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Flame Edge Serpent Seaxes

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Dear Blade Brethren,

Mr Ecroyd and I have been working on a project now for some time and we have finally got to the stage that we have something to show you for our toil, blood and tears. I am getting married next year (Mr Loose is making my ring :)) and I decided all the best men, ushers and fathers needed wedding knives. We sat down and, true to form, we decided to attempt something ridiculous. This is obviously very similar to the flame edge patterning Dave Stevens showed on Arctic fire and Mick Maxen's explosion mosaics.

The plan:

Blades: Serpented two bar interrupted twist spine, Flame edge with 'Brownian motion' smoke above it

Fittings: Cast bronze chape and pommel, celtic/norse love-themed knotwork

Handles: Choice of wood made by the receiver of the knife (Likely wild mango/bubinga/cocobolo/coolibah burr)

Sheathes: Veg tan leather with electroetched makers mark and bronze/brass fittings


This was the plan for the blade patterning:



I have made a few videos of the process thus far which will be linked at the bottom of this post. I started with 18 layers of 15N20 and 1095, then a massive block of 20 layers of 1095 with a strip of EN42J in the middle, welded on top of the stack. This was welded and elongated, resulting in this pattern on the end of the bar:

Weld 1 (2) (712x800).jpg

This was then stacked at 90 degrees to the original orientation and re-welded, resulting in this pattern on the end of the bar:

Weld 2 (2) (800x791).jpg

This was then again stacked and welded, resulting in much tighter flames:


Finally, this was stacked three times and welded. After this, the billet was allowed to cool very slowly from critical temperature to make it as soft as possible, allowing it to be cut into slices.

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Another billet was then prepared, 18 layers of 15N20 and 1095, welded and elongated, then twisted alternately one way and then the next. This was split into two and then welded together inside two bars of EN8 plain carbon steel. The resulting bar was cut into a zig-zag and forged back to bar stock, causing undulation of the central two alternating twist bars.

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The slices of the flame edge bar were then forged into 1cm thick bars:

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These were then married up to their serpent bar and welded, then drawn out to the correct thickness for forging the knives. It was attempted to elongate them as little as possible, to avoid elongating the twist too far, however the flame edge bar needed elongating to unbunch the pattern. A compromise had to be made.

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These bars were then forged into two knives each and normalised before grinding.

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After a huge amount of grinding, normalising, quenching, grinding again and then polishing, the knives were etched and taken to a final polish at 1200 grit. I made a machine I named the 'Hand-sand-o-matic 2000' to assist with polishing but I think it will be more useful when time is not such an issue as most of these were polished with A45 trizact belts, as there was no plunge line.

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Thank you for looking, any comments and criticisms are as always welcomed. Video links to follow to some horrifically amateurishly edited videos! I will post more as we progress with the casting, handling and sheathing.




James and Sam

Edited by James Higson
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Ambitious!  And well done so far! B)  I didn't think I would like the mix of modern mosaic pattern development and migration-era techniques, but I do.  Well played, gentlemen!

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2 hours ago, Jeremy Blohm said:

Amazing!!!  Cant wait to see the video.

Cheers Jeremy, videos added into the original post.

2 hours ago, Gerhard said:

All I can say is that's going to be a cooler wedding than any I've been to!  Amazing blades!

I hope so, cheers!

2 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

Very nice!

Good luck with the wedding :)


I'll need it :ph34r:

2 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Ambitious!  And well done so far! B)  I didn't think I would like the mix of modern mosaic pattern development and migration-era techniques, but I do.  Well played, gentlemen!

Cheers Alan, was worried about what the traditionalists would think about our blasphemic patterning on a historical blade shape!

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Impressive work, well done. They all share a common unifying theme but each are unique - great symbolism for the wedding!

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Very cool, the modern edge pattern fits much better to the ancient patterns than I thought it would. Also I give you guys major kudos  for taking on such a massive project.

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Cheers guys!

I am not entirely sure how I didn't get the same irregularity in my pattern as you Dave, that's what I was going for, a little more organic. Did you intentionally stack the pieces a little off centre so the flames were higher? Mine looks much more regular than yours. I like it a lot but I think I was just too surgical with the hammer!

Just finished carving the waxes for casting bronze fittings so just need to make a ridiculous number of casting trees and get the ceramic shells sorted, then we're good to go.

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Nice work James. A more irregular pattern will be achieved by forging your initial billet, the 1st photo you show, so that you have a combination of wide and narrow pieces. Always keep the height the same but try forging them so one bar is say 12mm wide and the other 6 or 8mm wide. This pushes the wave pattern higher up the bar in the narrow section and then stack them in alternating thin and thick sections.aDSC_1298-copy.jpg  

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What Mick said. 

If you're not getting sufficient distortion on the edges of the first weld, try rotating 45 degrees while it's still pretty thick, then re-rectangling it (if that's a word). This will increase the pointy bits on each slice, but won't achieve the macro variation of flame height that Mick's technique achieves.

These are great patterns to play with in plasticine before trying it with steel. 


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I'm seriously impressed! Massive work. I love the  final effect.

And thanks a lot for wonderful videos! I love particulary two devices: grinding "jig-tool" with adjustable angle and... the cam paper sander. That's cool! Reminds a steampunk art however it's not steam powered :D

Edited by Kris Lipinski
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