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Forging a Ukrainian Kozak saber/Turkish Kilij


Alex Jemetz

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I've been reading and learning a lot about how to forge on this site and although I'm still a beginner and have only forged six knives I thought that my next project should be what I've always wanted to create--a sword.  A Ukrainian Kozak saber in the style of a Turkish Kilij.  I'm a believer of learning hands-on and so will be posting pics of the progress as I dive right in...  All feedback, criticism and suggestions are most welcome.  Apologies in advance if I post too many pictures.  The material is 5160 truck leaf-spring.  I hope to carve a cross-guard from sculptors wax and cast the brass piece myself.

Started from scratch with the leaf-spring, cleaned up the steel, cut in half and flattened it out before working on shaping the point.

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I started to work on the bevel and was surprised to learn how sharply the blade would 'saber'.  I tried to alleviate my worry by looking at historic examples of significantly curved Turkish sabers until I realized I could reduce the curvature by slightly making a bevel on the spine which actually worked (the steel is quite thick):

 

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I cut out a cardboard cross-guard to get a feel for the scale I would need to create out of wax:

 

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Looks good.  I see from your layout lines how you are going to deal with that bolt hole.  My one concern is the thickness of the stock that you started out with.  My impressions from the khurkuris that I have made from the car springs is that they're rather thick and might produce an overly heavy blade.  But all in all I think that it's coming along nicely.  Keep posting your progress.

 

Doug

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HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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12 hours ago, Doug Lester said:

Looks good.  I see from your layout lines how you are going to deal with that bolt hole.  My one concern is the thickness of the stock that you started out with.  My impressions from the khurkuris that I have made from the car springs is that they're rather thick and might produce an overly heavy blade.  But all in all I think that it's coming along nicely.  Keep posting your progress.

 

Doug

If he has a 6" wheel for hollow grinding that fuller all the way, hell be ok

Edited by Jaro Petrina
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On 3/17/2023 at 1:58 AM, Doug Lester said:

Looks good.  I see from your layout lines how you are going to deal with that bolt hole.  My one concern is the thickness of the stock that you started out with.  My impressions from the khurkuris that I have made from the car springs is that they're rather thick and might produce an overly heavy blade.  But all in all I think that it's coming along nicely.  Keep posting your progress.

 

Doug

Hi Doug, thank you for your response!  I will be grinding the blade soon and will try my first attempt at a fuller so it will end up thinner and lighter.  Soon as I get started on this phase I will post the weight with pictures of the grinding/shaping progress.

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On 3/18/2023 at 5:16 PM, Dan Hertzson said:

Really don't understand why you didn't use the side with the half hole from stock as the tang end.  Seems tailor made for that, particularly with the size of full tang you are making.

DOH!  I will do that for the next sword I make from the other half...  Appreciate you pointing that out, probably because I was eager to get started...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Started to work on carving the cross-guard from foundry wax to give my elbow a chance to recover.  This stuff is challenging to work with but became easier when I used the gas stove top to heat the knife.  A bit of Ukrainian Cossack folklore:  the Cossacks respected and cherished their swords as they were difficult to obtain, they referred to their sabers as their "sister".
   

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally had some time to get back in the forge, straightened out the handle and started to grind the Kilij blade-shape.  Later will angle grind the blade flat on both sides and try my hand at a fuller before normalizing, heat treat and quench.  Some Ukrainian cossack/kozak folklore:  the name Cossack is derived from the Turkic kazak (meaning free man)--anyone who could not find his appropriate place in society or wanted to escape serfdom or other oppression went into the steppes of Ukraine where he acknowledged no authority except for the Cossack leadership.

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  • 4 weeks later...

More grinding to get the blade flat...  Started to use a file and achieved a better result on getting the saber flat before working on the bevels...

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Finally got all the hammer marks out!  Next steps to shape the grip and tang and work on the bevels.  Starting to consider not putting in a fuller as a more experienced sword-maker suggested that making the fuller could be done before the saber is curved...

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Starting weight of the blade was 2.096 kg or 4.6 lbs, on March 25th...  Tough to get free time to work last few weeks...

Today the weight is 1.527 kg or 3.37 lbs...  Glad to have worked on the blade with a file as I feel I have better control of the blade profile.

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Files do help you have more control.  Slower is sometimes better.  I still think that it is going to be as beast as far as weight goes.  I understand that shipping to Canada can be a bear if you can't find a local supplier.  Maybe one of the Canadian knifemakers on this board could help you find a source for thinner stock of an appropriate alloy for your next one.  You've come a long way on that sword and I'll love to see it finished.

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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On 5/18/2023 at 4:57 PM, Doug Lester said:

Files do help you have more control.  Slower is sometimes better.  I still think that it is going to be as beast as far as weight goes.  I understand that shipping to Canada can be a bear if you can't find a local supplier.  Maybe one of the Canadian knifemakers on this board could help you find a source for thinner stock of an appropriate alloy for your next one.  You've come a long way on that sword and I'll love to see it finished.

 

Doug

Doug thank you for your feedback and interest, I'm using 5160 spring steel on the saber and I am quite certain I will get the weight down as I have a lot more filing to do and still have the bevels to shape...  I do have an historic example to guide me--a Karabela from approximately 1780...  the blade tapers to just under 1 mm in the last 15 cm.  Incredible craftsmanship.  Thank you for your encouragement Doug.20230523_162329.jpg

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Making progress in the  bevels using the 2 x 42 grinder and file work...  Still debating on whether I will add a fuller and trying to figure out how I will grind it...

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Working on the wax model cross-guard to cast from brass...  Anyone have experience or tips in lost-wax casting, I would appreciate hearing about them.

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I used to work at an investment foundry.  Mostly steel, but a little bronze/brass.  What are you worried about, and what equipment do you have?  

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I have brass, a crucible, tongs and my forge.  My first pour I used hydroperm metal casting plaster, I think my mistake was pouring the plaster in 3 batches because the mold was broken apart.  Or maybe the sprues where not correctly attached...  Check out the pictures of the wax mold and result...  What do you think?
 

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If you're doing a gravity cast you need a lot more runners and sprues, no sharp corners in the sprues and runners, and a much larger cup on top to keep weight on the cast. Somebody will no doubt produce a doctored phot of how they'd sprue it soon.  The voids are probably from bubbles caused by the sharp corners.  Did you pour while the plaster was still hot from the burnout oven?

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Here is a very quick and dirty sketch to show what I would recommend.  Nothing is really to scale, and the part obviously doesn't have all the features your original had, but hopefully you get the point.  

 

Whenever possible, do not pour directly into the part, but have it fill from the bottom.  The reservoir to the right will help with having your part fill smoothly, acting as a pressure buffer.  You want vents coming off of all your high spots, so that the air can get out as the metal goes in.  For that reason I would flip it over from how you originally had it.  The vents off the part do not need to be especially big, but they should definitely be present.  The "central vent" depicted below can even be 2 separate vents (as can the central gate) to make clean-up easier when you are removing them.  All sharp corners should be at least 1/8" radius.  

 

Again, super quick and dirty.  Proportions are wrong.  Just wanted to get the general concept out there.  

 

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I would recommend starting with a simpler geometry.  Practice until you get good, then add complexity.  Pour hard and fast, never stop and start the pour.  

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