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Buck Hedges

Replicating the Vered-Jericho Sword/Sword of Laban

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DISCLAIMER:

This post is not an attempt to be preachy, convert anyone, or promote any religion over another. I'm looking at this from a historical standpoint.

Shad Brooks, a  YouTuber and fellow Latter-Day Saint I regularly watch, recently produced a video on the Vered Jericho sword, which dates to around 600 BC. Now, to Latter-Day Saints (Mormons, y'all), that's fairly significant because that's when the Book of Mormon (a book of scripture used by Latter-Day Saints) begins. In the Book of Mormon, there is a sword known as the "Sword of Laban." Unfortunately, descriptions of this sword are pretty sparse. ("I beheld his sword, and the blade was of finest steel, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine..." or something along those lines.)

I've often wondered what the Sword of Laban looked like, so I emailed Shad and asked him. His reply was to wait a couple of weeks for his next video. With that in mind, I issued him a challenge. If he came up with  the design, I'd do my best to recreate it to his specifications.

And then of course we'd test it. I'm working on a mail hauberk this year for just this purpose. :)

True to his word, Shad produced his video on the Sword of Laban, and what it may have looked like.

Following the exact construction is out for me, since I am not skilled enough to forge weld yet, and the way this sword was made was remarkably sophisticated for what common archaeology considers the beginning of the iron age. However, I do think I can forge a piece of good steel into the right shape. For steel, I'm just going to keep it simple, and use an old truck leaf spring I have. It's more or less mystery steel, which is more or less what's in the Vered Jericho sword.

 

One thing that throws me is the spine in the blade. How does a guy go about forging that?

 

These are the links to Shad's videos. Whether you're interested in the religious aspect or not, they're pretty interesting, especially as the Vered-Jericho sword is one of the earliest steel swords ever found.

The Vered Jericho Sword:

 

The Sword of Laban:

 

Edited by Buck Hedges

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If you have access to a power hammer, I've seen people make a jig that takes a piece of square stock and forges it into a + shape

That will define the spine and then from there you can draw the edges out so you'll end up with something like this  -+- if that makes any sense. I've no idea if that's the best way, but it's the one I've seen the most. 

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On 11/11/2017 at 7:39 PM, Buck Hedges said:

One thing that throws me is the spine in the blade. How does a guy go about forging that?

I believe the spine is called a tenon or a rib in metal working terminology. JPH's books have a section on forging tenons in blades, and although I am not in my library to confirm, I believe the common method is to make some tooling to accomplish the task. I have never attempted this, but the idea most present in my tiny brain is that of a spring tool for use either at the anvil or in a power hammer. The tenon dies can be for a full tenon, where each die has a groove cut into the face, of just a sort of bevel die that the smith would hold the blade less than halfway into the dies and bevel the blade away from a central rib. The rib being an area left undisturbed by the dies.

Edited by Joshua States

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That is indeed one way to do it, and you can use a spring swage with a hand hammer to do it as well, albeit more slowly.  That raised center rib is a holdover from bronze swords and spears and is seen fairly often in the early iron age.  Call it tradition, if you will.  If you have excellent hammer control and a good edge on your anvil you can do it freehand.  I suspect when that sword was made it involved a striker or two and a set hammer.  Many ways to skin that cat, just depends on your equipment, skill level, and desire for historical accuracy in means of production.

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My mind flies to the idea of pre forming a diamond shape, like forging a double edged dagger, and then working down the blade with a flat faced rectangular spring swage . A "pincer" if you will. Working down both sides of the spine peaks. If that explains what I envision.

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Good ideas all, and I thank you for the advice. Unfortunately, I only know of one power hammer (not for sale--I asked), and I'm swageless. My current plan is to draw out a piece of leaf spring to the right width and the thickness of the tenon, and then submit myself to the endless horrors of stock removal. :wacko:

Unfortunately, my oldest reliable striker is 11, the other two are 8 and 6. Not quite enough oomph to swing a double jack, and not quite enough control to hold hot steel while I swing, yet. Although if I could come across the right chunk of stock, I could make v-shaped top tool and a v-shaped hardy tool that would work. Is that what a set hammer is? Even that way, I'll need a striker or end up growing that 3rd arm I've always wanted.

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Weeeelllll, you could look at having tongs made for you by our own jjsimon, his wrap-around style would make it much easier than "pincer" style tongs 

 

(Shameless plug for a forum member)

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You could always make a swage. It's perty easy if you're savy with an angle grinder. I could use one blindfolded upside down behind my back, so I might be an exeption. I would use the cutting wheel and the cloth/resin backed zirconia discs on a pad. But, you could easily grind out 2 dies for a swage and forge the blade out, and clean it with the grinder with 60 grit pads, then perhaps a hand held belt sander, palm sander, and a sanding block. An air file could be a good choice too (Not sure how your tool situation is). 

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Making a spring swage that is a hardy tool allows you to hold the work piece and swing the hammer all by your lonesome. I would make it like a top and bottom fuller. Once I got the dies shaped I would put a groove in each one lengthwise along the domed side of the fuller. Then HT the dies and assemble the swage tool. 

You already have a chunk of leaf spring, why not make a spring swage/hardy tool from part of it?

Edited by Joshua States

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