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Designing a Type XVIIIb

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Ok, disclaimer: I know little to nothing about European longswords.  I really really love how they LOOK though, and have always wanted to try to make and wield one! When my wife asked for a sword I showed her the Oakeshott type XVIIIb and she was elated, so we settled on that.

my question is: Does this drawing’s proportions look anything like they should..?  I watched Peter Johnsson’s video’s on youtube a bunch and tried to apply the geometrical design process to this, and I’ve been staring at pictures of Type XVIIIb’s, but I think I’m going blind to my own mistakes at this point...

A huge question mark for me is in the tapering of the blade. I tried to do a convex taper, but I’m wondering if I made the last third of the blade too thin? Base of the blade is set at 1.5” right now tapering to 1/2” over the 31” blade.  I plan to forge it out of 1.5”x1/4” barstock, making the distal taper from 1/4” to ~3/16-5/32~.

Thank You for any advice, revisions, corrections, and otherwise about-faces you see to throw my way!!:D

C06E7804-DFF2-4C3A-A5A4-35E57ABF3CA8.jpeg AAB9A1BF-DF09-48EE-B436-4A07BA9F18CB.jpeg

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I went ahead and started; I was able to get a rough forging done last week, but not quite enough time to get the tang forged out and everything all straightened.  Forged slightly oversize so I had plenty of room to correct errors via the grinder:P

type XVIIIb drawing.jpeg   type XVIIIb forging.jpegtype XVIIIb rough forging.jpeg

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All I can add is that with the way the last third of the blade tapers in, that's gonna be one fast sword in the hand!  That's a feature that is seen on some examples.


As for the geometry, I think the guard needs to be a bit longer, so it meets the outside of the circle it's in.  It looks a little short to me otherwise.  The pommel will work IF it's fairly bulbous in three dimensions, like a scent stopper or a mushroom.  If it's flat it'll be too small to do its job.  You can have some fun figuring this out after you have the blade ground and the guard fitted. Just add a bit of weight at the pommel location by taping bits of lead or brass, etc. (something dense, anyway) to the tang until you feel the blade come alive in your hand.  


If you watch Peter's video on sword harmonics from Arctic Fire, you'll see he does it with plasticine and it works fine.  It just takes a bigger gob.  The weight is what's important.  Pommels are not about balance as much as they are about tuning the harmonics, i.e. moving the nodes of vibration up and down the blade.  You want the first node in the palm of your dominant hand in the grip.  Ideally the last one will be at the very tip of the blade, and the other one(s) will fall in between.  If the first node is not in the grip, the sword will sting your hand with every blow.

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2 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

I can't help with the design aspects, but I'll be following along to learn with you as you go :)

Brian - its Always nice to have company when learning new stuff:D

Alan - Thank you for weighing in, I really appreciate it!!

10 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

If you watch Peter's video on sword harmonics from Arctic Fire

I'll be carving out time soon to watch those Arctic Fire Videos, I've had them saved on the tubes for a while now, just haven't been intentional on watching them:wacko:

11 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

As for the geometry, I think the guard needs to be a bit longer, so it meets the outside of the circle it's in.  It looks a little short to me otherwise.  The pommel will work IF it's fairly bulbous in three dimensions, like a scent stopper or a mushroom.

I'll be sure to readjust the guard, thank you for catching that!  And I'll be perfectly honest: these pommels and their shapes and designs scare the bejeezers out of me:blink:  My goal was a scent stopper type pommel, but to be honest I'll be happy if I got a pommel shaped object made, lol:lol:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Taking this one slow and steady.  Spent an hour lengthening and straightening the tang.  Its getting so dark lately with sunset at 4:30 and being in the mountains, 5pm is nearly pitch black already!  Really cutting into my forging time here nature...:rolleyes:
It is just proud of the drawing in most dimensions at this point, so next I'm going to grind the bevels cause I'm too chicken to forge them! :unsure::lol:


type XVIIIb forging 1.jpeg  type XVIIIb forging 2.1.jpeg


 type XVIIIb drawing&forging.jpeg

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  • 4 weeks later...

Promise I'm still working on this


Recently was able to profile the blade.  It got a slight bit smaller than the drawing I did due to some forging errors on my end, but I don't think its going to be catastrophic to the balance or aesthetic.


        Blade Profiled and ready to start grinding in the bevels                                                                 Couch Corgo for size reference

profiled type XVIIIb.jpg Corgo vs type XVIIIb.jpg


The Next piece of the puzzle before grinding the bevels was layout, something I am notoriously bad at doing ,lol :rolleyes:

Normally I end up just winging this stuff after a frustrating 10-15 minutes of thinking about what I need to do, but I decided at the very least I would scribe out the center marks and try to adhere to those if at all possible.

I drilled and tapped a bit of brass I had laying around and used my grinder and hand-drill to lathe down one of the set screws, then gave that a heat and dunk in the grinder-bucket water for a quick and dirty heat treat.  It did the job for the moment, although I don't think I did more than case harden the very tip, lol

homemade center scribe.jpg     Scribe Marking.jpg



With some rough lines to start with we are on our way to bevel grinding!  I set a rough edge thickness, but by that time it was time for dinner and there was a rumbly in my tumbly, lol :P

Edge thickness set 2.jpg  Edge thickness set 1.jpg


She's starting to slowly come to life, and I can definitely feel the balance and flow develop, even at this early stage!  Can't wait to continue on!!!

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  • 3 months later...
Posted (edited)



Sword has been heat-treated, and grinding is underway!

Heat-treating was an adventure and a half, so no pictures lol!  I used my home made gas forge and warm canola oil (I should mention since I somehow forgot: this is 1065).  The First quench left me with a banana, so I normalized again and slightly over-corrected the curve, and with a little fenagling it worked a treat.:lol:  There is ever-so-slightly a curve left over, but it's getting ground out for the most part.

Over the last 2 days I did some grinding to thin out the edges and establish the central ridge for our diamond shaped cross-section.

IMG_5958.jpg     IMG_5961.jpg


You can see I have some smaller divets left over from forging directly on the ridge!:wacko:  I'll have to wire-brush them and remember next time to forge in the bevels.

IMG_5967.jpg      IMG_5968.jpg



It seems to stand up to a bend test at this point though, so I'm excited to start getting it finished up!  Very encouraging to see progress and know it's actually coming together.:D


IMG_5969.jpg     IMG_5971.jpg

IMG_5972.jpg     IMG_5970.jpg


Edited by Jaron Martindale
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  • 2 months later...

so, potentially dumb question:

I leaned this guy against the wall for a bit of resting while I worked on other projects and figured out my next step with it.  I just recently picked it up, and noticed it looked like it had a bend in it! :o  It appeared to be slightly curving towards the wall it was propped against, and sure enough I bent it back and the bend took....:unsure:  

It really did seem springy when I tested it multiple times before, not picking up bends or anything even at angles I was puckering at....and the sparks coming off were distinctively more..sparky-er...than before hardening...Was I just fooling myself that I had it hardened correctly?
The only thing I could think of was maybe since it's 1065 I left it too thick when I hardened it, and ground down into a relatively unhardened piece of steel?  At hardening the edge was about 1/8"(admittedly thick) and the ridge is 1/4".

Any thoughts before I re-harden it?  The edge is about 1-1.5mm now, and the ridge ~6mm, so I think I should have enough to re-heat-treat without too much waffling,lol.:P

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Hmmm...  Might not have hardened fully, OR you may have ground through the hard part.  Do you know the manganese content?  That's what governs depth of hardening in simple steels.  Even so, it should have hardened around 1/16" deep from all surfaces.  Maybe the shop gremlins snuck in and overtempered it while you weren't looking... :ph34r:

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hhmmm.....while it's likely I didn't harden it all the way, my final answer will be shop gremlins!!  The sneaky turds...:ph34r:

I don't know the manganese content, it was a bar of 1065 I picked up from a Bladesmith who was retiring from the Damascus, OR area about 2 years ago.  Unfortunately I don't remember his name... :/

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