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Single Edged Viking Sword


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Hey Everyone! I have here a few lot of photos of a commission I have been finishing over the last few weeks! It is a blade made for a good friend and client who has been amazingly patient with my slow progress. I'm happy to have it done and wanted to show it off here! First some finished shots and then the WIP shots. Enjoy! 

 

Some stats first! Blade is 30.5 inches long and weighed a little over 600 grams on its own. The finished sword weighs in at 1036 grams. It is pattern welded and made in four bars, a random edge of 300 layers and two seven layer twists with iron on the spine. The hilt fittings are iron with silver wrap. The grip is basswood covered in hemp cord and then leather dyed dark. The scabbard is made of sheepskin and poplar covered in linen and then leather, with a maple scabbard bridge. It is made in a historical style drawing very heavily on several original artifacts the client documented and shared with me. The proportions and sizes are an amalgam of several of these artifacts, mostly from Ireland. This sword is purpose built, it sings with intent and seems to pulse in your hand. It is alive and strong, quick and keen, and sings sharply as it cuts through the air.

 

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So! I started with a few billets of steel and iron and went to town; here's the WIP!

The bars each received two tight twists in small sections offset from each other, trying to make a nice repeating pattern that is not matched from bar to bar. 

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Here I have the bars laid up and ready for welding. A bar folded to 300 layers of 15n20 and 1084 and the two twist bars, seven layers of 15n20 and 1084, and then a spine of wrought iron. IMG_0677.jpg

 

A kind of wonky time lapse video of forge welding the billet. Unless I am doing a small knife or seax I like to do my forge welding by hand. 

 

Apres forge welding! Nice and clean looking. I actually over estimated by quite a bit and the billet was about 40 inches long when finished. I cut off the excess and forged a foot long seax out of it, which I'll post about sometime later!

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I cut the tip and began forging the shape of the blade. The tip shape of this sort of sword is very characteristic of the style and hard to miss. Very flat spine with an often rounded and abrupt  tip taper, sometimes more gradual like mine.

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And the rough forging is done! You can see the radius of the fuller forged in near the shoulders of the blade in the reflections of the water. I try to forge everything as close as possible before beginning the heat treat or grinding. 

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Fast forward a little while and you get to this! I brought the sword to Matt Berrys place and used his luxuriously long heat treat kiln. I had to quench the sword 3 times because of a pretty drastic curvature that occurred. Because of the wrought iron spine the sword gained positive sori and ended up looking like a beautiful katana, which would have been great if it was meant to be a katana... So I did it again, and then a third time, with a pre forged downward curvature, which straightened out slightly and ended with a nice slightly curved blade. These blades have a very characteristic downward curvature seen in most examples. This is a pretty clear sign of oil quenching, as the quench is slower the edge pulls the blade downwards, and with water the spine cools more slowly which pulls the blade up.

 

The blade sitting after quenching and after cooling enough to stop curving up. 

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The pattern showing through the scale. 

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Post temper! I almost wish I could have left the sword like this. 

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So at this point work got a little crazy and I took a break from commissioned work. I was able to begin planning the rest of the sword, but it would be a few weeks before I could work on it any more. I sketched up the hilt fittings based off a few originals my client had a chance to document, and based some of the proportions off this sword in Jeff Pringles collection. 

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With my magical drawing in hand and boat shaped forms in my mind I began to forge the hilt components. I took a page from something Peter Johnsson taught me and made a punch the shape of the blade at the base to create my rough guard.

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Then it's time for drilling and sawing with a jewelers saw to create the correct slot to fit the tang tightly. 

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I find it really nice to have a drawing to work from. My pieces aren't made perfectly in my minds eye and then on paper like Jake does, and the shapes and forms occasionally go through some changes, I find it really helpful to have a drawing that is roughly what I am after to base my work off of. Like you can see it is rough and quick but allows me to annotate and measure and riff off my design easily if need be. 

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And shazam! Guard is polished and etched with the upper guard on the way.

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I chose some basswood I got from Jesus Hernandez. It is easy to work and robust, making good tight fitting channels in just a few minutes.

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Once the channel fits the tang properly I can glue the halves together and prepare for the rest of the grip work. 

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I changed direction a little bit here and drilled and filed the upper guard to fit the tang and the rivets for the pommel. 

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Here are most of the parts 'assembled' to get a feel for the size of things.

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A shot of the sword from the bottom, showing the character of the iron and the tang end to be peened over later. 

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While I was working on the guards I decided to start the sheath core. Like usual, I'm starting with 1/16 inch poplar which I cut slightly oversized to fit the blade. 

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I got some help from my girlfriend shearing some Icelandic sheepskin short enough to line the inside of the scabbard with. It is grained material, so you basically have two options, you can orient the grain in or out so that the sliding action is smooth going into the scabbard or out of it. I chose to have the action smoother for the draw, as I imagine a smooth draw is a little more important than a smooth re sheathing. The material does seem to soften up after a while, and the difference is now barely noticeable though at first it worried me. 

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I like to use a worn out 36 grit belt and the flat platten to shape my wooden grips. I find I can make them very accurately and size them appropriately to the project. I account for the cord and then leather that will cover the grip. It should feel slightly emaciated when holding it in your hands at this stage. 

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The beginning of the hemp wrap. 

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And ready for leather! A leather wrap on its own is strong and can add structural strength to a grip, but cord added to the underwrap can really add a huge amount of resilience to your grip. 

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Using hide glue and some other tips from Peter I begin to skive and prepare the leather for wrapping and gluing. IMG_1813.jpg

 

 

After some diligent and careful work I can sleep and let it do its own thing over night. 

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You'll probably have noticed the scabbard core. I glued the sheepskin to the inside of the poplar slats and then glued linen on top. The linen acts as a semi flexible cover to help the scabbard move and bend without breaking but allows it to remain rigid at the same time. This will be covered in leather later for durability against the elements and to further strengthen it. I have made the rough iron block the pommel will be shaped out of. I drilled holes and set pins to allow me to assemble the whole thing later. 

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And filing time!

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A rough fit of the pieces to get an idea of where this is going, so far so good I think! 

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Next I dyed the grip a nice dark brown using tape to keep dye from the pores of the iron. 

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And the pommel is shaped and etched! Now for the silver wire inlay.

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Wrapped and soldered.

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I filed and forged in some spaces for the wire to lay, as well as the peen of the sword. 

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And assembled! I don't have any photos of the actual assembly, it got kind of crazy and I forgot to get out my phone. 

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So now that the sword itself was done the leather work was next. I had one bad application of leather and had to remove my work. After some careful wetting and pulling and cutting I was free of the old work, and could begin fresh. There is something beautiful even about failure. 

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Undeterred (kind of, I had to wait a week for new leather to arrive) I began anew, and didn't take any photos of the process as leather work is quite stressful for me, and I spend most of the time the glue is malleable massaging and working the material to get it just right. I set up the risers to hug the leather cord I plan to use to attach the scabbard bridge later. 

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I took a piece of maple I liked, and began with that worn out 36 grit belt. In about 15 minutes I was ready for filing and sanding. I use a pencil and files to mark out and create the indent for the leather cord to tie the bridge to the scabbard. 

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And a few minutes later! Finished and oiled. Fairly low profile, to accent the graceful and quick feel of the blade. 

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Next I finished stitching the scabbard, another fairly stressful task made more enjoyable with television and some choice beer. 

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Late that night I finished stitching and was ready for the tying of the bridge.

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And finished! This sword took about 120 hours to make from start to finish. It was a hugely fun project and I hope to revisit the idea of a single edged sword some other time! For now other smaller pointy things lay in store for me!

 

 

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Edited by Emiliano Carrillo
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Awesome job, dude!  And brave of you to rivet the pommel after you finished the grip wrap.  I always seem to hit the grip core when I do that.  But then I'm not you...:lol:

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Good stuff Emiliano. It came out very well. That circle drawn on the tang; do you have a hidden pin in the handle? Thanks.

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I really like the pattern in the blade - the whole thing is beautiful.  Great WIP pics - thanks for sharing.

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Oh man, that was a great WIP,  and an even better sword.  You never cease to impress me Emiliano.  Good choice of music too for the quench!

I will be saving this WIP for me later one.  Great info here.

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Beautiful! Also thanks for going into so much detail, I'm sure I'll be coming back to this thread again and again. 

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It's a wonderful sword - I had a chance to play with it after it was finished.  It's feels very light and alive in the hand.  It knows what it's supposed to do...

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This feels so good in the hand! I usually have  a bit of reservation for how people approach single edged swords from this era but this is so beautifully proportioned and balanced! Thanks for all the WIP pictures, that was cool to see. The inside of the wire wrap makes a lot more sense now, seeing how it is soldered together. Great stuff, try and get a few photos of the belt if you can!

John

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On 4/26/2018 at 7:08 AM, Alan Longmire said:

Awesome job, dude!  And brave of you to rivet the pommel after you finished the grip wrap.  I always seem to hit the grip core when I do that.  But then I'm not you...:lol:

Thanks Alan! It was for a few reasons but mostly because I was working on everything at once! I wanted to make sure I could have the sword together and make sure the pommel affected the balance properly, so there was much fiddling to tune it 'just so!' 

On 4/26/2018 at 10:20 AM, Doug Lester said:

Very nice job.  The weight seems to be right on for a single hand sword.  How does it handle?

Doug

Thanks Doug! It handles beautifully! The sword is light and purposeful in hand, it is very alive!

On 4/26/2018 at 12:24 PM, Clifford Brewer said:

SKOAL  !!!!!..................B)

My man B)

On 4/26/2018 at 12:47 PM, Brian Dougherty said:

Wowzers!

 

Thank Brian!

On 4/26/2018 at 12:52 PM, thomas pludra said:

Congrats, Emiliano

a fantastic sword with a wonderfully made sheath, skillfully done and a real joy to the eye.

 

Thank you for your kind words! I am very pleased that this sword came out the way that it has!

On 4/26/2018 at 2:15 PM, Charles du Preez said:

Good stuff Emiliano. It came out very well. That circle drawn on the tang; do you have a hidden pin in the handle? Thanks.

Hey! Thank you! It was actually a 'registration' mark. I like to know which side is which so my fit is always being improved instead of messed with. I usually punch a small dot on the pieces now to let me know which is a trick I picked up from Peter Johnsson. I think you can actually see the mark faintly in the next photo down through the scale on the tang.

On 4/26/2018 at 4:45 PM, Will W. said:

Awesome sword, thanks for the WIP photos as well.

Thank you! I hope they are useful!

On 4/26/2018 at 9:42 PM, Justin Mercier said:

I love the scream of the demons being trapped in the swordblade when you quench it ! :ph34r:

They're trying to get out but not today!

On 4/26/2018 at 10:34 PM, Dave Stephens said:

Looks great! Congrats!

 

Thanks Dave!

On 4/26/2018 at 11:02 PM, MikeDT said:

I really like the pattern in the blade - the whole thing is beautiful.  Great WIP pics - thanks for sharing.

I'm glad you enjoyed! Thank you!

On 4/26/2018 at 11:27 PM, Wes Detrick said:

Oh man, that was a great WIP,  and an even better sword.  You never cease to impress me Emiliano.  Good choice of music too for the quench!

I will be saving this WIP for me later one.  Great info here.

Thanks Wes! It means a lot coming from you brother :) I'm glad theres some useful stuff in here! I always take a lot of photos just so I can make sure I don't forget anything important, but it is nice to know it is useful for other people too!

On 4/27/2018 at 7:35 PM, Collin Miller said:

Beautiful! Also thanks for going into so much detail, I'm sure I'll be coming back to this thread again and again. 

Thanks Collin! Hopefully not too much boring detail! 

On 5/5/2018 at 12:26 PM, MatthewBerry said:

It's a wonderful sword - I had a chance to play with it after it was finished.  It's feels very light and alive in the hand.  It knows what it's supposed to do...

I'd sure say so! it's taken my fingerprints often enough as a 'don't get cocky' sort of gesture! 

On 5/6/2018 at 2:31 PM, Dan Waddell said:

Yes!

Yeah!

On 5/7/2018 at 8:43 AM, John Page said:

This feels so good in the hand! I usually have  a bit of reservation for how people approach single edged swords from this era but this is so beautifully proportioned and balanced! Thanks for all the WIP pictures, that was cool to see. The inside of the wire wrap makes a lot more sense now, seeing how it is soldered together. Great stuff, try and get a few photos of the belt if you can!

John

Thanks John :) I'm glad you were able to see it! So often these pieces pass on without many people getting to handle them in person! Isn't it cool? I forget where I saw someone constructing something like this with just wires tightly twisted inside and then soldered! And yes I will certainly do that! 

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