Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > making a broken back seax Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 2:00 pm    Post subject: making a broken back seax         Reply with quote

I am about to start making my second knife. This time I want to make a broken-back seax. I have read some of the articles here on myArmoury and visited some other sites, so I have a rough idea of what I want. I will make this knife using a chunk of 1095 steel that is about 8 inches long, 2 inches deep and 1/4 inch thick. I also have 1095 that is 4x2 and 1/8 inch thick, so I can use that if dimensions are better for an historically accurate seax. I know that 1095 is probably not historically accurate, but I am slowly working up to getting things right. At the moment, I am concentrating on learning the processes of knife making. I have a few new scars and burns to show for it.....and one knife.

My questions are:

1. where can I find more details on various types of seax. I have the book
Knives and Scabbards (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London) by J. Cowgill, M. de Neergaard, and N. Griffiths, but I don't recall much on the seax in there.

2. Am I right in thinking that the handle of many of the seax (what is the plural?) seem to be driven onto the tang. For example, a chunk of maple may be drilled out slightly and then pounded onto the tang. This almost sounds like the same system I use to put handles on my files. For me, the handle is the most difficult part of knife making. I need to really plan this carefully. I intend to use maple for the handle and some bronze if I can find it. If I can't find decent bronze, I will use brass.

Swimming upstream in the dark in what looks suspiciously like a cavern of ignorance,

Philip

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
View user's profile Send private message
Tim Lison




Location: Chicago, Illinois
Joined: 05 Aug 2004
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 6 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,566

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Phillip-

Here are some good threads I found using the search function:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...light=seax
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...mp;start=0
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...light=seax

On that last link, be sure to check out the links on the bottom of each post by Jeroen Zuiderwijk, in particular the zip file about seaxes. It's got a ton of great info and pics.

Oops! Almost forgot this:

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_seax.html

-Tim
View user's profile Send private message
Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 2:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tim Lison wrote:
Phillip-

Here are some good threads I found using the search function:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...light=seax
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...mp;start=0
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...light=seax

On that last link, be sure to check out the links on the bottom of each post by Jeroen Zuiderwijk, in particular the zip file about seaxes. It's got a ton of great info and pics.

Oops! Almost forgot this:

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_seax.html

-Tim


Thanks Tim. Wonderful.

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
View user's profile Send private message
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
Industry Professional



Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 740

PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 11:49 pm    Post subject: Re: making a broken back seax         Reply with quote

Philip Montgomery wrote:
I am about to start making my second knife. This time I want to make a broken-back seax. I have read some of the articles here on myArmoury and visited some other sites, so I have a rough idea of what I want. I will make this knife using a chunk of 1095 steel that is about 8 inches long, 2 inches deep and 1/4 inch thick. I also have 1095 that is 4x2 and 1/8 inch thick, so I can use that if dimensions are better for an historically accurate seax. I know that 1095 is probably not historically accurate, but I am slowly working up to getting things right. At the moment, I am concentrating on learning the processes of knife making. I have a few new scars and burns to show for it.....and one knife.

My questions are:

1. where can I find more details on various types of seax.
I haven't yet come across a good book describing broken back saxes in detail. Usually what you look for are books on certain digs, which just happen to include saxes.

Quote:
I have the book
Knives and Scabbards (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London) by J. Cowgill, M. de Neergaard, and N. Griffiths, but I don't recall much on the seax in there.
That's correct, as it starts after saxes have gone out of use. You can use the described handle materials as indication though, as there's very little information available on which types of wood were used on saxes.

Quote:
2. Am I right in thinking that the handle of many of the seax (what is the plural?) seem to be driven onto the tang. For example, a chunk of maple may be drilled out slightly and then pounded onto the tang.
I suspect the tangs were generally burned into the hilt, and then after shaping glued using either tar, resin or casein glue. I personally use that method, and it works really well. Burning the tang into the hilt takes a bit of practice to figure it out, but it's really quick and easy when you get the hang of it.

Quote:
This almost sounds like the same system I use to put handles on my files. For me, the handle is the most difficult part of knife making. I need to really plan this carefully. I intend to use maple for the handle and some bronze if I can find it. If I can't find decent bronze, I will use brass.
There's no metal in the hilts (at least broken back sax blades are not found including any metal parts). Just a straight, undecorated oval or round shaped hilt of wood, horn or ivory. The hilts are pretty long, various evidence shows hilts of >20cm for the larger blades would have been the norm.
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 8:36 am    Post subject: Re: making a broken back seax         Reply with quote

Hi Jeroen,

Thanks for the advice and information. When I am ready to make the handle, would you mind if I contact you for specific advice about how to burn that handle in and use the glue?



Quote:
2. Am I right in thinking that the handle of many of the seax (what is the plural?) seem to be driven onto the tang. For example, a chunk of maple may be drilled out slightly and then pounded onto the tang.
I suspect the tangs were generally burned into the hilt, and then after shaping glued using either tar, resin or casein glue. I personally use that method, and it works really well. Burning the tang into the hilt takes a bit of practice to figure it out, but it's really quick and easy when you get the hang of it.
Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
View user's profile Send private message
Ken Nelson




Location: central Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Reading list: 12 books

Posts: 55

PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another good book to look in may be "Daggers and fighting knives of the Western World" by Harold Peterson. If I recall, he has a good section on the seax.

Also 1095 is about as close to a historical metal as you are going to find without smelting it yourself. it is simply carbon and iron. I will warn you that it can be difficult to harden properly if your blade is thick. 1075 and 1084 have more manganese, and harden a little better.

If you are forging, that 8"X2"x1/4" piece could be made into a blade 2" wide and over 12" long with a forged distal taper, The 4" long piece could probably be stretched to a blade 8" long and 1 3/4" wide at the widest. (by forging to just under a 1/4" x 1 1/2" rectangle and then forging in the edge bevel.

"Live and learn, or you don't live long" L. Long
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 1:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken,

Interesting that you should mention the hardening. The first knife I made was 1095 and 1/4 inch thick. After I removed all the excess stock and had the knife as I wanted it....I heated it in a charcoal fire until it was demagnatized, which I understand is the critical point. I waited a bit after that...10 minutes or so, pulled it out and quenched it in brine with one quick dunk all within one second or as close to one second as I could get. Then I slowly drew the heat out by lightly touching it with a wet rag and testing the sizzle and evaporation for 15 minutes....by that time it was about the temperature where I could hold it in my hand if I juggled it a bit. Then I stuck it into my preheated oven at 400 F and let it cook for 2 hours. Then I pulled it out of the oven and let it air cool.

After that whole process, I felt like I was doing something, but I don't know if I was doing the right thing. I don't know if it hardened properly. I don't have a testing kit. It seems to hold an edge well. I can buy a kit for about US$75. So, perhaps I should invest in one.

Thanks for the recommendation about the book and the forging. I have a feeling forging a blade is just around the corner.

Philip



Ken Nelson wrote:
Another good book to look in may be "Daggers and fighting knives of the Western World" by Harold Peterson. If I recall, he has a good section on the seax.

Also 1095 is about as close to a historical metal as you are going to find without smelting it yourself. it is simply carbon and iron. I will warn you that it can be difficult to harden properly if your blade is thick. 1075 and 1084 have more manganese, and harden a little better.

If you are forging, that 8"X2"x1/4" piece could be made into a blade 2" wide and over 12" long with a forged distal taper, The 4" long piece could probably be stretched to a blade 8" long and 1 3/4" wide at the widest. (by forging to just under a 1/4" x 1 1/2" rectangle and then forging in the edge bevel.

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
View user's profile Send private message
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
Industry Professional



Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 740

PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 2:14 pm    Post subject: Re: making a broken back seax         Reply with quote

Philip Montgomery wrote:
Hi Jeroen,

Thanks for the advice and information. When I am ready to make the handle, would you mind if I contact you for specific advice about how to burn that handle in and use the glue?
Yeah, no problem. It's pretty simple basically. You start with a piece of wood, significantly larger then the hilt. The blade is straight from the forge, with only a little filing to get the correct step from tang to blade. First you burn in the tang a few cm, by pressing the tang into the wood. You only need to heat up the tip of the tang to about red/orange. After that, reheat the tang, stick it into the hole and put the tip against the side of a block/log/beam of wood (I use my anvil block) and start hitting the back of the wood. With each hit, the tang burns in deeper. You'll notice the hilt blowing out smoke and the hilt gets pressed back by the pressure. The nice thing is, as the wood burns it heats up the tang, and you can keep going on for a long time, until smoke is no longer released. This usually takes only about 3 heats in total, one to burn the first hole to guide tang, then two more or so to burn in the entire tang. If you do it right, and don't press the tang sideways, you should have a nice fitting hole. Frequently so nicely fitting, that it's pretty difficult to get the blade out (if it's really stuck, clamp the blade in a vice, and strick the front of the hilt and it will come loose). I usually keep the wood under water between burns, and shake it out of the hole before inserting the tang again. This prevents too much wood being burned away. I also burn in the first bit of the blade, so you have some material to remove at the front of the hilt to tidy it up. I know some langsax hilt remains have the wood extend over the first bit of the blade, which to me shows that this is exactly what they did. A few things to keep in mind: check if the tang is still straight after each burn. And if the front of the hole turned out too wide, you can always cut off a piece, and burn the tang in further.

As for glue, I'm still in experimenting stage. So far I've used one of the tested and tried resin mixes for prehistoric reconstructions. It's a mix of hard/brittle resin, fine charcoal dust and animal fat. The fat reduces the brittleness, and the charcoal dust acts as a binder. The right mix should give a resin that's no longer brittle, but very tough and sticky. I prefer the consistency of old dried chewing gum. Heat the mix up until liquid, and apply it to the tang. If the tang fits tight into the hole, only a thin layer is needed. Heat the tang with the resin so it's fully liquid, and scrape off the excess. Then press the tang in, and hammer the hilt on and let it cool. Usually there's excess comming out of the hole, sticking to the blade and front of the hilt, which is a pain to remove. Especially on the wood it makes it look dirty. Therefore I want to try a mix next without charcoal, so it's not as obvious.

N.b. mind that before you glue the blade into the hilt, you check if the tang still goes all the way down. For some reasons, I've found that occasionally it doesn't, meaning that when glueing it in, I can't get it down the last few mm. It can be corrected by heating the entire blade to get the resin liquid, but it can be a real pain.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 2:41 pm    Post subject: Re: making a broken back seax         Reply with quote

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Yeah, no problem. It's pretty simple basically.


Thanks for the detailed information. I can't wait to try this.

Philip

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
View user's profile Send private message
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
Industry Professional



Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 740

PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Nelson wrote:
Another good book to look in may be "Daggers and fighting knives of the Western World" by Harold Peterson. If I recall, he has a good section on the seax.

Also 1095 is about as close to a historical metal as you are going to find without smelting it yourself. it is simply carbon and iron. I will warn you that it can be difficult to harden properly if your blade is thick. 1075 and 1084 have more manganese, and harden a little better.

If you are forging, that 8"X2"x1/4" piece could be made into a blade 2" wide and over 12" long with a forged distal taper,
The widest broken back sax I know is 4cm (1.5"). There's no distal taper on the thickness, except in the tip naturally. On the shorter variants, there's negative taper in the width though. Langsaxes variants have the edge and back parallel. The tip usually takes 1/3rd to 1/2 the length of the blade. The edge usually is very slightly curved. The line from the back to the point usually isn't perfectly straight, but starts with a very slight hollow curve and then follows a straight line to the point.

N.b. mind that on some earlier saxes, it's been found that they have nice wavy hamons running down the blade. So it's quite likely that this was the case on broken back saxes as well. These may have been the result of the low hardening of the original steels, but it can give a nice excuse to do a clay coat on it and bring out the hamon. Considering how playful they were with patternwelding, I'd find it hard to believe if they wouldn't take advantage of the esthetic possibilities of the hamons Happy

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2009 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

1095 is probably a great "modern replica" substitute knife/ quality cutting tool material actually. It naturally ages to a dark to gray patina unless you polish and buff it frequently and obsess over it maintenance wise. (It is a favorite in modern pattern welding for the darker regions of a composite blade.) 1/4" spine thickness seems really thick if you mean for it to be a flat grind general purpose knife that also cleaves well. (Look at a chef's knife of roughly similar proportions and you will probably find closer to a 1/8" spine, 3/16" should be adequate for moderate thrusting strength.) Then again, you could fuller one that thick near the spine and then drastically reduce thickness for most of the blade. 12" may be historically plausible for combat, but 16" plus blade length is what I thought was the shorter end of the range of historic seaxes that look obviously combat dedicated. I don't know that a super stout spine makes much sense if grip plus blade are limited to 12" length (by heat treat oven?)


I have not tried or seen the magnet test done by a veteran. All magnets affordable to me become non magnetic (curry temperature effect) at temperatures way too low for heat treat. (Two magnets will not stick together in a forge enviornment at appropriate temperature for steel heat treat after an extremely short amount of time... so I don't know if people do this astoundingly quick, or what.) Going by memory, I believe Admiral Steel recommends heating the 1095 about 75 degrees F above the non magnetic point (magnetic point not actually stated by Admiral) for quench. A premium (Omega "Superclad" for high temperature and corrosive enviornment) type K thermocouple only costs around $30, and a self powered analogue read out gage (0-2500 F range with Celsius scale as well) which is quite accurate can be purchased for around $50 (Axner pottery supplies has the gages). You will find these two items repeatedly useful and dependable for hardening, tempering, etc.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
Industry Professional



Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 740

PostPosted: Wed 12 Aug, 2009 12:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
1095 is probably a great "modern replica" substitute knife/ quality cutting tool material actually. It naturally ages to a dark to gray patina unless you polish and buff it frequently and obsess over it maintenance wise. (It is a favorite in modern pattern welding for the darker regions of a composite blade.) 1/4" spine thickness seems really thick if you mean for it to be a flat grind general purpose knife that also cleaves well. (Look at a chef's knife of roughly similar proportions and you will probably find closer to a 1/8" spine,3* 3/16" should be adequate for moderate thrusting strength.)
Yeah, but for historic saxes, 6mm (1/4") is pretty common. The shorter broken back saxes generally range in the 4 to 6mm IIRC. For long saxes, it's 5 - 9mm (1/5 to 3/8"). Mind that these blades generally weren't fully hardened, so a bit of a thicker spine will be required.

Quote:
Then again, you could fuller one that thick near the spine and then drastically reduce thickness for most of the blade.
The shorter broken back saxes weren't fullered. The long sax variants were occasionally fullered, but with thin narrow fullers, which serve as decoration rather then that they actually reduce mass.

[quote] 12" may be historically plausible for combat, but 16" plus blade length is what I thought was the shorter end of the range of historic seaxes that look obviously combat dedicated.[quote] Mind that there is a distinct devision between short and long broken back saxes. Typically, the shorter ones range anywhere between 10-30cm blade length (4-12"), the long saxes generally are 50cm (20"). Both have a different blade design from one another. So far I miss the overview to make sense all the sizes but here's my impression so far:
up to 12 inch: probably equivalent of a dagger, or personal eating/utility/defense knife. Occurs 8-12th century.
20 inch: weapon only. Continuous development out of the earlier round backed long sax. Noted is that on the continent, there are no short saxes (aside from small knives), and the long sax generally seems to stick to 20 inches blade length. The same broken back long saxes occur in the UK as well. The broken back variant arrives at the end of the 8 century, shortly before longsaxes go out of use.
12-20 inch: Seem to be limited to the UK mostly. They seem less common, particularly compared to the short saxes (although the longsaxes are not common either, but they were in use for a very short period). I'm not sure about the time frame these appear, but I suspect at the early side mostly. The UK does not seem to follow the fixed dimensions for saxes up to the development of the broken back variant, so the intermediate examples is probably a continuation of this.

This is my vague overview so far. I'm still looking for more blades with confirmed dates to get a more accurate picture. On thing that makes broken back saxes more complicated is that when they are developed, weapons are no longer added in graves. So where with earlier saxes, the majority are grave finds, the later saxes mostly come from rivers, city dumps etc.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
G Ezell
Industry Professional



Location: North Alabama
Joined: 22 Dec 2003

Posts: 235

PostPosted: Wed 12 Aug, 2009 7:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They tended to be on the thick side, but with the wide flat bevels they were likely good cutters anyway.


The best way to know if your heat-treatment is optional is to make up a few test blades and put them through their paces. Your main worry will be under/over heating. Under heating will result in a less than fully hardened blade, over-heating will result in grain growth. Break a test blade and examine the grain, it should looks silky as opposed to grainy... I generally do not anneal 1095, but give it a sub-critical stress relief to make it easier to file/drill.

" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
Gabriel Lebec

https://www.facebook.com/relicforge
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Wed 12 Aug, 2009 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
1095 is probably a great "modern replica" substitute knife/ quality cutting tool material actually. It naturally ages to a dark to gray patina unless you polish and buff it frequently and obsess over it maintenance wise. (It is a favorite in modern pattern welding for the darker regions of a composite blade.) 1/4" spine thickness seems really thick if you mean for it to be a flat grind general purpose knife that also cleaves well. (Look at a chef's knife of roughly similar proportions and you will probably find closer to a 1/8" spine, 3/16" should be adequate for moderate thrusting strength.) Then again, you could fuller one that thick near the spine and then drastically reduce thickness for most of the blade. 12" may be historically plausible for combat, but 16" plus blade length is what I thought was the shorter end of the range of historic seaxes that look obviously combat dedicated. I don't know that a super stout spine makes much sense if grip plus blade are limited to 12" length (by heat treat oven?)


I have not tried or seen the magnet test done by a veteran. All magnets affordable to me become non magnetic (curry temperature effect) at temperatures way too low for heat treat. (Two magnets will not stick together in a forge enviornment at appropriate temperature for steel heat treat after an extremely short amount of time... so I don't know if people do this astoundingly quick, or what.) Going by memory, I believe Admiral Steel recommends heating the 1095 about 75 degrees F above the non magnetic point (magnetic point not actually stated by Admiral) for quench. A premium (Omega "Superclad" for high temperature and corrosive enviornment) type K thermocouple only costs around $30, and a self powered analogue read out gage (0-2500 F range with Celsius scale as well) which is quite accurate can be purchased for around $50 (Axner pottery supplies has the gages). You will find these two items repeatedly useful and dependable for hardening, tempering, etc.


Thank you Jared. This is very useful information. The magnet I used was a attached to a telescoping rod that I could insert into the fire, test the metal and then withdraw. It was strong enough to lift the knife out of the charcoal so I used a stick to scrape the knife off and shove it back under the coals. But I will look into the thermocouple and read out gauge you mentioned.

Also, this morning, I was thinking that 1/4 inch 1095 is over kill. I will use 1/8 inch instead. Makes more sense for a small knife.

Philip

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
View user's profile Send private message
Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Wed 12 Aug, 2009 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

G Ezell wrote:
They tended to be on the thick side, but with the wide flat bevels they were likely good cutters anyway.


The best way to know if your heat-treatment is optional is to make up a few test blades and put them through their paces. Your main worry will be under/over heating. Under heating will result in a less than fully hardened blade, over-heating will result in grain growth. Break a test blade and examine the grain, it should looks silky as opposed to grainy... I generally do not anneal 1095, but give it a sub-critical stress relief to make it easier to file/drill.


I am always amazed by the breadth of knowledge in this group. My idea to make a seax was nebulous and founded on a vague whiffery of imagination. Slowly, I am forming a very tempered idea of what I need to do. What I love about this journey is the wondrous detail in the knowledge I am acquiring. ..... In other words, I am having a blast.

Breaking a blade.....how do you propose I do that safely, because the 12-year-old in me is really liking this idea.

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
View user's profile Send private message
Justin King
Industry Professional



Location: flagstaff,arizona
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 551

PostPosted: Wed 12 Aug, 2009 12:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Montgomery wrote:
[
Breaking a blade.....how do you propose I do that safely, because the 12-year-old in me is really liking this idea.

To test the breaking point of a blade just use heavy welding gloves and a face shield, put the blade in a vice, and give 'er hell!. If you can't break it with hand pressure in this way then it is unlikely to break in use. This can become a bit of a hobby in itself, I have probably broken as many blades as I have finished, to date. I pretty routinely leave an extra inch or so on the tips of my blades to snap off and check the grain size and temper before finish grinding. This kind of testing is a must if you expect to achieve consistency with low-tech heat treating equipment.

For testing the hardness of the cutting edge there are various ways, the file test is probably the easiest but not terribly reliable without some experience in using it. I sometimes test against a blade of known hardness by literally trying to carve pieces off of the edge with the other blade. This likewise takes some experience to be really useful.
View user's profile Send private message
Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri 19 Feb, 2010 2:14 pm    Post subject: Re: making a broken back seax         Reply with quote

Quote:
2. Am I right in thinking that the handle of many of the seax (what is the plural?) seem to be driven onto the tang. For example, a chunk of maple may be drilled out slightly and then pounded onto the tang. I suspect the tangs were generally burned into the hilt, and then after shaping glued using either tar, resin or casein glue. I personally use that method, and it works really well. Burning the tang into the hilt takes a bit of practice to figure it out, but it's really quick and easy when you get the hang of it.


I have almost finished with this seax. I burnt the handle onto the tang and finished sanding it down. I still have to soak the wood in linen seed oil and let it dry, polish the knife and then cheese glue the handle to the tang.

I tempered the knife using charcoal with a small bit of coal and coke. Then the next day I put it into a vice and heated the tang to deep red using MAP gas many times over as I burnt the handle onto the tang.

So my question, is this, does heating the tang affect the temper of the blade? Should I have burnt the handle onto the tang before I tempered it?

And finally, if a bladesmith at a 900 AD-era forge tempered the knife first, how would they heat the tang without applying too much heat to the blade itself? Can anyone speculate on that....or am I just getting this backwards?

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
View user's profile Send private message
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
Industry Professional



Location: Netherlands
Joined: 11 Mar 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 740

PostPosted: Fri 19 Feb, 2010 4:16 pm    Post subject: Re: making a broken back seax         Reply with quote

Philip Montgomery wrote:
I have almost finished with this seax. I burnt the handle onto the tang and finished sanding it down. I still have to soak the wood in linen seed oil and let it dry, polish the knife and then cheese glue the handle to the tang.

I tempered the knife using charcoal with a small bit of coal and coke. Then the next day I put it into a vice and heated the tang to deep red using MAP gas many times over as I burnt the handle onto the tang.

So my question, is this, does heating the tang affect the temper of the blade? Should I have burnt the handle onto the tang before I tempered it?

Before you quenched it even. I burn the hilts directly after forging the blade. The only thing I do to the blade is a few file strokes to define the corners at the transition from tang to blade. Then I burn the hilt, shape the hilt and only when the hilt is done I do any further work on the blade. The reason for that is that if I may screw up the hilt for some reason, I can burn it again without undoing any work on the blade. If you've already hardened and tempered (from the way you writing, it seems you're mixing up hardening and tempering b.t.w.) the blade, any part that is raised above the tempering temperature will become softer.

Quote:
And finally, if a bladesmith at a 900 AD-era forge tempered the knife first, how would they heat the tang without applying too much heat to the blade itself? Can anyone speculate on that....or am I just getting this backwards?

You can heat the tang without heating the blade too much by cooling the blade with something wet while you heat the tang. But it's unneeded hassle. There's no need to wait burning the hole in the tang as soon as the tang is shaped. Even when I need to replace a hilt after I already finished the blade, I much rather shape another piece of iron in the shape of the tang and use that instead.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Philip Montgomery




Location: Houston
Joined: 29 May 2008
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Sat 20 Feb, 2010 5:42 am    Post subject: Re: making a broken back seax         Reply with quote

Quote:
And finally, if a bladesmith at a 900 AD-era forge tempered the knife first, how would they heat the tang without applying too much heat to the blade itself? Can anyone speculate on that....or am I just getting this backwards?

You can heat the tang without heating the blade too much by cooling the blade with something wet while you heat the tang. But it's unneeded hassle. There's no need to wait burning the hole in the tang as soon as the tang is shaped. Even when I need to replace a hilt after I already finished the blade, I much rather shape another piece of iron in the shape of the tang and use that instead.[/quote]

Thanks Jeroen.

well, I am doing this to learn. I will have to work on the blade some more. But I do have a very nice handle and burning it onto the tang went smoothly. Next time I will know what to do in the proper order, and I will make a concerted effort to get my terminology correct. You have been a big help.

Philip Montgomery
~-----~
"A broken sword blade fwipping through the air like a scythe through rye does demand attention."
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > making a broken back seax
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2020 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum