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Justin Mercier

WIP, my first sword. Hopefully to be a pattern welded viking sword

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I've been putzing around at bladesmithing now as a hobby for 8 years and I figured it was time to get off my butt and make my first sword. As many people know, I have a fairly large collection of original viking era artifacts, and I love that period and the styles. I figured that for making my first sword it's not that much more work to make it pattern welded than it is to make it monosteel. One sword that I've always loved was the Type K sword in the Universitetets Oldsaksamling, Oslo (C11014) as depicted in Ian Pierce's book. I really like the shape of that blade, long parallel sides with the well defined fuller in the center, and the classic well defined 5 lobbed pommel. My goal for this blade is to be similar dimensions, with a blade around 30 inches long and about 2.125 to 2.25 inches wide, but I want my first viking sword to be pattern welded. Since the original is type K from the 9th century a pattern welded blade is appropriate still.

 

I started this a little over a month ago, but my shop time has sucked, as I've been getting my little British sports cars ready for show season which starts tomorrow. I welded up the initial cores on my forging press and then moved to my hammer to start drawing it out. Stupidly I forgot to write down how many layers my core billet it, but I think it was 9. It's 1084 and 15N20, although the 15N20 is thinner than I wanted, and I think I'd have preferred if the two metals were closer in thickness when I started. The two core bars are interrupt twisted in opposing directions. The two outer layers are just straight 1084. After coming off the forging press and going to the hammer, I immediately found that my weld in the center hadn't held at the end, and while I was re-heating it to re-weld, I thought that I'd clamp my phone in my vice and do a little video. So here's a youtube video I took about a month ago, re-welding the tip of the billet.

 

 

This is my first project really using the power hammer, and I'm still getting used to the control and speed. Watching my own video, I'm painfully awkward with the treadle, as I hadn't got it adjusted where I like it yet =) I've got a lot better with the hammer now! =P

 

This afternoon I picked up where I left off and continued drawing out the billet. I first took it to 18 inches long by 1.25 wide and about 5/8 thick. At this point my propane tank froze up, so I took a break and let it cool down.

 

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With the billet cooled down, and while I still had a lot of thickness, I took a saw and cut a V in the tip so that I could close up the tip and make the edge billet meet up and wrap around. After sawing it open I took a file and tried to smooth everything out as best I could so that when I closed up the mouth it would be as tight a fit as possible.

 

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Even prior to welding it shut, it was hard to see the line of the two halves after I closed up the tip

 

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The tip welded up nicely and I went back to the power hammer and kept drawing out the billet. My tank froze up again, and is almost out of gas, so I need to get both my tanks refilled before I continue.

 

The billet is now 26 inches long by 2 inches wide and 3/8 thick. Right now I'm hoping that I have enough material to get it as long as I want, at this point I need to just stretch it out length wise, because forging in the fuller in the center, and then the bevels should give me the width that I'm looking for.

 

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Here's a closeup of the tip which seems nice and solid after welding it up, and didn't once try to split apart on me.

 

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Very nice, I'll keep an eye on this WIP. I'm working on a very similar sword, at the moment, and have encountered a few of the same issues. I've seen solved is freeze up. I have a propane fill hookup to a 500 gallon tank, so keeping propane topped off is no issue, however, in other situations, I've seen people use waterbaths. Get a trashcan/50 gallon drum with your tank, and fill with water. In the winter months, unless you have a heated shop, a low temp antifreeze should keep your barrel from freezing. Good luck on the finish work!

Edited by Isaac Myers

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way to go Justin. Time to take the big leap. I am sending positive energy and good blade karma.

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I'm with Kevin, sending good vibes! Excited to see how you tackle this!

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Keep it coming!! Awesome.

 

Love that forge!!

 

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So I remembered how many layers it was, it 7 layers of 15n20 and 8 layers of 1084 for the twist cores. I was using the thin 15n20 that I had from Aldo, and since the 1084 and 15n20 weren't the same thickness I went with a higher layer count because the difference in thickness is less obvious with higher layers.

 

I found the piece I cut from the tip and etched it so i could get an accurate count =)

 

15layer.jpg

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I've been working on some drawing dies for my forging press, and working on my cars for the last week and not making much progress on the sword... however what I have done in this time is to get some measurements from an original sword to better understand the taper and thicknesses involved, particularly with the fuller.

 

This blade is a Petersen Type X from a bit later period than the one I'm making, being from the period of the first crusade or so, so some 30 to 40 years after the viking era, but the blade is similar enough that it may have been made in the viking period, as it was re-hilted at some later point, and re-hilted again when it was excavated in the late 1800s, at which time the current cross guard and wooden handle were added. It appears that the tang, at some time, was broken and repaired, as there is a forge weld all the way around at the base of the blade, and remnants of file marks to match the fuller in the blade

 

Even after almost 1000 years this sword remains quite springy, light and flexible, and feels alive in your hand. Both the blade and the fuller taper the whole length of the blade. Right at the tip the thinnest point in the center was about 40 thousandths thick, 2/3rds down from the tip it was just over 80 thousandths thick in the center of the fuller, and right down by the lower cross guard it was about 140 thousandths. There is very little taper in the blade itself, with the edges almost parallel the whole length, 2 inches wide at the crossguard tapered only slightly to 1.75 wide before coming to and abrupt round tip. The thickest parts of the blade at the ridge of the well defined fuller were tapered from a hair under 80 thousandths at the tip to a hair over 230 thousandths at the crossguard (more or less 6mm tapered down to 2mm with the fuller 3.5mm tapered down to 1mm)

 

If I get a chance I'll go back with some grid paper and get more precise measurements up and down the whole blade.

 

 

Here's my as of yet not drawn to full length sword blank next to the original blade

original.jpg

 

origsword.jpg

 

pommel.jpg

 

tang.jpg

 

140thou.jpg

 

80thou.jpg

Edited by Justin Mercier
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that's cool. what in the world was the person thinking when they filed the base of the fuller?

good sword, at least it is close by, too!

keep at it!

kc

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You have an original to take measurements off of... I am entirely jealous. I'm looking forward to a peak at the pattern.

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So... life happens, and I've been wicked busy all summer, and my shop time has gone mostly to machine tools and car stuff. On one hand, I now have a milling machine, surface grinder, fly press, shaper, and other tools, on the other hand... I wasnt working on blades!

 

This last week I've got myself back out in the shop to work on the sword. I still had quite a bit of thickness to my billet where I last left off. It was about 26 inches long by 5/16 or so. After having made myself some drawing dies with stops so that I can draw to a particular thickness on my forging press, I went to drawing the billet out more to generate my pre-form.

 

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I then worked on Meöwlnir, my power hammer, to finish drawing out and to run a flatter along the blade to get rid of any waves.

 

meowmeow.jpg

 

This left me with a 29 inch blade which was about 1/4 inch thick at the base and 3/16 at the tip. Still a whole lot of meat.

 

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One thing which I have not liked the whole time that I've been forging this blade out is the center seam, between the two opposing twist bars. The weld certainly seems solid, as I've been able to take it from an inch thick foot long block all the way out to a blade blank, but I did not grind the faces flat before stacking and welding, and I've got a seam that just doesn't want to get totally flat. As a result, instead of forging the fuller in as I had planned to do, I'm going to instead grind the fuller in and hopefully get rid of any of this seam running up and down the blade. Next multi-bar construction that I do I'm going to take the edges off the mating surfaces for the weld.

 

 

With the billet at close to the dimensions that I want, but a little less wide than I wanted at a little under 2 inches at the base and not quite as long, I felt that I was ready to work on forging the bevels in and getting the whole blade to the final dimensions. My hope is that I'll get another inch or so in length and half an inch or so in width at the base. First up I wanted to get the tang mostly finished.

 

For the bevel work and tang work, I moved all my forging to my NC ToolCo whisper baby. I love the whisper baby because it heats only just as much length of a blade as I can work in one heat by hand. Since I'm not using my press or power hammer for the bevels, there was no need to waste gas by heating up the welding forge.

 

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I'm not sure if it was the right way to work on the blade, but since I was working on the tang anyways, I started the bevels at the thicker tang end and started working forward. This seemed natural to me for working on a long blade. I'm more or less done forging the bevels in I believe, but I have run into one problem with working on a blade this long. I keep getting a bit of a corkscrew effect in the blade as I'm working the bevels. I think this is because i hammer stronger on the 'close' side to me than on the 'far' side when working the bevels. I've been trying to work as evenly as possible on each side, and flip the blade over with every heat to try to minimize any issues, but I am still finding that over the length of the whole blade it's got a twist.

 

IMG_2577.JPG

 

Ran myself out of propane tonight so had to pause, tomorrow I want to refine the bevels a bit more, and eliminate the twist. Any tips on the best way to get the twist out other than ... hit it till it's not twisted... would be appreciated =) The forging looks 'odd' to me right now because there is no fuller in the center. The final fuller is going to be wide and shallow as typical of most K type and earlier viking swords. Working the bevels into the blade and the other forging I've done have gained me close to another inch in length, so the blade itself is right about 30 inches long now. The blade is 2 1/4 inches wide at the base now, and gradually tapers to a little under 1 3/4 before the sharp taper at the tip.

 

length.jpg

Edited by Justin Mercier
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You can see the pattern in the firescale when forging it. This photo also shows the seam in the center that I want to get rid of by grinding out the fuller instead of forging it in, and just driving that cold shunt deeper into the center of the blade.

 

pattern.jpg

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That's looking great man! I think you'd be well off forging the fuller in very shallowly, say a half of the finished depth. That way you get a more classic herringbone pattern and you can remove the seam in the final grind like you planned to anyway. Unless you have a jig set up for it I've found that grinding a fuller that is already there a lot easier than making one from scratch! I do get the worry that maybe the cold shut will not go away, but you could try grinding it out pre forging? Anyway, looking good :)

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I didnt think about that, how it'll make it much easier to grind the fuller if i forge in even a slight fuller down the center. Thanks for the tip!

 

I must be the slowest working bladesmith on the forums, this one sword will have been all spring and summer and into fall =)

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I must be the slowest working bladesmith on the forums, this one sword will have been all spring and summer and into fall =)

 

I would not worry about time. Personally, I try to enjoy the process even if it takes me ages - in part that is because I don't really have a choice about it. For grinding a fuller by hand, I prefer to use layout fluid and scribe my fuller lines. My fullering dies and grinding wheels don't match up either :-)

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What Neils said.

I have been doing a bunch of shallow wide fuller work lately. Get some layout fluid. (Dykem) Not expensive, and It helps a bunch when your freehanding it!!!!!
Looking good, best of luck.

Mark

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Man this looks great and you seem to be one your way! I know you wanna forge the fuller, but honestly if it's 2 1/4 at the base you really don't need the extra width... and I've had bad experiences with forging fullers into multi bar swords :wacko: if the center welds even a little iffy the stresses the fuller adds can be the little bit needed to pull welds apart. and the thinnest part when forging lands right on the middle weld. Keep it hot and go slow if your gonna go this route! Don't wanna see a nice blade die!

 

You could take a angle grinder and hit the middle lightly just to see how deep it goes, most times it ends up being very shallow...

 

Good luck, Can't wait to see this come to life!

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depends, I am fast in the summer, and slow as hell the rest of the year (stupid job.).

 

keep at it. I have made 5 blades before I made on, "right." Just do what you have to do to make it be what you think it is supposed to be. And enjoy it. and share it with us.

kc

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I started the weekend by going out and buying a few quick clamps, a 2x2 board, and some new files. I clamped the 2x2 to my huge 24x18 granite surface platen (wicked awesome for making things flat, but in this case more importantly, wicked heavy to be able to take the leverage of pressure down on the end of a blade 3 feet out from the front of it)

 

I went back to the forge and got as much of the twist out as I could, there's still a tiny bit which I just couldn't get 100% straight. I cleaned up the bevels a bit, and forged in fullers, albeit quite shallowly as recommended by Emiliano, so i can still grind out the center of the center weld-line.

 

Because I REALLY dont want to screw this up... I've been avoiding my belt grinder. I used a worn file to knock off some scale, and to expose the high-spots and low spots from bad hammering with drawfiling. One thing that I know I do poorly with my belt grinder is flattening out high and low spots, because I have a tendency to follow the low spots into the wheel when grinding rather than moving 'over' them to the next high spot. Drawfiling is a great way to see just how many not quite right hammer blows hit your piece, it rapidly makes every stray hammer blow look like a massive crater in the blade.

 

drawfile.jpg

 

With the highs and lows exposed, I finished profiling the blade on the grinder, and using my surface platen to check for straightness of the edge. I'd lay the edge down on platen and see where the light shines through and where its' blocked, and them mark the edges where its' blocked with a sharpie, and take a little more off there, and re-check till I could see almost no light under the edges of the sword.

 

With the blade profiled, I took out my new mill file and proceeded to 'go to town' for the next 4 hours. It was at this point that I learned something the hard way... There are muscles that you dont use as much as you'd think which get used while draw filing... that dont like 4 hours of listening to music and filing away. After my hand painfully cramped for the 2nd time, I had to stop... and last night my hands ached so much that I had trouble falling asleep. I know that I need to become much better at grinding long blades on my grinder, but... I think I'm going to stick to files, a sen, some scribes and Dykem to set the bevels and fullers in this blade... I think that gives me the highest chance of success at this point without accidentally screwing something up beyond repair =)

 

drawfile2.jpg

 

Today I gave my hands a rest and did a bunch of reading and listening to music, but I want to get more work done on my sword! My viking artifacts need a kindred spirit pattern welded sword to keep them company!

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Cool project !

 

That's an awful lot of material to be removing by hand, listen to your body though, I made a similar blade a few years ago and ended up with some RSI that took a couple of years to stop twinging, and an interesting thing with the 'heal' of my right thumb sort of 'folding' under the palm of my hand from drawfiling and fuller sanding ! Don't think my hand is quite right even now.

 

There is a lot to be said for a fresh 60 grit and a dose of confidence !

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you are making great progress. Just do what Owen said. work at a higher angle to get the edges set, and then work that bevel back toward the center. This assumes that you have first flattened the center of the blade and gotten all pits and junk out of there. I use a magnet and grind vertically on the platen for that part, and tie together the various regions of distal taper, since it will be non-linear.

 

large portion of post deleted here due to early morning brain dysfunction...

 

 

I am sure you already knew all of this. I am just trying to be supportive. This is a cool undertaking, and it is fun to watch.

Edited by Kevin (The Professor)

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No center ridge in this =) In true 8th and 9th century viking style it will have a broad & shallow fuller 1.5 inches or so wide. Going to make an adjustable bit holder sen to scrape in the fullers

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aha, why did I think center ridge (early and dumb - that's why). Also, because I am making one with ridge.

 

Have fun scraping the fullers.

Edited by Kevin (The Professor)

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After another hour and a half of draw filing, mostly finishing taking out the high and low spots on one side, and my hand starting to cramp again... I'm drawing up plans for a jig to help with my grinding so that I can use my belt grinder. If I'm not steady and accurate enough now, well, I can use mechanical aids to help my accuracy and keep me from screwing up badly.

 

I know a lot of people look down upon people who use jigs... but the hell with it. I know where my freehand grinding skill is, and it's not where it needs to be for a long 4 bevel blade with fullers.

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look upon it as a transitional teaching tool. Remember the videos of people like the old guy who ground for Solingen or the guys who made axes in Maine? They all used jigs and fixtures to help them grind. It's traditional.

kc

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