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The Serpent in the Sword


Niels Provos
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Inspired by Lee A Jones' study on early medieval pattern-welded swords, I have started forging a pattern-welded double-edged sword with a serpent core. I spent most of my Christmas vacation on this and had to start all over when the final forge welding completely failed - that really was a let down. The sword is a 7 bar construction. The serpent core which consists of 3 bars, two twisted bars and two bars for the edge. The blade will eventually be 30in long with a 6in tang.

 

Here are some progress pictures:

 

Preparing the billets:

ss-billets.jpg

 

Forge-welding of a billet:

ss-welding.jpg

 

The stack of straight laminate rods:

ss-rods.jpg

 

Twisting the rods:

ss-twisting.jpg

 

Forging the serpent:

ss-serpent.jpg

 

A test etch reveals it:

ss-serpent-revealed.jpg

 

Welding the tip:

ss-tip.jpg

 

And the current status:

ss-all-welded.jpg

 

I have also made a narrated video that explains the whole process step by step:

 

 

Let me know what you think and wish me luck. I have been breaking all my swords lately.

 

Niels

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Just awesome...

“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”

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Thanks for all the encouragement.

 

Owen, it stretched a little bit but not too much I hope. The sword billet started with about 26in and after beveling I am at 32in; so 30in blade length after subtracting the 2 inches I used for the tang.

 

I hope to get a test etch tomorrow.

 

Niels.

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It is amazing how very methodical you work Niels, you are almost making this routine LOL!

Let not the swords of good and free men be reforged into plowshares, but may they rest in a place of honor; ready, well oiled and God willing unused. For if the price of peace becomes licking the boots of tyrants, then "To Arms!" I say, and may the fortunes of war smile upon patriots

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Outstanding Niels! The video presentation is really well done too, although I had to stop it at 1:15 to get some eye protection for the MIG-welding footage. Keep up the good work.

Edited by jim austin
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Great video!

 

I really like your twisting jig. That is a great idea.

 

Very dramatic serpent presentation! Awesome effect.

 

Can't wait to see the finished blade.

 

--Dave

-----------------------------------------------

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly." -- Theodore Roosevelt

http://stephensforge.com

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Awesome work Niels!

And I must say that is a beautifully produced video, I can't wait to see the next installment.

 

Thanks for Sharing! :D

Marius A. Bacher

 

"To learn and not think over what you have learned is perfectly useless. To think without having learned is dangerous." - Gore Vidal

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Hi Nils.

 

Very interesting work! There is a viking sword at the Royal Ontario Museum that has a serpent in the blade. I was not able to capture the serpent as the corrosion was bad and I'm not a photographer. The serpent seemed to have such sharp corners and a tight weave that I would be willing to assume that it was actually cut into the surface of the core. It would have been nice to see the other side.

 

Thanks for sharing this!

 

 

Jeff

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Very interesting work! There is a viking sword at the Royal Ontario Museum that has a serpent in the blade. I was not able to capture the serpent as the corrosion was bad and I'm not a photographer. The serpent seemed to have such sharp corners and a tight weave that I would be willing to assume that it was actually cut into the surface of the core. It would have been nice to see the other side.

It would be great to see a better picture of that sword. Jeff posted a drawing from Ypey, a few years ago, but besides that one, I have only seen modern examples. My sword attempt just finished annealing so I hope to do a test etch soon - maybe next weekend.

 

Niels.

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It would be great to see a better picture of that sword. Jeff posted a drawing from Ypey, a few years ago, but besides that one, I have only seen modern examples. My sword attempt just finished annealing so I hope to do a test etch soon - maybe next weekend.

 

Niels.

 

 

I wish I could have caught the surface properly. They have just a small collection of Viking and anglo saxon work on display. All of it is remarkable. Not a word is mentioned about patern welding anywhere in the display and I even wonder it the museum has any idea of what they have. Anyone near Toronto is advised to spend a some time there.

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this should be pinned

 

Good idea!

-----------------------------------------------

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly." -- Theodore Roosevelt

http://stephensforge.com

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No luck on the etching. After establishing the flats, I was trying to put it into my tube with acid, only to discover that it's too small. I wiped on some acid by hand, but the contrast is not good enough for a photo. Now, I am waiting on the fittings for a 3in PVC tube.

 

Niels.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There has been some progress on the sword and I was able to successfully heat treat it today. Here are some progress photos.

 

Forging the bevels by hand:

1_Bevel.jpg

 

Forging bevels with the power hammer:

2_PowerHammer_Bevel.jpg

 

Straightening (I hate this part):

3_Straightening.jpg

 

Grinding the fuller:

4_Fuller.jpg

 

Heat treating:

5_Heat_Treat.jpg

 

The sword after heat treat:

6_Pattern.jpg

 

I have also posted a video for those who want to see more:

 

Now, I have to figure out how to clean up the fullers. If anyone has any tips, I would appreciate them.

 

Thank you,

Niels.

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Looks awesome, Niels!

 

I use an old wheel the same diameter as the one I ground the fuller as a backing to sand out the grind marks by hand, pushing it longways. You can also use a piece of wood sanded to size, or even a soft EDM stone if you can find one that doesn't scratch too bad.

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I am in awe :o. Also, I have a serious case of tool envy...

“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”

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