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viking fine line inlay


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Hey guys, I have been looking at images and trying to muster up some ideas for some viking hilts and I was wondering how to make the "fine" inlay channels that are needed to make some of the mosaic patterns that we see in viking hilt work. I know that you cut a undercut groove and then hammer in your inlay material, and if you want to loose the steel you let the upsetting of the wire connect to the next wire and so on, but how do you get all those fine grooves cut and undercut? I can see cutting the channel with a chisel, but I don't understand how to under cutting such a fine channel so close to the next and maintain the clean line and not cut through the material. Any pointers?

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Hey guys, I have been looking at images and trying to muster up some ideas for some viking hilts and I was wondering how to make the "fine" inlay channels that are needed to make some of the mosaic patterns that we see in viking hilt work. I know that you cut a undercut groove and then hammer in your inlay material, and if you want to loose the steel you let the upsetting of the wire connect to the next wire and so on, but how do you get all those fine grooves cut and undercut? I can see cutting the channel with a chisel, but I don't understand how to under cutting such a fine channel so close to the next and maintain the clean line and not cut through the material. Any pointers?
I'm not sure if they really were undercut. If you have a groove, and hammer in the wire, the metal expands sideways and gets squeezed between the iron. If you look at the originals, the grooves are really small:

http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.ph...2d4b6796d87f10f

Another thing, an alterative way for inlaying, also refered to as damascening, is to rough up the surface of metal by f.e. a rasp, an then simply hammering the wire onto the rough surface. That seems enough to hold it already. This technique was used on the surface of blades though, not on sword pommels and guards AFAIK.

 

B.t.w. the way to make the wires connect, is simply by using a larger wire then you need to fill the groove. The excess metal will mushroom on the surface, covering the iron and expand to the next wire.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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One recommendation: make sure to anneal any commercial wire before inlaying. A lot of commercial bronze, brass wire etc. is drawn, and not annealed after the last step, so it's pretty hard. Just don't pick up bronze wire when hot, as it will fall apart (just let it cool on the spot). And don't melt it, it gets hot really quick:)

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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What angle do you haver on your chisles? I've had trouble with the wires not being as secure as i'd like unless I under cut the sides.

Ben Potter Bladesmith

 

 

It's not that I would trade my lot

Or any other man's,

Nor that I will be ashamed

Of my work torn hands-

 

For I have chosen the path I tread

Knowing it would be steep,

And I will take the joys thereof

And the consequences reap.

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This is a detail shot of a type H pommel bar (see plate VI in "Swords of the Viking Age" for the whole thing) that is from an +ULFBERH+T blade, the wire spacing is 1.89 per mm. Most of the channels are pretty obscured by corrosion, but I found an area where the classic 'W' shaped floor of an undercut groove is well preserved.

 

dovetailw.jpg

 

I have yet to find direct evidence of the other groove-making methods, but they certainly may have used them, too. Here is what it looks like when you are doing it:

 

inlay114.jpg

 

If you don't secure the inlay with an undercut or other 'fix', it will not stay down when you are trying to spread the wires to meet. Overlay was used on later hilts, check out p.103 105 & 139 of SotVA for examples that show the characteristic crosshatching. Here's an X-ray of overlay on a spear:

 

lonborgf73.jpg

 

For pointers, I'd suggest you figure out the geometry of the cuts at a larger scale and then work your way down to the painfully tiny spacing that is right. And of course, sharpen your gravers correctly. Have you done much inlay? If not: practice, practice! In a couple years it will be a piece of cake! :wacko:;)

Jomsvikingar Raða Ja!

http://vikingswordsmith.com

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Thank you so much for all the useful information that you guys provided! I will be sure to try to apply some of these the next time I am playing around with some inlay work.

 

Jeff, I was hoping that you would respond :) I certainly don't have much inlay experience, but I am trying to get the whole picture framed in my mind so that I can apply the same methods I have used for larger pieces to smaller pieces. Your feedback certainly has helped!

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Jeff,

 

When you cut the grooves do you use a graver or a chisel? Do you hammer the tool or hand push it?

And how do you get the twisted wires even?

Edited by Ben Potter

Ben Potter Bladesmith

 

 

It's not that I would trade my lot

Or any other man's,

Nor that I will be ashamed

Of my work torn hands-

 

For I have chosen the path I tread

Knowing it would be steep,

And I will take the joys thereof

And the consequences reap.

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Jeff,

 

When you cut the grooves do you use a graver or a chisel? Do you hammer the tool or hand push it?

 

 

Hey Ben, I was thinking that the lines on simple shapes could be cut in by a needle file, that way you know they are straight, and then the undercutting would be done by graver. I have made my surface line by using a needle file, first a triangle to get everything set, then a square with long strokes to true up the line you see. I have not used a graver yet, I was doing a wide inlay and used a flex-shaft with a super thin cutting wheel to make my undercut. It left a V at the bottom which I think helped in guiding my inlay into the channel and looks like the channel that Jeff showed in one of his pictures.

 

Just trying to put my 10 cents in, I am also wondering the best way to use a graver to make an undercut. I have a Dremel engraver but that isn't going to "cut it" no phun intended. By the pictures that Jeff posted I don't think that a chisel was used....

 

edit/p.s. I think it would be worth saying that I have found that having the inlay too tall for the groove with cause it to fold over if the hammer strokes are not dead on which can make it a pain, but a few tries, retries, redos, and the right size will come. Inlay is fasinating stuff.

Edited by Michael Pikula
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I have made my grooving chisels out of drilling bits. I left 1 turn of it and sharped it at angle of 40 degree.

This are my first steps.

dobrointarzija.jpg

intarzija.jpg

 

First I make v groove and after that I enhance it by tilting chisel 45 degree on one side and after

on other side. So I end with w groove but with low middle. No need for groove carving.

 

This is fantastic. How to squish all wires equal?

post-1272-1234541725.jpg

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How the tools are sharpened and how you drive them to make the cuts depends on what you are cutting, what the tools are made of and what gives you the best control. Generally speaking, bigger cuts require more force and are easier to control with chisel and hammer, the very fine work can be done better by hand (though if you look at Japanese sword furniture, you can see that hammer/chisel can be done on an extremely fine scale B) ). Where that hit vs. push transition occurs for you is something only you can determine. Reading through the engraving forums is a good idea, there are also good articles on engraving and inlay on the Ganoskin site:

 

http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/directory/library/subject/32

 

http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/inlay-work-10-3.htm

 

I think you will find using a needle file to start things out a blind alley, if you are having trouble cutting a straight line with a graver or chisel it is not correctly sharpened, is dull or you are using it incorrectly. I don't think a file will give you a straight or clean enough line to follow. I can remember trying to imagine all the ways one could cut thousands of tiny perfectly parallel grooves around the compound curves of a Viking hilt, and after trying several it turns out the direct straightforward way works pretty well. Micro saws and files are too messy and inaccurate. Minor variations in the width or depth of the cut can make the inlay not stick or mess up in the pattern, so unless you are very good with a rotary tool like a dremel you'd be needlessly complicating the job using one of those.

 

To get the right- and left-hand twists the same I just twist them at the same time, with the pairs clamped next to each other so I can compare the one I'm twisting to the other one.

 

The wires squish evenly without any special care, if the grooves are evenly spaced and cut to the same depth and width the metal has nowhere else to go. Once you have all the wires set in their grooves (the top wires in the photo), you just go over the surface with a smooth-faced hammer a couple times (middle section) until the wires have all melded together, then stone the surface so it is smooth (bottom few rows).

;)

Jomsvikingar Raða Ja!

http://vikingswordsmith.com

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silver and copper wires must be equably soft or not? Can I use soft steel and copper wires for practice?

 

I haven't done the chevron pattern shown by Jeff ever but I have done plenty of inlaying as taught to me by Ford Hallam and I can tell you that you can indeed proceed with steel wire. It takes a bit more effort but it does work. I have done it even with mig welder steel wire (I believe the reels were stainless of some description).

 

May I suggest you adopt a tool which is not often used in western traditions? and that is a punch with a rectangular face with its edges rounded, also for grip it is good to scour the surface with a diamond file so that it doesn't skate overmuch. this way offers more control over the inlay than hitting the surface straight with the hammer.

Grey hair and alopecia are signs of age, not of wisdom...

Rósta að, maðr!

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If you are going to do any drawing down of twisted wires (needed for some of the Viking Era patterns) they have to be close in hardness or the twist will get screwed up going through the drawplate.

 

Doing alternating stripes with metals of different hardness might require different groove spacing or wire size, or maybe just an extra pass with the planishing hammer on the harder metal…but why bother substituting steel for silver? If you are using 28 gauge wire, silver is not expensive – even at the ridiculously high price of $14.50/ounce, that ounce is 120 feet long! A dime or two per foot, depending on taxes and fees, and you get a lot of practice per foot.

Jomsvikingar Raða Ja!

http://vikingswordsmith.com

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And where I can get red copper wire? Electric copper is more gold yellow.

 

Where to buy silver wire?

 

 

I get my silver from Otto frei jewelry supply.

Ben Potter Bladesmith

 

 

It's not that I would trade my lot

Or any other man's,

Nor that I will be ashamed

Of my work torn hands-

 

For I have chosen the path I tread

Knowing it would be steep,

And I will take the joys thereof

And the consequences reap.

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Jeff,

 

Remind me while you are here to show you how a straightline engine works. While not traditional (till 1750 or so) it would give perfectly controlled lines (that can be shaped with a pattern bar) over irregular surfaces. As for surface extremes think Faberge Eggs! While up, over and around is a pain its completely doable.

 

I'm quite sure that we could fit a graver and cut quite deep into the surface in a controlled manner. It could give a great starting place for inlay like this.

 

It could turn hundreds of hours of frustrations into an afternoon of cutting/engraving (followed by a lifetime sickness that is 'Ornamental Turning')

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Its not quite the same level of spectator sport! Setting up to make the very first cut often takes more time then finishing the entire part.

 

Somehow fire and molten steel trumps it for the crowd im sure.

 

Sounds cool, I love engine turning.

We'll just skip that time-consuming crucible steel demo and play with your new toy!

:D;)

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