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Bjorn Gylfason

When does a knife become a sword

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I have been wanting to try my hands at making something based on an existing artifact for a while now and decided yesterday would be a good day to light up the forge. So I was scrolling through Petr Zákovský's Katalog of weapons to see if I could find something reasonable for this attempt.

 

Came across this pretty shaped knife and decided this should do, printed it out and took it to the workshop where I started looking at the measurements and saw it was a little bit bigger than it looked by just glancing at the pictures :rolleyes: 93cm of overall length with a 75cm blade :lol:

 

But I did have an almost perfect sized piece of old leaf spring for it though I did come up a few mm short on the width of the blade, oh well there is always next time for accuracy.

 

Got the blade forged out, hardened and tempered yesterday and now have the whole workweek to figure out exactly how the guard and pommel should be fitted and I still have a good chunk of beautiful medieval wrought iron I'm thinking about using for all of the hilt components

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Well, technically grossmesser means "big knife..." :lol:

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put a t-section on it, and you could make a Khyber knife. Or, make a nagel, and go with the messer. 

 

They become a sword when you intend to use it to fight and kill another person, and they are so long that they aren't useful for anything but chopping people. If they can chop people and firewood, they are a machete or a bayonet or something. Just my thoughts. Around 20 inches.

 

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grosse messer is not a sword, its a knife because of its tang being the same as a knives tang. but they must have had some hidden tang knives around that would have been tiny swords by the same logic. most people werent, and still arent, lead by logic or reason so the gigantic knife was like a loophole in the laws to be able to own a sword as a peasant which might have been illegal otherwise. the guard (nagel) was not a cross guard which brobably made a "legal" difference.

 

fun fact, the term "loophole" is no longer used with logic or reason. im sure most of us have heard of the gun show "loophole" where you can buy a gun without a background check. guess what, its not a loophole beacuse you arent legally required to have a backround check when buying a firearm from an individual and not a dealer, theres no loop, its a straight to get in the show.

 

this shows that lawyers and those other people that were in charge have been against logic and reason for a long time, their weapon is manipulating the meaning of words to bend laws to then be able to manipulate the people beneath them. so you could think of the grosse messer as a mangled knife which has been so distorted that nobody would call it a knife even if you were cutting up your meal at the dinner table with a cheery grin. 

 

so we can thank the natural need to fight the insane desire of our worlds leaders to rule over the entire world "peacefully" for the grosse messer, which is one of my favorite weapons for many reasons. 

 

 

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Word usage and meaning is not a constant. (neither is spelling for that matter)

6 hours ago, Kevin Colwell said:

Just my thoughts. Around 20 inches.

 My tiny brain always said somewhere around an 18 inch (45,75 cm) blade was a "short sword".

Short sword being about as ambiguous as "big knife" I suppose......

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Posted (edited)

once a wizard gives it to a hobbit...

 

Edit: I really should have added that is a really nice start on a blade no matter what you call it. @Bjorn Gylfason

Edited by Brian Dougherty
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Man that thing looks mean. Scary, but with a graecful flow to it at the same time.

 

Big knife or sword? I aways thought it depends on how big you are. A big knife to me might be a short sword to a smaller person, or a normal sized knife to a taller guy.

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It's hard to differentiate between swords and large knives based just on the hilt design of the weapon.  In the Victorian era there were sabers that had full width tangs.  However, there is an historical account of a king settling what was a sword and what was a knife buy saying that swords had stick tangs and knives had full tangs when he was called upon to settle a disagreement between the knifemaker's guild and the swordmaker's guild.

 

Grossemessers did have cross guards and nagels or possibly a ring guard.  There was another style of knife that for the life of me I can't recall what it's called that only had a forward guard and a nagle.  Usually it had a shorter blade than a grossemesser so it didn't push into being sword length.

 

Also remember the kregsmesser which was a two handed single edged weapon that, despite it's full tang, that if you apply the old rule that if it walks like a duct, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck it's a duck, one can't call it anything else but a sword.

 

Doug

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2 hours ago, Doug Lester said:

Grossemessers did have cross guards and nagels or possibly a ring guard.  There was another style of knife that for the life of me I can't recall what it's called that only had a forward guard and a nagle.  Usually it had a shorter blade than a grossemesser so it didn't push into being sword length.

 

I believe you're thinking of Bauernwehr and Hauswehr :)

 

Doug pretty much hit the nail on the head. Messers were sword-length "knives" with crossguards, usually (but not always) sporting a Nagel.

 

That looks like a great start! I'm excited to see where it goes.

 

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Thanks, AJ, those were the knives I was thinking of.  It's hard to get old.  Memory is the second thing to go and I can't remember the first one:rolleyes:.

 

Doug

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Posted (edited)

Someone already mentioned "bauernwehr" which is what this style reminds me of.  A "peasant" knife.

 

If I could say, the only reason why that shape and overall style is more "bauernwehr" is that those styles are a little more every day use intended, and simpler guards.

 

Regardless, trying to attach a meaning like messer, bauernwehr is pretty hard to do. They are both pretty much the same thing big knives. The only difference I could see is that when referring to messer, your referring to a big knife meant for fighting another person. But a bauernwehr is an every day knife.  All be it they get really big, and become pretty stylish as they become popular as hunting sets.

 

I had  PDF that showed evidence that bauernwehr guards where possibly pieced together form things. One was the Nagel was scrapped from old keys.

 

 

Edited by Daniel W

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Now that the sword vs. knife thing is settled, or mostly settled, or at least clarified to the point of no determination rendered, can we talk about that power hammer? 

Man that thing looks awesome!

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Joshua States said:

Now that the sword vs. knife thing is settled, or mostly settled, or at least clarified to the point of no determination rendered, can we talk about that power hammer? 

Man that thing looks awesome!

 

 

I got the chance to dabble with these big bladed things while I was researching some 15centry 2 handed swords. There were several terms associated with the "style" that went from "rugger," " bauernwehr", and another style that survived into the 18th century (forgive me I don't have the spelling with me to remember it started with a W) it resembled a meat cleaver. The guards were similar but totally different blade.  If you can look up some of Albrecht Deur wood cuts you will see tons of variants of "big knives" if you look close.

 

There could be a whole different discussion within what all those stated above are considered. In the context of the 15th century if you asked anyone what Bjorn's blade is, someone would just say "big freaking knife."

 

 

 

 

Is that mine belting I see for the spring?

 

 

Edited by Daniel W

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10 hours ago, Joshua States said:

Now that the sword vs. knife thing is settled, or mostly settled, or at least clarified to the point of no determination rendered, can we talk about that power hammer? 

Man that thing looks awesome!

 

 

I drove 14 hours to pick this hammer up once I had tried a smaller one a friend of mine has :D it has a 50kg ram and can really move metal

 

Still stuck at work but have been spending the evenings looking at the pictures of the original and trying to find more examples as I'm still not certain how the guard is secured. It might very well be simply a glorified bolster fastened to the scales themselves originally. The nagel obviously goes through the scales well behind the guard but in front of it right behind the guard there are two more rivet holes so the scales must have expanded out to fill in that portion right behind the guard.

 

The pommel looks like it most likely slid into the tang end and peened like on swords but it could possibly have been simply brazed on

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I think that your pretty spot on with how to put it together.  If I happen to find he PDF that I refereed to, there are some x-rays of the knives that show very little as to how the 'Pummel" was attached. I want to say they were hollow, but I cannot recall exactly. 

 

I can also take a look into my Deur wood cut book to see if I can see any examples that are clear enough to see the upper guard. You can also take a look here https://todsworkshop.com/products/bauernwehr

 

That gent is an expert at making reproduction of this style.

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After laying over the pictures and translating the description back and forth I have concluded that the pommel is in fact hollow and peened on the end of the tang while the guard is simpler than I had thought and the two protruding points near the blade are in fact nails that secure it against the scales.

 

Been grinding on the blade for a bit now, refining the distal taper and shedding weight.

 

The original is 1045grams and as mine is a bit narrower it should end up even lighter. So far so good and still plenty of material to remove

 

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here is the document I have on the subject

 

Lots of pictures showing a good bit of actual finds and corresponding depictions in artwork of the period. I think You will find the x-rays intriguing as I reviewed it to see that these knives have a tang made as a tenon that is in fact peened.  One x-ray to me does look as if the lower guard is hollow. Others look to be made just as simply as the upper guard.  Just a lump of metal with a hole punched thought it.

 

6.pdf

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Took a little break today and started working on the fullers. They are both deeper and narrower than the ones I've done previously so new methods had to be tried.

 

Started by making a simple scraper from the same kind of leaf spring as the blade is made of that kiiind of worked but just wasn't biting enough and dulled fast. Ended up breaking a chainsaw file to use as a scraper and even though it works slowly I have better control of it. This is definitely going to take a while 

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Cleaned up the fullers and have the blade to a very rough 150grit and the next steps are making the guard and pommel. I am a little bit scared of it as I don't have much of the wrought iron and it's not like I can just go and order some more so will have to make as good use of it as possible

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Have the hilt components forged to shape. I really do have to get better at that, specially when using material like this wrought that I can't just go out and buy more of 

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Ground and filed all the small parts to shape.

 

The guard is hammered down onto the tang from the tip and is really just a glorified bolster.

 

Fitting the wood was time consuming as I have never done a hilt quite like this before. It's remarkable how difficult it is to source local European hardwoods that would be historically plausible while I can get any kind of exotic woods within a day. Boxwood would have been perfect but after a bit of research beech is also an acceptable wood and I did happen to have a bit of that in my shelves.

 

The original had rolled iron pins holding the grip but decided to go with brass, and yes those rivets are not pretty but do their job.

 

I filed the nagels shaft conical so I could hammer and wedge it solidly into the tang through the grip and then peened it over the backside.

 

Right now I only have to make the nails that go into the front of the guard, clean it up a bit and give it an edge so optimistic that I should have a finished sword by tomorrow :D

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And finally it is finished :)

 

Not a true recreation of the original but rather heavily inspired by it.

 

It came out a little heavier than I planned and I could have ground out a lot more material out of the tangs fuller to compensate as its point of balance is 9cm from the guard compared to the originals 13cm. But overall I am happy with it and like to think I managed to catch some of historical imperfections and think this will be the first blade I will put up for sale

 

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wicked, it almost looks like it could be a sci-fi blade. ive tried to draw up a few messers and cant ever get it right, nice job.

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That's pretty cool!

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