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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2014 1:09 pm    Post subject: First Time Sword Project         Reply with quote

Firstly, I have no idea which section this should be in, so if it's in the wrong place and somebody wants it moved, I'll shift it.

Right. I've been looking around for ages for a sword that would fit my 14th/15thC archer kit. Couldn't really find anything within my price range that seemed right so the only option is to make one. Simple!

Never done this before, so bear with me and if any of you spot mistakes or things I'm doing horribly wrong please do jump in and offer advice etc, it would be most appreciated!

_________

I've opted (after much deliberation) for the Windlass Erbach blade to serve as my base. I wanted something without a fuller, wide at the base and around 33" long. This is slightly longer, and perhaps not exactly the profile of the period - a more defined taper and rib would probably have been more suitable but I just couldn't find any bare blades or cheap swords in the UK which fulfilled all of these criteria.

I stripped the tacky Windlass grip off, and split the wooden grip using a chisel, putting it aside in case I decide to glue it back together and re-shape it for the new sword, rather than carving a complete wooden grip core from scratch. The cross and pommel were removed, and I've been using them to experiment with aging/bluing techniques (Birchwood-Casey Perma Blue is pretty amazing, although while the cross went a nice aged blue-black, the pommel went almost totally black so I'll need to strip and re-try to get a consistent finish)

Not sure yet if I'll be taking off some blade base and turning it into tang - I'll need to feel the balance with all my fittings but without anything on the blade at all, and considering I'll be losing a good few inches turning this bastard sword into a single-hander it looks like I'll need to as the balance is awful.

Anyway, I've got a student (I'm a guitar teacher) who owns/works in a milling factory, so I've commissioned him to make me up a pommel and guard based on a design I came up with and drew out. It's almost a carbon copy of the superb XVIIIa.3 sword in the Met (thanks Sean!) and the pommel is a simple type J.

Not having done any of this before, I decided to make up a paper/card mock-up of the guard in 3D to see how it looked on the blade, and I'm fairly happy with how it came out. I've used the exact same blueprint I gave to my buddy doing the milling for me, so it should come out just the same.

Here's a couple of pics of the card mock-up fitted on the blade





Obviously it's a tad blocky and chunky, the edges will be faceted and rounded to a degree, making it slightly smoother looking, and the tips look wider in this model than on the design - they narrow from 1" wide in the center to 0.2" at the extreme ends.

Anyway, long-winded post over, I'll be updating this thread as the sword progresses, but any thoughts, opinions or criticism will all be most welcome, as I am utterly and totally clueless when it comes to building/working on swords and I have to learn somehow!
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Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
Joined: 04 Mar 2012
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 361

PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2014 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looking good, your proportions and style work well with that blade. Having your student mill the pieces should help a ton. There is only so much one can do with out the proper equipment and machines. I have been down that path... very simple straight crosses and disk pommels is what I have been able to achieve, and they where pretty rough. So having a person with access to milling machines etc will go a long long way.

Making a new grip core if it turns out the old split one is not up to task is not hard. So keep that in mind if you decide to make a brand new one.

As far as advice...for what its worth a few things I will throw out there

1) If you take from the blade to get more tang, radius the corners where the tang meets the blade, not right angles, causes a weak point.

2) Wrap the grip core in thin cord, prior to the leather. The cord REALLY locks that core and makes is super strong (epoxy the core to the tang). Make the core thin as it will get thicker with the cord and leather applied.

I will be watching this thread with interested. One last thing, go slow....watch out for the heavy grinders etc as you can suddenly take off more material than you wanted....and once its gone, its gone. Ask questions as you go as well. There are a lot of great people on this site that will chime in with really great advice...

The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2014 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ace, thanks Bryan! Points duly noted on the tang and the grip - I've done one re-grip prior to this (pictured), but didn't shape the wood, I just stripped a Windlass European Sword and did a simple cord wrap with risers and a piece of poor quality leather dyed with coffee stain so I'm looking forward to making a really nice job of this one (if I reach that stage!) I didn't know about the cord until I finished and decided the grip wasn't quite right and did some research!



Many thanks for your help!
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
Joined: 24 Aug 2011

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2014 2:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

CUDOS to you - you started with a blade that met your definition of "right", then went after that sucker to fit it to YOUR needs! Great approach - the sword should fit YOU ... YOU should not have to fit the sword.

Now - you'll want a scabbard. You do NOT have to settle for a shoe polish generic Happy. These documents are FREE - perhaps they will help a bit?

"Make a Poplar Scabbard Core with a Router"
http://findlithui.deanandsandy.dyndns.org:808...ter1.2.pdf

"Leather Wrap a Scabbard Core"
http://findlithui.deanandsandy.dyndns.org:808...ore1.1.pdf

...and Bryan is DEAD on, as always....

"Wrap the grip core in thin cord, prior to the leather. The cord REALLY locks that core and makes is super strong (epoxy the core to the tang). Make the core thin as it will get thicker with the cord and leather applied."

I usually wrap a core with good twine from a craft store, using exterior grade wood glue. This gets coated with that glue, and a little water, to allow the twine to soak up the glue & get rock hard. The process does WONDERS for a bifurcated grip core - I had to try to remove one once, and it fought like HELL.

In edhil, hai edhil. In edain, hai edain.
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sat 15 Mar, 2014 3:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Amazing, thanks so much Dean! I'll bookmark those and refer back to them when it's time for a scabbard.

Man, this forum is so approachable!
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2014 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've finally made some progress with this.

I got the milled pommel from my student Paul and was very happy with the result - forgot to put into the design the flattened base, but I can do that myself with a file if I feel it needs doing.

I was slightly nervous about trusting him with the crossguard (purely because he's not a sword guy and was going on my basic, amateur designs) but that came back looking really nice also. It needs some work doing to it, for example giving the edges a bevel and rounding some areas off, but in general as a cheap, totally custom crossguard I'm extremely pleased. Together the pommel and cross cost me a whopping sum of 20 (about $30) so I can't complain!

Here's some pics.







Next steps - learn how to peen so I can cut the tang down and get the pommel fixed, round and smooth the edges of the crossguard, sort the grip out and job's done!
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
Joined: 24 Aug 2011

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2014 1:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't quite tell from the last photo... did you Key the pommel? If not, I would highly suggest doing this....
In edhil, hai edhil. In edain, hai edain.
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2014 1:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not yet. I didn't want to give the guy something too specific in case it needed to be redone. I'll key it to fit the tang before I peen.

How does the hilt hardware look to you guys? Proportionally and historically, is it accurate and sensible?
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Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
Joined: 04 Mar 2012
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 361

PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2014 4:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First off, what Dean suggested in terms of the keyed pommel for starters...you don't want the pommel spinning around or getting off alignment.

As far as the look goes...I personally think it looks great. I am not the person to tap for purely 100% historical as I have a lot to learn yet myself on the finer nuances, but it looks pretty darn good to my eyes in terms of historical plausibility. I think it looks great overall....and for $30 for the pommel and guard...that is an unbelievably good price. Keep up the great work. You're soon to have a one of a kind sword and a good one at that. Nice work!

The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Mar, 2014 7:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic start! My latest project is giving me fits tonight. You'll hit that wall eventually, but push on through it!
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 4:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Fantastic start! My latest project is giving me fits tonight. You'll hit that wall eventually, but push on through it!


You can't say that and not give more info and pics!! What are you working on?
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 7:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I placed the old handle that I stripped of it's cheap leather back over the tang just to see what it looked like, and annoyingly I think it looks awesome just like this.

Makes me doubtful whether chopping the handle down to make it a single-hander is actually a good idea...

Thoughts?

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Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
Joined: 04 Mar 2012
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 10:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could you post a full size pic? I have a feeling the bastard length grip will look awesome as well so it will probably come down to what you want.
The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
Joined: 24 Aug 2011

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While it may not be a "decision maker"... Find your POB in both configurations.. The longer grip version is going to be closer to the guard (with the same pommel), just based on physics. I'm curious to see how the shorter grip version looks Happy. The numbers won't be exact - as you haven't taken the excess steel off the pommel end yet.
In edhil, hai edhil. In edain, hai edain.
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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
Joined: 26 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Make a grip for the single handed version, add a wad of well-set tape behind the pommel for both configurations, and do some VERY light, mostly horizontal dry handling. Wear it on a belt in front of a mirror. Find out which version you like more overall. Test it out a bit!
"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok so here's the original, with it's 6.5" grip (I think this looks ace but the original plan was a backup sidearm for an archer - is a grip this long viable??)



The POB with this is 4"

And here's a bit of GENIUS camera trickery to shorten the grip to 4.5" (the same length as my Windlass European Sword which I find very comfortable) I think my main concern with this (despite the grip length being a lot nicer) is that perhaps the width of the cross is now slightly out of proportion and looks a bit too wide?



And the POB with this version is just under 5" so not a huge difference, but I can't help thinking that 5" is starting to get a bit tip-heavy for a single hander?
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the grip length is fine as a bastard. Just set up the suspension so you can hike it around out of the way if necessary.
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Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
Joined: 04 Mar 2012
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 1:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since you asked, I personally like the bastard version better. The cross to blade to handle ratio looks really balanced. But this is just me. The single handed version also looks really good.
The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Argh. You were meant to say "shorter grip looks AWESOME"...

Seriously though, I think the bastard version looks better too. I should have made the cross 2" shorter. Rats.

I need to find some artwork of an archer carrying a bastard sword now, just so I can justify this! I have a feeling if I cut the tang and stick to my original plan of a single hander, I'll keep looking at it and regretting.
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
Joined: 06 Sep 2011

Posts: 184

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 1:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The cross on the single hander looks a tad too big, I'll say, but not to the point that it looks terrible. I'd worry a lot more about the balance, as that's a bit more important overall.

And I am extremely jealous that you have someone who can mill steel for you...
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