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Nils Anderssen

Location: Drammen, Norway
Joined: 08 Dec 2005

Posts: 61

PostPosted: Mon 04 Nov, 2013 7:43 am    Post subject: A Suontaka sword         Reply with quote

A couple of years ago a good friend of mine approached me asking if I could make a sword for her like the one from Suontaka, Finnland. My first response was a polite «no». Everyone who has seen the original know the complexity of this piece and my wax carving skills are not up to that kind of task. Especially after reading through Peter Johnsson's thread on how his experience with making Albion's Valkyrja I was not entusiastic.
But, she continued to ask me and after a while I kind of got hooked on the idea, the question was only how...
I work in the games industry with, among other things, 3d modeling. This was at the time where 3d printing started to be available for the public in a quality that is fairly high. So, after some thought I agreed to do the project in 3d, print it and then casted.

She was obvious inspired by Albions Valkyrja when asking me (and I will not blame her, it is a fantastic looking sword), but I did not want to copy their work, so the basis for this hilt is the original, but with some of my personal touches. Another issue here is that she is not the strongest person around so i needed to make the sword as light as possible. Not a easy task with a hilt as big as this. So I decided to make the hilt hollow like the original. This way I could keep the massive look of it, but still keep the weight fairly low. It is also going to be used for re-enactment fighting, so it needed to be blunt and also take a punch.
I was also determined to not make it look digital and printed, so I used a lot of time looking at original carvings, castings etc. to get the feel right. I also used a lot of time fixing the models after printing.

I will try to go into details on my production method in a later post. .

Now, the sword Happy

Total weight: 1.195 g
Balance: 12 cm
Blade length: 75 cm
Grip: 8.5 (but feels bigger because of the curved crossguard and pommel)

Although it is fairly heavy it can easily be maneuvered around because of the pivot points. It feels big in the hand and like it want to do serious stuff.

The blade is made by Szymon Chlebowski, but with some modifications to the fuller and silhouette by me. I retrospect I wish I would have made the blade my self.

I made the grip out of wood and skin to keep the weight and cost down. There are several swords with similar hilts with organic hilts, so it is not that far fetched.

Here you get a sense of the thickness of the pommel and crossguard. It was one of the things I also aimed at incorporating in my version of the sword. And since they are hollow this can be done without adding to much weight.

It was a lot of work and a long time in the making. Hope you like it Happy
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Luka Borscak

Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 2,170

PostPosted: Mon 04 Nov, 2013 8:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I applaud the hollow fittings! Very recently I complained somewhere around here how no replicas of this sword exist with faithful to original hollow pommel...Also I love the design on the fittings, they look just a bit simpler than on other version but I love them more for that, thy sometimes look too crowded on these fittings... Excellent job all in all. Big Grin
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Tim Lison

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Joined: 05 Aug 2004
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Reading list: 6 books

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PostPosted: Mon 04 Nov, 2013 8:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is just great! Really, really, nice work. The hollow pommel must handle nicely. It's really amazing to see what can be done with 3d printing.
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William Swiger

Location: Reston, VA
Joined: 23 Feb 2011
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Posts: 433

PostPosted: Mon 04 Nov, 2013 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very well done. I bet your client is very pleased with this sword.
Non Timebo Mala
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Robin Smith

Location: Louisiana
Joined: 23 Dec 2006
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Reading list: 17 books

Posts: 746

PostPosted: Mon 04 Nov, 2013 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, excellent... Turned out very nicely.

I too think the hollow hilt is a nice touch. Should've done the blade inlay though Razz

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Shahril Dzulkifli

Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
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Posts: 1,265

PostPosted: Wed 06 Nov, 2013 5:40 pm    Post subject: A Suontaka sword         Reply with quote

Got to love the engravings on the pommel and guard!

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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David Lewis Smith

Location: NC
Joined: 26 Aug 2003
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 478

PostPosted: Wed 06 Nov, 2013 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nils, I think this is fantastic work.

I own a lot of Viking age swords and your creation is a fine example of the art of the time. The casting goes beyond fine in every way. your casting is excellent.

Truly an excellent work that if it were available I would be proud to have in my collection

David L Smith
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Nils Anderssen

Location: Drammen, Norway
Joined: 08 Dec 2005

Posts: 61

PostPosted: Thu 07 Nov, 2013 1:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for the kind words Happy

Luka Borscak: It is a bit thicker than the original... Or at least my impression of the thickness after looking at it in person. My model is in average about 2 mm thick and it is made that way since it is made for fighting.

Robin Smith: I would love to do a proper sharp version of the sword with inlays on the blade... Could not do that now because of the budget and since it is blunt and made for fighting.

David Lewis Smith: I did not do the casting my self, but got a company to do that.

I am maybe thinking about making a couple of extra copies of the hilt if anyone is interested. Would be nice to see it on a proper patternwelded blade Happy

So, I as promised I am going to go through my process of making this hilt:

I started out building the 3d model for the hilt with a flat plane where I made the pattern itself:

Then I filled in the gaps and started to extrude the pattern. I do that while it is flat since this is easier to control the thickness etc. in the program. After that I start to form the overall curve of the piece.

Here is a wireframe version of the model for those of you who care about that:

Here are the finished pieces before printing. In order to be able to make the finished hilt hollow I only made half of the parts, but completely symmetrical. By doing this the casting company could later cast these parts in wax, melt them together with the holes for the tang and fill them with paster. Then lost wax the whole thing.

One of the things you might think is that making the model in 3D might be faster than doing it by hand, but that might not be the case. I used many, many hours on this model, partly because I have little experience with the amount of detail I need to put into the model for it to work when I print it later on. Also, the aspect of looking at something on a screen is completely different to holding the same thing in your hands. So, during the process I made a couple of test prints in order to get a good sense of what I was doing and that is kind of the big advantage by using this method. You can care about proportions and size later on and even experiment with it. When you carve it in wax you need to figure this out at the start. On the other hand when working with physical things it is easier to grasp how it will look in the end.

Here is one of the test prints I did during the process:

And here are they on the blade:

These models have a lower resolution than the finished models.

One of the drawbacks of printing in 3d is that the surface is going to give very visible clues about the process. In the printing process I chose the model is formed by layering very thin layers of plastic on top of each other. Since the resolution here is limited "steps" is formed in the model like the ones you can see here:

As I said earlier on my goal was to make something that felt and looked handmade. It was not supposed to be sloppy, but at least not have clear signs of printing. So after I got the finished models I scraped the surface with a carving tool to remove all the marks.

To the left in the picture you can barely see the "steps".

I did not deliberately make any highly visible tool marks, but I chose not to remove the ones I ended up making. You can see similar marks on originals so I think it works fine Happy

Here are the inside of the model before casting. I made the walls thinner since they came out thicker than what I imagined. That is one of the problems by doing things on the screen, the feel for volume and proportions are slightly off.
It also removed a total of 80 g from the finished pieces Happy

Here are the models back from the casting company.

During cleaning up the plastic models from the 3d printer i made the tapering of the cavity very thin and this caused problems during the casting of the bronze. Since the cavity in the left and right end was so thin the plaster broke off when they pored the bronze into it so it caused some pits here and there. For the most part I was able to fix those by soldering and filing.
If I am going to make other copies of this hilt I might redo the crossguard in order to avoid this.

In order to make the pattern stand out more i oxidized the parts and polished them afterwards. I did not make it completely black since the contrast become easier on the eye.

I was very unsure on how I wanted to make the grip. The things I was sure about was that I wanted to keep the almost hourglass shape that you see on the original and other pieces with the same kind of hilt. I also wanted to to keep the band going around the middle. I did some experimenting with different thickness of the skin and the parts underneath that was going to make the pattern.

I also thought about maybe doing some more elaborate patterns, but in the end I started to like the simpler grip not competing with the rest of the hilt for visual attention. I only polished the upper and lower part leaving the middle part "ruff and thereby creating a little bit of variation in color.

I learned a lot by making this hilt. As I said earlier on it did take a lot of time making, and I maybe used as much time as a skilled wax worker would do. Also, making something that looks alive is harder on a PC. When you make something completely symmetrical it tend to almost stress the eye... it is not easy to look at and it does not look natural. That is something I worked a lot to avoid. When doing things by hand in a physical world this is something that is achieved naturally since you are making small "errors" here and there. I kind of had to simulate this in the 3d program. Cleaning up the models by hand also helped to make it feel more hand made.

I like to think that choosing to make something in 3d or by hand is a matter of which tools you are most comfortable with as long as you achieve what you plan to achieve and to the level of quality you want.

Last edited by Nils Anderssen on Thu 07 Nov, 2013 1:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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David Lewis Smith

Location: NC
Joined: 26 Aug 2003
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 478

PostPosted: Thu 07 Nov, 2013 1:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for sharing the process with us. That is really great work you did and the idea of using a 3D printer is fantastic.
David L Smith
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