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Jarno-T. Pälikkö
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PostPosted: Wed 26 May, 2010 12:39 pm    Post subject: A "Viking era” Type Xa Sword         Reply with quote

Hello everyone,
My name is JT Pälikkö and I have worked as a full-time bladesmith for almost twenty years now. I have mostly worked with all kinds of knives and puukkos, but over the years I have found myself making increasingly more swords and other historical weapons for my customers. This is the first time I participate in a discussion here in the myArmoury forum.
A few days ago I showed some pictures of a work I just recently finished to an old customer of mine. He in turn suggested that I would share some pictures and maybe some information of the process of the project here. So here goes… -hopefully this does not turn out to be too long or boring…

The project I just finished is a late “viking era” Xa-type sword I was commissioned to make couple years back. The sword itself is a quite straight forward piece, with simple hilt furniture and a hefty blade.
However, to turn the sword into something special, the customer ordered it with a pattern welded inscriptions. I told the customer that I had never actually tried forging inlays, but I was willing to try my hand with them.

Last February I finally started the manufacture of the sword. I thought it best to use easily weldable carbon steels for the whole project. The blade material used was 0,75%C carbon steel and the letters were made of twisted rods of 15N20 and 1%C carbon steel.

The letters were bent from 2 – 2,5 mm round rods, I tried to keep the amount of parts per letter in minimum, so for example letter M was bent from one long rod. In the actual welding process a gas forge was used. No grooves were cut for the letters, the cold letters were forged into the hot blade blank instead. To stop the letters “hopping off” while they were being seated I made a small hammer with a longish metal tube handle (just the kind Richard Furrer describes earlier on). This hammer was wielded by an apprentice (strangely similar in appearance to my wife). After a few practice welds, the process was fairly straightforward: I held the blade blank and after the initial heating I brushed of the scale, placed the letter on it with tongs, the “apprentice” would place the hammer on the letter and I would strike it with a bigger hammer. After a stroke or two I would add flux, heat the blade with the letter into welding heat and lightly forge weld the letter in place. With enough heat left in the blade next letter would be set on it and the cycle would continue.
With the aid of extra pair of hands, the whole process was surprisingly fast, it took less than an hour to weld the inscriptions and decorations on the blade.

After the forge weldings, the fullers were forged in using two-sided fullering tool. I removed all scale and leftover flux from around the letters before forging the fullers to ensure that there would be as few surprises waiting as possible. Finally the bevels were forged in shape and the blade was ready for rough grinding and heat treatment. The finished blade was etched using ferricloride, which brings out the nickel in the 15N20-steel in the inscriptions nicely.

As for the actual inscription, well, it’s maybe a bit bombastic, but it is nevertheless quite true and just what the customer and I agreed upon when the order was made. The rather simple decoration on the reverse side of the blade is adopted from one “ULFBERTH” blade.
Here’s two annoyingly small pictures of the sword.



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Jarno-T. Pälikkö
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Location: Helsinki, Finland
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PostPosted: Wed 26 May, 2010 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A little more to the previous post:
Here is a picture of the inscriptions, showing both sides of the blade.

There are few faults in the inscriptions, most notable being the one in the right “armpit” of the letter M. In my mind, the reason for it is the rather massive size of the letter, which in turn forces the energy from the hammer blow to spread wider and weaker. Also, the metal under the letter might have been slightly too cold, so the metal has not molded itself as well around the letter as it might have done had it been hotter. The tight curve in the letter J seems to have the effect of pushing the metal underneath it “aside” while the letter is being seated, I noticed the same effect in one of the omegas in the reverse side. The same omega sports a torn seam in the tip that has most probably occurred while hammering the letter into the blade.

Considering the overall difficulty of this sword project, I am personally very satisfied with the end results: all forge weldings held until the end, no letters fell off during forging or heat treatment, no letters or parts of them were erased during grinding and when etched, the inscriptions showed up loud and clear…



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Stephen Curtin




PostPosted: Wed 26 May, 2010 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow Surprised awesome work JT, I've been looking at your website for a couple of years now, if only I had the money Worried
Anyway thanks for the pics and welcome to the forum

Éirinn go Brách
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Jeff Pringle
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PostPosted: Thu 27 May, 2010 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent work JT! Cool
Congrats! Big Grin
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Thu 27 May, 2010 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes JT- that is beautiful work!
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Jarno-T. Pälikkö
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PostPosted: Fri 28 May, 2010 3:23 am    Post subject: Appearance of iron inlay         Reply with quote

Thank you for your comments!

Returning to one of the aspects of making pattern welded inscriptions discussed earlier in this thread, I feel quite convinced that most of the inscriptions made in the ancient times are results of team work. Already by having that extra pair of hands to hold the hammer made such a difference, it would be foolish to think that such aid would not have been used - especially in such highly professional level work as forge welding inscriptions.

I would like to think that there would have been a smith with at least two apprentices in such a team, the smith would be in control of the process and do the actual welds, there would be the secondary hammerman, and one apprentice would work the bellows and keep the charcoal fire in optimum condition.

Continuing this line of thought, in bigger workshops, there might have been several teams working with the inscriptions. Maybe the smiths in charge of teams would have been “advanced level” journeymen and the mastersmith would have been overseeing and controlling the quality of the workmanship in all levels of the production, maybe executing the crucial heat treatment phases of the blades… In turn, this might be one possible explanation why there are so many different variations in the reverse side decorations of ULFBERHT-blades; maybe some smiths were allowed to use their own personalized “signature decorations” on blades. …maybe I’m just thinking silly things. – Or what do you think?
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Fri 28 May, 2010 5:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JT, great to see! Very nice sword Cool
Extra hands are a great help, and a natural part of much forge work, just like you say.

Keep up the good work. Hope to see more of you here!
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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Fri 28 May, 2010 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

fascinating reading.

I've experience with stock removal methods, but have very little practice at actual forged construction beyond simple shaping. the inlay techniques in the thread are amazing, and inspirational. I'd love to do a brass/latten inlaid mark, someday when I have a lot more practice.

making the pattern welded inlays though makes me wish I had a better-equipped workshop, and a lot more time to practice that sort of stuff. :/

And though I'm late to say it, I love the "pringlerii" inlay. That made me laugh loudly enough to wake up a snoozing cat beside me here. Happy
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Fri 28 May, 2010 11:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice work JT. It actually reminds me of the Ingelri sword that Oakeshott used to own, now in Glasgow (I got to look at this last year, and took a pretty good photo not with me right now).

But with its wide fuller, I would call it standard X rather than Xa.

JD
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J Helmes
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PostPosted: Fri 28 May, 2010 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

lovley sword JT. good work!
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Sun 30 May, 2010 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really nice work JT!

It's always a pleasure to see a really talented maker joining this forum!
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Jarno-T. Pälikkö
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PostPosted: Mon 31 May, 2010 2:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What, - just plain “X”? Oh, blast! Now I have to chuck that thing into the garbage bin and start all over again!
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Maurizio D'Angelo




PostPosted: Mon 31 May, 2010 5:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jarno-T. Pälikkö wrote:
What, - just plain “X”? Oh, blast! Now I have to chuck that thing into the garbage bin and start all over again!


I think some here have noted that "X ", almost . The work is too good to throw it away.
For some time, I doubt if it is correct to criticize the work of others , constructively of course.
It would be a good topic, the problem is knowing how many would be honest. In other words those who would say what they think and how many would rather diplomatic.
I think in your case it is better to an X instead of a Xa, do not say this for diplomacy, but because I think so.
I think is the best way to learn. Someone here said that none of us will die scholar, but surely, all the time, student.
Personally I attend still asylum. Eek! Happy Razz Laughing Out Loud
Some things I would change for the next sword, at least judging by the photos, so I can make mistakes.
The pommel a little less polished, the width of the blade a little larger, say more proportionate to fuller.
Some things are just personal preferences.
Your writing on the blade is fantastic, few people are able to do. Happy

Ciao
Maurizio
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Mike Capanelli




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PostPosted: Mon 31 May, 2010 7:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd be happy to let you use my trashcan if your throwing it away. It's a long trip to the states just to throw something away but I'd consider it a service to you Mr Pälikkö....... But seriously it's a very well done sword in my humble opinion. Just as good as the other wonderful works of art I've seen you make, this one holds up quite nicely to all of them. As for sword types It's my understanding, however limited that may be, that the typology isn't the alpha and omega of sword identification but rather a guide with which to go by.
Winter is coming
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Jarno-T. Pälikkö
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PostPosted: Mon 31 May, 2010 7:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You are quite right, Maurizio, the sword is more an ”X” than ”Xa”. And yes, it is rude to snap at people for being right. The truth is that this sword project has caused so much anxiety to me in various ways so that even my usually nigh limitless reserve of patience is starting to run out.

As for the X/Xa dilemma, I went through quite a few Finnish founds looking for the most suitable cross/pommel combination for the blade, I probably just got them mixed up in the end…

Besides, my original postings were meant to be a continuation to another thread, I did not intend to start a new thread, my posts were just moved here under this title/subject.

Mike, I have to say I’m with you there, the typology is a very necessary tool to keep all the information in some sort of order, but it just provides the essential backbone for the study. Personally, more I get to study the originals, more often I manage to stumble over swords that do not fit really well in any category. Then again, my “forte” is not really the typology side of things, basically I am just a dumb craftsman working amongst charcoal dust and sparks.

Anyway, let’s all agree that the sword is indeed an “X” and be happy about it.

Btw. from tomorrow onwards, that sword will be on the free market, ie. the claim of the original customer expires today…
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 31 May, 2010 8:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for sharing the method in such details. I like your method, and think it more plausible than engraving the blade as it could be done in one forging session. I was not sure of something from your description. When you initially placed the preformed letters on the hot blade, were the letters cold so as to be harder and to better retain shape while being hammered into the hot blade?

I am wondering if a reversal of materials (pattern welded blade, solid high nickle inlay) might work similarly in your opinion. I realize that in the era of pattern welded blades, inlay is not commonly known. But, it would be interesting to inlay a maker's mark, or a decorative insignia into a pattern welded blade.

My thoughts are that with your 1075 blade, and the 15N20/1095 wire, your prepared letters were harder than than the blade at forge welding temperatures. This may have helped them "sink" into the hot 1075 blade with as little deformation as they seem to have done.

Anyhow, great job and congratulations.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Maurizio D'Angelo




PostPosted: Mon 31 May, 2010 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jarno-T. Pälikkö wrote:
And yes, it is rude to snap at people for being right.


Ciao Jarno,
I disagree. Happy
Polishing an pommel and 5 mm blade most are secondary.
The hardest work, I think you're a teacher, no doubt about this.

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Nice work JT. It actually reminds me of the Ingelri sword that Oakeshott used to own, now in Glasgow (I got to look at this last year, and took a pretty good photo not with me right now).

But with its wide fuller, I would call it standard X rather than Xa.

JD


maybe here?
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...highlight=


Update: only corrections to my terrible English

Ciao
Maurizio


Last edited by Maurizio D'Angelo on Mon 31 May, 2010 2:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Mon 31 May, 2010 10:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maurizio D'Angelo wrote:
Jarno-T. Pälikkö wrote:
And yes, it is rude to snap at people for being right.


Ciao Jarno,
I disagree. Happy
Polishing an pommel and 5 mm blade most are secondary.
The hardest work, I think you're a teacher, little doubt about this.

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Nice work JT. It actually reminds me of the Ingelri sword that Oakeshott used to own, now in Glasgow (I got to look at this last year, and took a pretty good photo not with me right now).

But with its wide fuller, I would call it standard X rather than Xa.

JD


maybe here?
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...highlight=


Yes, that's the one. And JT, I took your response as a joke, and if not, my comment was meant to be informative not critical, so lets not worry about it. I like your work, keep it up!
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Jarno-T. Pälikkö
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PostPosted: Mon 31 May, 2010 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Jared, you are quite right, in this technique the temperature difference between the letters and the blade is the crucial factor that makes it possible to sink the letters deep into the metal of the blade. Without the temperature difference, the letters would just be squashed and spread on the blade.
Prior to any forge weldings the letters were annealed so that they would not split a seam while being seated – like that omega nevertheless did.
Speaking of omegas, in the picture it can be seen how much a single letter grows in size during the forge welding process.

As for the “soft metal inlays” I’d expect that Mikko Moilanen might be the person to turn to when talking about such methods. Personally, I would go for some sort of tin alloy instead of nickel. I think “latten” or such similar material was used alongside other “soft metals” when making inlays...

J.D., yes it was meant as a joke, but then I started to think that there might be someone less humorous who would not see it as such… also, the swords “personal vexation factor” runs rather high at the moment, so I was only half kidding.

Maurizio, thanks for the link, I did not connect “the Glasgow museum sword” with that particular piece. Funnily enough, I have almost a spot on clone of that sword under construction – even down to the narrowing of the blade near the hilt and the undefined borders of the fullers



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Jarno-T. Pälikkö
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Jun, 2010 4:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi again,
Just to cap this thread, there’s now updated pictures of this sword and its sister sword in my web pages ( www.kp-art.fi/jt ) naturally in the “Swords” section.

Personally, I find the “gothic-style” inscriptions of the sister sword quite appealing. The inscription looks like some weird decoration on the blade and the actual text is readable only when looked straight on from above.

Also, shortly there will be a picture of the first sword with its scabbard as well. And as I mentioned earlier, this sword is on the free market as the customer who originally ordered it, suddenly “disappeared” when I got the sword ready to be delivered…
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