Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Appearance of iron inlay Reply to topic
This is a Spotlight Topic Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next 
Author Message
Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
Joined: 20 Oct 2003
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,534

PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2005 9:36 pm    Post subject: Appearance of iron inlay         Reply with quote

Hello everyone,
I have no doubt one or many of the myArmoury members can answer or at least provide some usful information of this issue and question.

What is the appearance of iron inlay on a polished sword blade or hilt component of steel or at least of a steely iron? I have seen the black-and-white pictures or viking and early midieval sdwords like some "ulfberts" that have an iron inlay which is certainly very visable. I am wondering if and what the appearances of said inlay is in on a sword free of corrosion and newly made. Are the lines smothly and crisply difined as can be seen with silver, latten, and copper embellishments.

A color picture of an iron inlayed sword or surphace would be neat, I think.

Jeremy
View user's profile Send private message
Blaz Berlec




Location: Podgorje, Kamnik, Slovenia, Europe
Joined: 26 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 4
Posts: 394

PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2005 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think the lines of pattern-welded iron inlays would (could!) have been as accurate and precise as the letters and symbols made of latten, silver or bronze. It's completely different manufacture process.

With inlays made from soft materials (latten, silver or bronze) you engrave your design onto a heat treated and already finished blade. If you're skilled this can be done with great accuracy and when you inlay the wire (usually heated), you can with a bit of care completely avoid any deformation of the blade and therefore letters or symbols.

Iron inlays are a bit different matter. You make the letters (usually pattern welded), place them while still cold on a very hot blade and pound them into the surface. Or you engrave the proper voids for letters. Then you have to forge-weld letters onto the blade by heating everything and evenly striking it. Of course the letters will deform and widen with this process, and boundaries between blade material and inlay will not be as sharp as with softer materials due to the diffusion at forge welding. And of course there is not much of the contrast between steel blade and pattern welded iron inlay – I guess such inlays would be slightly etched. Most of the photos of “ulfberth” and “ingelrii” blades are severely corroded, so the “etch” is a bit more pronounced there. I guess such blade would look very smooth and flat, with just a hint of lettering or decoration, seen in proper lighting conditions. I’d certainly like to see such a blade personally.

I don’t think any of the blades with iron inlays survived in “pristine” condition, although I remember Oakeshott writing that some of inlayed blades were repolished and re-etched, and that they look marvelous. No photos, though.

Sorry for the spelling, I’m almost from Africa (as some Englishman observed not long ago).


Extant 15th Century German Gothic Armour
Extant 15th century Milanese armour
Arming doublet of the 15th century
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2005 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
What is the appearance of iron inlay on a polished sword blade or hilt component of steel or at least of a steely iron?


It really depends on how you do the finishing. And we can only guess how they liked their swords finished back in the day. If polished (likely), it was done with stones and powdered abrasives, so even an un-etched inlay would be fairly noticeable due to the different polishing qualities of the inlay and the ground. This picture does not do it justice (you have to move the sword around in the light to get an idea of the effect), but here is a steel inlay into iron:


Here it is lightly etched:


For a look at a wire inlay with a more typical etch, have a look at Patrick Barta’s very exact & authentic repro:
http://www.templ.net/pics/v_b16v.jpg

And, for designs that have some topography and also polish, it looks like this (you’ll have to imagine the effect with letters):


When you carve the letters into the blade, there is very little smearing during the inlay process – but they were not too careful doing the Ulfbehrt blades. You could do it pretty exactly if you tried.

My personal feeling is that the blades were either polished or polished over topography introduced through the heat treating or by etching, so the final effect on swords of the day was most likely close to the first or last photos.
Jeff
View user's profile Send private message
E.B. Erickson
Industry Professional



Location: Thailand
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 442

PostPosted: Mon 28 Nov, 2005 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Something to keep in mind here is that iron, even when highly polished, has a darker tint (appearance?) than steel. So a polished blade, even if mirror-smooth, should show the iron inlay as darker letters against the bright steel of the blade's body.

--ElJay
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
C.L. Miller




PostPosted: Mon 28 Nov, 2005 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are there any known period references to such inlays in period literature? Or references which at least could be in referece to such an inlay? I'm speaking here only of twisted iron inlays such as those which appear on the Ulfberht and Ingelri blades. I don't believe I've ever come across one.
View user's profile Send private message
Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
Joined: 20 Oct 2003
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,534

PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec, 2005 1:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for your replies,

Jeff- a special thanks to you for the photos which I found very enlightening. For the first time I have a fair idea of the appearance of these inlays So it seems the consensus that iron inlay would generally be quite visable and distinct on a polished blade.

Were most or all blades of the ulfbert and ingelrii tpyes say 1000-1150 using twisted wire inlays. Do you guys know of the benefit of twisted wire versus a non twisted iron wire? I think it would be really cool to see a modern reproductionfeaturing such an inlay.

Here is a question for sword makers like Craig, Peter, Vince, and other makers- Do you have any experience with iron inlay in the blade?

Jeremy
View user's profile Send private message
Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec, 2005 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

C.L. – definite period references, no, none that I’m aware of.
Jeremy – you’re welcome, glad I could help.
You know, the whole ‘twisted iron’ is really a misnomer, these inlays were done with pattern welded material – iron of differing carbon content or phosphorus content (I’m not aware of any metallographic studies that indicate which).
They twisted it for perhaps two reasons – it looks cool that way, and it references the recently outdated technology of assembling the sword out of twisted pattern welded material, which was probably equated with quality. Every U. & I. sword I’ve seen was done with twisted wire (the ones where you can tell, anyway).
The ‘naðr’ inlay photographed above was a test for an inlaid sword I made, unfortunately before I got a camera and started taking photos, so that’s one modern repro that’s not see-able. But it's an entertaining and nerve-wracking process, I recommend it to the other swordsmiths out there.
Jeff
View user's profile Send private message
Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff Pringle wrote:
...But it's an entertaining and nerve-wracking process, I recommend it to the other swordsmiths out there.
Jeff


Hey Jeff...

Could you give us an idea of how this beautiful inlay was produced.

ks

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
View user's profile Send private message
Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 9:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sure -
1. Forge out a blade blank, but don’t go so far as to put in the fuller or bevel the edges.
2. Make a billet of low-layer Damascus – seven is good, the one pictured is 11 or 13 and a little too busy for the Nth degree of authenticity if we’re talking Ulfberhts – draw it down to 1/8” sq. and twist tightly, then re-square (or round, your preference – match your chisel shape).
3. Chisel into the blade blank the design you wish to inlay.
4. Fit bits of wire into the grooves you cut.
5. Carefully forge weld the inlaid wire to the blade.

The above inlay was one-sided, so I cut 90° v-grooves and just dropped the wires into the grooves –to do 2-sides like the Ulfberhts it makes more sense to securely cold inlay the wire so you can weld both sides in one heat. And as this test showed, you need to get the wires well fitted to avoid pits or gaps, but that’s true of all welding operations, the better it looks going in, the better result at the finish. It’s possible to use the remaining heat (after the weld is set) to start roughing out the fuller – if you had a tooling-intensive shop you might be able to do the inlay after the fullering, but I’ve not tried that.
Be sure to read with a grain of salt any (printed) description of how the inlays were done, since they were mostly written by folks who had no practical experience at it. And I don’t think the method outlined above is the only way, it’s just what I considered most likely, and which I’ve found to work for me – your mileage may vary.


Last edited by Jeff Pringle on Sun 04 Dec, 2005 9:43 am; edited 2 times in total
View user's profile Send private message
Blaz Berlec




Location: Podgorje, Kamnik, Slovenia, Europe
Joined: 26 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 4
Posts: 394

PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2005 7:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are very few people who have done iron inlays. Jeff Pringle, could you post images of the whole sword, not just the inlaid part? It looks ... well... beyond words. :-)

Thank you for your guide to inlaying. You are right, most people (including me) have no experience at forging, let alone making iron inlay letters. I think I have read about the other possible method (forging the cold letters onto the blade, then forge weld) in a book by Oakehott. But, as you know, recreating medieval swords is a fairly new "hobby" and much academic guesses have gotten into the processes that are purely practical and can be verified.


Extant 15th Century German Gothic Armour
Extant 15th century Milanese armour
Arming doublet of the 15th century
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2005 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
could you post images of the whole sword

No, the sword was sold years ago - all I have left is my trial piece.
But I've been meaning to do a mono-steel blade w/ inlay (all my work is damascus of one kind or another), maybe this post will put a fire under me or someone else to get one done Happy
"the Sword in Anglo-Saxon England" is a wonderful book that also has a lot of mis-information on how the early blades were produced.
Quote:
academic guesses have gotten into the processes that are purely practical and can be verified.

Exactly, it becomes quite clear which guesses were on the right track and which were not once you start the practical experimenting.
Jeff
View user's profile Send private message
Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
Joined: 01 Mar 2004
Likes: 7 pages
Reading list: 28 books

Posts: 1,810

PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2005 8:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff Pringle wrote:
Quote:
What is the appearance of iron inlay on a polished sword blade or hilt component of steel or at least of a steely iron?


It really depends on how you do the finishing. And we can only guess how they liked their swords finished back in the day. If polished (likely), it was done with stones and powdered abrasives, so even an un-etched inlay would be fairly noticeable due to the different polishing qualities of the inlay and the ground....

I just "woke up" and noticed this thread - really neat stuff, Jeff. Thanks for posting your pictures. It's too bad you no longer have an entire sword available to show us. Sad

"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
View user's profile Send private message
Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2005 10:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
It's too bad you no longer have an entire sword available to show us.

I'm careful to at least take a 'mug shot' of my stuff before it leaves the shop now, so if I get around to another lettered blade you can check out that one Happy
Further musings on the inlay process:
The Ulfberht inlays were really tightly twisted, perhaps re-squaring would be better replaced by filing off the corners of the twisted wire so you avoid stretching out the twist.
You can, of course, make your chisel to match your wire rather than the other way around - really you are making both to suit the finished appearence you are going for.
Jeff


Last edited by Jeff Pringle on Sun 04 Dec, 2005 9:44 am; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2005 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent stuff Jeff!

Thanks for taking the time to explain.

ks

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
View user's profile Send private message
Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
Joined: 20 Oct 2003
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,534

PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2005 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm really enjoying this thread,

I think that it's about time collectors and smiths alike began paying more attention to inlay- especially in the blade. Looking at surviving pieces we find inlay on most blades so I am really looking forward to owning an inlayed blade one of these days- most likely in iron as that is contemporary to my period of interest and my favorite antique sword is a type XI Ingelrii.

Very cool stuff and I would like to see other smiths chime in as well regarding their thoughts on this process. I would find a photograph featuring brass or copper inlay also very interesting- though I have seen pictures of this and seen some antiques in person. I don't know what it is about inlay that I think is so cool. Happy

Jeremy
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2005 6:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This topic has been promoted into a Spotlight Topic.
.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 1:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This thread made me realize I had the opportunity to make a really obscure pun -

Puns like that don't come around so often!
Razz
View user's profile Send private message
Alexi Goranov
myArmoury Alumni


myArmoury Alumni

Location: San Francisco, CA
Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Reading list: 72 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,191

PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Happy Happy

You should call the next one "+Pringlberht+", though it admittedly does not sound as neat and "pringelrii"

Alexi
View user's profile Send private message
Jeff Pringle
Industry Professional



Location: Oakland, CA
Joined: 19 Nov 2005

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Mon 23 Jan, 2006 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
You should call the next one "+Pringlberht+"


Yes, but I think I'm in love with this blade shape, and an Ulfberht-ish inscription would just look wrong:

It might be a while before I get back to the 9th century.
View user's profile Send private message
Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
Joined: 20 Oct 2003
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,534

PostPosted: Wed 14 Jun, 2006 6:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

I wanted to resurrect this topic as I have begun the process of comisioning a sword inspired by Records XI.5 Shaftesbury Sword. As actual measurements are unavailable (unless someone here knows of any) mine will not be an exact copy of this piece, but will incorporate a gold plated pommel and iron cross terminating in beast heads as per the original.

In any case what really excites me is that I am opting to have the +INNOMINEDOMINE+ inlayed in iron on one side of the blade and something else on the other. I would feel strange having GICELINMEFICIT reproduced. It seems through my reading that on this sword the inlay was applied in iron non-pattern welded strips. Well the process will be a long one and I will keep everyone posted. Needless to say I am excited as this is my favorite sword and I have a thing for inlay.

Lastly, can anyone point me to references to this particular sword besides the usual suspects i.e. Records, SAC, AOW?

Jeremy
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Appearance of iron inlay
Page 1 of 3 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2019 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum