Jump to content

Aristotle steel 13th century knife and sheath

Alan Longmire

Recommended Posts

I actually made this in the weeks after Bowie's hammer-in, only just now getting time to take pictures of it. This is made from one of the pucks of Aristotle furnace bloom Jesus Hernandez and I made from mild steel and wrought iron nails. The bloom took a lot of careful consolidation using charcoal in my coal forge, leaving a lot of interesting slag behind. This steel sparks around 0.5% carbon. Not too high, but not bad either.


I had originally intended to make a seax, but changed it to a bowie after forging the clip. After I got the blade mostly to shape, I noticed it was looking more and more like a 13th century English peasant knife I saw in the Museum of London. Since I had been wanting to try a medieval style sheath ever since I saw Tod (Leo Todeschini, incredible artisan) do one at Owen's hammer-in two years ago. Tod makes it look easy, whipping up a whole double-layer sheath with full tooling in about ten minutes. :ph34r:/> It took me three hours, and I had to take the inner lining out due to poor measuring... <_</>


Anyway, I dug out my copy of "Knives and Scabbards" from the Museum of London, found the blade and sheath I wanted to base this on, and finished forging. Burned in the tang and added brass pins. I'm proud of the fit, there is no glue or resin and yet no gaps! Wood is curly ash. Leather is 1.5mm calfskin.



In the sheath:

medi blade 1.jpg


Unsheathed, right side:

medi blade 2.jpg


Unsheathed, left side showing odd seam on the sheath, true to originals:

medi blade 3.jpg


If you look carefully at that one, you'll see the blade developed a bit of auto-hamon! Kind of hitatsura-looking, which surprised me greatly given that it was edge-only interrupted water quenched. Well, edge only for four seconds, pull out, then dunked the whole thing. Water at around 150 degrees F. Funky! :D/>


Overall conclusions: I suck at consolidating bloom with a bottom-blast charcoal forge. :rolleyes:/> Next time I'll make a side blast as it should be.


One final pic showing the structure of the steel:


medi blade BW.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Love that sheath.



Mark Green


I have a way? Is that better then a plan?

(cptn. Mal)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

looks like original! how big is that?


Oops! I knew I forgot something... :wacko:


The knife is 11.75 inches/ 29.5cm long total, 6.5 inch/ 16.3cm blade, 5mm thick spine. I don't have a scale handy, but it is very light with its thin half-tang.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very cool, it has a strong authentic look all around (which ain't easy).

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."

view some of my work

RelicForge on facebook
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Side blast is a must.


Nice blade and sheath. I am glad that the steel turned in to something and the hitatsura hamon a bonus!

I guess the spine was still austenite before it went in the water the second time around.

Enjoy life!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't imagine anybody from history who wouldn't be proud to own that one Alan. Nice presentation all together. So now I have yet another goal of getting off my behind and doing something with my Aristotle pucks, thanks for going first again!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice looking blade! The sheath is fantastic as well. I know a side blast with charcoal is traditional, but I can't imagine trying to work an aristotle puck in anything but a blown propane forge and using a press. Great work Alan!!!





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ooo I like that, could you please tell me why you were using double layers of leather, I understand if you want some details in the sheath, like Ray does, that you need double layers but why in this case?





Edited by Richard van Dijk

Richard van Dijk
My link

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, guys! :D


Jesus, I think you are correct on the spine remaining austenitic. I know you are familiar with how time gets a bit wonky during water-quenching unknown and irreplaceable steels. :lol:


Richard, I suspect the originals were double-layered because the leather is so thin it would be easy to slice right through with a bad draw. Several hundred of these have been found in the mud of the Thames, and maybe 3/4 have the lining on the blade section. On a few of them there were by-knives or eating spikes inserted between the layers, but I'm not that ambitious yet. The liner is just a second layer of leather that is not sewn, only tacked to the outer layer with a single stitch at the tip. I didn't make my outer layer big enough to stitch up with the liner in place because I suck. :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice package! The sheath especially has a very authentic "roughness" to it...very well done!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

alan - that does look a good bit like the steel from mine. Ricky and I made ours with grinder swarf and nails.

Yes, I busted my butt to clean the bloom more than you did. it is a serious amount of effort to get it clean.


Nice job. I just can't get into leatherwork. At least there is something I am not obsessed with.


very cool knife.



please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/


“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All the ducks that have to be in a row to accomplish such a knife are amazing!

Troy Allen Christianson is NOT a "Licensed Bladesmith" so you may treat his posts with the contempt they deserve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...