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Nijmegen narrow seax


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It's finally finished! 13 years since I started it. It's been quite a learning project, where I took my time until I felt confident (and had the time) to do the next steps. It's certainly not perfect, and I consider it a learning project, which could enable me to make a better one next time I attempt one.

 

For reference, here is the original which is located in the depot of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, Netherlands. It's a type I narrow seax, dating to roughly around 700AD.

 

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The blade started out as an antique leafspring, probably from a hand cart used in my city. To my surprise it appeared to be shear steel, showing as layering as I forged it down:

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The blade after forging, with minor filing to clean it up:

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Then I forged the bolster and pommel parts. The holes were punched in hot, so not the most tight fit, but that's fine by me. These parts are made from 17th century wrought:

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At this point I had a chance to study the original in the depot. I took measurements, and tried to decipher the engravings which were very faint, and not present everywhere. There I found that I had the dimensions wrong. The length is correct, but the actual blade is a little wider, but much thicker. Mine is 5mm thick and a flat grind, base of another example. But the Nijmegen seax is 7mm thick, and strongly convex. IMG_4489.JPG

 

So the original is about twice as heavy. Nevertheless, I considered mine a practice project, so I pressed on. Then it took me a lot of time to find the courage to do the engraving. I had done one other blade, a schmall seax from Weingarten. The challenge on this one was much greater, as I had to fill in the missing parts of the pattern, and I'm not good at just making something up.

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Here you can see my blade compared to the drawings I made of the original with the visible bits of the original engravings. Of some parts I just had a few bits of lines which I used to figure out what might have been there.

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Then the blade had to wait years more until I finally hardened it just recently. The blade just after hardening:

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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Then things started to speed up a lot the last days! I peened the tang, so the indivual parts became one:

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Unfortunately there still was a little play between the grip and the tang as the slot was a bit too wide on this one. I fixed it by drilling two small holes through the wood, and injecting beeswax. The wood was going to be covered up, so I could hide the evidence ;)

 

Next up is covering the grip in leather. I've seen various narrow and broad seaxes that have been preserved with a thin layer of leather around the wooden grip. So I wanted to do that here too. One of these preserved grips appears to have the imprint of wire in the leather, just like leather covered sword hilts (though from a photo, not confirmed if that's actually the case).  I used a 1mm sheat of leather, and skived the edges. Then glued on with hide glue when the leather was mildly, and bound it tight with flax rope. And then left it to dry overnight.

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The result was pretty decent, considering this is the first time I did this. Here is the leather cover still untreated:P1240307.JPG

I soaked the leather in sheep fat to protect it, and also darken it:

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And then it's suddenly finished after all this time!

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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And here is the result. I'm pretty happy with it, taking into account that this is a learning piece. I've learned a lot, both about the original seax and the techniques learned to make the reproduction.

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Things I would change for the next one: correct the section profile, and change the cross hatched engravings near the hilt on the left side of the blade. That looks out of place. I'd als skive the edges of the leather even thinner. It was now about 0.2mm. And maybe try dyeing the leather with a natural dye. I'd also use a sandwich construction next time, with shear steel edge between wrought. Not sure if that's the original, but seems more likely. Also since the layering appears to be through the thickness, due to parts of the original having been delaminated like that. Now to make the sheath, and then on to an improved version (some day) :)

 

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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Glad to see that one finished, and glad to see you back at it!  I think you captured the feel very well, even if it is lighter than the original.  B)

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I always say an unfinished blade sticks its finger in my eye when I see it.......13 years, your eye must hurt! :lol:

Apart from that, the end product was worth the wait B)

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6 hours ago, Gerhard Gerber said:

I always say an unfinished blade sticks its finger in my eye when I see it.......13 years, your eye must hurt! :lol:

Apart from that, the end product was worth the wait B)

Oh well, I have a pile of unfinished stuff from since I started forging/casting nearly 20 years ago. But it includes many forgings/castings that I have little intention to spend more time on, up to things I really intend to finish someday. Whatever I work on, new project or old, depends on what I find the most fun, what time I have, and which jobs I can or feel like I can do at the time. It's good to have many options to choose from :)

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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That came out great!  That is actually quite a complex project with a lot of hours in it.  It doesn't matter that it sat quietly for long periods of time.

-Brian

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That one came out great. You should be very proud of that one.

 

On 6/5/2022 at 12:36 PM, Jeroen Zuiderwijk said:

I'd also skive the edges of the leather even thinner. It was now about 0.2mm. And maybe try dyeing the leather with a natural dye.

 

When I took a class on the leather wrapped handle, we were told the top edge was not made straight. It was purposely jagged and very thin.

Adding the dye makes it disappear.

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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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That looks so real Jeroen …..NICE. I remember you starting this ….times flies doesn’t it? Good to see it finished!!!!!!!
you make me think about finishing a seax I started 14 years ago….I lost my internet connection around that time and have been missing this forum …it is good to see familiar names from back then ….looking forward to seeing the sheath

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6 hours ago, Dick Sexstone said:

That looks so real Jeroen …..NICE. I remember you starting this ….times flies doesn’t it? Good to see it finished!!!!!!!
you make me think about finishing a seax I started 14 years ago….I lost my internet connection around that time and have been missing this forum …it is good to see familiar names from back then ….looking forward to seeing the sheath

Yeah, it doesn't feel that long at all when you continue on it. It's like the time in between didn't happen when you continue working on the same piece. I'm also glad I get the same amount of joy making stuff as back then, and that I'm still learning and progressing.

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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6 hours ago, Jeroen Zuiderwijk said:

I'm also glad I get the same amount of joy making stuff as back then, and that I'm still learning and progressing.

That's the real deal.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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