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Need help designing a 10th century sword (my first attempt)


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I’ve got a serious itch to try my hand at making a more or less period correct “Viking era” sword. (I knew that KITH project was going to get me into trouble) 

 

I’ve been pouring over the Pierce/Oakeshott book as well as Some of Peter Johnsson’s work for the last couple of weeks.  There are a lot of ideas floating around in my head yet, but I find myself drawn to the later hilt styles, so I’m trending towards something that would have been appropriate around 900-1000 CE.  I understand that pattern welding was becoming less common at this time, but it sounds like it would still be appropriate.

 

There is a lot of information available on blade lengths, profiles, fuller width and weight.  However, Thickness info is harder to find.  Fortunately, there was a good discussion about distal taper on here a few years ago, and Peter supplied some nice data that I think will be very applicable to this project.

 

However, I’m wondering if I am in the right ballpark with the cross section below.  This would be at the lower guard: (dimension in millimeters)

 

Cross section R0.JPG

 

The starting bar (dashed line rectangle) would be pretty easy to make out of 4 or 5 half inch square bars depending on how much steel loss I get.  (I could do it with 4, but I’m worried about having the thinnest part of the fuller line up with a weld joint between two bars)  Just by happenstance, the fuller could be cleaned up on a 4” wheel, so that is kind of nice.

 

Is this a reasonable cross section to aim for, or am I heading towards a sword that will be too heavy? 

 

Sorry for the mixture of units.  I work in both American and metric.  I was in a metric mood when I drew this up.

 

Thanks for your time!

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Looks about right to me.  Swords of that period tend to be pretty point-heavy without a lot of distal taper anyway.  That is for Viking swords.  Anglo-Saxon swords tend to have more taper and be a bit more maneuverable.  You can even go to 7mm at the lower guard, and taper accordingly, and still be in the range of historic examples.   

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21 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Anglo-Saxon swords tend to have more taper and be a bit more maneuverable.  

 Oddly enough, I am more attracted to the curved guard shapes that are more Saxon like than Norse like.

 

I would like to do cast bronze fittings since that is a new found toy of mine.  However, I'm getting the impression that bronze fitting were quite uncommon.  I need to do some more research.  Anyone have any "Not to miss" book recommendations?

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Brian, how are you? From my humble experience and listening to the most experienced, I think that 6 mm is fine for the thickness of the blade in the fort, although I like it better with 5 mm, and then once You have the shape of the blade ready, you have to handle the distal taper taking into account more the distribution of masses, leaving the strong third almost untouched and quickly lowering towards the tip. Another important issue is the remaining thickness of material between the two fullers, which in your graph looks quite thick, you should lower it until it is at least 1 mm or less. To take as much weight off the blade as possible, I use a modified gauge. I also send you an image that helped me plan the distal tuning. They are measurements of an original sword.

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0b753721-1497-4568-ab76-554cc98788da.jpg

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WhatsApp Image 2021-01-17 at 13.02.21 (1).jpeg

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On 11/12/2020 at 3:04 PM, Alan Longmire said:

Looks about right to me.  Swords of that period tend to be pretty point-heavy without a lot of distal taper anyway.  That is for Viking swords.  Anglo-Saxon swords tend to have more taper and be a bit more maneuverable.  You can even go to 7mm at the lower guard, and taper accordingly, and still be in the range of historic examples.   

Alan, I thought that was the other way around, the early Anglo-Saxon swords being less tapering than the ones favoured by the Vikings?

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Excellent info, Peter, thank you.

 

Al, I was talking about distal taper in thickness, not width. The VERY few I have handled showed this.  It's subtle, but there.  Taper in width seems about the same for Saxon and Viking swords over time, but the Saxon ones tend to be a bit less point-heavy, somehow.  

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Peter, Thanks for the info.  It will be very helpful as I get this project going.  You are right in that I had the thickness of th efuller web quite a bit thicker than 1mm.  It's good to know that I can take it all the way down to 1mm.

 

I like your modified calipers.  I'll have to do that :)

 

This project has been off to a slow start, but it is still what I plan to spend most of my 2021 bladesmithing time on.  I've stacked up the billet to make the twist cores, but haven't forged it out yet.

 

I was really hoping to investment cast the fittings, but that doesn't seem to really have been a thing.  Right now I am finding myself dawn more towards the later Anglo-Saxon styles with the curved upper and lower guards but am a bit intimidated by the inlay work that was commonly done :blink:

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