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Faye

seax knife

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I was originally not going to put this one on here, but my desire to know how it stacks up outweighed my desire to live in la la land. This one took me about a month and a half from start (first drawings) to finish (cutting cheese with it) The blade is made from an old horseshoe rasp, the handle from apple wood, and the pins are brass. I left it rustic to give it an old Viking feel

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Since you're posting this in design and critique, I'm going to offer you some advice.

I'm a seax aficionado, so the first thing that stands out is that this really doesn't look very much like a seax.  Right now the seax is suffering from the same thing that happened when the bowie knife suddenly became popular: everybody wants one, but almost no one knows what one is supposed to look like.  The cutlers of Jim Bowie's day were more than happy to crank out big scary knives and call them bowies, so that any knife with a blade over 6" long was dubbed a bowie knife for marketing purposes, most of which didn't really look anything like the knife Jim Bowie used.... I've seen double-edged daggers called bowies.  I would like to prevent the same thing happening to the seax.  The idea of a seax has suddenly become mainstream, everybody wants one, but almost no one knows what a seax actually looks like.

My advice is to study the originals.  There are a lot of replicas out there and most of them are atrocious.  If you want to make a genuine seax, look at the genuine seaxes... In most cases this means rusty blades in museums.  Lucky for us we have the internet and don't actually have to travel to Europe and visit the museums personally, Jeroen has done that for us...:)

I'm giving you a link to my Pinterest board that has virtually every image of a seax, or smaller knife from the same period, that I've been able to find.  Not a lot of them have good descriptions, very few have dimensions, but I think you'll still find them useful.  Seaxes were used for over 500 years over most of Europe, there are many regional variations and they changed over time, and sticking a 6th century handle on a 10th century blade is generally considered bad form, but hopefully these images will give you a crash course on all things seax.

https://pin.it/aknnwsqkydk3wy

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Thank you for the advice.  I am a mostly free style knife maker, or whatever you want to call it,  and this blade is the first one that I have made from a "common design." Usually I just have a half formed image in my head that may or may not end up the way I thought it would. For this project I googled historical knives and just scrolled through the pictures looking for a design that fit the advice I was given previously, to make a simple knife,  with a simple two pin handle and no gaurd. Google said that this design was called a seax knife,  I had heard of seax knives many times before in books but never saw one, and I didn't think to check if Google was right. I am sorry if I exhibited any bad form in how I put this knife together. 

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Faye, I like the design. When I look at it, I do consider the shape to be a Seax. I think GEzell was providing background from a historical perspective, which is great for all of us to know. But I don’t believe you were attempting a historical representation, so with that understood as background, I will share my perspective.

You did a great job of creating a knife that you like how it looks and you have utility for it. The proportions for blade to handle are good.some things I would change to make it even better are 1.) if you want to use it in the kitchen, I would remove all the remnants of the rasp. It can be an area that is hard to clean and you don’t want that for food use. 2.) it is hard to gauge the size of the handle without a reference, but it appears it could be better contoured for a more comfortable grip. 3.) a clear plunge line for the blade would make the biggest improvement on the blade. Right now, the plunge line is blurred and not clearly defined. 4.) fit and finish - if the blade was completely finished with a high bevel and hand sanded to a consistent plane, it would cross over from being a good beginner’s knife to a knife that we all look at and see a well executed blade. Crisp lines for the bevel and lunge will be the biggest area to improve. The handle is good, but it could be great by further tapering the fit towards the blade, contouring so the bottom is smaller for a grip, which will also help with indexing the blade quicker, and I personally prefer not to have such a dramatic bulb in the back, especially with the tip design being a tanto, I would like a more uniform handle height throughout the length of the handle.

Overall, looks good and if you spend a little more time on those areas, it goes from good to great. Keep up the good work and make some more knives. You will be amazed at your improvement from one to the next, especially on your early knives. This one reminds me of my first attempt, and I am  still proud of it. Using it as a utility knife in the shop. I even refine it a bit each time it is used and it is quite different from where I “finished” it the first time.

good job and just keep doing more! You will love each blade and love even more how much you gain from making each one

 

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GEzel, thanks for that link!

Faye, if you are seriously seriouse about seaxes, GEzel, and Jerron, and Alan, Matt, might as well add Collin, and a ton of others are your best friends. Don't get upset by their critiques, because these guys are finatics. They genuinely want to help you become one too. 

overall, you still need tons of refinement. The devil is in the details. I probably made 5 knives last year (and forged out over 10; 5 of which that are still awaiting my return, so I'll maybe make 10 this year), so that gives you an idea of the speed that an intermediate level smith (that has a full time day job) works at. Beginners should be slower. Quality first, speed later. Good luck on the next!

Edited by Zeb Camper

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TBH..........I can't make out where the edge is, one side it would count as a seax, the other a sort of tanto.....based solely on photos of seaxes that I've seen.

Going by the handle (finger grooves?) my eye tells me tanto.....

Edited by Gerhard
disclaimer added :-P

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1 hour ago, Gerhard said:

TBH..........I can't make out where the edge is, one side it would count as a seax, the other a sort of tanto.....based solely on photos of seaxes that I've seen.

Going by the handle (finger grooves?) my eye tells me tanto.....

My first reaction as well. If the edge isn't on the longer, straight side, it's more of an American-style tanto.
That rustic look is fine, but don't let the Viking history buffs catch you saying that it makes it look more Viking-- they were excellent craftsmen and their work only looks rustic once it's been buried for a thousand years. :lol:
 

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10 hours ago, DavidF said:

Faye, I like the design. When I look at it, I do consider the shape to be a Seax. I think GEzell was providing background from a historical perspective, which is great for all of us to know. But I don’t believe you were attempting a historical representation, so with that understood as background, I will share my perspective.

You did a great job of creating a knife that you like how it looks and you have utility for it. The proportions for blade to handle are good.some things I would change to make it even better are 1.) if you want to use it in the kitchen, I would remove all the remnants of the rasp. It can be an area that is hard to clean and you don’t want that for food use. 2.) it is hard to gauge the size of the handle without a reference, but it appears it could be better contoured for a more comfortable grip. 3.) a clear plunge line for the blade would make the biggest improvement on the blade. Right now, the plunge line is blurred and not clearly defined. 4.) fit and finish - if the blade was completely finished with a high bevel and hand sanded to a consistent plane, it would cross over from being a good beginner’s knife to a knife that we all look at and see a well executed blade. Crisp lines for the bevel and lunge will be the biggest area to improve. The handle is good, but it could be great by further tapering the fit towards the blade, contouring so the bottom is smaller for a grip, which will also help with indexing the blade quicker, and I personally prefer not to have such a dramatic bulb in the back, especially with the tip design being a tanto, I would like a more uniform handle height throughout the length of the handle.

Overall, looks good and if you spend a little more time on those areas, it goes from good to great. Keep up the good work and make some more knives. You will be amazed at your improvement from one to the next, especially on your early knives. This one reminds me of my first attempt, and I am  still proud of it. Using it as a utility knife in the shop. I even refine it a bit each time it is used and it is quite different from where I “finished” it the first time.

good job and just keep doing more! You will love each blade and love even more how much you gain from making each one

 

I need to learn some of the terminology, because I am not sure what you mean by the plunge line?  For the bevals I left them short because I didn't get a good heat treat and I was stupid enough not to test it in a manner I could tell that before I put the handle on,  many tears were shed over this,  but I didn't want to make the edge so fine that I could never use it. This may be an incorrect way of thinking but it was my reason.

On the handle I do have finger grooves and I will put a better picture to show that as well as where the cutting edge is. 

20180302_102309.jpg

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The plunge line is where you start the bevels.  Seaxes do not have a plunge line because they do not have a ricasso (a flat part before the bevel starts).

And yep, you sharpened the wrong edge to call it a seax-inspired knife. ;)  The long edge is the sharp one on a brokenback seax blade.  There's tons of information about the things on this site.  If you're using a phone some of it won't show up, but with a desktop, laptop, or tablet you will see links under people's posts.  Find any post by Jeroen Zuiderwick and click on his powerpoint, http://1501bc.com/files/saxes/lecture_saxes_final3.ppt for a definitive description of what makes a seax (or sax, both spellings are correct, the one with an "e" in it implies Anglo-Saxon).  For that matter, since I just linked it here, use that link!  

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okay, well that's a bit embarrassing, I guess I need to go study knife styles closer. 

 

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You're hardly the first to make that mistake, no worries.  B)

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15 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

You're hardly the first to make that mistake, no worries.  B)

Yah, I saw that but I'm no seax maniac and only practice safe seax so I wasn't completely sure myself.

I have seen boo-boos like that, made a few and know that it is part of the learning curve. Kinda why it isn't called a "Knowing Curve".

I don't do forge welding/pattern/damascus, since I currently have other rabbits to chase down other holes, and I kinda hesitate to make one that isn't made in that manner because the ones I see here are so impressive.

I know there is more to them than what I think I see/know. Still, I have a half of a metric ¥£€£◇-ton of leaf spring left over from a "knife-for-material" trade I made in my HBC/mountain man/recreator knife-maker phase. (I had no idea he could lay hands on that much spring. Great deal for me at that particular "step"). 

Maybe I'll study up and tackle that part of the learning curve.

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Faye, way to go jumping in and giving it a shot. That's a good first knife.

The Powerpoint that Alan posted is an exceptional resource for Seax makers. May I also suggest a couple of threads in the History sub-forum on this site (it's where I started). 

https://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?/topic/15743-langsax-research/

https://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?/topic/15373-yet-another-freakin-seax-topic/

There is enough information in here that, if you pay attention to it, your next one will be easily recognizable as what you intended. 

16 hours ago, Faye said:

Usually I just have a half formed image in my head that may or may not end up the way I thought it would.

Here is a piece of advice I give a lot of knife makers. A well designed plan ends up with a well designed product. A half-planned design winds up with, well, something other than a well designed product. Deciding where you want to go first, and figuring out how to get there, is a faster approach to learning this trade than just "winging it" and seeing what happens. If you make a drawing of your next project and post it in the Design & Critique sub-forum, you will surely get some great guidance on tweaking the design and tips on how to accomplish the construction before you ever lay a hand on a hammer. Speaking honestly, a good mentor will lower the learning curve and move you along faster than trying to figure this out from YouTube and Google. If you do not have access to a mentor who you can train with, there are lots of experienced makers on this forum who are willing to share their expertise with you freely. 

Keep at it and keep us informed on what you are doing.

BTW- It's great to see a female knife maker around here. The craft needs more of them.

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20 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

 

BTW- It's great to see a female knife maker around here. The craft needs more of them.

I've been wanting to say that from the get-go, but I didn't want to assume. Faye, it will be interesting to watch you develop into a better maker, and see a woman's take on the craft. Really looking forward to it! 

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No assumption made Zeb. She self-identified. (and she got her first "like" today!)

Faye

  • Faye
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  • 10 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:wyoming
  • Interests:Books, writing, horses, and most of all knives.

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16 hours ago, Faye said:

Thank you for the advice.  I am a mostly free style knife maker, or whatever you want to call it,  and this blade is the first one that I have made from a "common design." Usually I just have a half formed image in my head that may or may not end up the way I thought it would. 

I did the same thing for my first knife. About a year later, older, wizened, I'm finding Josh's advice more necessary. 

I think the "beginner's mind" approach, where anything is possible, is important to hold on to. But, it's much cheaper to experiment on paper, then commit to steel once you have something you like.

If you're on Instagram and want to check out other lady makers, Haley DesRosiers, Jackie Awesome, and Grace Horn are all doing great stuff.

Best of luck. 

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1 minute ago, Jon Cook said:

If you're on Instagram and want to check out other lady makers, Haley DesRosiers, Jackie Awesome, and Grace Horn are all doing great stuff.

Best of luck. 

Don't forget Dee Hedges. Not sure if she's on IG, but her website is: www.darkwoodsforge.com

 

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I just wanted to say welcome to the madness. What part of Wyoming ya in. If you are ever in or near Heber city I have more leaf spring than I will ever use if ya want some free steel.

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Grace Horne is freakin' AWESOME!  So is Dee.  She was the first female Fiery Beard, but declined due to a lack of facial hair, so got Fiery Bangs instead.  There's another member of the Fiery Bangs club here somewhere, but I haven't seen her post for a while.  Gender makes no difference.  It's all about the steel.

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2 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

Don't forget Dee Hedges. Not sure if she's on IG, but her website is: www.darkwoodsforge.com

 

I did forget about her. I found that Zombie sword thing she was working on during a forum expedition. Haven't seen anything from her here in a bit, though.

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15 minutes ago, Kreg said:

I just wanted to say welcome to the madness. What part of Wyoming ya in. If you are ever in or near Heber city I have more leaf spring than I will ever use if ya want some free steel.

I'm in central Wyoming, Casper area, so Heber is a bit far but I appreciate the offer. 

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8 minutes ago, Faye said:

I'm in central Wyoming, Casper area, so Heber is a bit far but I appreciate the offer. 

Road trip!

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58 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

No assumption made Zeb. She self-identified. (and she got her first like today!)

Oops! :wacko: Guess I should open my eyes BEFORE I open my mouth :lol:

Edit: Darn it! I did it again. I'm not opening my mouth, I'm typing! I mean I'm touching my phone screen! Whatever!

Edited by Zeb Camper

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No worries Zeb,  I actually just put that up there today.  My mom suggested I put some of that stuff on,  and she also said I should tell you I am only sixteen. 

On the knife front, I took it to the shop this afternoon and tried out some of the advice I got from David,  so now it looks like this. 

20180302_170735.jpg

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Sixteen!!!??? You're well on your way at that rate!

What are you using for the bevels? 

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