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First sword, let's go for broke... RAPIER WIP


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Hi all,

So, I'm about 2 and half years down the rabbit hole with a fair amount of knives made. So it's about time to embark in my first sword.

Not being the type to walk before running, I thought about what sword I would really like to make, not about what sword I could actually make. Walking is over rated anyways. 

 

So here's the plan. I'm bang on six feet tall, and according to research, a rapier wants to come up to your belly button. On me, that's 110cm overall length. 

I'm starting with 12mm round 1070 steel. After the first round of forging I have a preform that's up to length, and consistently about 20mm wide and 4-5mm thick across its length. I've yet to forge in some distal taper. 

So here is my first question to you guys: rapier width. Is 20mm across wide enough? 

 

Picture time 

12mm round 1070 in the forge

20191104_145238.jpg

 

After about 50% of preform done

20191104_145414.jpg

 

About 90% done

20191104_153116.jpg

 

Complete preform

20191104_153951.jpg

 

This last pic is my idea of how the swept hilt will look. Long ways from this yet, but always good to have a plan, right?

Screenshot_20191102-110045_S Note.jpg

 

So, thoughts? I will keep this thread updated as I go, but always nice to have input from those who have walked the path before... well, run the path :D

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20mm wide by 5mm thick at the ricasso is within the range of historic rapiers, but a little on the wimpy side.  They tend to be quite stout at the hilt, like 25mm wide by 6 to 7mm thick, expanding to 30-35mm when the bevels start.  Distal taper varies, but it's never linear.  

 

That said, the one Reichswert (a sort of sword-hilted rapier thingy popular in the southern German states) I have made was about your dimensions, though, and it handled like a dream.  Go for it!  B)  Forging them is easy, finishing them is another level of fun. ;)

 

Here's my one long pointy one prior to adding the grip and pommel, 44" equals 111 mm cm (edited 'cause I goofed!):

 

reichschwert 1.jpg

 

and the grip:

 

sword grip.jpg

 

I can't wait to see how you do with one!

 

 

Edited by Alan Longmire
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Definitely watching this one. 

1 hour ago, Clifford Brewer said:

I was just about to grab the popcorn for ya, looks like you got  it first! :lol::P

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Popcorn And Drink animated emoticon   .... and a beer to go along with the popcorn... looking forward to the next installment of this build

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On 11/5/2019 at 10:28 PM, Rob Toneguzzo said:

Best of luck and love your handle drawing. Look forward to seeing your progress.

Thank you very much.

On 11/5/2019 at 10:56 PM, Alan Longmire said:

I can't wait to see how you do with one!

Thanks for the awesome info  and awesome rapier. I hope mine comes out half as good as yours. 

On 11/6/2019 at 7:38 PM, Brian Dougherty said:

Good luck Ross!  I'll be following along.

 

On 11/6/2019 at 10:45 PM, Clifford Brewer said:

 

On 11/6/2019 at 11:53 PM, Conner Michaux said:

Definitely watching this one. 

I was just about to grab the popcorn for ya, looks like you got  it first! :lol::P

 

On 11/7/2019 at 1:46 AM, MikeDT said:

Popcorn And Drink animated emoticon   .... and a beer to go along with the popcorn... looking forward to the next installment of this build

Thanks guys! Never had people following along before! :D

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Right, update time.

Today marked a big day for me in the forge welding area again, this time cable Damascus.  

 

20191109_192421.jpg

 

So what does this have to do with rapiers? Hold your horses, ok getting to that. 

First though, some details about this blade as I forged it out as practice for what I'm going to do with the rapier. 

 

I started out by forge welding 3 peices of 25mm cable about 8" long into billets. I then took all three billets and forged them into one billet and squared that up.

Screenshot_20191109-192921_Video Player.jpg

20191109_143614.jpg

 

This was the main part of my experiment done. I now know that not only can I forge weld the cable to what i need, but that it will give the look i want. 

 

Here is a couple of pics of forging the blade and heat treat.

20191109_150513.jpg

20191109_152525.jpg

20191109_192410.jpg

 

So what's my plan and what does a cable Damascus knife have to do with it? I'll show you...

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So here is the plan. Currently, mu rapier blade is a little on the week side. Too thin and not enough thickness. 

 

Plus, seeing as we are going all out on this, I wanted to up the anti. 

 

Screenshot_20191109-195121_S Note.jpg

the diagram shows my plan. I'm going to forge out 2 billets of cable Damascus and then forge weld them to my blade, effectively creating a San mai. 

 

This will give me both the steel for the width and the steel for the thickness, plus the degree of challenge I'm stupidly looking for, and of course, if it all comes out ok, it should look pretty awesome too. 

 

Any thoughts from those more experienced? 

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That will look pretty awesome!  Just be very careful to keep the welded cable the same thickness from one side to the other lest you spend more time fixing warps than the initial forging.  Oh, and you may want to bevel the edges of the cable a bit to lessen the chance of cold shuts. Trapezoids instead of rectangles, in other words.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Been a while since I have had a chance to work on the rapier. My last plan to forge weld cable Damascus to the already forged out 1070 blade is not going to work, for a couple of reasons.

 

One, I dont have enough cable. And two, well, I dont trust my abilities to pull off that forge weld yet. So that 1070 blade will get turned into a small sword. It's perfectly dimensioned for that already.

 

Onto the rapier. Yes, I'm still making a rapier. A mild steel san mai rapier :D I'm a sucker for punishment.

 

What you see here is my billet all welded up. 2 layers of 1070 side by side and then a layer of mild steel either side. I welded up everything to try and prevent any oxygen from getting in because I knew that I could not heat the entire thing at once to forge welding temps... forge is too small.

Screenshot_20200107-195902_Instagram.jpg

 

Here is the entire billet after setting the welds. Felt good and solid, you can really feel when it starts to firm up under the hammer

Screenshot_20200107-195939_Instagram.jpg

And success!!

Screenshot_20200107-190113_Instagram.jpg

 

I just etched the end of the billet, but I ground out all the welds along its entire length, both sides and all the welds look good. 

 

So I have since started drawing out the blade  I'm about 30% done and will pick it up again tomorrow 

Edited by Ross Vosloo
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7 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

I was wondering what was happening with this project.  Slow and steady!  

Ja, been a busy couple of months. But I finally finished all my back orders and now have some time to work on my own projects, so full steam ahead 

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How did I miss this?? :blink:

 

Ross, you are adding to you bag of tricks very quickly, well done.......watching with interest B)

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On 1/8/2020 at 7:58 AM, Gerhard Gerber said:

How did I miss this?? :blink:

 

Ross, you are adding to you bag of tricks very quickly, well done.......watching with interest B)

Haha, no idea bru. Thanks very much.

 

 

So here's where I am right now. 

 

Pretty much have the blade forged out to profile. It's at pretty much the perfect length, with the tip on the floor the end of the tang gets up to my belly button. 

As for width, I have 30mm at the start of the blade tapering right down to 12mm. I think that's going to do it nicely. 

 

20200109_101944.jpg

 

Now I have to put this blade on a diet. It's at 1.2kg now, and my final finished sword weight is 1kg. So I'm thinking I need to get the blade alone down to around 600grams. Any one have any Thoughts or experiences on weight of the blade when finished ground?

20200109_102600.jpg

 

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Anywhere between 600-900g can work there. The hilt won't be very heavy, and you use the pommel to adjust the balance.

That said, an unmounted blade should still feel "right," in that the nodes of vibration are controlled more by the blade geometry than the weight. 

To tune it once you're well into the grind, clamp a small weight to the end of the tang. This weight is pretending to be the whole hilt, not just the pommel, so keep that in mind. When you hit the right weight it will feel like it's floating in your hand. When it does that, you should be able to hold the point still in space while moving the hilt all over the place.

I should make some more rapier blades, tuning them is great fun...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Been a while since last update. I keep forgetting to post up progress here.

 

The heat treat went very well. I quenched to just below critical then straight into a straightening jig, 2 massive plates in the vice. Had only a very slight warp to the tip where the distal taper was.

Then I had to torch temper the blade. This was a bit tricky, and I think I slightly over heated the blade in one spot, although I have found varying colour charts and sources that say different things about where this type of blade wants to be tempered to.

20200112_165318.jpg

next up was grinding the bevels and the fuller.

The bevels went very well. Then came a real mistake from me. I should have done the fuller first, before the bevels. I also should have made a small wheel attachment for my 2x72 and not used the top idler wheel of the platen.

 

Oh well, now I just have lots of clean up to do.

I also test etched the blade 

20200120_123901.jpg

 

Next I started forging out the swept hilt. Had to try and get a lot of weight out of the hilt after forging 

20200120_180109.jpg

20200121_142728.jpg

and here's where it is right now  handle on, hilt in its final form and a rough pommel. 20200201_183544.jpg

 

Still tons of refining and polishing to go, but I'm happy. It feels great in the hand and I managed to get the weight down to 1.2kgs/ 2.6lbs which I think is acceptable. 

 

Thoughts?

 

Edited by Ross Vosloo
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Looks good so far! Are you going to polish the guard? A quick note on torch tempering: like many I've found it to be inaccurate, but you can improve the accuracy considerably by getting a multimeter and a surface probe thermocouple to check the temperature on both sides of the blade as you go.

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I like it!  I would have used lighter weight stock for the guard, and swept the knuckle bow all the way to the pommel, but this has a heavy, dark, and sinister look that says "I am not a fancy show-rapier, I am a deadly serious blade that will make you rue the day you ever saw me drawn in anger." :ph34r:

 

Good job bringing the weight down, too!  A bit on the heavy side for a rapier, but if the balance is right you won't notice.  

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Wow,

Go for broke!!

A rapier for a first sword is really pushing limits..  I admire your tenacity and determination.  What you have is quite good. It took me years before I tried my first rapier and then  it was just mono steel.  Kudos for a great build, and for the gumption to put it all out there online.

Awesome.  just awesome..

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22 hours ago, AJ Chalifoux said:

Looks good so far! Are you going to polish the guard? A quick note on torch tempering: like many I've found it to be inaccurate, but you can improve the accuracy considerably by getting a multimeter and a surface probe thermocouple to check the temperature on both sides of the blade as you go.

Thanks! 

 

My plan with the guard is to blacken it up in the forge, give it a bit more of a rough as forged look.

Thanks for the tip with tempering. 

20 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

I like it!  I would have used lighter weight stock for the guard, and swept the knuckle bow all the way to the pommel, but this has a heavy, dark, and sinister look that says "I am not a fancy show-rapier, I am a deadly serious blade that will make you rue the day you ever saw me drawn in anger." :ph34r:

 

Good job bringing the weight down, too!  A bit on the heavy side for a rapier, but if the balance is right you won't notice.  

Ja, hindsight being 20/20, I would have used much much smaller stock. I had to grind a lot of the hilt to get the weight down.

Glad you get the theme I'm going for! If it was wielded by anyone, I would want his name to start with Darth!

19 hours ago, J.Thompson said:

Wow,

Go for broke!!

A rapier for a first sword is really pushing limits..  I admire your tenacity and determination.  What you have is quite good. It took me years before I tried my first rapier and then  it was just mono steel.  Kudos for a great build, and for the gumption to put it all out there online.

Awesome.  just awesome..

Thanks very much! 

 

 

Here's today's work so far

20200203_121517.jpg

 

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Well, it's done! 

Learnt a lot, and although it hasnt turned out exactly how I wanted it to, I'm still very proud for my first sword. 

 

Final weight is 1.25 kgs. Handle is African blackwood and brass. Hilt is mild steel. Blade is mild steel and 1070 san mai. 

 

My biggest take home, scarf welds are for tangs, not blades! 

 

20200204_130246.jpg20200204_130329.jpg20200204_130555.jpg20200204_130316.jpg20200204_130414.jpg20200204_130514.jpg

Edited by Ross Vosloo
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Love that head-on view!  You have got to have the missus take a pic of you holding it in the "en garde" position!  

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