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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
Joined: 02 Jun 2008

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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 5:01 pm    Post subject: Blade Modding 101         Reply with quote

Hello all,

I never did any sword modding, but I'm quite interested in it. And before I go torturing some poor blades, I thought I'd ask here for some advice from those that are old hands at sword modding and DIY.

Specifically I'm wondering about the most difficult thing... Modifying the blade itself. I think I get how to shorten it by cutting the ricasso to make some tang, or how to shape a new point (although any and all advice on this point is still very welcome). I was wondering if it was possible to do things that're both subtler and probably more difficult, notably adding some fuller to a blade.

Say I have a blade with a ricasso and I want to extand the fullers down to the guard (without shortening the blade). Would that be possible and how?

I suppose it's doable with lots of patience and for instance an adequate grinder mounted onto a Dremel, although it would probably take much time (with many pauses to cool the blade and avoid ruining the temper, yes?).

Opinions? Ideas?... All are welcome on this general subject of blade modding... I'll try to turn this subject into a real "Blade Modding 101" should anyone else have the same kind of crazy ideas as me.

Thanks in advance,

Cheers !

Simon
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Christopher Finneman




Location: Sartell Minnesota
Joined: 20 Mar 2006

Posts: 159

PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 6:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A dremel with some metal working bits is a good start. Thats what I do but always always figure out what you want to do before you start. And take your time to avoid over cutting for doing fullersand other work to the blade.
Ive done two one a project blade of mine and while not perfect they turned out fine with a dremel and a few slow steady passes.
Another good way to "perfect" your craft is run down to the local metal yard or home improvement store and pick up a few pieces of flat metal stock and practise your cuts fuller or whathave you on there. That way your out a 4 dollar piece besides a blade. But practice makes perfect dont expect doing it the first will be perfect maybe it will maybe not. But practice practise.
Ive been tinkering with modifying blades for a while and still always find new things to learn.
Sometimes it turns out the way you want sometimes it take a few trys.
But its fun to do none the less good luck!

Proudly it stands until the worlds end. The victorious banner of love.
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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
Joined: 02 Jun 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 238

PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 7:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
A dremel with some metal working bits is a good start. Thats what I do but always always figure out what you want to do before you start. And take your time to avoid over cutting for doing fullersand other work to the blade.
Ive done two one a project blade of mine and while not perfect they turned out fine with a dremel and a few slow steady passes.


Thanks Christopher, this is all I needed to be sure that my idea was not ridiculously "out there". By the way, I'd be interested in seeing some pics of your Dremel realisations!

I dug around some bit and found quite a number of answers over at SFI (hadn't thought about that one, I only go there for the HES/HEMA section...). Here are the useful threads or posts should someone else be interested:

http://swordforum.com/vb3/showthread.php?t=98256
http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t...ht=fullers
http://forums.swordforum.com/showpost.php?p=4...ostcount=5
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showpost.php...stcount=11

A video :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce9fCLXZbrQ&feature=channel

A more general tutorial showing the making of a blade (incl. dremelled fuller) :
http://sbgswordforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?...hread=5405

I love working with my Dremel, so I think I'll soon start experimenting, and dig around some more on the intertubes...

Quote:
Another good way to "perfect" your craft is run down to the local metal yard or home improvement store and pick up a few pieces of flat metal stock and practise your cuts fuller or whathave you on there. That way your out a 4 dollar piece besides a blade.

Very good idea, I'll try it. I planned to start my shenanigans on four crappy blades from crappy Chinese repros I bought long ago at the beginning of my sword-collecting (...which was not, in fact, that long ago... Worried ). These are carbon steel but not heat-treated (I guess, or badly so). Perfect victims and that way perhaps I'll get something out of 'em. But buying metal stock I will do too if I am able to. I have observed that here in Europe we don't seem to be able to get quite the same supply of awesome materials you Americans can buy at hardware shops and the like. 'Round here it's more like "uuuh, flat metal stock? How about I sell you this plastic garden chair instead?" Razz

But perhaps I just don't have the good addresses.
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Aleksei Sosnovski





Joined: 04 Mar 2008

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 2:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An angle grinder is a very handy tool for the job. There are all kinds of discs for it, cutting, grinding, sanding, polishing, wire brushes... But these tools are powerful and cut very fast, so be prepared to cut more than you wanted at first (= practice on some scrap metal). Oh, and at all cost try to avoid touching yourself with the spinning disc! These beasts grind away pieces of flesh with terrifying ease, and these wounds don't heal very well too, just trust me on this one. Get an angle grinder with variable rotation speed, these are more expensive, but it is well worth it. Less chances to overgrind, less chances of overheating the blade, less chances of cutting yourself, less chances of setting yourself on fire, less noise, wider choice of discs (some discs cannot be used on "standard" 10-11K RPM). 850 W and 5" disc is enough, I personally don't like anything less powerful, but for occasional work 600W and 4" disc should be enough as well. Though in the latter case you may have problems with finding a tool with variable RPM and choice of discs may be smaller, 5" seems to be a standard, at least in my country. Two drawbacks of this tool are
- price
- noise

Dremels are good tools too, but for me they cut too slowly and expendables are too expensive considering their "service life". These tools are more suited for some fine work like engraving, cutout, jewelry, etc, not heavy work like cutting fullers or reshaping points.
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

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PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 6:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I second the warning about angle grinders.

I use them extensively and with great skill for metalworking, but always with great respect and care. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy and they can cut fingers off clean, even gut you especially with saw blades or thin cutter discs.

Always use a chaperone in tough canvas or heavy leather.
Always use eye procetction.
Always plan the outline of the work before starting.
Always check that old discs aren't cracked or chipped or it can skip and bounce on you unecpectedly.
Always use a glove, at least on the off hand that'll be closest to the rondel. I sometimes don't wear it on the back hand because I use it for precision work and a more secure grip and easier to flick the switch off with your thumb at need. But if one does that you need to be extra careful of course.

Also, train on scrap metal like Aleksei says first so you know how to handle it with care and precision.

Just to show how dangerous an angle ginder can be, I once got locked out of one of my tool boxes that had a sturdy combination padlock. It was a childish prank by one of my friends who'd changed the combination. It was too big and sturdy to break with a crowbar and cutting the u-bar with a hand saw would take forever, so I took the angle grinder to it and simply cut the body of the padlock in half. It went through it like butter. Now imagine what this does to fingers. Still, don't fear it or you'll only drop it on your feet or something, just repect its power and keep a secure but careful grip.


Also note that for a sword to become real it needs edge tempering or it's just ornamental soft steel, and a simple bar of steel may not be temperable unless you carbonize the surface in a coal box at least. You can buy special steels as bars,even damascus, and these you can temper. Some others like spring steel or stainless may already have a decent temper you can work carefully to keep, but then you need to be extra careful not to burn the edge by overheating it from grinding.
Other item yet have an edge steel and just needs to change skhape in minor ways. Like some modern axes being transformable into viking age axes by stock removal. Here overheating is a real issue, so cool it with water and watch for edge burn. This is a darkening of an edge, first a sunburstlike golden fleck, and then it goes brown-black. If you see it forming stop and cool immediately or you lose the tempering of the edge. You'll have perhaps 20-30 seconds to put it in water when it starts.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
Joined: 02 Jun 2008

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Posts: 238

PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 7:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Johan and Aleksei for the replies.

I'll go for an angle grinder (which I've already used to start modding a poleaxe) only for big projects... At first I'll start smaller on blades. Here my goal is more slight modding of pommel, guard, and things like adding a few centimeters of fuller, to remove a ricasso for instance. A Dremel will be more suited to that.

I agree with what you said regarding angle grinders. Wicked powerful (I couldn't have done the sort of heavy cutting I did on that poleaxe with a Dremel) but I don't much like working with one, they're too heavy and dangerous. Whereas you can get your finger caught any day with a Dremel and not risk much besides a bit of bleeding.

Perhaps I'll invest in one of those smaller angle grinders that're handier and lighter than the monster I previously used.

Quote:
Like some modern axes being transformable into viking age axes by stock removal. Here overheating is a real issue, so cool it with water and watch for edge burn. This is a darkening of an edge, first a sunburstlike golden fleck, and then it goes brown-black. If you see it forming stop and cool immediately or you lose the tempering of the edge. You'll have perhaps 20-30 seconds to put it in water when it starts.

Ah, I had that in mind too, even though it's less of a priority. Your tip is very useful, thanks!
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Aleksei Sosnovski





Joined: 04 Mar 2008

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Simon G. wrote:
Thanks Johan and Aleksei for the replies.
Perhaps I'll invest in one of those smaller angle grinders that're handier and lighter than the monster I previously used.


If you decide to do so, go for 5" disc and variable RPM (lowest speed should be around 2800 RPM). The difference between 2800 RPM and 11000 RPM is like between a bicycle and a sport bike. You will be able to do some very delicate work without overheating the metal and putting yourself into danger, but you will also have that full power available for major cutting and stock removal. I can easily sharpen a 2mm blunt edge using my tool on lowest RPM without any overheating issues.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Feb, 2011 4:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would add that having a good bench vise to hold the work while you hold the angle grinder to the work is very essential since trying to control both safely is next to impossible.

Used an angle grinder freehand to make some knives ( A short sword of leaf bladed pattern with complex multiple fullers a few decades ago in Art school and a Bowie type knife and other more conventional art project sculptures ), and I guess I was lucky to not have any accidents with the angle grinder in part because I was careful, not a a klutz, and maybe because I wasn't " scared " of the angle grinder because I just wasn't aware about how easily one could lose body parts if one wasn't careful.

Now the fact that I could cut in half 1/4" steel plates like it was butter did at least give me a clue that this thing might bite and bite hard. Wink Razz Laughing Out Loud

From my experience freehand cutting is difficult but doable but the cutting wheel tends to drag you along and one can easily start a cut that ends up going where it wants to go rather than where one wants it to go ..... both a safety issue and one of easily ruining ones work in progress.

For a strait fuller the best and most important thing is establishing the original track you want to follow and keeping it strait: Once the tract is established it does become easier to have subsequent passes follow the same track to make the fuller deeper and wider. ( Note: Curved tracks are even more difficult to have go where you want them to go as the edge of the grinding wheel keeps wanting to skip out of the established track ).

The rotation of the cutting/grinding wheel causes a strong gyroscopic effect making changes in direction combined with the high speed rotation on the surface makes control difficult until one has a lot of practice as the grinder keep wanting to get away from you. Cutting in the direction of rotation or in the opposite direction also feels different and one much adapt to the different feel in hand of the grinder.

Think of it as feeling like trying to hold onto an angry slippery twisting cobra, that is mad at you, as you are trying to draw a strait line on the steel with it's nose. Wink Razz Laughing Out Loud

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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