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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 133

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jul, 2019 8:00 am    Post subject: How to fit a Nagel to a Messer hilt         Reply with quote

Does anybody know how a nagel was fitted to the hilts of lange- and kriegsmesser?

I'm thinking of something like this:



Seems to me there are three options

1) Drive the nagel through the cross guard and the tang and peen it on the other side of the cross guard.
2) Forge a single piece nagel + cross guard from one piece of metal.
3) Forge weld or solder the nagel onto the cross guard.

I've seen method (1) done but it seems like a good way to weaken the tang. The lange messer in our national museum all look to have the tang attached to the cross guard somehow but there is no evidence of them being driven through the tang and peened on the other side of the cross guard. Normally I'd put my money on method (2), except one of these messers is missing the nagel which rules out method (2) and you can clearly see the tang through the hole the nagel left in the cross guard but there is no sign of a corresponding hole in the tang ruling out method (1) which leaves method (3) or something else I'm not thinking of.
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Johannes Zenker





Joined: 15 Sep 2014

Posts: 87

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jul, 2019 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I'm sure Adam will chime in soon enough, here's my take for now:

All three variants are possible, but to my knowledge number 1 was the most common historically. Crosses on Messers were also often not slid over the tang, but rather down the blade and fixed in place using the Nagel's extension as a rivet/peen. The Messer you appears to be of this construction.

If you go this route, you are allowing the shoulders of the blade to be visible from the hilt side, which means they're not supporting the crossguard. You should make sure that the guard is rather snug on the edge and spine sides of the ricasso. If there's room, it will loosen up slightly. You could possibly ameliorate this by filling the gaps with shims and cutler's pitch (or some other glue that does not become brittle when cured).

With regards to weakening the tang:
a) If you slide the cross on from the blade side, the blade will be at full width where the peen is located, as the narrower area of the tang only starts at the back of the cross.
b) Seeing as Messers commonly feature handle scales that are riveted and glued on, putting some relatively small holes in the tang does not seem to provide a significant structural disadvantage. Were that an issue, it would probably have been a lot less common to see a fuller continuing onto the tang of a sword, also reducing the material of this narrow section.


Variant number 2 is probably the strongest and "neatest" of them all - unless you're actually decorating the Nagel's peened side. It is also by far the most work-intensive from my point of view.

Number 3 would work just as well. Soldering or brazing on the Nagel might be solid enough, forge welding it on sounds challenging.

Edit: you can have a look at these posts from Lukas MG for some illustration of variant 1: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=362...ight=lukas http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=341...ight=lukas
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Martin Fischer




Location: Cologne, Germany
Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 45

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jul, 2019 2:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

... - it was usually done the first way.
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Kristjan Runarsson





Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 133

PostPosted: Sat 06 Jul, 2019 7:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi guys, and thanks for chiming in. The messer I attached an image of to in my previous post is not the one I'm working on, that was just a picture I picked to illustrate the type of weapon I had in mind. The actual messer I had in mind is the one depicted below. I've taken a look at the original from all angles and don't see any signs of the Nagel being peened on the other side of the cross guard. I suppose the peen could have been filed flat but on other Messers I've seen where that has been done the corrosion has exposed the peening because a ring has rusted away round the edges of the flattened peen. I also wondered about the way the pommel was attached since it is very small and skimpy. Driving an iron or steel pin through the pommel from side to side through a hole in the end of the pommel and filing it flat seems possible. There is no sign of the end of the tang passing through the pommel and being peened on top like it sometimes is with messer pommels and there is no sign of any brass soldering along the lower end of the pommel where it meets the tang although brass does acquire a brown patina if I recall correctly so it would blend in with the rust over time.

I think I'd go with fitting the end of the tang into a cup in the bottom of the pommel and brazing or silvering it on. Not sure about the Nagel yet, I'll request some higher resolution images from the museum.

Mind you, someone suggested that you can fit a Nagel after making the slot for the blade by somehow inserting a special flat tool into the blade channel, use that to peen over the Nagel, file the peen flat and let the Nagel heat-shrink into the hole. The tang on this thing was originally 8-9 mm thick at the hilt according to the archeologist who wrote the description of it so I suppose that's possible but I'm not convinced.



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JG Elmslie
Industry Professional



Location: Scotland
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Jul, 2019 3:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
1) Drive the nagel through the cross guard and the tang and peen it on the other side of the cross guard.


this.
it also serves to lock the cross in place, as in many messers it is slid into place from the point, along the blade, not up from the tang.

the sole exceptions to that are messers with siderings, which are forgewelded to the cross.

I have not found a single messer with a nagel/sideguard which is forged integrally - however, there are nagel-like structures on 15th C english daggers, which are cast in copper-alloy, and a few sword-like hilts with early side guard structures too - particularly the Wakefield Hangar group.
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JG Elmslie
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Location: Scotland
Joined: 18 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Jul, 2019 4:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kristjan Runarsson wrote:
The actual messer I had in mind is the one depicted below.


that's one of the Icelandic ones, from.... (oh god, I'm going to mangle this!) Thingvellir isn't it?

I've yet to get over there to study the Icelandic group in person (I really need to get some sort of funding set up...), but the indications from what I've looked at is that they're mid-16thC examples, sourced from the Hansa trade routes coming up from Passau via the Danube. despite that relatively southern origin, I tend to see them as very much the northern Germanic group, rather than the southern / bohemian messer/tasak groups, which have some subtle stylistic differences. and have a few fairly distinctive details as such. Not many of them have really clear indications of jointing in the pommels, copper-alloy brazing would be the obvious answer, but its going to take a lot more hands-on study to identify that in any of the examples out there, even those like Malbork and St Annen's examples in better states of preservation. However, I suspect that some of them (Lubeck St Annen inv.no 3519, for example) may well have had the pommel as a solid, integrally forged element of the blade with the cross as mentioned being fitted from the point instead. That's a whole load of bother for us today using nice easily accessed bar-stock, but wouldn't have been an issue to the makers in Passau who'd have been forging out from billet. So it may not be entirely mad to look at these as potentially not welded or peined at all.

returning to the nagel, however

Kristjan Runarsson wrote:
Mind you, someone suggested that you can fit a Nagel after making the slot for the blade by somehow inserting a special flat tool into the blade channel, use that to peen over the Nagel, file the peen flat and let the Nagel heat-shrink into the hole. The tang on this thing was originally 8-9 mm thick at the hilt according to the archeologist who wrote the description of it so I suppose that's possible but I'm not convinced.


Honestly, my reaction to that is "errrrrrr. no.". that 'aint going to work very easily. My inclination is simply that the nagel was very flush, and very well-fitted to the nagel hole (some, mind your, you could drive a bus through the gaps between blade and cross!), and as such corrosion has hidden it - I would be very interested to see any detailed photographs you obtain if that's at all possible.
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