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Carl Massaro




Location: NY
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 87

PostPosted: Tue 14 Jun, 2011 11:39 am    Post subject: Turks Head Knot - Study and Observations...         Reply with quote

I recently started apprenticing under an antiques restorer/conservator who works for Sotheby's and Christies. He is an older gentleman that learned the craft from his family and has been restoring metals, swords and guns since he was young. Since I started this, I have gained a new appreciation for wire wrap grips and turks head knots. I can look at swords I own or ones I have seen in museums many times and I now see things in the details of the grip that I didn't really notice before.

I started making turks head knots, and in my research, I have seen in other threads on various forums that there are basically two ways to do a wire turks head knot.

One is to make a "faux" turks head, but creating a braid, wrapping it around the handle and tucking the wire under the weave. Sounds easy, but it isn't.

The other method is to make a real turks head knort out of one piece of wire. This isn't easy either. This method leaves only two ends of wire free that can easily be tucked under and create the appearance of a continuous weave with no end or beginning.

However, in studying turks head knots in the antiques I have, as well as in swords at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, I have noticed that none of these historical examples leave the appearance of a continuous knot. |They seem to be real turks head knots, but they all have a visible "tie off" or tuck that breaks the pattern.

Here is a real turks head I made. Notice the two strands of wire that can be tucked behind, leaving a continuous weave and no evidence of a tie off:


Here are some real rope turks head examples that I made. If you turn them, they look the same all the way around, no evidence of tie off:


The following images are photos I have taken of turks heads on my 17th and 18th century antiques. Notice that one side of the turks head has a countinous weave, but if you turn all of the examples around you can see a visible tie off that I have circled in red:



















Examples of swords from the 16th through 18th centuries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art revealed the same type of tie off on the knots.

Now, my questions are, what is the historically correct way to make a turks head knot on a sword? Should they look continuous or have a tie off like the originals?

How and why were they tying the knot with a visible tie off? Did they weave two strands of wire through instead of one?

Eljay, Erik Stevenson, Craig Johnson and other experts; I would like to know the your thoughts on this.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Jun, 2011 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm headed off to the office, but check out this spotlight topic: Tying a Turk's Head Knot or this topic: tying a turkshead in wire. They might serve some use to you, though I did not check to see if they actually answers your question or not. Sorry. Happy

Regarding your apprenticeship: I am happy for you but I must say that I'm envious too!

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
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Stephen Wheatley




Location: DORSET ENGLAND
Joined: 15 Nov 2008

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Wed 15 Jun, 2011 3:19 am    Post subject: Turk's Head Knots         Reply with quote

Great thread, even with all the help available I've not yet succeeded in making a single one. I have all the grips and craft wire ready and waiting, rayskin too, but my efforts thus far have not been of a standard I'd wnt to have anywhere near one of my swords! Will try again at the weekend.
Stephen Wheatley
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Carl Massaro




Location: NY
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 87

PostPosted: Wed 15 Jun, 2011 9:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Stephen,

The other turks head thread on this site "Tying a turks head knot" really helped me. I got some paracord and started practicing over and over. Eventually I got the pattern down. After making about five good knots with the rope, I tried with wire and failed miserably. I kept trying and eventually got something passable, but I am still not at the level of the guys like Eljay and the others on that thread.

The other thing I realized is that there are different types of turks heads. They are known by "bights" (the number of curves on the top), "leads" (the number of braided groups of wire - almost all sword turks heads are 3 lead), and strands (how many wires per lead).

For example, the picture I posted above of me holding the wire turks head I made is a 5 bight, 3 lead, 5 strand turks head knot. also known as a 5x3x5.

The green rope example on the bottom in my picture above is a 5 bight, 3 lead, 3 strand; or 5x3x3. The green rope on top is an 8 bight, 3 lead, 3 strand; or 8x3x3. The more bights, the tighter the weave.

I have seen fancy sword examples with more than 10 bights, making the weave tighter.
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E.B. Erickson
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Location: Thailand
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 432

PostPosted: Thu 16 Jun, 2011 8:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Carl,
What you're seeing in the antique TH aren't tie offs at all: they're loops through which the strands of wire are inserted to start the TH. I'll try to draw up a pictorial of how to do TH as the originals were done.
I discovered this technique when I was trying to figure out how to do TH Knots back in the early 80s. After trying various methods, I traced/followed a strand of wire on an antique TH knot, and discovered that the knots were made of one strand of wire, and that a loop was the starting point.
--ElJay
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Stephen Wheatley




Location: DORSET ENGLAND
Joined: 15 Nov 2008

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Carl, that's interesting, thus far I've only attempted 3 bights, two leads - came nowhere near your standard! The old link that I think Nathan posted now has the photos marked as unavailable. Never mind, I guess success depends on perseverance, although I wish there was a shortcut.
Stephen Wheatley
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W. Cannon




Location: Thailand
Joined: 24 May 2011

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 10:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

E.B. Erickson wrote:
Hi Carl,
What you're seeing in the antique TH aren't tie offs at all: they're loops through which the strands of wire are inserted to start the TH. I'll try to draw up a pictorial of how to do TH as the originals were done.
I discovered this technique when I was trying to figure out how to do TH Knots back in the early 80s. After trying various methods, I traced/followed a strand of wire on an antique TH knot, and discovered that the knots were made of one strand of wire, and that a loop was the starting point.
--ElJay

Hi Eljay,
I'm curious as to why loops would be needed. Was it to lock the wrap on the grip? And, are these loops on both knots? Having tied these with twisted wire, I don't understand the need for the loops.
Wes Cannon
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E.B. Erickson
Industry Professional



Location: Thailand
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 432

PostPosted: Sat 18 Jun, 2011 9:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Wes,
I'm not sure as to why the antiques are done with the loops: it's just the way they are. Maybe it's done that way because you can establish the diameter of the TH so it will fit the grip closely.

We're in the US right now, which is why you haven't seen me and Arielle around. Say hi to Pen for me!

--ElJay
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Carl Massaro




Location: NY
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 87

PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2011 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Eljay!

I can't picture these loops as a starting point. I would love to see a diagram if you have the time!

I also wonder why they did it that way.No doubt that they had the ability to make a tight fitting, uniform turks head. I see a lot of reproductions with uniform true turks heads, I have yet to see an antique with one. I am sure it exists, I have just not seen it. They all have those loops.

Do you find it easier to make with the loops? Do you always use the loops or do you make uniform true turks heads as well?
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E.B. Erickson
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Location: Thailand
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 432

PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2011 8:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Carl,
I always use the loops because that's what I've always seen on the antiques.
I'll try to get a diagram or two done tomorrow.
--ElJay
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Carl Massaro




Location: NY
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 87

PostPosted: Tue 21 Jun, 2011 8:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Awesome, Thanks! I look foward to it!
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E.B. Erickson
Industry Professional



Location: Thailand
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 432

PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2011 2:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK, let's see if this will work...
If it does, I'll post some comments later.
--ElJay



 Attachment: 53.81 KB
TH1.JPG


 Attachment: 62.41 KB
TH2.JPG

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Stephen Wheatley




Location: DORSET ENGLAND
Joined: 15 Nov 2008

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2011 3:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks EJ, can't wait to try this. I have some rayskin grips crying out for this treatment!
Stephen Wheatley
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Carl Massaro




Location: NY
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 87

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2011 5:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much, Eljay! This was an incredible post. I am going to try it with some paracord tonight!
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Carl Massaro




Location: NY
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 87

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2011 10:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eljay, you are a very kind genius. Thank you for taking the time to ilustrate that and for sharing this info.

I just did my first TH knots in paracord the way you illustrated. After a few attempts, here are the results:



The one on the left is just how you described; it created a 2 strand TH by folding a string in half.

I looked at one of my smallswords (The 3rd 4th and 5th picture in my first post) and saw that it is a four strand turks head. I took two strings and folded them as you illustrated and I came up with the four strand TH knot on the right.

Here is the back of the two strand turks heads, showing the loop that I thought was a tie off:



Here is the back of the four strand, showing the same loop. You can see the loops in both these images look similar to the "tie off" images on my swords, especially in the 5th image from my first post.



Now I think I know why they did it this way - it is much, much faster. I did the 2 strand TH in about a minute. The four strand took longer because I had to keep the strands from crossing. If I had done it the "nautical" way as I did with the wire and paracord examples in my fist post, it would have taken about 15 minutes for the two strand, over 30 minutes for the four strand, and over an hour for the five strand wire.

I do have one question. How do you end up with the the correct size for the grip? I sized it as you listed in step 3.a of your first pic, but after braiding the TH, the diameter gets smaller. Do you have way of sizing this, or do you just stretch the TH when you're done?

This is great information! Thanks again!
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Timothy Lyon




Location: Illinois
Joined: 31 Dec 2007

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jun, 2011 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting.

Yes it is much quicker that way. I've seen plenty without that loop that are probably done the traditional way. There is a Yahoo group on doing TH's etc. in wire.

For sizing, I would enlarge it slightly before you start weaving, which should also help keep the kinks out. It will tighten with each crossing. Then slip it on and work out the slack. In theory it should be tight enough to hold both itself and the wire wrapping on the grip.
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Carl Massaro




Location: NY
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 87

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jun, 2011 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timothy Lyon wrote:
Interesting.

Yes it is much quicker that way. I've seen plenty without that loop that are probably done the traditional way.


Have you seen the traditional TH knots without the loop on antiques? If so, do you remember what type of sword or century they were from? The majority of the ones with loops in my photos and the ones I saw at the Met were 18th century smallswords from various European countries.

I have also seen TH on 18th century baskethilts, but I don't remember if they had loops. Many of the American silver hilted smallswords at the Met had no turks heads, but simply a silver band at the end of the grip.

I have seen turks heads on "sideswords" and rapiers as early as the 16th century. I also don't recall if there were loops on them or not. I am wondering if the loops were done in the previous centuries all over Europe, or if they were just done on certain swords in a specific area or time period.
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Timothy Lyon




Location: Illinois
Joined: 31 Dec 2007

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jun, 2011 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll check my pics to double check, but I'm pretty sure the 17th c. rapier and backsword that I handled at Leeds did not have the loop on the THs.
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E.B. Erickson
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Location: Thailand
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 432

PostPosted: Sat 25 Jun, 2011 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To answer Carl's question about sizing the grip: I find that if you don't get the noose tight, but leave a space between the noose and grip of about the thickness of the wire rope being used, that you'll be pretty close to a tight fit when you're done. You will probably need to do some stretching of the TH as well.

The whole thing of how big a gap to leave between noose and grip is a matter of experience and preference. Some may prefer an unstretched TH (larger gap between grip and noose), others like a stretched TH (smaller gap between grip and noose). Practice, practice, practice.

One other thing: when you do a 4 strand TH, you don't need 2 pieces of wire. Just start with one really long piece, but fold it in half twice. The second fold will form the loop. You'll find it is easier to keep all of the strands in place this way when braiding the knot, as two of the strands will be attached to each other.

--ElJay
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Carl Massaro




Location: NY
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 87

PostPosted: Fri 01 Jul, 2011 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

E.B. Erickson wrote:
To answer Carl's question about sizing the grip: I find that if you don't get the noose tight, but leave a space between the noose and grip of about the thickness of the wire rope being used, that you'll be pretty close to a tight fit when you're done. You will probably need to do some stretching of the TH as well.

The whole thing of how big a gap to leave between noose and grip is a matter of experience and preference. Some may prefer an unstretched TH (larger gap between grip and noose), others like a stretched TH (smaller gap between grip and noose). Practice, practice, practice.

One other thing: when you do a 4 strand TH, you don't need 2 pieces of wire. Just start with one really long piece, but fold it in half twice. The second fold will form the loop. You'll find it is easier to keep all of the strands in place this way when braiding the knot, as two of the strands will be attached to each other.

--ElJay


Awesome advice! Thank you.
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