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Ryan Renfro

Location: Reno, NV
Joined: 27 Dec 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Sat 21 Nov, 2020 11:07 am    Post subject: A couple of lockdown projects (moat sale)         Reply with quote

If nothing else, 2020 provided a few opportunities to get out into the shop and finish up some projects that I've had lying around for far too long.  The first is based on a moat sale first- gen gaddhjalt blade.

The pronounced profile taper of the blade is atypical for the viking-age, so I wanted to base the hilt on a surviving specimen of its kind.  I looked at Ian Peirce's "Swords of the Viking Age", and settled on C18798 in the Universitetets Oldsaksamling in Oslo.  The photo in Peirce is clearly shot at an unusual angle.  There is also a detailed drawing of the hilt in Petersen, fig 130.

I printed out a copy of the Petersen illustration scaled to fit the blade, and I fashioned the guard and pommel to match.  I tried to include some of the original asymmetries in the hilt components, at least as presented in the sketch.  

I first cut the tang slot in the guard using a mill, and then squaring up with files.  For the pommel, I drilled most of the way with a drill bit diameter slightly smaller than the tang width where the pommel meets the guard ( ≈  1/2"), finishing the last 1/4" with a drill bit to match the end of the tang at the other side of the pommel ( ≈   1/4").  These were then squared off by hand with a small file.  I find this filing the most tedious part of hilt construction when not shaping the hole hot, and the process of using two diameters allows me to square only the very ends by hand and not have to file out the entire length of the tang hole by hand. The pommel is twisted in line with Roland Warzecha's observation.

Once I had the basic forms made, it was time to decide if I wanted to file in the details.  Peirce mentions a channel gouged out for decoration just below the upper edge of the lateral face of the pommel.  In the Petersen illustration this appears as a step down 1/4" from the edge, along with what appears to possibly be a slight chamfer on the blade edge of the crossguard.  I couldn't decide from the illustration if this chamfer was there or just an artifact from the sketch, so I scoured the internet looking for any actual pictures.  

I finally found some good pictures at the university website, and lo and behold the actual sword is a good deal different than either of the book illustrations would have one believe.  Although there is definitely profile taper to the blade, it's nothing like the illustration in Peirce would suggest, especially given there appears to be at least 1/8" missing from one side of the blade for most of the weak.  The accompanying text makes me think that he didn't have the opportunity to view the piece first hand, and was relying on the photo shot at a bad angle. 

The Petersen illustration can be similarly misleading as regards to the details of the hilt.  If you click on the first two images and then right click to open them in a new tab, you can get a really high resolution image of both sides of the sword.  On one side it does look quite like the Peterson sketch, however the reverse clearly shows a flat face on the crossguard and no signs of the decorative gouge on the pommel.  So was the pommel decorated on one side?  Was there a small band of wire inlay just under the top edge of the cocked hat which is now just a small, rounded gouge?  I'm skeptical.  What do you think?

The grip is veg-tanned goat skin over poplar.  I think there is a crease toward the hilt where the leather is folded under, but it is merely cosmetic and isn't noticeable in the hand.  I used a new ball of the twine that I normally wrap hits with, but for some reason this one wanted to untwist as I wrapped the grip, giving an imprint that isn't as uniform, but I'm not unhappy with the result.

The sword feels reasonable good in the hand, although slightly heavy for its short length.  I tried to get the forward pivot point as close to the center of percussion as I could, but 4" was a close as I could manage.  It was a good lesson in just how much of the dynamics of the finished sword are determined by the blade. 

Overall length: 331/2"
2 lbs 6.6 oz / 1.094 kg
Blade Length: 28"
Blade Width: 2 1/4"
Grip Length: 3 3/4"
Guard Width: 5 3/8"
PoB 4 3/4" from hilt
CoP 18 3/4" from hilt
Forward pivot point: 14 1/2" from hilt
Aft pivot point: 9" from hilt 

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Last edited by Ryan Renfro on Sat 21 Nov, 2020 11:15 am; edited 2 times in total
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Ryan Renfro

Location: Reno, NV
Joined: 27 Dec 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Sat 21 Nov, 2020 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And here is the final sword. Next up a Scottish dagger.

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Jeff Cierniak

Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 79

PostPosted: Sat 21 Nov, 2020 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, that looks amazing! Right down to the slightly twisted pommel. Great stuff.
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J.D. Crawford

Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,903

PostPosted: Sat 21 Nov, 2020 1:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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Arne G.

Joined: 31 Jul 2014

Posts: 126

PostPosted: Sat 21 Nov, 2020 5:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice!

Out of curiosity, was this an actual Moat blade or a bare blade that Albion offers?
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Ryan Renfro

Location: Reno, NV
Joined: 27 Dec 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Sun 22 Nov, 2020 12:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys.  This is an actual moat sale blade from the first moat sale.  It came finished with no noticeable imperfections.

Second project was a Scottish dagger.  The blade is an old Nicholson file, so should be 1095 steel.  I found about 70 of them, unused, out in a desert scrapyard.  About half were usable after a vinegar bath, the other half are good for blade projects.

I made two of these blades a few years ago.  I annealed them, ground a simple diamond section blade, and heat treated using a makeshift weed burner and fire brick forge, tempering it in the oven.  

The hilt is based off one in Toby Capwell's knife and dagger book, adjusted to match the existing blade dimensions. I could have maybe gone a bit wider on the crossguard.  I think the original would have had a thicker blade.

Overall length: 14 1/2"
Blade length: 9 1/2"
10.4 oz/ 294 g

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