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Tobias Prinz




Location: Valbert, Germany
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue 03 Oct, 2006 3:22 am    Post subject: Questions on making the Sutton-Hoo sword         Reply with quote

Hello,
this is a bit on a short notice and also the dark ages are not my area of expertise, so I turn to you. We at Bremecker Hammer are making a kind-of-Sutton-Hoo-sword this sunday, 2006-8-10. Now our lead smith is mostly interested in reproducing the damascus patterns but we agreed that if we do all that work, we can also try to get the rest right, too.

So, I am looking for the measurements on the Sutton Hoo sword. Paul Mortimer has written a review on a nice replica here, but it is missing the blades thickness, plus I would like to know how much the measurements differ from the original.

Besides that, I have two other questions that are is not that important, but maybe someone would like to answer them anyway...

First: How is the fuller done? I always thought it was hammered (I don't know the English terms for a consturct of upper- and lower hammer joined by a spring), but most replicas which use twisted damascus within the fuller seem to be ground, because the pattern is fully developed and not distorted, like it would be when hammered. Did they use rounded grinding wheels in the dark ages? Or something like a planer to carve it, like the Japanese do for smaller fullers/groves in katana? Plus: How do you make a straight line without using an angle grinder and a ruler ;-)?

Second: What do you think, how many layers where used for the inner layers of the sword? We looked at a replica made by Manfred Sachse and a second one by Markus Balbach and guessed that the twisted damascus and the separating layers are made of five pieces. Since we figure the average bladesmith was as lazy as we are, we guessed he (or she or they) made one rod of damascus and used that everywhere. I guess even the outer layers are made of multiples of the number of inner layers. Anyway, for the two replicas we looked at, it seems to work. For the replica by Patrick Bartá it doesn't. What about the original?

Kind regards,
Tobias "Tierlieb" Prinz

P.S.: I'll be asking the same question in the vikingswords.com - forums
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Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Tue 03 Oct, 2006 6:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you have Sachse' Book, "Damaszener Stahl", there is a scaled drawing of the original by Jaap Ypey - without thickness - if you go to the bibliography, the original drawing was in Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 13, 1983; I bet you'll find Ypey's drawing in that article has the other dimensions. a good library and a phone call away, if you're lucky Wink
If it looks like five layers, do seven is my advice...
Edit - in case you don't have Sachse, the full cite for Ypey's article is "Rekonstruktionversuch der Schwertklinge von Sutton Hoo" Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 13, 1983.
The tool you refer to is called a 'fuller' auf Englisch.
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Tobias Prinz




Location: Valbert, Germany
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed 04 Oct, 2006 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Jeff,
thanks for the hint. I got Sachse's book, though I must admit I distrust the drawing: On the drawing, the inner layers of damascus are not tapered towards the point, only the outer layers are. The inner layers are parallel. That might be possible (I can think of two ways to do that), but complicated, so I fear it is more likely that the drawing is just a draft, not a correct technical drawing.
This would also explain why the point of the blade is drawn so strangely that it is hard to determine how it was built (two outer layers, forge welded around the core? One outer layer, bent, with the inner layer forge-welded into it like a chisel?)... anyway, I called the secretary of our university and she promised she'd try to get the paper for me. Hopefully I'll get it in time.

Thank you very much for your hint. But if I may ask, what would you (or any other interested reader) guess the thickness would be? I did some rough calculations, sadly they are in meters and grams and anotated the European way:

The blade is 75 centimeters long.
The height goes from 6,5 centimeters to 3 centimeters, so lets make that 4,75 centimeters average (lets ignore the point of the blade).
The thickness might go from 6 milimeters to 3 milimeters, an average of 4,5 milimeters.
The specific weight of steel is 7,85.

7,5dm x 0,475dm x 0,045dm x 7,85 kilogram-per-cubic-decimeter ~= 1250 grams. The replicas weight is 964 grams (2 pounds, 2 ounces including the relatively small pommel and the crossguard), with a deep fuller and the usual grinding at the edges that seems possible...

What do the other forumites think? Is it a good idea to start with 6milimeters (about 1/4 inch) and taper to 3mm (1/8 inch)? Or is that a bit flimsy?

Kind regards,
Tierlieb
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Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Wed 04 Oct, 2006 6:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I fear it is more likely that the drawing is just a draft, not a correct technical drawing.


Yes, it could be a draft for his reconstruction - the original article should make it clear. His drawings made from x-rays of artifacts are usually quite exact. The blade of the Sutton Hoo sword might not be very well preserved, you could look to other, contemporary blades for clues, too.

Quote:
it is hard to determine how it was built (two outer layers, forge welded around the core? One outer layer, bent, with the inner layer forge-welded into it like a chisel?)...


Happy this is usually the case, tips are rarely well preserved, and weld evidence obscure in that area - time to make your best guess!

6 mm is too thick, in my opinion. Most artifacts I've seen or read papers on (in the 600 - 800 AD range) have a maximum thickness of 4 - 5 mm, the one original eight-bar I've handled was 4, if not less. Rust will make things swell as it eats them away, so you can't just add a millimeter per thousand years (not that you were going to Wink ) to account for erosion. I think conserved artifacts are a bit under original dimensions, but not by that much.
5 mm is a better target for final thickness near the hilt, and it is not too flimsy.
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Jeff Pringle
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Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 6:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
We at Bremecker Hammer are making a kind-of-Sutton-Hoo-sword this sunday, 2006-8-10


So, how did it go?
Happy
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Tobias Prinz




Location: Valbert, Germany
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, it's a sad story, but one one can learn bit from. Short version: Didn't work.
Long version: Boss was preparing some bars on Saturday, but got a lot of visitors. So he was a bit distracted and didn't keep his fire clean. As a result, he got a lot of fine ashes blown into a weld, which did not work. He got pi... quite upset... and decided he wouldn't touch that thing ever again.

As a result, on Sunday, we made a lot of smaller damascus blades, both from the prepared damascus bars and from our swords-to-plowshares-damascus (a combination of a Karabiner 98k barrel and some Leopard 1 tank 105mm main gun).

In the end, we agreed to try it again when we open the museum again next year in spring. Until then I will probably have the original document so we can be sure to get the proper measurements.

By the way, we found out how the point was made in the Sachse replica: The bars were simply welded together without any bending, and afte rthan the point was cut in (like a triangle) and this cut was then again welded shut.

Thanks for your help,
Tobias
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