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jake cleland

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Posts posted by jake cleland

  1. Also finished this one today. Blade is suminagashi, engraved as a test for a different commission. Bolster and finial are blackened steel, with copper accents on the bolster. Handle is carved bog oak and sheath is tooled leather with copper rivets:


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    let me know what you think...

    • Like 12
  2. Haven't posted anything in a good long while - my mother passed away unexpectedly at the start of the summer, and I pushed back all my orders to deal with the fallout from that...


    This is the first of those delayed projects to actually get finished. 12" nagasa hira-zukuri blade, forged from 1095. Copper habaki, brass seppas and steel tsuba, copper fuchi and kashira, sycamore tsuka wrapped in samegawa and lacquered deerskin lace ito, with nickel silver menuki and buffalo horn mekugi. The saya is sycamore, covered in ground tealeaves and lacquer, with buffalo horn koigouchi and kurigata, with cotton sageo.


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    Let me know what you think...


    • Like 5
  3. scotchbrite, sanding, (most) buffing etc are abrasive, and will open up the grain. Burnishing is not. It means polishing with a hard, smooth, polished surface - usually hardened steel, but bone or antler are fine for leather - to compress the surface and close up the grain. You probably want to coat the surface in beeswax first to load as much of the grain as possible before you start. You'll probably also want to use enough force to generate some heat to harden the surface. A hard felt buffing wheel would probably also work.

    • Like 1
  4. I've ben trying to find a copy of Gene Chapman's Antler and Iron books to give to my dad, with no luck, so I decided to just make him one of the knives and he can reverse engineer it... this is what I came up with. Antler handle, cs70 spring and blade, clay hardened with a coffee etch, mild steel saddle with brass pins. The tail piece is bog oak, and the pivot pin is made from a 4" nail...


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    Let me know what you think...

    • Like 11
  5. Just finished this one, which fought me all the way. 3 1/2" 1075 blade. Antler and bog oak handle, with a steel spacer between them. Steel bolster, and silver washer and silver gallery wire fittings. The pommel is set with a customer supplied bixbite/red beryl. Scabbard is copper covered in deerskin suede with silver fittings.


    pemble sgian 16.jpg


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    let me know what you think...

    • Like 7
  6. On 10/25/2022 at 4:39 PM, Joshua States said:

    Another one for the inspiration folder.....

    Question, is the handle cross section round, or more oval?

    usually round, but i made this one pretty flat/oval, as I prefer the feel..

    • Like 1
  7. 6 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

    Nice!  Is that gallery wire for the accents?  Also a fan of the pigskin sheath.  I use that from time to time myself.

    Yes gallery wire. It's a more delicate soldering job than I'm comfortable with with my set up but it seems to work... The pigskin is what I used to use for sgian dubh sheaths, but I'm not so keen on it, as it has very little stretch, and feels a bit plasticky - I much prefer lambskin these days, which gives a much softer, more tactile feel, but deer or goat are also good.

    • Like 1
  8. Also got this glued together last night. 5" 1075 blade. Octagonal bog oak handle with knotwork carving. Copper blade collar and ferrules. Poplar burl pommel setting. Cowhide sheath covered in lambskin.


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    Let me know what you think...

    • Like 8
  9. Started this last year sometime. Just got it finished up today. 10 1/2" double edged 1095 blade. Carved bog oak handle with boxwood accents. Steel mounts with silver trim. Laminated millboard sheath covered with pigskin with silver throat and chape.


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    Let me know what you think...

    • Like 12
  10. 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.



    • Like 3
  11. 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.


    bard sgians 16.jpg


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    let me know what you think.

    • Like 6
  12. 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...


    bard sgians 11.jpg

    • Like 9
  13. 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.


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    let me know what you think...

    • Like 9
  14. 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...


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    The original 


    cleland 2.jpg




    And a comparison with my basket:


    cleland 11.jpg


    Let me know what you think...

    • Like 8
  15. 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.


    • Like 1
    • Thanks 1
  16. 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..


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    • Like 7
  17. 50 minutes ago, Joshua States said:


    I haven't seen this one before. I've been exercising my Google-Fu and came up empty. Any stats on this anywere?

    '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...

    • Thanks 1
  18. 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:


    nijmegen 8.jpg

    • Like 3
  19. 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...

    • Thanks 1
  20. 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:


    bauernwehr 43.jpg


    forged from 1095, steel bolsters, bridges and nagel sculpted into the shape of a hand. Massur birch scales.

    • Like 6
  21. 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, 

    • Like 1
    • Thanks 1
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