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Van de Laak

Joined: 20 Aug 2007

Posts: 34

PostPosted: Wed 22 Aug, 2007 3:03 am    Post subject: Wire Hilt how to requested...         Reply with quote

First of all, I am not sure in which section of the forum I have to place this question. So if this section is incorrect, my apologies.

I have my eye on this longsword:

Then I saw this custom made hilt for this sword:

(basically the leather has been replaced with wire)... I really think it looks outstanding. Does anyone know how to do this? If so, I would appreciate if this can be explained step for step in lamer's terms. Happy Thanks!
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Hanns Wiechman

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Joined: 17 Jun 2007

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Wed 22 Aug, 2007 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm a newbie here but I'll give some pointers on how I wire wrapped the grip on my Del Tin 2146. I wrapped it because I disliked the mid grip rib since it sat in my hands wrong. Probably something about having very large hands. I removed the rib and the grip was still on the small side for my tastes. I got some 2 twisted wire about 18 gage or so from a local hardware store. Not sure what it originally was for but it looked right. Drilled a hole, just smaller than the wire in the top of the grip just under the crosspiece and one below it above the pommel. Bent a 90 leg into the wire, dripped a little superglue into the hole and forced the wire leg in with a pair of pliers. Waited a while for the superglue to set up first. Took two of us to get it done right, one guy holding the sword and slowly rolling it towards myself, getting the wire tight and lined up nicely, the other guy feeding the wire and making sure it didn't get tangled up. Took two tries to get it just right, it's not perfect but good enough for what I wanted. Wrapped the wire down to the pommel end, figured out where the end of the wire should be over the other hole, added a 1/4" and cut and bent it. More superglue, a little persuasion with the pliers and holding it in place for 10 minutes while the glue dried. Here's a quick pic or two. Well worth it in my opinion, feels just right in the hand, holds really well with a leather glove, digs in just right for a firm grip. After taking the pics it's looks my sword is really rusty, when it's not that bad to the naked eye. I think the flash is doing a disservice to my caretaking abilities, I need to buff it up a bit and give it another coat of wax but it's not nearly as bad as the pics make it look like. Cheers,
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Van de Laak

Joined: 20 Aug 2007

Posts: 34

PostPosted: Wed 22 Aug, 2007 5:59 pm    Post subject: Thank you!         Reply with quote

Wow, many thanks for the great reply. Well, it sounds simple to wrap it, but I guess its quite difficult. I have to say, even though you said your result is not perfect, it looks pretty neat to me! Again many thanks!
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Van de Laak

Joined: 20 Aug 2007

Posts: 34

PostPosted: Wed 22 Aug, 2007 6:52 pm    Post subject: Another how to...         Reply with quote

I received another wonderful how to, I am posting it here (see below)... perhaps it can be made sticky (admin) so that others can benefit as well.

A wire-wrap grip is fairly easy to do--finding good, comprehensive
info on wire wraps is not quite so easy. I did a lot of looking
online and in books before I felt comfortable ripping the leather off
my Windlass and Del Tins. The broad outline of how-to is this:

1) Remove existing wrap--fairly easy but requires care and patience.
Windlass seems to use something like rubber cement, so the leather
came right off. I started with the seam, ripping the stitches with an
X-Acto knife. There was leather cord glued on as well, but it adhered
to the leather better than the wood and came off with the cover. Be
sure to remove all the remaining glue/goo.

2) Sand and/or reshape the wood. The WL grips are sometimes lopsided.
In the case of the Longsword, I thought it was the over-thick seam,
but the wood was off as well. The wood windlass uses is pretty soft--
it can be carved or sanded easily. TIP: cover the metal portions of
the hilt with packing tape to protect them during the work on the
grip--don't want scratches on the guard or pommel. Do a good job with
shaping--uneven areas, dents, etc. will likely show.

The top and bottom of the wood are critical. The wood needs to press
against the metal bits of the hilt so there is no gap or channel from
the wood core to the guard and pommel--if you see the tang, you may
run into trouble. That said, the wood should be compressed but it
shouldn't be flush. If the wood core "meets" the metal, the wire will
"sit high" and not flow gracefully with the hilt. You need to be sure
to carve or sand the wood core to a level below the guard and pommel
so there is at least a slight "drop."

3) What effect do you want? The simplest is a single twisted strand,
but there are many patterns/effects. Arms & Armor is really good with
their wire wraps--you might take a look at their swords/rapiers for
ideas. Steel plus brass or copper is one arrangement. Plain steel or
blued steel is another look. Silver might be nice...

--Single twisted ( the St. Maurice you saw used this)
--Herringbone. two twisted strands with the "twists" going opposite
--Single twist plus untwisted strand (this is what I used for the
--Herringbone plus untwisted strand ( my Gustav Vasa rapier uses this)

4) Twist wire. A single twisted strand is really two twisted
together. Copper wire twists well--for steel you might want annealed
wire. The gauge you need depends on the effect you want--and the feel
of the finished grip. The rule I follow is thinner wire and a tighter
twist. 18 gauge is as thick as you would want to use. 22 gauge is
likely as thin as you want for twists, though you might use 24G for
single strands. For me, wire grips are no less comfortable than
leather--even with no gloves. That said, I can image some people
would consider an 18G wire wrap coarse. One last consideration: wire
adds more to the diameter of the grip than leather--shape the grip

More on wire: a well-stocked hardware store will have a ton of
choices. Do not use the jewelry wire you find in hobby/craft stores.
You will need a lot of wire: I used 25' to 30' for the St. Maurice
and a bit more for the Longsword. You will use fewer feet for the
thicker gauges and more feet for the thinner gauges.

I twisted the wire using a variable-speed electric drill with a
modified eye-screw for a bit. I put another eye-screw into a fence
post to anchor the other end of the twist. I slipped the end of my
wire through eye, and with the end in one hand and the spool in the
other, I walked back about 35'- 40'. I clipped the wire from the
spool and twisted the ends to the eye-screw/bit--small and neat helps
here. Run the drill slow and steadily, pulling with enough tension to
keep the twist taut and stable. If the wire starts to oscillate more
than a few inches, stop the drill and wait for the shimmy stop.

Safety note: safety glasses are a good idea. Gloves may be a good
idea too. There is a possibility that the wire might snap and whip
back at you. Annealed wire is more malleable and takes a twist
better--more brittle galvanized strands could be more prone to
snapping and "hitching" (what I call uneven kinked areas in the twist).

Slow and steady with good, consistent tension should do the trick.
Tighter twist are easier to wrap, but "bead-tight" is too much.
Loosely coil the twisted wire when you have to look you want.

5) This is for a single twisted strand... Wrapping the grip is also
pretty simple, but requires patience--and a little bit of stamina for
the longer grips. I recommend practicing on a broom handle first---
using scrap twist. You need a workbench with some clearance at one
end. A table or counter might do just as well. You'll want a towel or
blanket to keep from damaging the sword blade.

You may want to clamp the sword--or put it in a vise--for this step.
With a small bit, drill an anchor hole at the top and bottom of the
wood core. It's better that the holes be on the sides--the start and
finish will be more discreet. The holes need to be 1/8" or so deep
and very close to the guard and pommel. These will be the start and
end points for the wire.

I found it easier to wrap the grip with the sword loose on the bench.
Some people might like the sword clamped.

Clip the end of your twist so you have a clean start. Put a 90
degree bend in the end--this will make the "hook" for you to start
with. Hook the bend into the drill hole under the guard--keep it in
place with your thumb while you slowly wrap the wire around the wood
core as tightly as you comfortably can--and right against the guard.
Alternately, you might want to stake the hook with a tooth pick to be
sure it doesn't slip. As you go around the handle, keep the wire
pressed very tightly against the previous loop. If you see wood, it's
not tight enough.

A good start is very important. It's no problem if you need to pull
off the first few loops and try again. This is part of why you need
so many yards of wire. And this is why you don't want to glue or nail
you start hook.

Work your way down the grip making sure the coils stay tight against
each other. It actually goes pretty quickly after the first few
loops. Once you get to the end clip the excess--but be sure to leave
yourself sever inches extra. Take a look where the wire hits the
drill hole near the pommel. To finish, you need to make another 90
degree bend. This is where the whole thing can get stressful... You
can run tape around the grip to keep the wire from slipping while you
finish the wrap.

Make the bend, and clip the end so you have your second hook. You may
need to straighten and or clip once or twice so it's important to
leave MORE rather than less for the hook. Once the wire is embedded,
you may want to stake this end with a toothpick.

All the grips I've re-wrapped have stayed in place with nothing more
than tension. If you use your sword for display only, this might be
just fine. If you plan the use your sword for cutting or drills, you
should stabilize the grip. I've used a coating of JB Weld on one grip
with good results--I mixed a batch and rubbed it into the grip from
top to bottom. I wiped the excess and let it set overnight. Regular
epoxy should work and it's clear instead of grey. I've hear some
people use varnish or lacquer.

Albion uses small tacks or nails at the top and bottom of their wire
wraps--they say this is to secure the wrap and for decoration. Arms &
Armor seem to use nothing but tension to keep their wraps in place.

I think starting with one twist is best. and practicing with a broom
handle will help immeasurably. Two strands are easy, but herringbone
can be tricky. The process for these is the same but you'll need more
drill holes and a lot more patience wrapping the grip...

Good luck!
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Van de Laak

Joined: 20 Aug 2007

Posts: 34

PostPosted: Wed 22 Aug, 2007 7:22 pm    Post subject: Regarding leather wrapped hilts         Reply with quote

Even though I am a newbie, I would like to suggest a product that can protect/extend the leather on the hilt/scabbard. (any leather in fact; leather boots, hats, gloves etc etc.) I use this stuff for a leather hat I have, for my military boots. Its also great to prevent any stitches from becoming brittle. Its called Sno Seal. (I guess I may be old news for some of you) Anyway, I love it, it really can bring new life to a dull and old looking piece of leather. Only one thing to be aware of, it will darken leather slightly. For example a have a leather fedora which is originally medium brown, after applying sno seal the brown became a wonderful rich and warm dark brown. (I will actually improve the color IMHO) Believe me its nice stuff and not expensive.
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