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European guard attachment issues


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Hello all,

There is a question that has been nagging me for some time now.  I have made a few European swords over the last few years, and I usually attach the cross guard with a small TIG bead on the underside, that is then covered by the wood scales/grip. obviously this is not historical. and not the best way to do it i know. some other ways i have found by researching this online say to slide the guard onto tang hot with the slot in the guard slightly undersized. This allows the slot to expand and fit; then cool and contract.

 OK, this sounds good but wont the heat seep into the hardened and tempered tang/blade junction and soften it? It seems like it would soften the steel even more than welding it on. I already peen/plug weld my pommels on before the grip material is added, and the pommels never move afterward.  i guess my question is how do you all do it? specifically viking swords, or swords with cruciform guards. thank you all for your time, and possibly helping me get over this hurdle. 

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Generally the tang slot seems to have been hot punched or slit with a tool slightly smaller than the tang, with the finished guard driven on for a tight fit.  The grip core helps hold things in place on Viking swords, and on some later swords the act of peening the pommel tightens the whole assembly.  It's also not uncommon to see little wedges of iron driven in from the back side along the tang and under the grip core.  

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Some are also fine with guards that just slide right up to the blade shoulders and then they slide the grip over to hold it in place. Usually, this kind of fit is done on take-down constructions involving threaded tangs and pommels/pommel nuts, so it can always be tightened more. I've never been big on these as they tend to rattle and come loose easily after heavy use, and prefer to drill and file or else mill the slot so that the slot width is slightly less than the tang thickness. I test the fit as I go to make sure I don't remove too much material. As soon as I get to the point where I can drive the guard all the way up with a 3-4 pound hammer, I remove it and don't drive it on again until the final fit. Repeatedly driving it on and off will widen the slot and make the fit more loose.

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Thank you Alan and AJ . So it's driven oncold? Hope that won't crack anything. A few hundred degrees shouldn't hurt though I'm assuming, then when it's seated at the shoulders maybe a water plunge? The guard will be mild steel and the tang/blade already heat treated and it may help contract the guard slot more? Thank you all for the replies! 

 I will try these ideas on my next sword build coming up very soon. It will be a talhoffer inspired sword,  my biggest one to date. I just bought a 3 burner forge So now I can finally heat treat one! Now i just got to find a supplier of 5160 stock that isny the NJ baron, hes out of stock...

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It won't crack anything unless the tang is hardened, the shoulders aren't rounded enough, and/or the slot is too narrow.

It's good to have a tang profile that is an even width for the first inch or so from the blade and then tapers in toward the pommel. It gives you a nice even seat for the guard, and as Alan said if you want to stake the guard from the backside it gives you enough material to do it.

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You're not going to hurt anything by warming up the tang/ricasso junction a bit. That area shouldn't even be hardened imho, historically the tang was mostly soft iron welded onto the blade base.

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This is good information, and this blade will also be the first time I use round sholders. I have a masons chisel I plan on modifying to help impress the blade side of the guard so the shoulders fit nicely. This guard will be curved.  

So when I heat treat, I should not heat the tang/blade junction above critical? 

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Heating it will be inevitable in order to harden all of the blade, just try not to quench it past 1/2 inch or so onto the tang. Since I have to temper all my swords using a propane torch and some patience, I'll stick the torch onto the tang about 2" from the blade base and watch until the colors turn a purple-blue color. That way I know if any of the tang hardened it's at least tempered and very tough.

Round shoulders are critical, but remember you don't have to go crazy with it. The diameter of a chainsaw file is generally sufficient. Some makers do more, some less. The same is true of historical examples. As long as there's some radius and a beefy tang, it'll stand up (especially with 5160).

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