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G. Scott H.




Location: Arizona, USA
Joined: 22 Feb 2005

Posts: 410

PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2005 12:57 pm    Post subject: How to shorten a blade?         Reply with quote

I recently got the Windlass Shrewsbury sword, and I really like it; however, I was looking at it the other day and thought it would be cool to have a shorter bladed version, sort of a hand-and-a-half short sword (yeah, I know, I'm a freak Laughing Out Loud ). Anyway, at only $100, I'm thinking about buying another one and shortening the blade from its factory 33-3/8" to, say, 24". My question: how would I go about doing this (I have a good bench vise and a good selection of hand tools, including many files). Happy
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Scott Byler




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 20 Aug 2003

Posts: 209

PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2005 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Files will work if the blade is soft enough. MRL tends to use a bit softer temper on their blades, I understand, so you can probably file a lot to get it done. That will be a lot of work, though. And angle grinder works really well for me when doing this kind of work. It does get very hot, though, so cool the work often and keep a wet rag or something wrapped around the blade as you work it to make sure it doesn't get too hot... A hacksaw will maybe work to save you this problem. Again, it is just a matter of how hard the steel is. Most of the blades I make are both hard to file and hell to cut with a hacksaw.

Mostly it is a matter of protecting the temper and being patient... (I should add that most any changes I do to blades usually is worked on the tang end where you don't want a fully hard blade anyway. Shaping around the tip area will have to be done a lot more carefully using any tool that generates a lot of heat...)
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G. Scott H.




Location: Arizona, USA
Joined: 22 Feb 2005

Posts: 410

PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2005 9:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Would you suggest hacksawing straight across and shaping with files from there, or should I attempt (assuming the hacksaw will cut effectively) to saw at angles, so as to have the beginnings of a point before I start filing? Happy
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Alina Boyden





Joined: 19 Apr 2004

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PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2005 10:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hand and a half short sword....nope, that's not weird at all. I love those things.


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Scott Byler




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 20 Aug 2003

Posts: 209

PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2005 10:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I guess it depends a bit. I would think it would serve you a lot better if you can get close to the shape by cutting the tip shape on first. The other way will leave a lot more work. Hard to say, though. If you got a harder blade you might find cutting it either way to be a chore.

The shortened blade thing reminds me a bit of something I thought of related to a recent thread where the new MRL Saladin sword is mentioned. I dislike the forked tip... I suppose it wouldn't be impossible to modify it by cutting it back and reforming the tip.... Ofcourse, I'd need money to buy the sword, so that is out.... lol
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G. Scott H.




Location: Arizona, USA
Joined: 22 Feb 2005

Posts: 410

PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2005 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alina Boyden wrote:
Hand and a half short sword....nope, that's not weird at all. I love those things.

Very cool! A serious chopper Eek! ! I love the way the tip on that one is more the suggestion of a point, rather than something more acute. Nice. Cool

Scott, I too think it would be much easier to cut out a point right off the bat, I was just thinking that it may be too difficult to cut it that way, depending on how hard the steel is (I guess I could file/cut a small notch to use as a starting point for such an angled cut). BTW, I seem to remember reading that MRL/WS blades run about 45, so it should be reasonable easy to cut. I guess I'll find out when I start this project. Happy
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2005 3:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A dremel with a cutting wheel will cut a file in half EASILY. It all depends how steady your hand is as you can easily butcher the job if you start skipping out of the groove you are cutting and mar the surface of the sword you want to keep intact.

You don't try to cut through the whole thickness of the blade in one pass: You make an initial shallow cut and then you try to stay IN the groove until you have cut through the entire thickness.

The cutting disks a very thin and fragile, so trying to make curved cuts is very difficult: Its better to stick to strait line cuts.

I would first cut each side of the point to make what would look like a " gladius " type point, I would then cut off progressively smaller and smaller triangular sections from each side trying to keep thing even on both sides.

Final rounding of the point with a sharp new file and diamond hones. The center spine will be much thicker than near the edge and will need much more bevelling to get a good point from a 3D perspective.

Lots of patience and a steady hand Wink

As long as you can touch the blade near where you are using the dremel you should not damage the heat treatment of the blade. ( Short passes repeated with low pressure are better than using too much pressure for longer periods. )

Also consider shortening at the tang end if possible and if the original point of the sword looks good now.
From the existing shoulder I would try to keep the tang as beefy as possible and make sure that the corners where the tang meets the blade is well radiused.

Not that I have done this myself but this is how I would approach it if I were doing it. ( I have used a dremel like this but for smaller alterations to existing blades: Mostly knives. )

Or, if you had the kind of belt grinder that custom knife makers use you might be able to do this more easily assuming again having the skill to keep the bevels symetrical. ( Not easy to do the first time you try Razz Laughing Out Loud )

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




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 20 Aug 2003

Posts: 209

PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2005 3:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll second several of the things Jean mentions... Cut a v and move on to taking off increments on the corners. I haven't used a dremel to do this but if you have one it should likely work fine as was suggested. If you cut a new point or shoulder it down depends mostly on the width you want to maintain at the base of your blade and that has a lot to do with how much taper a blade has. Like Jean said, if the point looks good to you, cutting down the shoulders on the tang end is another good way to go. It also can allow you to make a beefier tang if you happened to have one of the older models with the somewhat more spindly tangs...

Reminds me once again that I have a similar blade that I need to put a new hilt on... I've extended the tang a bit and reshaped the shoulders, so it is time to build a new handle. Being a heavy blade, I think if I could just keep my belt grinder in one piece (it is homemade) I'd even grind the heck out of the blade to adjust it from a crowbar to a good blade... lol

Sword projects are always fun... Big Grin
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G. Scott H.




Location: Arizona, USA
Joined: 22 Feb 2005

Posts: 410

PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2005 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cutting a V and then working from there is how I'm going to do this. Working from the blade shoulders is just not feasible on this particular piece, since I want to keep all the hilt components as they are. I do have a Dremel, so I may use a combo of Dremel and hacksaw to get the basic shape, then file to shape from there. Thanks for your help Jean and Scott. Happy
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 29 Apr, 2005 4:47 pm    Post subject: Project #2........         Reply with quote

Save that tip you cut off!!! You could build yourself a right nice short dagger or sgian dubh from the remains! Tiz easy...done it a hundred times! Have fun with it and get creative!............mcm.
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G. Scott H.




Location: Arizona, USA
Joined: 22 Feb 2005

Posts: 410

PostPosted: Fri 29 Apr, 2005 5:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Project #2........         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
Save that tip you cut off!!! You could build yourself a right nice short dagger or sgian dubh from the remains! Tiz easy...done it a hundred times! Have fun with it and get creative!............mcm.
Eek! Great idea! I hadn't thought of that. If I go down to the 24" mark, I'll still have about 9" of blade left over, which would leave plenty of room for , say, a 4" bladed sgian dubh. Thanks, Mark. You've set the ol' wheels a turnin' on another project for me. Happy
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 29 Apr, 2005 6:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, before you cut the V for the point it might be easier to first cut of the excess strait across if you want to use the original point for a dagger project and it may make it easier to cut the V rather than ending up dealing with an X shaped cut: Might be easier to keep thing symetrical.
You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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