plain ferrule at the blade end and closed ferrule for the top. After the prohibition was lifted, the civilian sgian developed from this regimental form, with the top ferrule being set with a stone, which became more elaborate over time, with larger stones, claw and cage settings etc, and more elaborate handle shapes, and carving styles that diverged widely from the traditional Highland dirk carvings. The thing is, these developments occurred in the context of a Victorian British culture which was completely alien and indeed openly hostile to the Highland/Gaidhlig culture that the sgian dubh came from. Being born and raised in the West Highlands, I tend to try and take my design cues from the original Highlland traditional forms as much as possible, rather than the later forms which developed in Edinburgh, Sheffield and Birmingham, outside of that cultural context. The thing is, a lot of this is fairly subjective - there was no continuing tradition of Highland sgian dubhs out-with the broader British context - so I just try to make things that feel authentic to me and my understanding of the culture I was raised in, while steering away from things that feel like Tartanism or pastiche.' Basically, form follows function, so early sgians, the function was to be just a small edc, usually with straight or coffin shaped handles, and spear point, or more often clip point blades. Handles were wood, horn, antler, even dried kelp in the islands and costal areas. For later sgians, the function became decorative, and being able to be worn in the sock. Flat, slim, light, and more and more decorative.
  2. Finally finished up the first batch of Sgians for a high-end craft shop opening in Edinburgh in a couple of weeks. They're getting collected tomorrow, so just in under the wire. 3 1/2" blades of clay hardened 1095, about 7 1/4" o/a. Bog oak and antler handles with copper and mosaic pins. Back seam sheaths covered in lambskin leather. let me know what you think.
  3. A couple of months back I was asked to produce a range of simple sgian dubhs for a high end craft shop in Edinburgh. We settled on a very simple basic pattern, to be handled in either plain bog oak, or bog oak with an antler face, with one structural pin and one decorative mosaic pin, and we also discussed a kwaiken inspired style as well. After a month which started with me getting covid, then a ridiculous cold, and then tweaking my neck to the point where I've barely been able to move for the past week, probably caused by trying to work when I was still way too weak, the deadline is fast approaching. I've got the first batch ready for polishing and gluing. I'm pretty pleased with how they're turning out, but we'll have to see how they sell when the place opens in a couple of weeks...
  4. Another facebook makers challenge. The deadline snuck up on me, what with trying to finish my dad's sword and having covid last week, so there are still a few things that need doing, but I reckon its finished enough to show. Forged 1095 blade, mild steel bolsters, bridges and nagel forged into the shape of a hand. Sycamore scales with copper rivets and brass washers. Wet moulded scabbard that houses a by-knife in the same materials. Build album is here. let me know what you think...
  5. Just finished riveting the suspension stuff on this. It's an 80th Birthday present for my dad. He started the blade about 15 years ago, and never finished it, so a few months ago I stole the blade off him, and started mounting it up. It's a reproduction of the sword used by one of our ancestors in the late 17th century. The basket parts are forged from mild steel, and assembled cold with steel rivets. I then brazed the tops of the bars, filed it all clean again and oil blued it. The pommel is forged down from two sections of heavy tube and brazed together. The handle is bog oak, and the basket is lined at the guard with leather and suede lambskin. The scabbard is cowhide, with a butt-stitched seam up the back, lined with sheepskin fleece, stiffened with poplar veneers, and covered with lambskin, with a steel throat and chape. I went with a medieval longsword style suspension with copper and brass hardware, as a baldric didn't seem to suit such an early sword... The original And a comparison with my basket: Let me know what you think...
  6. Got the scabbard covered last week, and today I oil blued the basket and pommel: I also finished grinding the fullers in the blade for the other basket hilt:
  7. Next time it would be worth trying an easier wood like maple - 2" turning spindles are ideal. If you have a metal lathe, I find that much easier to get the shape - just use the wood lathe to turn a plain cylinder first.
  8. working on the scabbard. heavy-ish cow hide, lined with sheared sheepskin fleece, laced with 2.5mm cord, with a couple of layers of thin poplar veneer on the front to stiffen it, to prevent the tip digging into the fleece. it'll get covered with some nice green lambskin once I decide where to put the risers to secure the suspension straps. I also forged rom fittings from thin steel sheet, forged a new pommel from 40mm tube and brazed the top joints of the basket. It's getting there slowly..
  9. 'fraid not. It's sometimes known as the Salisbury seax - if you can find a pic of the whole display, you can scale it off the skeleton's forearm, and as far as I remember, 23cm seems about right. From other finds we can guess it's fairly thin -4.5mm ish. everything else I've just inferred from the picture. Silver (or silver over iron) mounts, Probably wooden handle - I like yew as it matches the remaining colour. I interpret the horizontal lines on the blade as pattern welding, but could just as easily be fullers. Jeroen probably knows more...
  10. looks like a good match for the Laverstock seax:
  11. Finally sucked it up and riveted the hilt for my dad's birthday sword. A long way from being a perfect match for the original, but trying to make a complex 3d object from a single image, I'm amazed I got as close as this...
  12. Personally I prefer the look of a wider band of exposed steel. The Nijmegen Sax is one of my favourite knives, and it looks like you still have plenty of width, so if it were me, I'd cut of the first 4" or so of the tip, and reshape the blade, and forge the tip into a companion knife... This was my take on it:
  13. yup, that's the way. Next step is to cut the outline top and bottom with a flat graver, close to vertical and pretty deep, and then cut in at a shallower angle to that line. Then cut in the interstices, again with a flat graver, and chip them out. Then cut the overlaps, again cutting down at close to vertical, and cutting in at a shallow angle. Scrape the cuts clean with the tip of a flat needle file as you go. To round the bands, skive of the corners by push cutting with the grain, and then scrape and file smooth. Sand to 220ish, steel wool, and then lay out the details...
  14. Been working on a Bauenwehr for the past week for another facebook makes challenge. Today I took the tape off the blade and did the foundation polish to get a look at the hamon: forged from 1095, steel bolsters, bridges and nagel sculpted into the shape of a hand. Massur birch scales.
  15. The earliest blades tended to be plain but fullers started to become more common from about 1700, and by 1800 they were almost ubiquitous. Commonly just a single fuller around 3/16ths wide around 1/8th to 1/4" down from the spine, either full length terminating an inch or so before the tip, or 2/3rds length with or without a false edge. sometimes you have double or even triple fullers, or a pair of narrow scraped grooves framing the main fuller. Later on you start to see wider, shallower fullers, and more complex arrangements. fullers are almost always accompanied by filework or gimping - usually wide, shallow scallops separated by v-notches,
  16. honestly, it doesn't look like you've gone too deep yet, and that should be fixable. You can narrow the bands slightly so they're longer than they are wide, and carve and scrape the top and bottom loops to erase the cut you don't want...
  17. I've been house/dog sitting for my sister all week, so I've been limited to carving. First this seax/tanto hybrid I started many moons ago. Ringerike style foliate knots on each side of the boxwood handle, and a long braid on each side of the walnut scabbard: And then the figured walnut handle for the first basket hilt:
  18. all the diamonds in a vertical line should go in the same direction - if you have an even number of divisions (circumference - vertical doesn't matter, just changes the direction they get woven back in) it should work fine. The loops at the top and bottom take up 2 diamonds (1 & 2/3ds really), not just one.
  19. Started another basket hilt for my dad's birthday in August. He'd made a blade for one maybe 15 years ago, but never got any further, so I borrowed it from him. It's a reproduction of the William Cleland sword from the 1670's, which was owned by a distant ancestor. It's an older style, and I figured it would be easier to make as it's simpler, but it turns out that trying to make a faithful copy of a particular piece is much more challenging than just making something in the same general style, as you're trying to intentionally reproduce a bunch of stuff that just kinda happened by accident on the original. This is made worse by the fact that I'm working from the only pics of the sword which are pretty low-res and both from the same angle.... finished the hot-work on the rear guard, rear bars and pommel (or so I thought - forgot to set down the finials of the rear guard where the attach to the rear bars - I'll try and get to that once I've had coffee...). Still a lot of cold tweaking to get them all to sit right, The pommel is forged in two halves from tube. Once they've sat in vinegar for a day or two to get the worst of the scale off, I'll file the mating surfaces clean and braze them together. The original:
  20. finished riveting up basket hilt attempt number three. Finally got one I'm pretty happy with. my original plan was to braze it after riveting, but honestly the risk/reward doesn't seem worth it...
  21. I concur - for a kitchen knife, knuckle clearance beats aesthetics...
  22. I'm experimenting with using gallery wire for ferrules. Seems to be working so far...
  23. It looks good, but it would be better if you could pull out a bit more edge towards the heel, particularly a bit of belly just in front of the tongs in the last pic. As Joel says, you want a bit of taper, and ideally a bit of a curve to the whole edge - a straight edge will start to become a recurve after a few sharpenings, which will greatly reduce the utility of the blade...
  24. It's not great. It's a bit soft, but also abrasive. For this kind of thing it's fine, but once you get into detailed work it gets muddy fast. It's best to stick to box and ebony, maples/sycamore, and walnut. I've also heard good things about fruit woods and lime/bass/linden, but have never tried them
  25. Glued this together last night. This is a fairly faithful interpretation of what an authentic early 18th century sgian dubh might have looked like, though it's not a direct copy, more an amalgam of 3 originals. The steel is 1075+Cr, 3mm thick and 3 1/2" long, which I normalised 3x at descending heats and cycled a few times just around critical to drop the hardenability. The handle is elm, with simple basketweave carving, stained and given a single coat of finishing oil. The sheath is less authentic, as it will be used for hunting, so I added a belt loop and reinforced it with rivets. The second pic shown the proportions better... Let me know what you think...
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