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Dave Stephens

Arctic Fire Backup Blade Finish

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Hi All:

Many of you may remember Arctic Fire 2013, where a group of us made a blade from smelt to finish in just a few days.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is the video: 

 

So, you may have wondered, if you watched the event, what ever happened to the backup blade? 

Well, I've had it for these last four years, and I'm finally getting around to finishing it.

While I cannot promise a blade of the quality that was produced at the event (for the simple and self-obvious reason that I'm not the equal of Jake or Petr when it comes to carving, or Jul when it comes to jewelers work, or hell . . . the list goes on of all the guys I'm not equal to!), I'll do my best to do justice to this piece.

I have a few bits I've saved from the 2013 event, such as a nearly complete wax carving by Jake of the lower guard that he abandoned for a reason I forget, as well as a rivet block that has a porosity hole in it that I plan to use by filling the hole with a garnet set in silver. I like the idea of incorporating a few bits of the original build in this "homage" piece. Also, of course, while I did most of the forging on this blade, it was 90% ground by Michael Pikula, and Shane Harvey helped with some of the pattern weld.  So, this will still be--in a sense--a collaboration.

Also, if you remember from the video, the upper guard was lost due to my kiln being too short for a complete burn out, so Petr had to carve an upper guard out of antler instead. In this build, I plan to complete the original upper guard design.

Here are a few photos of the blade after polishing and etching. You'll note the difference the hairpin core has on the overall aesthetic. The core has the same number of layers that Arthur's war band had in it (it was going to be one of our clues).  The edge material is 1200 layers or so.

Also a shot of the bits and sketches I have left over from the 2013 event.

I'll post WIP photos as the build progresses.

Cheers,

Dave

 

 

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I'm very much looking forward to seeing this come together 

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Ooh La La, that's a spicy meatball!!! I love what I am seeing so far!!  :thumbup:

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Dave, I am absolutely certain that not only will you do this justice, you will probably surprise yourself with the outcome. You are not the same smith you were 4 years ago (none of us are) and the smith you have become is going to shine. 

Carry on bro! This looks great already.

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What Joshua said; I don't believe you give yourself enough credit Dave.  I see the things you make and I am consistently impressed.  None the less, I am happy that you are finishing this, and that we get to see what you make of it.  The steel is already beautiful.

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alright! a blast from the past, only better since you are more capable now than you were then. You and this blade have always had a rendezvous as part of fate, there just had to be the proper passage of time until you reached it. You are there, now.

How many were in Arthur's war band? (I just finished a Great Courses history of Arthur in reality and in legend/literature, and it was awesome. I am hooked, now I listen to Great Courses on Audible while I drive or do fine work in the shop. You would probably love it).

 

I am really looking forward to this. I was sitting around with many of you at Ashokan when the nascent idea began to jell of you just getting a lot of guys together at your place next time. I have always been cheering you on in this process. So... cheers!

 

This will be awesome. I sometimes visit other internet sites, largely because I can sell things there. As such, I am frequently sifting through work that lacks a soul. This is a short sword that will have a spirit when done. Now you just have to capture the true spirit of the thing (an HS Thompson quote).

 

 

 

Edited by Kevin (The Professor)

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oh - how hard was the hairpin weld? I have thought of doing those/that for a long time because it is common on Tibetan daos. I have always assumed they built the layers up one hairpin after another. Otherwise, it would be folding a really long bar back on itself. What technique did you and Shane use?

 

What the hell has happened to Michael Pikula, by the way? He was a great dude, and had acquired so much skill in his travels. I hope he comes back to the fold, at least part time like so many of us.

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Thanks everyone!

Kevin -- 

Correction: The hairpin core was supposed to contain the number of impossible tasks that Arthur had to to complete in Culhwch and Olwen, which is the early Welsh myth from which we drew the elements of the blade.  I think the number of tasks if 40 if I'm not mistaken.  Most of the Arthurian elements we used in this event were from the pre-Galfridian myths, but we used some more modern ones too (like when deciding where the blade was hidden: Carmarthen, Wales said to be the birthplace and the resting place of Merlin).

The hairpin itself was quite easy, just rotate 90 degrees after the desired number of layers is reached, then fold it back on itself.  The hard part was getting the split edge billet to weld. You'll recall that the primary blade had a weld flaw at the tip of the hairpin core that had to be cut out.

The technique I used to weld the core was to weld a thick steel rod onto the tip of the edge billet, and the blunt end of the core billet. I then put them in the forge, fluxed, brought up to welding heat, and set the weld while it was still in the forge by having Shane hold a large sledge hammer against the end of the core rod (sticking out of the front of the forge) while I hammered on the end of the edge billet rod (sticking out of the back of the forge).  A bit like the technique of smacking the tip of a multibar sword on the ground when you set the weld at the tip but actually inside the forge at the time.

Michael has been doing production work on some amazing swords. He just finished a piece where he made the steel, did INGLERII pattern weld inserts, and did some unbelievable silver and copper wire inlay. He's on Facebook.His site is called "Warrior's Path." https://www.facebook.com/warriorspathpatternweld/?pnref=story

I'm casting the lower guard today using the wax that Jake carved. I'm irrationally nervous that the curse of Arctic Fire casting fails has somehow stained the bit of wax . . . 

Grins,

Dave

 

 

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Picking this one up again.  Casting of the guards and pommel ring was successful today.  Cheers!

Savvy readers will notice that the lower guard wax is not the same that Jake left me.  That one, unfortunately, died a horrible death. When I tried to cast it, the bronze broke through the bottom of the flask and ended up in a puddle at the bottom of the vacuum chamber. The curse of AF 2013 casting is real. Fear it.

Grins,

Dave

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I really enjoyed the video!!! There was an incredible amount of talent in one place. What I just seen ranks up in the top coolest things I have ever watched.

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Nice Dave. Glad this one will live. Just by the way, we’re the clues ever solved and the original claimed?

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Jeremy,

Glad you liked it!

Charles -- Yes, a guy named Eric Muelmans (who happens to work for Albion Swords) solved the riddle.  The dagger is Carnwenan, which belonged to King Arthur in the earliest versions of the legend. It was hidden in Carmarthen, Wales.  There are a lot of clues on the blade that relate to the story Culhwch and Olwen.  

-- The woman carved on the hilt of the blade is whole on one side and dead/cut in half on the other. This relates to the fact that Arthur cuts The Black Witch in half with Carnwennan at the mouth to hell.

-- The chape of the scabbard is shaped like a pair of shears, which relates to the part of the story in which hair from a magic boar must be cut with special shears.

-- The ends of the guard are boar's heads.

There are a lot more, on the scabbard too.

Dave

PS: If you are interested, here is the video in which Eric and his wife go over to Wales with us and receive their prize.

 

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Cool. Thanks.

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Castings cleaned up and fitted to tang.

Carving of guards next.  Also fabricating middle bead. 

Attached also is a photo of the actual blade made at 2013 AF.  You can see how long the road ahead is . . . 

Also attached was the original plan made by Jake Powning and Peter Johnsson so you can compare.

Dave

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Fantastic!

I don't know if this is a stupid question, but I'll ask anyhow :D: I watched the 2013 Arctic Fire episode, but are there other / new episodes that I missed? I'm craving them...

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On 1/7/2018 at 7:28 AM, Dave Stephens said:

Jeremy,

Glad you liked it!

Charles -- Yes, a guy named Eric Muelmans (who happens to work for Albion Swords) solved the riddle.  The dagger is Carnwenan, which belonged to King Arthur in the earliest versions of the legend. It was hidden in Carmarthen, Wales.  There are a lot of clues on the blade that relate to the story Culhwch and Olwen.  

-- The woman carved on the hilt of the blade is whole on one side and dead/cut in half on the other. This relates to the fact that Arthur cuts The Black Witch in half with Carnwennan at the mouth to hell.

-- The chape of the scabbard is shaped like a pair of shears, which relates to the part of the story in which hair from a magic boar must be cut with special shears.

-- The ends of the guard are boar's heads.

There are a lot more, on the scabbard too.

Dave

PS: If you are interested, here is the video in which Eric and his wife go over to Wales with us and receive their prize.

 

absophukinlutelywikedawsomkewl.

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That edge steel looks amazing. Love seeing this project come together again!

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Here's a cool little hack I just discovered while cutting the grip material for this piece.

If you want to cut something round (like buffalo horn) and don't want it to spin when the blade hits it, clamp it in some aluminum angle iron.  The saw cuts right through the aluminum, but it holds it in place securely (with the C clamp) while the cut happens.

More progress shots soon.

Cheers.

Dave

 

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Great tip about the ally angle dude. Cheers. 

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Progress.  Many fiddly alignments to fix, and slight asymmetries to correct still.

The ornamentation on the guards will be added after the final true up. Same for carved elements on the grip and ring.  Then the scabbard . . . which is a project in and of itself.  Can't believe the AF team built this whole thing in six days.

You'll note I've gone to a black grip material.  Carnwennan was "Little White Hilt" and Arthur's dagger. This will be the cursed sister to Carnwennan. A dark dagger that only brings power to the owner if it's never used.  Got the idea from a recent revelation about a Biblical passage involving swords and scabbards.  More on this soon . . .

Dave

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Spooky looking, if you ask me.:ph34r:

I like very much

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