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These questions are probably going to be those that "get 10 answers from 7 bladesmiths".

 

1) Are there any rules of thumb for determining how many twists to do and how far out you can draw a twist before the pattern starts to distort?

 

I am trying a multi-bar - two bars of 1/2" square twist and one 1/2" bar of solid as the cutting edge. The twist bars have four twists over 10 inches. I welded up a billet 5" long (cut the 10 inch twist bar in half for the two twist layers) and then drew it out to just under 9" x 1.5 x 5/16". Cut the tip at a 45 degree angle and forged out the blank, not really making it any longer or wider (did not forge in bevels - just forged the tip) and used the last 1.25" to draw out a tang. Discovered after rough grinding I had an inclusion between the two twist layers (another issue altogether and I know what I did wrong) but decided to quick and dirty etch it anyway to get an Idea of what the next attempt will look like. I was sorely disappointed. The twist is completely gone and it looks more like a random pattern than a twist.

 

Did I draw it out too much? Did I not twist enough for that much drawing?

 

2) Second, and related question (actually probably the same question just worded differently). If you want to make a simple solo twist blade, how far can you flatten it out before distortion? I'm wanting to make a 2" wide (at widest) 7" long (blade only) chef knife and want to know how thick of a bar do I have to twist and how many twists I have to do to be able to flatten and draw out for the knife?

 

Thanks all!

 

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Well, here's one response.  To me, the key to nice twist patterns is twist a lot more than you think you should.  I try to get the seams that are made from the twisting to get as perpendicular as possible.

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For Viking Age stuff most of what you see in the archaeological record have very tight twists. Something on the order of 4/inch or so. I tend to twist very tightly usually at full length before forge welding. I agree with Billy! I'll see if I can find some pics to add to the post here. 

 

 

I try to also do everything at length, most of my twist bars are about 3/8 or slightly smaller post twisting and squaring. After forge welding I forge very close to shape, and in order to get to the center of the twists I've started doing multi layer twist cores, like in this thread:  

 

The twists in the billet were about 8 inches long a piece, but I drew the blade out to about 24 inches if I remember right. 

 

 

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Ok so I'm already seeing a pattern (HAHA pun intended). I definitely DON'T twist nearly tight enough. Thanks for the feedback so far.

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Twist patterns and drawing out do not mix.  If you look down in the Fiery Beards subforum, the pinned thread "Is your beard still burning" has some good tips starting on page 3 or so.  For a Viking pattern, you have to think like a Viking.  They were not making massive billets and forging them down, they were making tiny ones and building them up.  I like to do multi-bar twist patterns at the finished length, and almost the finished thickness depending on the pattern I'm after.  I mean, for a sword-sized blade I'll make straight laminate bars the length of the blade, forged to around 3/8" - 1/2" square, then I twist. Minimum 4 per inch. Grind the edges flat and square, leaving you with finished bar size of 3/8-1/4" square. Stack and weld.  Add the edge steel. Then flatten across the blade, increasing the length as little as possible.

 

Here's another thread about that, the how-to starts towards the end of the first page.  Emiliano's is better, 'cause he's a better smith than I am, but you'll see some recurring themes...

 

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Thanks Emiliano and Alan. Much food for thought. @Emiliano Carrillo In the thread you linked, you said the starting billet was 8 inches long. How wide was it, and how tall? From your description, I'm guessing it was 1/2-3/4 inches wide and 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 high. Thanks again.

 

And for clarification, when you say 4/inch that means if you have a 10 inch bar you give the entire bar 40 full rotations? If so, I SO need to go back and re-twist...

 

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Yep, 40 full rotations for a ten inch bar. It should look like a threaded rod.

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On 5/1/2021 at 4:40 PM, Alan Longmire said:

For a Viking pattern, you have to think like a Viking.  They were not making massive billets and forging them down, they were making tiny ones and building them up.  

 

Interesting point.  This is a bit of a hijack, but does this apply to length as well?  I can see how they would build up from thin rods for width, but did they also do this to add length to the rods

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17 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

 

Interesting point.  This is a bit of a hijack, but does this apply to length as well?  I can see how they would build up from thin rods for width, but did they also do this to add length to the rods

 

Yes indeed.  There aren't that many metallographic examinations of period swords, but those that exist do all show lap welds along the length as well as butt welds along the width.  For twisted rods you'd never know by looking, as the weld line ends up as part of the twist pattern. Some Anglo-Saxon blades in cross-section look like somebody just threw a bunch of random rods together and welded until it got vaguely sword-shaped.  

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25 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Some Anglo-Saxon blades in cross-section look like somebody just threw a bunch of random rods together and welded until it got vaguely sword-shaped

So would this be the original scrapmascus?

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