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The Golden Seax (WIP)


Collin Miller
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Hey everyone! Here's something I've been working on for the past two and a half days, but have had brewing in my mind for several months now. It is a kind of culmination or milestone of the progress in skill I've made as a bladesmith. It's also a great project to get away from the pile of commission work I've been blessed with ;) 

Special thanks to @GEzell for the tips in making this wolf tooth pattern, as well as being a continuous source of information and inspiration.

In remembrance of the old rule of storytelling, "Show, don't tell"  I'll get right into the photos :D

I started by stacking up 13 layers of 1084 and 15n20, which was pretty intimidating in size when you're doing all the work with a hand hammer. Here it is after a several welding heats, welded fluxless in my coal forge.
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Now I didn't get many photos, but I drew the billet out to about two feet long by 1/2" thick, cut it in half, and twisted the bars in opposite directions. I overheated one of the bars in the resquaring, and lost about four inches, so I scarfed and forge welded a piece of wrought iron onto the bar to make it the same length, and simply put that end in the tang so it wouldn't show up in the finished blade. Anyway, I then stacked them up with a bar of wrought on top for the spine, ground the faces and tacked the bars together. 
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After a couple of welding heats. Also fluxless in my coal forge!
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Then I ground off the weld beads and checked for bad welds. All looks good! Now I'll just straighten it out and consolidate the billet a bit.
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I do this consolidation just to strengthen the welds. A forge weld is like a friend, a good one weld grow stronger the more it goes through with another piece of steel, but a bad one will break off at the first sign of stress and leave you swearing and wanting to break stuff...
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Now I've got the spine billet out of the way, and I'll get started on the wolf's tooth edge billet. I begin by drawing out a piece of wrought iron to about 3/8" square and marking it every 3/8" cold with a chisel, so I can see the marks when the bar is hot.
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Then I take a wide angled chisel and forge in each one of the teeth for that sweet grain flow. I'm pretty impressed with of quickly and consistently I was able to forge the teeth in with Viking age tech, more or less. I got 3-5 teeth per heat.
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Then I forge out a bar of W2 for the edge and grind corresponding teeth into it with an angle grinder and a belt grinder
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There are some decent gaps in the fit up, but I figure it'll all probably squish together. I didn't bother cleaning the scale off of the wrought iron, but I did use borax this time.
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Felt like is squished together pretty well :D
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Again, I'll grind off the sides to get rid of the beads and weld seams that I've learned can actually contaminate the welds with slag and other crummy stuff if you just forge the seams back into the billet
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Aaand doing a bit more forging to straighten and consolidate...
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After that I grind the welding surfaces. I decided to do this blade in two separate billets instead of stacking up all five or whatever bars like I normally would just to reduce the number of variables in the final welding process. So anyway, I grab a couple of cheap clamps that I'm willing to sacrifice to the fire gods, because at this point the billets are about 1/4" thick and I don't want to contaminate the blade with MIG beads.
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IN ZE FIRE! By the way, the paint on these clamps smells horrible when it's burning...
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Didn't get many photos of this process afterwards either. I used flux again here just because there was too much on the line to leave anything to chance. That said, right after welding, this blade made one final and brutal attempt to self destruct. Some of the welds started to separate, and the edge bar decided it wanted to crumble. After a few hours of careful forging and grinding out cracks and crumbles, repairing welds that were trying to separate with the sugar and borax trick, and voila. It only seems fitting that I'd have to overcome a good bit of adversity with this blade, and in the end I was able to do just that.
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Before grinding, I normalized and thermal cycled the blade to make it easy to straighten and grind. It also makes it so that I don't have much decarb in the post heat treat stage. There the blade is, at 60 grit. I made it with a bit of curve just in case I got the ol' nose dive from the oil quench. 
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Now it's time for heat treat! The edge is W2 and already pretty thin, so I'm heating to 1465F, soaking for 10 mins, and quenching in parks.
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Out of the quench and a couple hours at 400F. The edge was pretty thin, so it tried to warp and do some weird crap, but I was able to manhandle it back into alignment while it was still hot after the quench. I also love the way the pattern looks fresh from heat treat!
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Closeup of the pattern, nice and tight. Getting some STARZ!
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Thanks for looking everyone! I look forward to finishing this thing up with you guys. Oh! I'm sure some of you have already guessed why I'm calling this "The Golden Seax" but I'm going to wait until it's finished to reveal that one :D Let me know what you think!

 

 

 

Edited by Collin Miller
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“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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Looks absolutely stunning. I really like the wolfstooth patterns. Definitely some of my favorite pattern welding. Keep up with the great work. Thank for showing.

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Well done man!

Great pattern and shape.

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George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
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Amazing project, and the wolf teeth look great.

I am intrigued by fluxless welding in coal, I wouldn't mind getting rid of borax splatters burning my hands. 

Is it a matter of soaking on welding temp, or is there some other trick to it?

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22 hours ago, Jeremy Blohm said:

Looks absolutely stunning. I really like the wolfstooth patterns. Definitely some of my favorite pattern welding. Keep up with the great work. Thank for showing.

Thanks man! Hose clamps are a great idea. I actually didn't end up ruining the clamps though, so I guess it's all good anyway. 

21 hours ago, GEzell said:

Well done man!

Great pattern and shape.

Thanks George! 

20 hours ago, pieter-pauld said:

Amazing project, and the wolf teeth look great.

I am intrigued by fluxless welding in coal, I wouldn't mind getting rid of borax splatters burning my hands. 

Is it a matter of soaking on welding temp, or is there some other trick to it?

Thanks! For fluxless welding in coal, there isn't really a trick to it, just make sure you have nice coke surrounding the piece so no oxygen gets to it, and a little soak at welding heat helps. 

14 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

I think I know what you're up to, and I must say it looks like you're well on the way!  ;)  Gotta see the finished product, of course.  

So what you're saying is... It's working? :D

14 hours ago, Kris Lipinski said:

I love such a kind of jazz :) Very inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

Thanks man! Glad you're enjoying it. 

 

So now I've got the final grind done, here it is at something like 400 grit on the trizact belts. I also sawed up some figured maple for the handle, and the blade is now in the oven at 450F for its final temper. Later tonight I'll try to get it polished and etched so I can show it to you guys tomorrow! :D

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“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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I'm willing to bet you $5 that your wrought iron came from Globe... That stuff has amazing contrast, almost more than nickel.

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George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
Buffon


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Awesome work Collin. Loving it.

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

 

Nos, qui libertate donati sumus, nes cimus quid constet.

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Thanks so much everyone! 

16 hours ago, GEzell said:

I'm willing to bet you $5 that your wrought iron came from Globe... That stuff has amazing contrast, almost more than nickel.

I'm actually not sure where it originated, I got it from here www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?/topic/32421-round-wrought-iron-bar-stock/&tab=comments#comment-318048

That said, do you happen to know where I could get some more of that Globe stuff? I'm running pretty low at the moment :(

Anywho, here is the blade! Polished to a clean 500 grit before etching. Does anyone happen to know what causes some of these thick black weld lines to show up in the etch of the wrought iron? I know the welds were clean. Heck, I was more worried about the welds between the two twisted bars, the wrought welded beautifully to the steel, but in many places the weld line itself etched really deep and dark. I'm really happy with the way the pattern looks and the way the blade looks, but it's just really interesting that some of the welds look different than others :lol:

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“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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53 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Probably a result of decarb.

I would have to agree. That's the carbon trying desperately to migrate from the 1084/15N20 laminates into the wrought. It cannot dissipate fast enough and ends up concentrated along the weld line.

55 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

You'll see my latest version in the next month or so..

Tease. 

Colin: This has been a fantastic WIP to watch. I hope you continue it with the rest of the project. You have definitely overcome some serious trials in this blade. I salute your efforts. It looks great.

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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.”

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I agree with Josh, a fantastic wip I'm thinkin yer chin is gittin warm......;)

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If ya can't be good don't git caught  !!                                        People who say stuff can't be done need to

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That looks great man, and I owe you $5...:)

I'm with Alan and Joshua, that's probably decarb, though with wrought iron it's good to expect the unexpected.  Speaking of wrought, these guys are sitting on over a hundred tons of it: https://www.oldglobewood.com/real-wrought-iron.html. That's where I figured your's was from, the stuff I've worked of their's has a high phosphorus content and etches very bright.  I need to find some low phosphorus to go with it, it would look neat patternwelded together I think.

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George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
Buffon


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Thanks so much everyone! Just finished up the handle late last night (Okay, I was up until 6:30am, but I did finish it :P)

So onto the secret... I've long been fascinated by artworks based on geometry and divine proportion, and patterns that repeat themselves within a design. Things like the Golden Spiral inspired this piece, and The Golden Seax is now complete.

With a blade of 12.6" and a handle of 7.8", the blade to handle ratio is the golden section of the overall length. This is a ratio that repeats itself in the blade, which is 7.8" from the shoulders to the break, and 4.8" from the break to the tip. So that's the secret behind the name of The Golden Seax ;)

I used the weirdest, craziest, and most golden piece of maple I had for this handle, and I'm really happy with the way it looks. I considered carving it, but I honestly think any carvings I did on it would take away from its natural God given character and beauty.

I went totally historical with the handle. I kinda wanted to add a metal bolster, but I didn't, because they're not 100% historically accurate for a type IV seax, and Matt Parkinson told me not to put bolsters on seaxes anymore :lol:

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Hope you guys like it! Thanks for looking :D
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“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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That's wild grain in that maple.  Is it from a crotch in the tree or is it a burl?  The various patterns in the blade really stand out.  An outstanding job.

Doug

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HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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15 hours ago, Doug Lester said:

That's wild grain in that maple.  Is it from a crotch in the tree or is it a burl?  The various patterns in the blade really stand out.  An outstanding job.

Doug

Thanks man! I'm not sure what part of the tree is from, I got it in a 3.5" square by 18" long piece and sawed it up by hand. 

6 hours ago, Jon Cook said:

It has a little bit of organic feel to it.  I'm guessing the ratio has something to do with that. Does the series continue with the blade height or thickness?

Thanks! The Golden section was only intentionally applied to the ratio from blade to handle and the break in the blade, the rest I just trusted the way I've kind of internalized the proportions of the broken back seax by studying photos of originals, and didn't measure until I was finished with it. The width turned out to be 1.5" at the base and 1.75" at the break, and the thickness is 0.220" at the base, proximal distal taper up to like 0.252" at the break. Feels very... choppy :D

Edited by Collin Miller
I accidentally a word

“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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