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A different way to forge sword "fullers"


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Just thinking like a blacksmith, in reference to this:

 

 

 

Very much so, but we have already shown that several migration and viking era patterns dont look 'right' UNLESS they're made 'at' final dimension. Look at the thread on viking age wolfstooth pattern spears in this history forum for an example of a pattern that will NOT work UNLESS it's forged at size. One of the major problems people have thinking about archaeological ironwork is that in the modern day we are SO used to taking stock of a certain size and drawing it out / stretching it / etc, that we forget that this is NOT how ironwork was done for most of the history of the iron age. Instead if you wanted a large object, you had to build it up from many smaller pieces. You would not draw a bar down to size, instead you would build a bar UP to size.

 

And I read this in Lee's document:

 

1) I think this is actually a rather quick, easy, and accurate way to create this form. It's all done by one man, with small hammers, with small bars, and short welding heats in a solid fuel fire. The second example above took me 85 minutes, and it's only my second attempt.

 

I'm waaayyy not qualified to be commenting on the subject at hand, but I was thinking through the whole concept of "building a bar up to size" in light of some recent challenges I have been facing in switching from coal to gas... I miss my isolated heat. The Viking wouldn't have had gas forges either. It's possible that isolated welding heats might be key in minimizing distortion.

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Very much so, but we have already shown that several migration and viking era patterns dont look 'right' UNLESS they're made 'at' final dimension. Look at the thread on viking age wolfstooth pattern

Hey folks- It's bothered me for awhile that Viking smiths didn't have Bader grinders or spring fullers. I came up with this idea of how they might have forged their blades. It seems radical, I guess,

BAR had told me that Dr Gilmore had updated some of the book and an updated reprint was to happen.......this was in 2013 or so.

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I will be trying this...

in the fall...

way to hot in the forge and my daughters are out of school soon.

 

My only problem is, where does one find high P-wrought?

 

-Gabriel

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Going back to Tylecote and Gilmore, most of the swords are not fullered. On page 189, Fig. 80, there is a multibar sword section that does seem to show a little distortion from forging the edges of the core bars. Likewise on p. 211, Fig. 88a. A nice shot is p. 228, Fig. 96, but that one is also not fullered. It does show a bit of distortion from forging the core bars square, but that is to be expected. Then again, the one on page 239, fig. 101, shows definitively the fuller was forged in with some sort of fullering tool.

Interesting to note that p239, fig 101, that does certainly look as if it's been fullered, is one of the few pieces that does not have separate core and edge bars.

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I will be trying this...

in the fall...

way to hot in the forge and my daughters are out of school soon.

 

My only problem is, where does one find high P-wrought?

 

-Gabriel

Well, I hate to go all commercial, but I do sell high P bloom iron....

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I was going to mention that, Lee! I have about six feet of 1/2" square bar and that's it.

 

Oh, and yes, that sword is san mai from ca. 600 AD! Take that, Cold Steel!

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Well, I hate to go all commercial, but I do sell high P bloom iron....

 

Well, Hot damn Lee!

 

I got to get some from you!

 

Been bitten by the seax bug... and I want that fiery beard!

 

With the wolf-tooth seax I made I used smaller bits to build it up. I REALLY love that method.... So I do plan on making more that way.

 

And Alan? what book is it that you and Niel are referencing? I do need to build my archeological sword/blade library!

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Tylecote and Gilmour 1986, the metallography of early iron tools and edged weapons. British Museum Research series and so on. Long out of print, but I have my ways. PM sent.

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Was going to ask about the source material too, I did some digging and couldn't manage to find a not $300 version of it anywhere...

 

Going back to the distortion problem of getting the bevels on the edge, would it not be too much of a problem to first form a sort of extruded trapezoid instead of a rectangle? That way the two weld surfaces are the thickest part and the edge, when welded on, is already close to the right shape. It wouldn't need to be 'sharp' but a blunt trapezoid would get you much closer to the final shape and still allow for some final bevelling without the area along the weld moving as much. Also, a really easy way to get the edge bar to hold to the core would be do a wrapped edge with a short heat. The cold bits would retain rigidity, so if you have a springy fit either at the tip or the tang, depending on which end you work from (probably welding tip first) the other keeps the lot together. Just a thought, wish I had the shop space to try this!

 

John

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I was talking with one of the women who runs the British Archaeological Reports press at Hadrian Books last year looking for a copy of another BAR paper on Scandinavian amulets and jewelry and she mentioned that they can, and sometimes do, reprint some of the older ones if there's enough demand. Wonder if we got enough people who would like a copy if they'd do a run.

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Somebody told me last year that Gilmour is working on an updated version due out soon. I got my copy via interlibrary loan and a copy machine. Interlibrary loan is a wonderful thing!

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I was talking with one of the women who runs the British Archaeological Reports press at Hadrian Books last year looking for a copy of another BAR paper on Scandinavian amulets and jewelry and she mentioned that they can, and sometimes do, reprint some of the older ones if there's enough demand. Wonder if we got enough people who would like a copy if they'd do a run.

BAR had told me that Dr Gilmore had updated some of the book and an updated reprint was to happen.......this was in 2013 or so.

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Lee,

Interesting idea. One would still need to clean up the fullered section hot to realign the entire geometry of the blade I think.

 

As to not finding old fullering dies one needs only look to other centers of production for missing tools as well............these things are old and most likely iron so preservation is not common to begin with. Press block dies are rare in Europe (still used in India), Mastermyr find is rare and arguably a generalist (maybe a specialist in jewelry to some extent) and the small stake tools can be thought to impart a fuller.

 

As techniques go I think what Lee has there is similar to some forming used in "T" spine blades of Turkey/Persia with localized upsetting. From here, once alignment is done, then a day of scraping would yield the shape more or less. Keep in mind that most fullers were not round like out contact wheels, but more flat bottomed with more sloped sides....something which may indeed form naturally with the upsetting technique.............I hereby dub it the "Sauder Upset".

 

Ric

Edited by Richard Furrer
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Lee,

Interesting idea. One would still need to clean up the fullered section hot to realign the entire geometry of the blade I think.

 

As to not finding old fullering dies one needs only look to other centers of production for missing tools as well............these things are old and most likely iron so preservation is not common to begin with. Press block dies are rare in Europe (still used in India), Mastermyr find is rare and arguably a generalist (maybe a specialist in jewelry to some extent) and the small stake tools can be thought to impart a fuller.

 

As techniques go I think what Lee has there is similar to some forming used in "T" spine blades of Turkey/Persia with localized upsetting. From here, once alignment is done, then a day of scraping would yield the shape more or less. Keep in mind that most fullers were not round like out contact wheels, but more flat bottomed with more sloped sides....something which may indeed form naturally with the upsetting technique.............I hereby dub it the "Sauder Upset".

 

Ric

 

Thank you very much Ric.

 

I want to emphasize to everyone that this thing is just the germ of an idea, not anything like a developed technique, and there are so many directions to go with it.... and that's why I have shared it at such an early stage, because I hope people like you, with more knowledge and experience, can make better use of it.!

 

 

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Was going to ask about the source material too, I did some digging and couldn't manage to find a not $300 version of it anywhere...

 

Going back to the distortion problem of getting the bevels on the edge, would it not be too much of a problem to first form a sort of extruded trapezoid instead of a rectangle? That way the two weld surfaces are the thickest part and the edge, when welded on, is already close to the right shape. It wouldn't need to be 'sharp' but a blunt trapezoid would get you much closer to the final shape and still allow for some final bevelling without the area along the weld moving as much. Also, a really easy way to get the edge bar to hold to the core would be do a wrapped edge with a short heat. The cold bits would retain rigidity, so if you have a springy fit either at the tip or the tang, depending on which end you work from (probably welding tip first) the other keeps the lot together. Just a thought, wish I had the shop space to try this!

 

John

This was what I was getting at. If you started to bevel the edges of the core bars somewhat, and then laid the beveled sides against one another, and welded them, you would be halfway there.

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I have been waiting a bit (very busy here) to stick my nose in.

A couple of general comments, not so much on the actual techique that Lee has suggested, but on artifact tool sets.

 

The Mastermyr find is highly unusual.

- It represents what certainly appears to be a *more or less* complete set of both woodworking, and to this discussion, metalworking tools.

- The range of metalworking tools is quite wide - ranging from light fine (jewelery?) tools to heavier forging / sledge hammers (hammers run from 400 - 3370 gms)

- It includes a good number of 'bits and pieces', so scrap / partially completed / possible 'under repair', both iron and copper alloy materials.

- Tenative date for the deposit is roughly 1150 AD

 

Other tool finds tend to be isolated pieces - or collections from burials

The problem with a burial collection is that there is no way to tell how complete it is - in terms of representing an actual working set of tools. Did they bury grandpa with * all * his tools - or just a 'representative set'. Where the tools included just 'grandpa's favorites' - or 'give him something, but we're gonna keep the good stuff for ourselves'.

I certainly can't remember any of the grave finds containing more than a minimal selection of tools. No collection that specifically resembles a weapon maker's tool selection.

And honestly, given the rarity of blacksmith's grave goods, this is hardly surprising! Given the raw expense / value of iron as a material, we should feel lucky we find as much as we do.

 

As has been pointed out by Ric, Mastermyr certainly appears to represent a 'generalist' selection.

The original reason just *why* that tool box ended up sunk into a shallow pond is quite unknown. That reason may suggest much about just what got included in the box.

 

To double check, I did go back to my copy of 'The Mastermyr Find' by Arwidsson and Berg.

 

There is nothing in the find that to my eye looks like the required top and bottom fuller set.

The design of almost all the hammers is identical, with fairly sharp cross peens (offset to the handle side surface).

Number 66 does have a reasonably rounded face, at about 3 cm diameter, curved about 5 mm off flat. Weight is 600 gms, I'd think a bit light for forging. It also is extremely elongated, at over 20 cm long. This really looks pretty much like a modern raising hammer, and given the cook pots included in the find, this does seem to be its original intended use.

Number 68 has a wider, but shallower curve to its striking face. It is however, constructed with all the mass to the opposite side of the handle eye. This again most certainly is a dishing hammer. (I use a replica of this tool for that purpose in my own shop).

There are a couple of rectangular blocks in the collection. these are generally about 4 x 2 cm cross section, range from about 5 to 18 cm long. All have generally flat end surfaces (May be slightly domed or dished in, but that really appears more from use than purposeful design.)

 

Of course, one of the standards for experimental archaeology is 'Abstinence of Proof - is NOT Proof of Abstinence'

 

I will suggest however that the notion of spring style fullers I would consider unlikely.

Do remember the general small size of 'Dark Ages' anvils in the first place. They are taking a big bloom and shaping it down into a rough cube - and that makes the biggest anvil they could make. Norse blacksmithing anvils do tend to be in the size range of 10 x cm blocks, something like 5 - 10 kg total.

As someone has pointed out, assistants were most likely on hand. A blacksmith was very unlikely to work in isolation, like so many of us are more or less forced to in the modern world.

 

Another related factor;

Consider the small scale of the historic *forges* as well.

I've done a bit of work with a re-created Norse style forge. Charcoal piled against a bellows stone using a twin chamber bellows closely based on the two existing illustrations from the time period.

Although welding temperatures can certainly be achieved, the effective heat zone is much smaller than what we all are used to. My own experience is no more than about 10 cm at effective working temperatures, more like 7.5 cm worth to welding heat.

I certainly have not attempted pattern welding with this equipment. (Was on my research list this year, but at best its looking like late fall before I can even consider getting to this!)

 

 

As I mentioned to Lee when he first floated this working concept to a few of us - I really do think he may be on to something.

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Very, VERY, interesting concept!

On past weekend I attended first reenancting event in this season. I was talking to an elder balcksmith, who manufactures mostly PW blades and other historical staff. He mentioned about some unexplained examples of ancient metal items. Something that modern metalurgical studies are not able to precisely describe. And he said that we nowadays are so used to complicate things that we may not even imagine that many of those unexplained things were made in very simple ways.

And this idea of forging a fullered sword blade fits his words!

 

I agree with many of you.

Balcksmiths had some hands to help. In saga of "exiled Gisli" (I think), there is described that three men entered the smithy and reforged a broken sword into a spear head. And just one of them was a balcksmith (and a wizard as well), the other two gus were ordinary men. From the other hand in past times people used to be much more comprehensively skilled than nowadays. (working on farm, fighitng, fishing, trading, sailing etc).

 

I still work on solid fuel (coke) and I'm able to heat to welde temperature 6-8cm (approx. 2-3") at the time.

 

I'm not an experienced balcksmith, but this idea speaks to me. I will definitely try this.

 

Thanks a lot!

Edited by Kris Lipinski
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The design of almost all the hammers is identical, with fairly sharp cross peens (offset to the handle side surface).

Number 66 does have a reasonably rounded face, at about 3 cm diameter, curved about 5 mm off flat. Weight is 600 gms, I'd think a bit light for forging. It also is extremely elongated, at over 20 cm long. This really looks pretty much like a modern raising hammer, and given the cook pots included in the find, this does seem to be its original intended use.

Number 68 has a wider, but shallower curve to its striking face. It is however, constructed with all the mass to the opposite side of the handle eye. This again most certainly is a dishing hammer. (I use a replica of this tool for that purpose in my own shop).

 

 

So this past Friday I worked on this again (i'll show pictures later, but I probably can't get back to it until this coming Friday)--- and interestingly enough, the one other tool I found helpful for refining the fuller was a ball pein 3 cm in diameter, that weighs 740 grams.

 

A ball or bick underneath didn't help, it seemed. Since most of where I need to work was right at the edge where the core meets the edge bar, it was most stable lying flat on the anvil.

 

Later- Lee

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"Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained" as William Blake wrote.

And I felt a desire to try this way of forging fullered sword blade.

 

I took some wrough iron bar and forged it into a tapered flat bar approx 3,7-3,9mm thick and 45-47mm wide at the widest spot. That was a core. I prepared square bar of reinforcing steel approx. 8.5mm x 8,5mm for the edges. Then I upset the core edges and welded the scqure bar (I helped myself with ARC + wire ties). Welded into one piece and forged roughly into a shape of sword blade.

Finally the blade is 50-51mm wide at the widest place.

 

I've got plenty quick conclusions how to improove the technicque, but even with my first attempt I'm sure it's gonna work!

 

Thanks Lee for sharing!

 

[edit: I don't know why but the picks are in the opposite direction]

Forging fullered sword 1.jpg

Forging fullered sword 2.jpg

Forging fullered sword 3.jpg

Forging fullered sword 4.jpg

Forging fullered sword 5.jpg

Edited by Kris Lipinski
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correct me if i am wrong, but it is my understanding that forging, making of sword blades was a highly specialized trade, with only a few centers of production. I would expect in a shop designed only for the production one thing that there will be tools not seen in other shops.

I would think top an bottom fullers would be used , if even just for clean up. I would think something like what lee has come up with would be a great starting place , to be then thined to final size using fullers or even just working over a stake with a domed hammer. the problem is allmost none of this will show up in "Finds" unless we happen to find something in one of those rare production areas like the pompeii find where something happened and just stopped everything in an area on a single day.

 

this technique has the huge advantage that it gets things started. once started you can key it to a bottom tool or even just to a shaped stake. much easier at that point to draw the blade to length.

MP

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The trick is to break activities down to what 12 year old hands can do for prep work I think. The lower the skill set the simpler the activity. Keep the "master" only for the master level needs.

 

I recall a translated comment in one of the books during the crusades (later than we are talking here and maybe without intentional pattern-welding for effect) where the arms makers moved to modern day Croatia/Serbia to kit up travelers who came across from Italy. The warriors traveled with "light" coin and some gear, but bought armor and weaponry to suit up many in the party prior to moving on.

 

There was a comment of woe when a named armourer relocated and some assumed the orders would all go to him.

What occurred to me was the speed they outfitted the clients....six swords in a few days. I would think one would run such an endeavor as an assembly line and have "stock" around for alteration.

 

Ric

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Starting with that method we get almost shaped blade. And the fuller needs some thinnig, the fuller/edge lines defined, but with such "pre-fullered" bar it is just correction and not forging deep groove. Thanks to this we aviod exessive streching the welding lines, which always weakens them.

 

I bet there were many classes of weapons: mass produced just for fighting and marvelous masterpieces for the elites from the other hand.

 

Anyway, great idea, I'll definitely try to forge the whole PW sword blade with it.

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I think that it would be a given that there were different qualities of weapons made just like there are different qualities of knives made today. There would have been munitions grade swords for the common soldier and multi bar pattern welded swords with leather handles wrapped with precious metal for his lordship.

 

Doug

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I bit off an awful lot at once, and whether I brave a heat treat or just proceed as sculpture is still up in the air. But I want to show you where I've got to. This is all forged to shape, now I'll pickle and start subtractive work.

This is the first time I've ever tried a "fullered" blade, the first time I've ever done a twisted iron core and a steel edge. And I wanted to explore a shaped fuller instead of a straight one, by simply shaping the core. And the edge steel is direct bloomery steel from new smelting techinique, and the core is bloomery iron as well.

I'll come back later to share the details of my mistakes, but for now I just want to show you how this worked out so far. The blade length is 360mm, it's 52mm wide at the wide spots, it's 5 to 6 mm thick at the peak of the bevel, and 3 mm thick in the center of the fuller.

 

as forged-1.jpg

 

as forged close-1.jpg

 

edge-1.jpg

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