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Two broken back style saxes (with Kentish origin)


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I've just finished these two broken back style saxes, of the so-called Honeylane type. Both started out at Owen's.

 

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The large one started as a cut-off someone left on the floor at one of Owen's Bushfire Forge-ins. My memory says it's 1080 steel, but I could be wrong. I thought it was a nice basis for a broken back style sax. I only had time to give it a few hits. Later I took it with me to the bronze casting event Umha Aois in Ireland, where I forged it into a blade. Then I did nothing until I took it to some place filled with bronze swords and pirates in Cornwall, where I file finished the blade. It then came back to the Netherlands, where I did the rest at home. So it's a well traveled blade before it was even finished :) Since it started out in Kent, I decided to give it the distinct Kentish notch, so well known for this area.

 

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The blade is differentially hardened using clay. However, I didn't like the looks of the hamon on this one after etching, so I sanded it down again. Fortunately, still a very faint hamon is showing.

 

The sax is not a reproduction of one specific type. I took just a little bit more liberty in the design. Though I did use the following three as inspiration, to stay within historic boundaries. This one for the overall design and handle:

 

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And this one for the groove (surprizingly rare on these types of saxes):

 

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And this one for the most pronounced "Kentish notch" on an actual example:

 

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The second one is a bit smaller. It's a leftover piece of edge billet that I made for the longsax I did at Owen's patternwelded sax course. It's 16 layers W2, just W2 folded onto itself. I was interested in seeing if this gave a look more closely to sheer steel. I already forged the blade during the course, as well, you do get a lot of free time while making a patternwelded long sax start to finish in 5 days. Not really, but I worked hard :)

 

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I also did a clay coat on this one, and etched the hamon in ferric chloride, 5 dips of 1 minute, polishing with 2500 grit sandpaper to remove the oxides in between.

 

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Close up of the blade:

 

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Edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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On the larger sax, the handle is apple wood, treated with lineseed oil and finished with amber varnish. The smaller one has a walnut handle, treated with walnut oil (found that appropriate :)

 

Some more shots of both:

 

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Edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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Those are both really good looking! You really nailed the proportions of blade to handle length, in my opinion. I am a bit jealous! I've been fighting with a little sax blade which looks much like the smaller one here for a couple of days; I'm trying to burn the handle on properly, but somehow no matter what I do the blade manages to tilt backwards as I burn it it and ends up at a weird angle to the grip. The sax as a form looks so simple but is surprisingly challenging for me to put together neatly!

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Those are both really good looking! You really nailed the proportions of blade to handle length, in my opinion. I am a bit jealous! I've been fighting with a little sax blade which looks much like the smaller one here for a couple of days; I'm trying to burn the handle on properly, but somehow no matter what I do the blade manages to tilt backwards as I burn it it and ends up at a weird angle to the grip. The sax as a form looks so simple but is surprisingly challenging for me to put together neatly!

 

Thanks! Did you pre-drill the handle? That can help to guide the tang burning in the right direction, particularly if the handle material doesn't leave a lot of freedom to correct. Usually I take a piece of wood that is still a fair bit larger then the eventual handle, so I can correct the angle when I cut the handle to shape. If that's not enough, I sometimes file the tang a bit until I can insert it at the proper angle, which I had to do on the smaller one. Both of these were burned without pre-drilling I believe.

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Nice work, as always. Now I want to know more about amber varnish...

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Adam, when I did a seax with a long handle I started out with a standard drill bit to start the whole and then went to progressively longer bits until I got the pilot hole to the depth that I wanted it. Because all that I have is a bench mounted drill press I had to start out the the longest handle blank that I could get under the bit and then switch to a hand drill using the hole to guide the progressively longer bits.

 

Doug

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Jeroen, I don't think that I've ever seen that pattern of seax before. I'm determined that I'm going to get back to forging this spring so maybe I'll give that pattern a try. How much of that notch did you forge in or was it all basically grinding?

 

Doug

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Jeroen, I don't think that I've ever seen that pattern of seax before. I'm determined that I'm going to get back to forging this spring so maybe I'll give that pattern a try. How much of that notch did you forge in or was it all basically grinding?

 

Doug

 

The notch was forged in. Here's the blade just after forging, with only a little bit of cleaning to remove the scale:

 

Img_1500a.jpg

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I really like the shape of the blades and the traditional handles.

Why did you go for clay heat treatment when you had 1080 steel and were making a seax?

 

I am not criticizing, I have done clay ht seaxes, too. Not as well, either :).

 

The blades flow well, and the long traditional handles look just right.

 

great job. Thanks for sharing your work and all of the history you always share with us.

.

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I really like the shape of the blades and the traditional handles.

Why did you go for clay heat treatment when you had 1080 steel and were making a seax?.

 

Partially for fun and experimenting with it, and for the other part to make them resemble originals a bit closer, which generally weren't through hardened. Though on the originals it was just due to the materials used (patternwelded or not), rather then through clay coats probably.

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aha! The, "autohamon," effect. I forgot. I have never heat treated a piece of bloomery steel with that thick spine and long/wide wedge shape.

 

I really want to learn to do heath melting to approximate early steels. In fact, we are having a mini-workshop in March at my shop/forge. Once I learn to do this, I will be able to make better daos (which were clayed), Japanese swords (which I have never made), and of course, seaxes.

 

Oh yeah.

 

Thanks again for sharing what you are doing. I really appreciate it.

kc

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I hope to work with old style steel some time as well. Wrought is easy, I've got plenty of that. I know at least one of the old leaf springs I have is shear steel, but I don't know which or if I still have anything of that one left. So I may have to do some grinding and etching through my stock to see if I can find more of it. Alternatively, I have a wrecked tulwar blade. I thought it was just wrought, as it was bend and straightened out fairly easily. But I recently discovered it has a hamon, so I may recycle that one into edge material. I just have to see if it's full shear steel, or that it only has a steel edge welded in.

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Wow, I loved it all. The notch is really well defined. Did you just hammer upside or you used the anvil as a guide while hammering from the edge-to-be? Once I made a small sax with this notch but didn't have the balls to forge it and then i ground it. This is awesome!

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I just forged the point with the flat of the hammer up to the spine, so that the top of the point was already low enough. That gives a beginning of the notch. And then I used the peen to define the notch further. It worked a lot easier then I expected, but you have to be a bit careful. If you do mess it up, you can always move the notch a bit further back. It's better to make the notch more defined then too little. On an earlier sax (this one: http://1501bc.com/metalworking/brokenback_sax3.jpg) I made it too subtle, and when I filed the sax I pretty much lost it trying to clean up the spine. I could have recreated it by filing the back of the point down, but I rather do most of my shaping by forging rather then filing. So I kept that one as is.

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