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Rapier Tang Dimensions

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Posted (edited)

Hi all,


I'm trying to make a rapier out of 5160.

I have forged out the basics and I am grinding to shape before I heat treat.  The blade including the ricasso is 41 inches.  The ricasso and tang are approx 7mm in thickness.

The tang itself,  not including the ricasso is about 12mm wide. 


My question is,  is this tang wide enough or did I booger it up and should start over?


See attached pics.


Thanks for any insight you can give me!




Edited by Matt ORourke
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I'm not an expert, but I think you're fine.  In fact, I think you're oversized, in terms of historical blades.  Look at how small the grips of historical blades are and figure what the tang must be.  I would however take a several normalizing heats on the tang.  I have had some breakage issues with 5160 with uneven heating in transition zones.  OTOH, mine were all in ABS style test blades, which is a pretty extreme bend.

You might go onto Facebook and ask in one of the sword groups.



"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."


I said that.


If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton


So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.


Grant Sarver

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I second Geoff, you're fine.  I usually leave sword tangs as wide as possible, but for a thrusting sword it's not that important.  You definitely don't want a rat tail tang due to the extra leverage a long blade will have, but it doesn't need to be full tang either.  


When you heat treat it, you want the blade to be a full spring temper, around Rc 45, all the way to the ricasso, then slowly transitioning softer back to the pommel end where it'll be as soft as 5160 gets without a furnace anneal.  A sharp transition in HT around the ricasso/tang junction equals a snapped-off hilt and possibly a flying loose blade.  I'd do it with a torch.  Harden the whole thing and temper the whole thing at around 750-800 F, then starting at the tang end you're gonna peen, hit it with a torch to around 1200 F, blending that smoothly into the ricasso at around 950 F.  DO NOT QUENCH the tang end.  1200F isn't enough to harden 5160, but you want the excess heat to overtemper the rest of the tang.  

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