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David Clark





Joined: 10 Feb 2009

Posts: 129

PostPosted: Mon 16 May, 2011 7:53 pm    Post subject: My First Seax         Reply with quote

Well, I have always wanted to make a blade of some sort, so today, with nothing to occupy my time, I got to work and made my first blade ever! It is molded after the Sittingbourne seax. I made it from a non-descript 12" bastard file I picked up from harbor freight for $2.99. The handle is made of slabs of birch plywood riveted to the tang. (I know it isn't period, but it is the best I could do at the time)

First I brought a raging fire to life in my fireplace, and after I had a nice bed of coals going, I placed the file on the coals and covered with more of the same. I allowed the fire to continue in a fierce fashion for around 45 minutes, I then let the fire die and placed the now glowing orange file under a lighter blanket of coals.

This morning I took the now annealed file from the ashes and measured out where I was going to angle the blade and length of handle. I then used a hacksaw to remove a section of the back of the file to give the seax its trademark 'broken back' appearance. I then took a blade grinding wheel to the rest of the file to remove the filing surface.

Halfway through grinding, I noticed that the moderately smoothed filing serrations and teeth resembled snake scales at this point. I decided to keep them as I think it adds a bit of flair to an otherwise plain blade. I have named the seax Nǽdre, which means serpent.
Next I ground the blade and affixed the birch plywood slabs using copper rivets.





Nǽdre is finished! Big Grin


Here you can see the snake-scale pattern:




Things I learned:
1) Making a knife in this manner is very, very easy, but I can tell that it will be a long time till I have mastered it enough to make the blades truly beautiful to anyone but me.
2) Watch out for hot metal! After grinding a copper rivet and then touching said rivet, I now have a severe burn on my left hand.
3) Always wear gloves when doing grinding! Took off part of a fingernail I did.
4) Wood stain doesn't always look the way it says it will...at least not if it is 5 years old anyway. Sad
5) DO switch sides when grinding. It keeps your bevel from becoming too steep and making the blade a wee bit lopsided width-wise.

The work done by Woodrose in his making a knife in the the following thread inspired me greatly: http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewto...p;t=133756

Over the course of my project, I found the tutorial by GreenPete to be very helpful. It can be found here: http://www.greenpete.co.uk/knife-making/knife-making-video/
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Perry L. Goss




Location: Missouri
Joined: 15 May 2004
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 109

PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 4:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David:

I just made four dudgeons. Well kind of. They are not Vince Evans, Todd, Craig nor Peter caliber by any stretch of the imagination!

One from a file blade with wild plum for the Mrs. And the other handles were made from Dunlap high dollar, burled Jim Chambers English walnut gun stock wood scraps. All handles came literally from within inches of each other. Same stain, same process and one handle turned orange after staining! I was disgusted and put the piece aside after hours of work forming and shaping. Next AM? Nice brown color. Go figure. Working with wood.

Try burning in the next handle. Just take your time, carefully and precisely predrill the handle and clean the tang hole frequently while burning in. Watch to make sure it is centered! And NEVER finish the handle before burn in. I did that once. First time, last time. Always rough out, burn, set then...finish.

Files are tough to work with. But I love them once you get it done.

These homemade items will, if nothing else make you appreciate the current and past masters!

Scottish: Ballentine, Black, Cameron, Chisholm, Cunningham, Crawford, Grant, Jaffray, MacFarlane, MacGillivray, MacKay-Reay/Strathnaver, Munro, Robertson, Sinclair, Wallace

Irish/Welsh: Bodkin, Mendenhall, Hackworth

Swiss: Goss von Rothenfluh, Naff von Zurich und Solland von Appenzel
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Gene W




Location: The South Of England
Joined: 01 Dec 2010

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 7:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent work David,

What made you choose a file?
There is a long tradition of re-using old files to make blades.
Prior to WW2 they were commonplace sources for ethnographic weapons. I've seen African knives and axes made from files, Nepalese Kukris, a Shibriya, a Kindjal, its a widely used technique that you've followed Happy

Best
Gene
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David Clark





Joined: 10 Feb 2009

Posts: 129

PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gene W wrote:
Excellent work David,

What made you choose a file?
There is a long tradition of re-using old files to make blades.
Prior to WW2 they were commonplace sources for ethnographic weapons. I've seen African knives and axes made from files, Nepalese Kukris, a Shibriya, a Kindjal, its a widely used technique that you've followed Happy

Best
Gene


Well, I think my decision came mostly from 1) people say that files are generally made of carbon steel, so I figured it would make a good blade and 2) a file is already kinda knife length and width (if you want a thick spine that is. perfect for a seax!).

I don't have a forge or many tools that I could use to heat forge a blade, so this was the closest I could get with my limited means. It has caused me to become very interested in eventually getting the items required to make more authentic blades! Laughing Out Loud
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David Clark





Joined: 10 Feb 2009

Posts: 129

PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 8:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Perry L. Goss wrote:
David:

I just made four dudgeons. Well kind of. They are not Vince Evans, Todd, Craig nor Peter caliber by any stretch of the imagination!

One from a file blade with wild plum for the Mrs. And the other handles were made from Dunlap high dollar, burled Jim Chambers English walnut gun stock wood scraps. All handles came literally from within inches of each other. Same stain, same process and one handle turned orange after staining! I was disgusted and put the piece aside after hours of work forming and shaping. Next AM? Nice brown color. Go figure. Working with wood.

Try burning in the next handle. Just take your time, carefully and precisely predrill the handle and clean the tang hole frequently while burning in. Watch to make sure it is centered! And NEVER finish the handle before burn in. I did that once. First time, last time. Always rough out, burn, set then...finish.

Files are tough to work with. But I love them once you get it done.

These homemade items will, if nothing else make you appreciate the current and past masters!


haha! So I am not the only one the Stain Gods have withdrew favor from! Laughing Out Loud

If you don't mind telling me, how do you burn out a handle? One of my books concerning Saxon weaponry and culture mentioned that for seax handles, but opted not to tell what 'burning out' entailed. Sad
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Gene W




Location: The South Of England
Joined: 01 Dec 2010

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Tue 17 May, 2011 8:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Clark wrote:
Gene W wrote:
Excellent work David,

What made you choose a file?
There is a long tradition of re-using old files to make blades.
Prior to WW2 they were commonplace sources for ethnographic weapons. I've seen African knives and axes made from files, Nepalese Kukris, a Shibriya, a Kindjal, its a widely used technique that you've followed Happy

Best
Gene


Well, I think my decision came mostly from 1) people say that files are generally made of carbon steel, so I figured it would make a good blade and 2) a file is already kinda knife length and width (if you want a thick spine that is. perfect for a seax!).

I don't have a forge or many tools that I could use to heat forge a blade, so this was the closest I could get with my limited means. It has caused me to become very interested in eventually getting the items required to make more authentic blades! Laughing Out Loud


David,

You did a great job, and although files are not 'authentic' materials for Seax, they certianly are 'authentic' material for a whole host of 19th and early 20th century blades.

Best
Gene
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 793

PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 6:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks nice! I have a soft spot for brokenback seaxes. Wink

I've made a few seaxes from files and I'm planning making another one from this huge old rusty file I bought a year ago for this very purpose for pocket change.
The pros of making a seax from a file is that it's got the proper material thickness for the spine compared to simply modifying most modern blades. And it's cheap material, some can be had basically for free if it's gotten old and dull or got broken in half.
The cons are that some files are overtempered for use as a utility knife and may shatter, especially the project files that are already broken in half to begin with. You can remedy that by annealing the back side with a torch or red heated lump of steel until the blade changes colour all the way over to just before the edge.

I also try to not "burn" the material I'll be using as an edge, as in not overheating it when grinding it so it loses tempering and in turn hardness. One way is to cool it regularly before it gets hot, another is to just take it really slow. The back though I tend to grind hard, as it's supposed to lose some tempering, even making it glow slightly to that effect. This is an easy way to shortcut the anneal you otherwise need.

As a simple way to make a knife it's crude but effective, the ones I've made this way have turned out to be some great work horses that look authentic and best of all, one can turn them out for practically pocket change. Makes a great gift.
I still prefer a properly hot wrought knife to these, but they're excellent starters to get into knifemaking and a cheap way to improve your kit.

A neat way to improve the look of a grinded blade is to grind it with ever finer grit until you reach a fine dust or even a mirror polish. Often high tempered steels can get really shiny with some work. Then you can even add some fake hammer marks with a ball peen hammer, but only if the file has been at least partially annealed or you can break the blade.
Additionally or alternatively you can oil burn or heat blue it. Just be careful not to heat it too much or you'll lose edge tempering. Add thin layers of vegetable oil, heat with a low heat torch until it gives off light smoke (this happens at about 300 degrees celsius, a bit below the steel losing tempering), add more and see it darken gradually. Don't let the oli run or there will be marks from it. Also don't burn yourself.
Olive oil turns blue/brown and with many thin layers, about 20 or so it goes to dark grey/blue with an irony look to it, while linseed oil turns a dark golden brown with flecks of dirt brown and with about 10 layers it turns jet black.

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