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Two swords in progress


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5 hours ago, Phil Ullrich said:

Really appreciate your detailed description of scabbard build

Thank you! My hope is to share some useful information among fellow makers :-) I get so much information and inspiration from this forum that I just have to share something back.

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16 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

..."I have studied your research into the geometric design concepts quite a bit, but not enough yet to speak intelligently about it in depth.  As a design engineer, however, I am very attracted to the concept, and I enjoy studying what you have written on your hypothesis.  It seems quite simple on the surface,but it really is a pretty deep knowledge set when your start to try to apply it."

Yes, fascinating isn´t it?
There are layer upon layer of possibilities that open up once you enter that realm of geometric design. I have a strong feeling of having entered a magic circle when I stumbled upon the possibility of geometric design of the medieval sword. It has truly been something that has changed both my professional and personal life. 
There is much that can be said about it. 
Because of its inherent power it is also easy to be led astray. There is a very real need to keep a cool head and use some critical thinking.

Regardless of wether this was a method used back in the day or not, I know that it is a principle that does work and is practical. The use of geometry in design is for me the perfect framework to the creative process. A system of thought that at once both empowers and grounds you. In the medieval period, geometry was seen as invested with mystical meaning. For me this is an enjoyable bonus: a kind of game that can be experimented with. 
More importantly, geometry is a way to establish norms, references and true standards. You can establish shapes and proportions that are perfect in principle and truthfully show how they interact and correlate to each other in a way that makes the sum greater than its parts. 
I find it very attractive to base the design of a sword on principles that relate to truth. To me that invests swords with a kind of modern day magic. A weapon that embodies spiritual or psychological functions in a way that is true to the world around us. That is endlessly fascinating to me.

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14 hours ago, pieter-pauld said:

..."I am continually amazed how refined and elegant these high medieval pommels are, they are works of art all by themselves."

 

Yes! True words.There is much to learn from looking at the swords made by those masters. 

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On 4/5/2017 at 3:51 AM, peter johnsson said:

Tang has been peened over a rivet block. In this case I added a washer of bronze sheet for some contrast to satisfy the searching eye.DSC01479.JPG

I know that others have already commented on this, but if I can be a bit vulgar for a moment, this photo gave me a stiffy. 

Not sure how I missed this thread when it appeared, but life has been a bit hectic..... fantastic post Peter. Thanks a million for these WIP threads you post and the reinforcement of the geometric design principles. That is truly "inner sanctum" knowledge that I think you have rediscovered.

Thanks also to the Admin with the speedy pin. Good call mate! Now all that's left is to click the Follow and Like buttons.....

Now I have to get back to work and stop dreaming about quitting my job...........:wacko: 

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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

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Peter you make this all look so effortless , it is quite inspiring , thank you.

MP

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On 4/6/2017 at 4:01 AM, Al Massey said:

I have noted that most Medieval swords tend to be far thinner at the base than most military swords from the 1700's on. I am wondering if this was a need to compensate for the lack of a pommel in many designs, by putting the mass of the blade closer to hand.

The cross section makes the sword. Usually, the wider the blade, the thinner it is. A two hander with a 5cm wide blade can be just 6mm thick at the guard (BL4 from the Zeughaus Graz for example). Another two hander is 34mm wide and has a ricasso thickness of 9mm (A473 from the Wallace collection). They are both for the same application (chopping of unarmed people's heads).

The designs with small or no pommels only really work for late smallswords (because the blade is the major weight of the weapon compared to all other parts), pallasches and sabers (because their handling is based on swings from the elbow or shoulder and the pommel would impact this negatively). 

 

 

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On 4/7/2017 at 4:01 PM, Florian F Fortner said:

Peter, have you any secrets to share on how you get from file-finish to this unbelievable smooth and perfect satin surface??

No secrets, I´m afraid. Just hand rubbing.
From filing I use emery paper (120, 240, 320, 400, 600 & 800 grit) After emery paper I use powdered abrasives in oil and scotch brite pad (grey fine pad) and/or steel wool with emery powder and oil. The powder is 600 grit. You can also use felt or leather as support for the oil & powder. The finish will be subtly different depending on hardness of the blade/ hilt components.

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On 4/5/2017 at 10:23 PM, MLenaghan said:

Peter as always you sharing your knowledge is so inspirational! I have a question about using contact cement for your felt liner, in the past I've put felt in using wood glue but it seems to take a really long time to fully cure and dry out once the scabbards put together leading to blades rusting! :wacko:    Even started placing them in the kiln at 50C for a couple hours... I was wondering if contact cement had this issue as well? I'm sure I'll be trying it now so thank you again!

If you are using titebond wood glue, you HAVE to use "original". Titebond II and titebond III will rust steel.

 

Thank you for sharing all of your expertise Peter! Talk about shortening the learning curve :-)

Kevin Klein

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Let me just be the latest person to echo this picture... man is it easy on the eyes, that spacer between pommel and block is such a nice little touch...
DSC01479.JPG

I also like the side-on shot of that wheel pommel, showing the taper to the rim, which answered some questions I'd recently had.

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Please come and waste some otherwise perfectly good time, looking at my knives!

www.prometheanknives.com

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4 hours ago, Salem Straub said:

 

..."I also like the side-on shot of that wheel pommel, showing the taper to the rim, which answered some questions I'd recently had."

Thanks!
Yes, all planes on the pommel taper towards the rivet. In a way you can describe the form of the pommel as onion shaped. A beveled onion? A facetted onion? Crystal onion...

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Sweet onion :-)

 

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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On 4/12/2017 at 3:39 PM, Kevin Klein said:

If you are using titebond wood glue, you HAVE to use "original". Titebond II and titebond III will rust steel.

 

Thank you for sharing all of your expertise Peter! Talk about shortening the learning curve :-)

I use Titebond hide glue and have never experienced any tendency for corrosion to develop.
Is it that I have only been lucky so far?
Please illuminate me.

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Amazing and beautiful work, Peter. Every time your write about our craft I feel a step higher on the staircase of enlightenment. Thanks for sharing this with us! Also, the vesica shape and bronze detail on the pommel give a perfect, subtle attractiveness to the piece.

“If you trust in yourself. . . believe in your dreams. . . and follow your star. . . you will still get beaten by the people who have spent their time working hard and learning things, the people who weren't so lazy.” ~ Terry Pratchett

 

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7 hours ago, peter johnsson said:

I use Titebond hide glue and have never experienced any tendency for corrosion to develop.
Is it that I have only been lucky so far?
Please illuminate me.

I think the difference is between the hide glue and the wood glue. I can see how the Titebond wood glue would cause rusting while the hide glue would not.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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Hi Peter, somehow I missed your response to MLenaghan, sorry about that. I didn't realize Titebond made a hide glue. I was speaking on Titebond Original, II, and III. That II and III will rust steel because of acidity, and that Original will not. 

Kevin Klein

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some more has gone into scabbard making for one of the swords of this thread. 

I added some leather to the top of the scabbard to make a ridge that will keep the belt knot from slipping. This time I choose to simply lay a second layer of leather on top of the existing one. I could have cut away the previous layer, but opted to keep it. The ridge is built up from layers of strips of leather that is glued in place and cut to form. The top layer of leather has its edges skived down and the outline cut so that it pretty closely conforms to the form of the ridge and allows a fold over at the top. The back is sewn together. It is put on wet and glued with hide glue.
DSC01610.JPG

DSC01616.JPG

The front of the scabbard is decorated with acanthus tendrils in 15th century style. I start with making a rough sketch in 1:1 scale on paper to develop the lay out and composition. It is good to get an idea of size, form and rhythm before the final drawing is made. This time I drew the pattern onto the leather with a fine felt tip ink pen. It is permanent, but the lines will be hidden by the time the work is done. In the pic below you see the small swivel knife I made to cut the lines of the design into the leather. Since it is thin (1-1.3mm) the cut needs to be shallow. I want to make it with the least amount of effort and to have the tool to be easily manipulated. Therefore the blade is small and sharp and placed so that the point lines up with the axis of the pen shaped grip.

DSC01619.JPG

After the pattern is cut, I dampen the leather is small sections and use a hot scribing tool (like a small blunt knife or blunt awl) to open up the lines. The leather is scorched and opens up with the edges of the cut being hardened and slightly proud of the surface.
Next step is stippling the background, compressing the edge of the line that is opposing the floral tendrils. This creates an illusion of deep relief even though there is very little difference in depth between leaves and background. The leather is dampened before the stippling is done: a few drops of water from your finger tip is enough to cover a 2"x 2" area. You don´t want to soak the scabbard at this stage in your work, as it might warp or distort if the leather dries from being too wet.

DSC01634.JPG

With the pattern blanked out by stippling the background, I return to make some more 3d definition of the leaves and stems. I do this by two methods.
1): The "secret trick" is to lift small parts of the pattern by the use of a small semi-blunt awl (with a point shaped like a bird´s tongue). The tool is heated in a slow propane flame to tempering temperature. Hot enough to slightly scorch the leather, but not so hot you burn through too easily. You have to experiment to find the right temp for the tool at hand and the leather you work with. Again, the leather must be dampened before you do this. The combination of damp leather and a hot tool results in the lifted portions becoming hardened. The effect is surprisingly effective and not too difficult to achieve once you have found your best combination of tool shape for the job and correct temperature.

2): while the leather is stil damp you can mould it with a polishing steel to further refine the shape of tendrils and leaves. You can add nerves , accentuate folds and slightly push or compress forms to create more "life like" organic effect. 

In the pic below you see the effect of moulding and how much you can lift the leather with the hot awl. You may also note the dark outline around the leaves from the light scorching of the cut lines. The whole process is about the plasticity of damp leather and the effect of "frying" and hardening it.
Cuir Bouilli, you know...

DSC01643.jpg

A closeup of the finished pattern after dying, treating with saddler´s leather fat and a generous helping of renaissance wax.

DSC01654.jpg

Sword with scabbard:

DSC01653.jpg

...and now to make the scabbard chape: a thimble shaped metal mount at the tip of the scabbard.

 

 

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It is such a treat to see the way you do your work Peter! Thank you for sharing, I will certainly be trying your method of tooling and embossing soon as my leather work is very one dimensional to me right now!

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I knew you had to have a small gnome helping you with all the final detail. Proof at last...

IMG_0317.JPG

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"The way we win matters" (Ender Wiggins) Orson Scott Card

 

Nos qui libertate donati nescimus quid constat

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