Jump to content

My First Sword (or Two) - WIP


Recommended Posts

Josh, Very cool stuff!!!

 

 

Well done.
Find some finer sand for your casting. HD sells the pool filter sand. Its pretty fine.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 56
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Josh, Very cool stuff!!!

 

 

Well done.

Find some finer sand for your casting. HD sells the pool filter sand. Its pretty fine.

 

Thanks Mark, I'll look into that. The sand I have is as fine or finer than most play sands sold at the hardware store, not sure about pool filter sand though. I've heard some grades of sandblaster sand are really fine but I'm not sure where to get them.

 

Nice!

 

Make yourself an onglette graver to do the undercuts sideways. The edges of the cut deform less.

 

I actually have a little onglette graver, and tried to use it but the side of the graver cut the top of the opposite side of the channel. I may just need more practice :rolleyes: . I'm thinking a sharp V graver will give me a little more room to work with, maybe.

 

Last night I spent far too long, 8 hours, forging bevels into the second sword and didn't even get a center line all the way down. I will straighten it a little more and likely do the rest on the grinder. I also misplaced my camera, so no pics today. Now I have a lot of long grinding work so it may be a little while before my next update.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We've had another big snow this week. This time with lots of ice on the roads. I live in a central area of town and can't even drive a mile from my apartment without slipping and sliding. I'm not sure when I will get back to the shop, maybe tomorrow if it warms up a little.

 

Before the snow, on Monday, I worked on flattening the edges of the first blade as they need to be as straight as possible. It's a time consuming process but I think it will be worth it in the long run. I need to have the blade ready for heat treat by the end of next week to stay on schedule, but I have a feeling that won't happen. We'll see.

 

Thanks Alan! I tried the onglette again with better success, however I still think a V graver will work better. The curved sides of the onglette tend to push up the top edge of the groove or cut into the opposite side if leaned at too shallow an angle when cutting parallel to the groove (this is what I meant before, hope it's a little more clear).

 

I found my camera, so more pics are on the way as soon as I get back. :)

Edited by Joshua Snead
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

It's finally time for another update! I have been frantically working to catch up after missing about a full week of classes due to weather. But this week the snow is back again in full force so I don't know how much will get done. I am officially behind schedule at this point, so I have decided to put the second sword on the back burner until the first is finished.

 

Lsnowday.jpg

 

About 2 inches already, and the big storm isn't supposed to come 'til Wednesday, Yikes!

 

Prior to flattening the edges of my blade I made a paper template based on my design and ground the edges on a belt sander to match the design.

 

Lflatedge1.jpg

 

In order to get the edges of this blade as straight as possible, I taped a broken 2x72" belt sander belt to a very flat surface.

 

Lflatedge3.jpg

 

I then coat the edge with permanent marker and slide it back and forth over the sanding belt to reveal the high spots.

 

Lflatedge2.jpg

 

The shiny spots are high so I clamp the blade in a vise and file them down, then repeat until the blade is flat.

 

Lflatedge4.jpg

 

It's a long process, but well worth it in the end. This was especially important for me to lay out the center line and edge bevels later.

 

At this point I realized I had made a big mistake during forging. Because I had to widen the base at the ricasso that section became quite thin, but I didn't forge the rest of the blade to be even with that thickness. The result was a reverse distal taper, which I spent far too long grinding to a proper distal taper. The blade is very thin at this point, about 3.4mm (under1/8") at the thickest, but it feels okay to me, in fact the thinness makes it very light which I like. Anyhow, lesson learned - forge in distal taper.

 

I will post more in a day or so.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This week has been quite a rolller coaster ride. Monday school closed early due to snow. Tuesday we miraculously had school all day, an unusual occurrence here when there is an inch of snow on the ground. I accomplished a good bit that day, but with a little disappointment. Wednesday it snowed all day and school has been cancelled through today. We got about 5" of accumulation and a lot of ice so the entire town shut down and I haven't had internet access until today either. And my little point and shoot camera died, so I will not be able to document things as well in the future I'm afraid :(. I also became a year older this week, the big double two, Yay.

 

Anyhow, time for a more interesting post.

 

Lbladematerials.jpg

 

Here is the blade after shaping to the outline of my design an flattening the edges. Also in this picture is the ivory dyed rayskin I plan to use for the handle wrap and a bag of white bronze casting grain for the guard and pommel. (Oh, and in the upper left corner is a geometrically designed, 8" chef's knife I am working on.)

 

After this I carefully laid out a center line and the stopping points for the edge bevels. Although I attempted to forge these in, my forging was not accurate and I ended up grinding them away to get a proper distal taper.

 

Llayout1.jpg

 

First I coat the blade in layout dye. To get an accurate center line that matched on both sides of the blade I did not use any measurements but simply took a pair of dividers and opened it just far enough that when slid down the side of the tapering edge it would make a line that would pass through the center. Then, without adjusting the dividers I scribed a similar line from the opposite edge. Where these two lines intersect is the center of my blade. I did this both at the ricasso and at the tip to get two center points from which I could construct the center line.

 

Llayout2.jpg

 

Then connect the dots with my big yellow straight edge.

 

Llayout3.jpg

 

After laying out center lines on both sides I used the dividers again to layout where the bevels meet the flat section of the blade. Then it was off to the grinder.

 

LABS grinders.jpg

 

The benefits of being an ABS school, 6 lovely Bader grinders :D .

 

Ledgegrind.jpg

 

To rough grind in the bevels, I clamped a steel plate to the rest while using a flat platen. I then lean the blade so that the upper edge is being ground while the lower edge rests against the block to keep a relatively consistent angle.

 

Lpostgrind.jpg

 

Here's the blade after rough grinding the edges. I did not bring them all the way to the lines I had scribed lest I accidentally go too far. So the rest of the grinding was done via draw filing.

 

Ldrawfiling1.jpg

 

This old horseshoe rasp made things go a little quicker.

 

Ldrawfiling2.jpg

 

I used my handy dandy inlaid block as a filing guide for the plunge lines.

 

Ldrawfile3.jpg

 

Ldrawfile4.jpg

 

Here we are after draw filing. At this point the blade is about ready for heat treat but first I wanted to put in the grooves for the wire inlay. After about an hour of carefully laying out the geometric pattern for the inlay I grabbed my chisel and tried to start the cuts, but to my surprise the steel was much harder than I expected. My chisel cut into it but I couldn't go deep enough, and at that shallow depth I didn't feet that I had enough control to produce the design well.

 

All that being said I decided after much thought and disappointment to not do the inlay in the blade. I'm sure another, more careful annealing cycle would help, but I am already behind schedule so I decided to go ahead and heat treat the blade.

 

The heat treat was successful, with no pings or visible cracks but a little straightening will be needed. More on that will come soon.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

The blade is very thin at this point, about 3.4mm (under1/8") at the thickest, but it feels okay to me, in fact the thinness makes it very light which I like. Anyhow, lesson learned - forge in distal taper.

 

The test will be in how stiff the blade is in the thrust and how "whippy" it feels in use. Glad to hear it made it through heat treat and good luck on straightening. Too bad about the inlay but, it may have been pushing things too much if the blade is that thin.

 

What day is your birthday? Mine was Thursday!

 

Lots and lots of alcohol would be needed to get me into water as cold as that looks. The evidence is there, right next to the chainsaw. Oh, yeah, chainsaw. Lets do the math here... Chainsaws + inebriation + skinny dipping + ice cold water = Those Finns are lunatics!

 

~Bruce~

Edited by B. Norris
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone!

 

 

 

Nice work! Really interesting seeing the sword coming to life.

 

And while we're on the snow subject.. ;)

 

Hmmm... and I thought school cancellations were crazy...

 

 

The test will be in how stiff the blade is in the thrust and how "whippy" it feels in use. Glad to hear it made it through heat treat and good luck on straightening. Too bad about the inlay but, it may have been pushing things too much if the blade is that thin.

 

What day is your birthday? Mine was Thursday!

 

Lots and lots of alcohol would be needed to get me into water as cold as that looks. The evidence is there, right next to the chainsaw. Oh, yeah, chainsaw. Lets do the math here... Chainsaws + inebriation + skinny dipping + ice cold water = Those Finns are lunatics!

 

~Bruce~

 

The blade is a little more "whippy" than I had hoped, but not terrible. I'll know a little better once the guard and pommel are cast and fit. Mine was Thursday too, happy B(ruce)-day! :)

 

I actually had a width-wise bend in the blade due to uneven heating, but careful hammering on the concave edge finally got it out. The guard and pommel models are done and ready for casting next week. I hope to post a more thorough update after that. But for now, back to sanding!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I have been very busy working to catch up from snow days, and am still a little behind schedule. However, I think now is a good time for an update so prepare for some exciting stuff.



Heattreat1.jpg



To heat treat this long of a sword blade (around 32 inches), we filled a long piece of pipe with motor oil.



Heattreat2.jpg



The school has several of these monster gas forges. We lined around the opening with firebrick to help get a more even heat. The blade was then slid back and forth through the forge until the entire blade reached hardening temperature (a cherry red or dull orange color), at which point the blade was dunked point first into the oil. Next the blade is tempered to relieve stress and make it more flexible.



Heattreat3.jpg



To temper the blade I used an atmospheric acetylene torch, primarily used for jewelry work, because it puts out a softer flame than oxyacetylene and would be less likely to overheat the blade. We don't have an oven long enough for swords. The blade is laid over an I-beam and is raised by bolts to keep the I-beam from sucking too much heat away.



Heattreat4.jpg



The blade was polished a little after the quench so that when heated I could watch the colors form on its surface. The colors correspond to the temperature of the metal (in this case 1075 high carbon steel). I wanted this blade to be more flexible than a typical knife so I brought it to a bright blue temper. This corresponds to somewhere around 540-590 degrees Fahrenheit.



Heattreat5.jpg



I then polished the blade again and tempered one more time to ensure the temper was uniform. You can really see the blue color in this photo.



After this I had to straighten the blade again as it warped due to a number of factors, including uneven heat. The blade actually warped width wise. In order to straighten that out I had to hammer the concave edge to pinch and expand it until it became the same length as the opposite side. A light coating of mineral oil on my hammer and anvil helped to prevent hammer marks from the straightening. Next step was to cast the fittings.


Link to post
Share on other sites

I need the guard and pommel to be a white color for sake of the design. Stainless steel would work, but it is also very hard on files and a pain to forge so I decided to use white bronze instead. This material can be easily cast in a sand mold, which requires a model for each piece.



Model1.2.jpg



Here is a picture of the completed models for the guard and pommel along with wooden cores. (I should note here that I do NOT recommend using wooden cores for sand casting, more on that later.) Each model is made in two parts so that one half can be packed in sand then the other half added to it and the second layer of sand is packed.




Model1.1.jpg







Here you can see the models put together as they would be on the hilt. By the way the pommel model is made from soft poplar and the guard was carved from hickory wood.





Models3.jpg



Models1.jpg



Models2.jpg



Here's some shots of the blade with the models in place. It's beginning to look like a sword now!



Casting1.jpg



This is the blacksmith shop at Haywood where much of the fun happens. Now on to the good stuff, casting! I want to give a big thanks to my friend and classmate Jamie who took the next few photos for me. Thanks Jamie!



Casting3.jpg



Casting4.jpg



Step 1 is to pack and prep the mold for casting. I covered the process in an earlier post so I won't go into detail here. You can see the importance of a two piece model in the second photo.



Casting5.jpg



Next I get the metal ready. In order to know how much casting grain to use I calculated the density of the two pieces of wood from which the models were made. (This is done by cutting a cube from some leftover pieces of that wood, measuring the sides and multiplying to get the volume, then dividing that by the mass after weighing.) Then I weighed the models and divided them by that density to get the volume of each model. Then I multiply this by the density of the metal (provided by the manufacturer) to get the weight of metal. Naturally, I added about 40% extra to account for the sprue and vents and had quite a bit left over after the pour.



Casting2.jpg



Next I melt the metal in a coal forge, using borax as a flux to keep it free from impurities. Periodically I would stir the metal with a carbon rod to remove excess flux and ensure proper melting.



Casting8.jpg



Remove the molten metal from the fire and then...



Casting6.jpg



It's time to pour!



Casting7.jpg



Here I am pouring the excess metal into a recess that I carved in the top of the sand for that purpose. You will note that the mold is tilted at an angle. Because the guard was such a long piece I was afraid to do a straight horizontal pour lest the metal not fill the entire cavity, so instead I put the sprue at one end of the guard and tilted the mold so gravity would help it fill evenly.



Casting9.jpg



Here we are after all is cooled. Time to remove the model. I don't have any pics of the guard immediately after casting. But here is the result after a little clean up.



Guard1.jpg



Guard2.jpg




There was actually a major flaw on the bottom half of the guard, where the core was burning and gasses from the wood caused a large air bubble. This is why you should never use wood as a core for sand molding. Thankfully this material can be welded with an oxyacetylene torch and my instructor showed me how to fill in the hole. There are a few small pits that will also need filling, but otherwise it came out good.






Pommel1.jpg



Pommel2.jpg



Pommel3.jpg





The pommel came out much better, at least the second time I cast it it did. I tried coating the wood core with clay the first time and the result was rather scary but no one got hurt. Again, DON'T use wood cores. The second time I made a core from a piece of hard carbon (basically hard pencil lead, only bigger), and it worked out much nicer. The only visible flaw is a crack at the bottom of the sprue which will hopefully not be a problem.



That's all for now!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...
Things are winding down here in the jewelry studio with the grad show deadline quickly approaching. This will likely be the last update before the sword is complete, so enjoy!
Final+GuardFS.jpg
Here is the guard after much cleanup and filling of major holes. I think it turned out rather nice.
Final+PommelFS.jpg
The pommel came out rather nice as well, but is a little dirty in the photo. A 10mm faceted quarts crystal is set into both sides of the pommel. This was a tricky setting to do because the stone is so large. Below is a diagram and explanation of the process.
Stonesetting+diagram.jpg
I began by drilling a 10mm hole in the metal just deep enough that the table of the stone was about flush with the surface, then cut a bevel down to just above the girdle of the stone. I then used a reciprocating hammer to create a bur of metal over the girdle to hold the stone in place. It was necessary to coat the stone with mineral oil as a hydraulic cushion to prevent it from chipping when accidentally hit with the hammer.

HandleOpenFS.jpg

HandleshutFS.jpg
The handle core is complete, made of two pieces of hickory wood which are pinned together. This will be wrapped with ivory color shagreen (aka same, or stingray skin) when all is said and done.
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for the kind words everyone! Now it's time for the final update!

 

Sword+of+Lucis+FS4.jpg

 

Sword+of+Lucis+FS3.jpg
This is the Sword of Lucis, my vision of the weapon wielded by the white knight in "The Ballad of Lucis and Umbra," which can be viewed on my blog if anyone is interested.
In case you missed it in an earlier post: The blade was forged from 1075 steel. The guard and pommel are white bronze cast in a sand mold, with faceted white quartz crystals set into the pommel. The handle has a hickory wood core with hand stitched stingray skin wrap for the grip.
The sword measures just over 43" in overall length, with the blade being about 32", and weighs just over 3lbs with the balance point at the tip of the ricasso, less than 2" from the guard. I can't say the balance is perfect, but it feels very light and agile in the hand. The guard is about 9" across.
This piece, along with my first seax will be on display at the Folk Art Center, located at milepost 382 of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville NC, from May 17 through September 14 this year.
Sword+of+Lucis+FS1.jpg
Handle closeup
Sword+of+Lucis+FS2.jpg
Closeup of unstitched side
cover+geometry.jpg
This is a digital copy of the geometric framework used to design this sword. (Special thanks to swordsmith Peter Johnsson for sharing a bit of his theory on medieval sword design.)
Link to post
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...