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Greetings everyone,

I’ve got a commission that has started me down the multi-bar road, so I thought I’d try and do a WIP.  The commission is for an anglo-taxon style broken back seax with an 18” or so blade.  I decided to do a basic 3 bar blade with wrought iron on the top, a twist in the middle, and high layer count on the bottom:

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I made my 3 bars, the middle being 36 layers of 15N20 and 1095, and the edge was 432 layer of the same.

I tried using hose clamps to hold the bar together and I thought it worked really well.

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I forged out the blade about 70% of the way and realized I had been forging upside down - d’oh!  Nice wrought iron edge. I did what I could to recover something from the mess, and ended up with these two blades:

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The smaller one is 6 1/4” (158mm), and the larger one is...  well, larger (I forgot to measure it).  I'm very happy with the pattern, thought I wanted tighter twists.

Learned Lesson #1 - make sure you clearly mark which way side is the edge and which is the spine.

 

Attempt #2: So I started again, same plan.  As I was forging I realized I had a gap opening up between the edge bar and the twist in a particular area of the bar.  I realized that was where the bar had not been square, but had gone diamond shaped on me.  I tried rewelding it a couple times with mixed success.  One spot just wouldn’t stick even after soaking overnight in vinegar and then fluxing heavily.  So I had to shorten the blade  to 14” (355mm) to put that spot in the tang:

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I hit the split with the TIG welder in the tang.  A tiny bit goes into the blade, but it’s only on one side, and there is another small weld flaw a bit farther up, but again it was only on one side, so I left it.  BTW, thanks to Emilliano Carrillo for coaching me through all these problems via text :-)

Learned Lesson #2 - square-up your bars before welding them together.

 

 

So, attempt # 3.  Third time was a charm:

I made sure my bars were square, cleaned the sides to be welded carefully,  And hammered gently when forging until the billet had enough time/heat for the welds to really set.

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I did my best to normalize the blade, but I had to do it in sections because it was so long.  Then it soaked overnight in vinegar to remove the scale and on to grinding.  It took me about 4 hours of grinding to get it down to where I wanted it.  I forged it a bit thick on purpose so I could grind past all the surface wrinkles and such caused by the patterns & welds.  I ended up with this:

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The tang had to be cut because I can only fit 23” in my heat treat kiln.  This has very light etch on it to show the pattern because the next step was a wire inlay of runes.

The customer happens to be an expert in Old English, so I trade him the pattern welding of the blade for a low volume of his translation services in perpetuity.  His last name happens to be Bishop, and we decided this blade would be named “Bishop’s Boar”, which he translated into “bisceopes eofor”.

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I printed out the runes on the computer so the spacing would be correct, and taped them to the place i wanted them on the blade.  I then cut through the paper with a utility knife to mark them on the blade.  It works surprisingly well, and doesn’t rub off.

I cut the runes with a Gravermax engraver.  They are pricey, but are pretty much the equivalent of a power hammer for engraving.  You can do so much more work so much faster.  My technique is pretty basic.  I’m inlaying 22ga wire which is about 1mm in diameter, so I cut the grooves 1mm wide and half mm deep.  As wide as the wire and half as deep seems to be a goodformula no matter what width the wire is.

This is essentially how I cut the grooves.  I always try to cut to another groove if I can, and i take 2-3 passes to get down the half millimeter.  You have to be gentle when engraving or you snap points

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Once you have the grooves cut you need to make them into a dovetail to hold the wire.  I’ve tried a number of techniques, but the one that seems to work the best for me is Matt Parkinson’s - just come in from the opposite side at a 45 degree angle with a chisel directed into the bottom corner of the groove.  It’s nice because the metal tends to raise up when you do it so you get visual confirmation that you’ve done it.  It also holds the wire the tightest according to my yank-on-it tests.

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 I hammer the wire in with a hammer made of graver stock.  Just like a regular hammer it needs a smooth face with no sharp corners.

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This is what I end up with.  You should be able to tug on the wire and have it not pop out.  If it does, clip it off, recut your dovetails, and start again.  Super short piece will pull out easier than long ones, so be gentler with them.  The most important detail here is that that i leave the wire proud of the grooves.  After heat treat the wire will be dead soft from quenching, and you can do another round of hammering to get it just a little farther and tighter into the grooves.

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Here it is completed.  And here are the tools I used:

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Channel cutting graver on the bottom right, chisel for setting the dovetails on the bottom left, hammer on the top, and flush cut jewelers snips for cutting the wire off.

Heat treat was done in a kiln with an argon atmosphere.  The argon prevents decarburizing and eliminates most of the scale.

Here’s the inlay after heat treat and a second round of hammering the wire.  This inlay took a total of 5 hours even with a Gravermax and some experience.  

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I machine sanded the whole blade to 240grit, then started at 220 by hand and went down to 600.  Etched it for 4 10 minutes sessions in ferric chloride, then hit it with a 1000grit stone and then 1500grit sandpaper.

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Up next is the handle, which will be cast bronze with an attempt at faux-garnet inlay and carved bog wood.  We'll see how that goes...

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Edited by MatthewBerry
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Greetings everyone, I’ve got a commission that has started me down the multi-bar road, so I thought I’d try and do a WIP.  The commission is for an anglo-taxon style broken back seax with an 18”

I finally got the handle done.  I wanted to try something like the seax fittings from the Staffordshire hoard with faux garnet cells. I carved the fittings out of wax. One of the nicest par

The caboose photo for this wip - here's the sheath I made for it:

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I am impressed. You are off and running on that. great so far.

kc

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These all look great! I got the chance to see them in person last weekend and they are beautiful. The dimensions and proportions, the tapers, all right on! I'm glad my advice could be helpful in getting that sweet multibar to weld together the way you wanted. Also the inlay shots are beautiful, I'm really happy you shared those with us :)

I especially love your edge steel, beautiful manipulation and fantastic chatoyance!

basically I'm your biggest fan stop being so cool 

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Awesome work so far!  I know the pain of 'third time's a charm' well, it looks like you got a few good blades out of it, and succeeded in the end.  Good to see your inlay method, it's on my list of things to do so it's very helpful.

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Really nice work and thanks for the process pics.

I have two questions: what is the wire material and what application do you use that prints runes?

Edited by Joshua States
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Ooh this looks super awesome! I like that you showed all the blades, as a plus you got some extra blades out of it! I'll be excited to see where you go with the hilt and sheath, your carving and casting is always great.

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Thanks guys. Glad you all like it.  

12 hours ago, Joshua States said:

Really nice work and thanks for the process pics.

I have two questions: what is the wire material and what application do you use that prints runes?

The wire is NuGold (15% zinc, 85% copper) from Contenti.  I used it because it's softer than bronze, but silver would be even better.  

Sorry, no magic app.  The runes are done in a standard graphics program - any program that supports layers will work.  I drew them by hand about an inch tall, then scanned them into the computer.  Cut and paste them along a line, then get rid of the line.  Scale them to size and print.  There are rune fonts available - you could use those in a word processor and just print them the size you want.  They'd be fine for inlay where you are just marking position.  I drew mine by hand because I was using them as carving guides on rings, so the exact shape was important.

13 hours ago, Emiliano Carrillo said:

basically I'm your biggest fan stop being so cool 

Stop eating those mushrooms from the pasture.  I'm a certified Dork-Master. :blink:

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21 hours ago, Matthew Parkinson said:

this is looking great Matt! what did you do to keep the inlay metal for corrupting your ferric? and did you have any issue with the inlay undercutting in the etch?

I did nothing to keep my ferric uncorrupted.  I'm just gonna see what happens over time.  It's such a tiny amount of copper that it might not hurt anything.  And you can get 4 liters of ferric for $40 on Amazon, so it's not so precious as it was from RadioShack.

The etch doesn't undercut the inlay.  I was worried about that so I did a little test blade:

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I couldn't see any undercutting.  I think if the wire is hammered in solidly the etch simply can't get in.  I imagine this is doubly important because you don't want a little pocket of ferric to rust around the inlay after you've sold the piece.  I also boiled the blades after etch in water and then soaked in a baking soda solution for 10 minutes, so hopefully that will help with the possible future rust.

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cool i have only done fine silver inlay on pattern because i didn't want to damage the enchant, killed a few batches that way already. when i started inlaying with the silver i had mixed results most went well in the etch but some lines fell out or rusted bellow, i think at the time i was not inlaying deep enough for the line width.  

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1 hour ago, Matthew Parkinson said:

cool i have only done fine silver inlay on pattern because i didn't want to damage the enchant, killed a few batches that way already. when i started inlaying with the silver i had mixed results most went well in the etch but some lines fell out or rusted bellow, i think at the time i was not inlaying deep enough for the line width.  

Good to know.  I'm going to have to do some more small test blades with silver, etc and let them sit for a year to see what happens.   That picture above is about 3 weeks post etch.  I'll be interested in what it looks like at 3 months

I haven't killed my etchant yet, but I probably will.  Sometimes you just have to touch the hot stove...

Edited by MatthewBerry
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  • 2 months later...

 I finally got the handle done.  I wanted to try something like the seax fittings from the Staffordshire hoard with faux garnet cells.

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I carved the fittings out of wax. One of the nicest parts of doing this is you can fit the wax to the blade, which is way easier than doing it in metal.  If you cut away too much you can just melt more wax in and reshape.  The bronze shrinks about 2% when it cools so you have a nice tight fit with only a little bit of filing.

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These are the basic tools I used for making the cells in the collar. I cut the outline with the exacto knife, making a deep V-groove ( you can see one cell on the top that has the V's cut), then I use a very tiny half-round gouge to remove the bulk of the wax (oops, not in photo).  The two scrapers in the picture are what use the flatten the bottom and square up the walls.  I use the thin one to set the depth at the edges, and the bigger one for flattening the bottom.

When done, I put them on a wax tree and cast them.  I had some pictures of that but they keep failing to upload :-\

These are the cleaned up castings:

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For the garnets I used Colores epoxy from Rio Grande with the Durenamel hardener so I could sand it afterwards.  It was a painful process and I'm still working out how to fill the cells on non-flat pieces.  Once i get it figured out I'll post a demo.

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Hmmm... time to reboot as all the picture uploads are failing.  More in a bit.

So between the ferrules i did two chunks of bog oak with a moose antler ring in the middle.  I cut the hole for the tang through the blocks first, the fit the ferrules and the antler ring

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after the parts were all together I cut the block down to it's rough shape.  Besides a belt grinder and a drill press, I mostly uses rasps and japanese wood files to shape the bog oak.  I

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Next I carved a knot pattern in the bog oak.  I laid out the pattern just like I do for wax - get it sized and a laid out on paper, then use spray adhesive to attach it to the piece.  Cut the pattern lines in through the paper, then remove the paper as you carve:

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Because of the boar on the end of the handle I couldn't peen the tang over to hold the whole thing together.  So what I did was thread the end of the tang, drill a 1/2" hole in the end of the handle to accommodate a washer, and put the whole thing together with  acraglass and a nut.

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To attach the pommel I cut grooves around the inside of the ferrule and the tenon of the bog oak.  You can see them in the picture above.  My thinking was that when the acraglass dried even if it didn't adhere to the pieces it would harden into a shape that would lock in place.  But being paranoid about strength I also pried out 3 of the faux garnets and drilled hole for 3 small nails.

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I hammered them in with a punch, refilled with garnet epoxy, and they were basically invisible.

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The final product is 28.5"/ 723mm overall, with a 19.75" / 500mm blade.  It weighs 1.6 pounds.  

Next is the sheath...

Edited by MatthewBerry
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Did you hear that big thud?

That was my jaw hitting the floor. I think it triggered an earthquake in China.

We have no words in the English to describe this.

-G

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