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My First Sword (or Two) - WIP


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Hello all,

 

Now that it is the first week of school, in the first month of the year, and the my last semester in this Professional Crafts program I think it is time to start my first sword! Actually, that is not entirely true, as I will be working on two swords, in case one doesn't work out. I've already posted the original designs here: http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=28294, but here they are again in full scale (not that you can tell):

 

Sword3FS.jpg

 

Both swords are about 42" overall (the upper is exactly 42").

 

I slightly modified the width of the guard on the lower sword, because after scaling up it was over 1/2" at its thinnest, which seemed too thick to me. I began forging out the blade for this second sword last night, starting with 1 1/4" x 1/4", 1075 stock from Aldo.

 

Here's what I have so far:

 

Sword1FS.jpg

 

Sword2FS.jpg

 

Sword4FS.jpg

 

It's still in rough shape and needs some straightening and a little widening at one point before I take it to the grinder; It's also 1.5" too long. The final blade length is about 32" and width at the base is about 1.75". I don't think I will fully forge the bevels on this piece as I need to grind away a lot of material to adjust the balance. Any advice on forging edge bevels? How close to forge, tips & tricks for keeping things even and straight would be appreciated.

 

I need to have one of these swords (preferably both) fully finished by the first week in May, for my graduate show. So, I will be asking for plenty of advice and sharing my processes along the way (including sand casting white bronze, and possibly flush stone setting and wire inlay if I get to that point).

 

Grace & Peace,

~Joshua Snead

 

 

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Great drawings and great start...I think I will make a plan and work to it next time I try this. Look forward to seeing this progress.

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Guest guest T

to forge the bevels start right on the edge and hammer slightly steeper than what you want the bevel to be then with lighter hammer blows bring the taper back to the middle of the sword. to keep the bladse straight you will want to alternate between edges and get a good bevel on one side before you flip to the other side so you can rest the sword on the bevel when you start on the other side. I always use a 24 oz hammer for forging the bevels. the flatter and cleaner you forge the blades the faster grinding will go.

EDIT: I would recomend leaving the edge about an 1/8th of an inch thick from forging.

Edited by Tre Asay
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Thanks everyone,

 

I must say, the reach of this forum amazes me. Six replies from five countries on four continents, wow!

 

Rob, I hope working to such a strict design doesn't slow things down too much. Some people can just see proportions, but my eyes aren't trained that way so I need a good design.

 

Michal, I'm fairly pleased with the proportions myself, thanks to Peter Johnsson's medieval design theory. (Thanks for sharing Peter!)

 

Tre, thanks for the advice! I do most of my forging with a three pound hammer but I will try something lighter for the bevels. This stock, after widening is already close to 1/8" thick, I want it to be very light and agile. Anyhow, I may just clean things up a bit and begin grinding before I spread myself too thin. By the way I am using a coke forge, which I find helps keep things straight as I can just heat one edge rather than the entire blade.

 

I will be back in the blacksmith shop tomorrow. Hopefully, I will finish the forging and straightening so I can get to the grinder.

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Guest guest T

It would be good to normalize before you grind so that you are grinding off the decarb. Also leave the edge very dull before heat treating to avoid decarb on the cutting edge.

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Last night I managed to get the bevels forged as far as I am comfortable with. It was surprisingly not as difficult as I expected. One small point is still not wide enough, and the tang is bent a little off center, once I fix those issues I'll post another pic of the forged blade.

 

I got a nice little lecture from my blacksmithing/bladesmithing instructor on straightening. (He taught saw filing for 30+ years and has straightened 35 foot long bandsaws by hand to within a few thousandths of an inch!) I'm sure most here know how to straighten, but I will share some of his wisdom for those who may want it. The principle is to sight down the blade with your dominant eye as close to in-line with the edge as possible. Now imagine a tight string tied from the tip down to the end of the tang, or ricasso; this creates a center line. The forged edge will probably be uneven in thickness and height so you need to try to look through those dips and nicks. I took some soapstone and coated the edge with it to help me visualize it better. The goal of straightening is to get an equal amount of material on both sides of that center line all the way down. Start by hammering out the larger bends, by placing the concave side down on the anvil, creating a "bridge," and hitting the hump downward. Only work one spot at a time, then check to see what you accomplished. A blade can be bent several ways, the entire blade can be bent, it can be bent width-wise, it can be twisted, or it can be bent on the edges but not all the way through; you will need to sight down it multiple ways to figure out which is the case. As you go, more, smaller bends will become visible and you will have to work them out. This continues until the blade is straight. Also, I did most of my straightening cold, only heating for those tricky spots that didn't want to move. I hope that makes sense.

 

Unfortunately, I won't be able to get to the shop tonight. School was cancelled at 2pm today due to a little snow. :(

 

Winter Weather.jpg

 

However I did begin to work on the model for the pommel. It will be a two-part model for sand casting in white bronze.

 

PommelModel1.jpg

 

And the steel just arrived for the other sword, so I will begin work on it, possibly as soon as tomorrow. Although I am considering using an alternative material for the blade if I can get it to work out. We'll see...

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It would be good to normalize before you grind so that you are grinding off the decarb. Also leave the edge very dull before heat treating to avoid decarb on the cutting edge.

 

I haven't had any issues with decarb in the coal forges we have here (I have in my gas forge though). After a year and a half working in them it's pretty easy to keep the blade in the reducing zone. The forges also have electric blowers which makes temp control easier. I forged the bevels at very low temps so the blade is pretty well normalized at this point, and just about ready for grinding.

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Unfortunately, I won't be able to get to the shop tonight. School was cancelled at 2pm today due to a little snow. :(

 

Have to say thats absolutely ridiculous :wacko: Here in Finland we call that summer :D I wouldn't even put a jacket on for that :P

 

Anyway, love your designs. especially lower one. Might be I missed it, but what kind of steel are you using?

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is the pommel going to be fluted all around or are you going to flatten it out once you have some mass worked off?

 

also they canceled school for what? two inches of snow :huh::lol:

 

I plan to have 8 flutes all the way around on both sides. When I get to balancing things later I may grind the flutes deeper or the outer surface to reduce the weight. I have a feeling the pommel will be a little heavy, but won't know for sure until it's cast.

 

Have to say thats absolutely ridiculous :wacko: Here in Finland we call that summer :D I wouldn't even put a jacket on for that :P

 

Anyway, love your designs. especially lower one. Might be I missed it, but what kind of steel are you using?

 

It's sad how little it takes to cancel schools around here. It was actually less than two inches :rolleyes: . In their defense however, in these mountains it can be warm and dry in one spot and have several inches of snow a few miles down the road. It's still crazy though.

 

The steel for this one is 1075.

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Looks good!

 

And Teemu, if you've ever seen a southern Appalachian person try to drive in a half-inch of snow you'd understand. :lol: The small-car people go as slowly as possible, then lock up the brakes at every turn. Meanwhile the guys with big four-wheel-drives go as fast as possible, not understanding that just because you can go doesn't mean you can stop... :rolleyes:

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And it is always a wet snow here in the south... dry snow is easy to drive in, wet snow not so much... especially after it has thawed and refroze a few times.

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Looks good!

 

And Teemu, if you've ever seen a southern Appalachian person try to drive in a half-inch of snow you'd understand. :lol: The small-car people go as slowly as possible, then lock up the brakes at every turn. Meanwhile the guys with big four-wheel-drives go as fast as possible, not understanding that just because you can go doesn't mean you can stop... :rolleyes:

 

Very true Alan... sad, but true. (I must admit I am one of those "small-car" people. My poor little Toyota Camry, loaded down with a few hundred pounds of steel, doesn't like steep hills or sharp curves. :) )

 

I managed to get a good bit of forging done last night. Here is a pic of my straightened sword to go with the info presented before:

 

Straightened sword.jpg

 

Here are some pics of the fist blade laying over the design.

 

SwordL & Design.jpg

 

SwordL Tang closeup.jpg

 

By the way I took these photos with my point-n-shoot so they're not the best, sorry. I will have to grind this a bit to match the profile of the design, not too much I hope. It's still about 1/2" too long.

 

And I started forging out the second sword.

 

SwordU material.jpg

 

Starting with 3.5 feet of 1.5" x 3/16, 1075 bar. I was afraid I had cut it too short (the sword is 42" overall), but it looks like I will be able to make it work. The fullering tool in the photo had too small of an opening for the stock so I had to start the drop in the tang by hand. Luckily the power hammer helped clean things up nicely.

 

SwordU Tang forged.jpg

 

SwordU No bevels.jpg

 

Here's the final product from last night. It's a little too small in width, but I still have to forge the bevels which should fix that problem. That piece of stock laying next to the blade was the "alternative material" mentioned earlier. It is a piece of high-carbon steel I made by remelting mild steel in a furnace. It wasn't as big as I had thought, and even with a wrought iron core, I don't think there would be enough material for this sword ( I would risk grinding the high carbon away that is).

 

Swords U & L forged.jpg

 

Here's the two blades side by side.

 

Next step is to start grinding on blade 1 and forge the bevels on blade 2. Meanwhile working on wooden models while the shop is closed.

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Thanks for the encouragement everyone!

 

Unfortunately more snow has arrived and I couldn't get to the blacksmith shop yesterday, and it may be closed tonight as well. :( We shall see... But at least there's a little more snow this time.

 

More Snow.jpg

 

Nevertheless, I now have time to write about some of the other progress I have made. So prepare for a long, picture-intensive post.

 

I have begun practicing wire inlay, which will be used to decorate the blade on one of the swords. This is my first attempt at this technique.

 

Inlay Tools.jpg

 

I started with a thick plate of mild steel and some O-1 drill rod which I forged flat and proceeded to grind a 1/16" flat graver from. I hardened the graver and tempered to a just barely straw color, twice. The bevel on the bottom of the graver helps it to sit flat against the surface to maintain a constant depth.

 

Inlay chisel cutting.jpg

 

Here I have cut the basic design and am evening out the depth to near .6mm deep.

 

Inlay Undercut.jpg

 

I used the same chisel to make the undercuts to hold the wire in place. I also cut straight down into the channel for added texture to grip the wire.

 

Inlay Hammering.jpg

 

I then hammered some fully annealed 12 gauge copper wire into the channels. I start hammering with the peen and then use the flat hammer face to spread the wire. I cut each piece with jewelers wire cutters.

 

Inlay rough.jpg

 

After hammering.

 

Inlay Filing.jpg

 

Filing down the surface.

 

Inlay Complete.jpg

 

And viola! A nice piece of wire inlay. Actually, it's a little rough around the edges. I think I will make another chisel to help me get cleaner undercuts without deforming the sides of the design so much. But it's not bad for my first attempt at inlay I think.

 

I also managed to mostly finish one half of the wooden model for the pommel, and do a test casting in pewter. Later on I may not have time to document the sand molding process so I will go ahead and discus that now.

 

Pommel Model rough.jpg

 

Here is the model. I still need to even out the flutes a little but I need to make a sanding stick of the proper radius first.

 

Pommel Molding 1.jpg

 

To begin sand molding I place the model right side up on a flat piece of aluminum and lay the bottom half of my flask (the drag) over it. You should dust the model with a fine parting dust like talcum or baby powder so it will not stick to the sand. (I forgot that part.) The flask is upside down at this point. Also I made all my flasks and molding sand myself. The sand is a mixture of fine white beach sand from the gulf coast of Florida, powdered bentonite clay, and water.

 

Pommel Molding 2.jpg

 

Now I pack this with sand.

 

Pommel Molding 3.jpg

 

Then flip the flask and attach the top portion (the cope) so that it lines up properly. By the way, notice the hole in the bottom of the model, that is very important as you will see in a moment.

 

Pommel Molding 5.jpg

 

Again, pack full with sand.

 

Pommel Molding 6.jpg

 

Now I remove the cope so I can take out the model. To remove the model I put a screw in the hole mentioned above and use that as a handle so I don't ruin the mold. However, I had some issues because I forgot to powder the model, so I had to fix things a bit.

 

Pommel Molding 7.jpg

 

And here's the mold. I try to shake out all the loose sand that gets into the low spots of the mold before casting.

 

Pommel Molding 8.jpg

 

Pommel Molding 9.jpg

 

I then cut a sprue, inlet, hole for pouring the metal and two small air vents. The sprue is cut with a drill bit and the vents with copper wire. And now it's time to pour!

 

Pommel Casting 1.jpg

 

I used pewter for this test casting. It melts at around 575 degrees F. and is great for practicing casting. It also saves your sand from drying out.

 

Pommel Casting 2.jpg

 

Sorry, no shots of the actual pour (working alone here) but here is the mold after the pour. I stop pouring when I see metal pop out of the air vents. Because pewter has such a low melting temp it is easy to over heat in which case the inside will cool much slower than the outside causing the button to cave in. (A good button should be flat. If it is convex then the metal was too cold, or so my jewelry instructor tells me.)

 

Pommel Casting 3.jpg

 

Next I remove the sand mold and break it apart to reveal the model. I made this flask so I could make multiple molds at once, hence the locks on the corners of the cope and drag.

 

And here's the final product:

 

Pommel Casting 4.jpg

 

Pommel Casting 5.jpg

 

Pommel Casting 6.jpg

 

I didn't quite get all the loose sand out of the mold, so some of the high spots between the flutes are very rough. I will be sure to fix that next time. Also there is a slight depression beneath the sprue where the metal sucked in due to overheating. Other than that I think this casting came out well. At this point there is a lot of clean up to do, but I will not be finishing this since it was just a test.

 

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