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How to make a serpent pattern seax


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Hey guys, I searched the web for a while, but couldn't find a clear answer anywhere. I was wondering how one goes about making a serpant pattern (like in a seax, or a sword).

I gave it some thought and I know I want to make it the way the originals may have been done. That said, I tried to think up the path of least resistance first. Triangles are easier to forge evenly than hills... Stretched out far enough; I think triangles turn into hills. 

What do you guys think? I think the bottom drawing would be easier to forge. 

20180523_214324.jpg

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I did a double serpent the way of the triangle cutouts! worked very well for me but I would be surprised if this was how it was done originally as it is very wasteful. Definitely works, is easy and gives lovely flowing serpents though.

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5 hours ago, James Higson said:

I did a double serpent the way of the triangle cutouts! worked very well for me but I would be surprised if this was how it was done originally as it is very wasteful. Definitely works, is easy and gives lovely flowing serpents though.

Cool! Would you mind going further in depth as to which way you did it please?

I didn't figure on having much waste at all. I was going to forge the triangles via a triangular top tool rather than cutting them out. I've already done something similar to make "wolf's teeth".

Thanks!

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And just to be clear, my plan of attack was to go like the bottom drawing in my first post: 

Forge and twist 2 low layer billets and weld them together for the serpent's body

forge 2 triangle bars to be welded to the top and bottom of the serpent 

 weld it all together and draw it out into a flat bar. 

 

Edited by Zeb Camper
misspelled "serpent"
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I am sure forging the triangles would work but it is likely to be an absolute nightmare to get it all fitting right and you likely wouldn't get a perfect undulating serpent. If the organic look is what you're going for then that would likely be ideal as mine is pretty regular. Check out the WIP: 

 

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Thanks a ton James! I'm glad to see the method is tried and true. That sword looks pretty killer! Have you made any more progress on it?  

Edit: sorry, never crossed my mind that the thread was more than 1 page long... looks great! 

Edited by Zeb Camper
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These are just the first few that come up if you enter this magic phrase in Google: serpent in the sword site bladesmithsforum.com

;)

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3 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

These are just the fwirst few that come up if you enter this magic phrase in Google: serpent in the sword site bladesmithsforum.com

;)

:blink: How embarrassing! I tried "serpent seax site bladesmiths forum" but didn't get much of anything. Never occured to me to try "sword". 

Thanks Alan, you're the man! 

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The originals were a forged welded overlay/inlay. It is super wasteful to remove that much material for a pattern like James mentioned, but traditional wolfs tooth pattern was also done almost exclusively by stock removal after the initial welding is done. So wasteful patterns were in use back then, I just think it is doubtful as a way to make it happen. Have you seen Jeff Pringle's twist method? I can't find the post, but take a bar and twist it 90 degrees back and forth in short sections. When forged on the bias afterwards this will give you a serpent pattern. Without the need for excessive removal of material! I have seen several blades done this way. 

 

Either way you decide to do it, have fun and show us what you do! Inlay is a lot of fun, and overlay more so. I haven't tried the stock removal method before but I can imagine it would also be fun!

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On 5/28/2018 at 11:47 PM, Emiliano Carrillo said:

The originals were a forged welded overlay/inlay. It is super wasteful to remove that much material for a pattern like James mentioned, but traditional wolfs tooth pattern was also done almost exclusively by stock removal after the initial welding is done. So wasteful patterns were in use back then, I just think it is doubtful as a way to make it happen. Have you seen Jeff Pringle's twist method? I can't find the post, but take a bar and twist it 90 degrees back and forth in short sections. When forged on the bias afterwards this will give you a serpent pattern. Without the need for excessive removal of material! I have seen several blades done this way. 

 

Either way you decide to do it, have fun and show us what you do! Inlay is a lot of fun, and overlay more so. I haven't tried the stock removal method before but I can imagine it would also be fun!

Thanks! My method doesn't involve any waste. I'm actually forging triangular bars to then weld to the straight serpent bar. These bars will be welded on to make a zig zag. 

20180603_145227.jpg

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While I do wish had taken more progress photos; I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off to the vice to twist, the forge, the anvil, the grinder, the welding table, and back to the forge.

The method of adding the... I'll call them "distortion teeth". Adding the pre-forged destortion teeth after welding the twisted serpent bars together does in fact work. However, I think my tooth shape was not quite right. Reason:

When i first started smashing the teeth down, the pattern became very clear; very evenly wavy. When I smashed the distortion teeth all the way down; the pattern became irregular. 

Here's a crappy picture. 20180605_153506.jpg20180605_153511.jpg

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Well, you've definitely got some nice movement. It looks a lot more organic than mine did! I am not sure how you could have got a greater amplitude of the oscillations without using the cutting triangle method. Looking forward to what it looks like finished!

James

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Thanks James! You guys can follow the progress in this train wreck of a KITH thread: 

I'm terribly sorry for how many weapons I couldn't choose from :lol:. This one will be finished though! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Way late to the party with this one, but I tried an experiment on this line of thought with a spear last year and had mixed results. The overall effect was what I was going for, but the deformation of the serpentine was not quite there. I think with a little refinement it would be right on with the amplitude and wavelength of historical serpent undulations. I really do need to finish the dang thing...

https://shardsofthedarkage.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-serpent-spear.html

 

John

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Thanks for that John! That's a really cool spear!

Your pattern seems more regular than mine was. This could be in part due to my inexperience as I admit this was my third attempt at any form of pattern welding. 

 I believe the answer to achieving a more regular pattern is all in the correct angles in the triangles. I think perfect 90° "right" triangles should produce better patterns. If not, then the angle should at least be looked at in terms of a zig-zag. The angle coming off the edge of the upper triangles should transfer across the central bars and be right in line with the edge of the bottom triangle. I think... 

I'll definitely be giving this another go once I reline my forge. I've already killed the wool and burned a hole in the bottom :(

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