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Refurbishing a Windlass "Homildon Hill" Sword
I just received the Windlass "Sword of Homildon Hill" that I got from the recent MR Deal of the Day sale. I wasn't really in the market for a Hand and a half/bastard sword, however I do like the cross and pommel on this one(the inscription on the blade I'm still mixed about) and for 50% off, I gave in. I figured I would refurnish whatever I needed to in order to make more presentable and possibly more functional, and then give to my father for his birthday in December, or just resell it and get back at least what I paid for it.

Link for info: http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...ildon+Hill

First I'll review the sword as I received it. The appearance is pretty much exactly what the website shows, but in regards to the sword's functionality:
The blade is what I expected, it's shape, bevels and fuller are all pretty symmetrical, and the factory unsharpened edge is not nearly as thick as I expected, which will make sharpening it a lot easier.
The guard and pommel are much the same; after more inspection I noticed the ends of the quillons are ever so slightly bent towards one side.
The grip is just wood wrapped in a polyester black cord, which wouldn't look too bad if the guard and pommel weren't already so ornate. It provides pretty adequate purchase until your hands begin to sweat, and then the cord becomes somewhat slick.
The sword's handling overall feels a bit... dead...? The sword weighs 3lbs 4oz, and for the length, that's not terribly heavy. On top of that, the sword balances about 3 inches from the guard, so it's not blade heavy either, but it still feels pretty dead in the hand, which is honestly what I expected at this price range, so that's not too disappointing.
The construction of the sword is what worries me. The tang is peened flush with pommel, and everything feels solid at first, but after handling it, I started to notice that every once in a while I would feel a "shift". It was barely noticeable, but it was there. No rattling, no visible movement; I actually can't even recreate that "shift", it just seems to happen at random. I'm wondering if the hilt is compressed with a cold peen, and the components actually sit loosely. I'm really not sure what I would do to fix this, or if it's even worth it.

The scabbard looked halfway decent at first glance, but became more and more disappointing as I disassembled it. The whole scabbard is a split leather with acrylic leather paint, and there are smaller pieces of leather and foam near the throat that "secure" the blade, but even with these the sword still slips out very easily under its own weight. The fittings are plain, but at least match the shape and finish of the pommel.

I plan to make a new wood core scabbard reusing the old fittings, and redo the cord wrap grip with a thinner, leather wrapped grip with risers. Any feedback on how or even if I should try to disassemble the hilt would be awesome, and if anyone has owned or handled this sword before commentary would be helpful.

Hit the grip with a chisel (chisel edge parallel with grip) to break off the grip. The pommel should then drop enough to allow you to file down the exposed edges of the peen and remove the pommel and guard.
Thanks for the advice Sean. I removed the grip and found that the hollowed out space the grip and the slot in the guard appear to large enough for a tang that's 1/4 inch thick roughly, but the blade's tang is only 3/16 inch thick. The guard still fits fairly snugly but has a good bit of wiggle room, and given that it can slide into place so easily it's nowhere near as tight a fit as I'd like. The grip seems to be have the primary cause of the "shifting" I was feeling since it was essentially floating it broken up epoxy without any real contact with the wood core. the problem I have now is that the pommel isn't loose in the slightest. After removing the grip it didn't drop at all, so I gave several good hits with a rubber mallet; still didn't budge.

My question now is should I continue to try and remove the pommel(in order to use the hilt components for a blade with a tang that's properly sized, and make new hilt components for this blade) or just shim the gap between the tang and the guard, and make a new grip that fits the tang more snugly?


If you don't want or need to modify the pommel, I'd leave as is and fashion a proper fitted grip. If you need to get the pommel off and repeen and there appears to be enough room in the slot, it could be epoxied, the epoxy used in a lot of these swords can be melted with a heat gun to loosen, slip it down and grind the peen off. If it doesn't move with heat, it might have a step inside preventing it from sliding down and you'll need need to grind it but that'll be very destructive.
Do you have a photo?
If the peen is flush and the pommel stable overall, I would agree that you should just use that to your advantage and modify the pommel in situ. I often use a bolt through a pommel I'm working on so I'll have something to clamp in a vise. Clamp your tang and file/grind away!

I don't think I've ever seen a Windlass sword without a loose guard. I don't understand that, because the blades are always the same thickness (thinness). It's not about wanting open tolerances, because there's almost no variation in the degree of slop.

So, you wedge. I cut little rectangles out of brass shee and bend them to an L shape. The long part of the L goes down into the gap between blade and guard. First, though, I flatten the short part of the L because that will sit on top of the guard and under the grip so the piece doesn't fall through. You can use the flat end of a file as a drift to hammer the shims down into the gap.There's a sketch of all that around here somewhere. I'll try to dig it out.

The edges of the tang are easier to shim because the shoulders of the blade prevent those shims from falling through. For the edges, I just snip off pieces of brass wire and drive them down into those gaps.

In every case, I fill the gap with JB Weld before installing the shims. That will release with heat, if needed.
Here's my method, along with a reminder that this is not a new challenge. In some cases, apparently, the lower end of the grip was carved to fit into the tang/guard gap to stabilize the fit.

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Thanks Michael and Sean, that was all very helpful information. I particularly liked your method for shimming the loose guard Sean.

I ended up removing the pommel, and I'm actually glad I did. Even after applying heat, the pommel didn't budge at all, despite having a visible gap between the tang and pommel. At this point, I assumed that tang had a strange shape and the pommel was actually somehow wedged onto the tang. So, I actually drilled out the peen(which was actually surprisingly thick for a Windlass) and applied more heat. The pommel finally came off after quite a bit of hammering on it with a rubber mallet. As it turned out, the pommel was not wedged in any way, it was only being held on by resin/glue(as a side note, I researched this a little and the glue that Windlass uses seems to be the same resin/epoxy that was historically used to attach Talwar blades to their hilts. Apparently, this method works great for close fitting single piece hilts... not so much for really loose multiple component hilts... I apologize in advance if you guys already knew this and I was just uninformed).

I'm planning to shim the guard now and wedge the pommel and repeen it. Wedging the pommel will shorten the handle by at least an inch(I'll attach a pic) but I'm actually happy with that. The original handle seemed a bit too long for a bastard sword, and having the pommel closer to the blade already makes the sword feel much more lively.

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congratulations on getting that bit done! looks better, and probably has better blade presence.
Thanks Sean! It definitely has more blade presence; it no longer feels like I'm holding an oddly shaped dumbbell. On a different note, it looks like the final piece will probably still weigh at least 3 lbs 2oz. What do you think of that weight? I know you recently finished up your Bastard(congrats on that by the way, that turned out to be a gorgeous sword) and it weighed a good deal less, although the H/T Bastard blade is narrower and tapers more than the blade I'm working with. I've considered doing a number of things from grinding in a more pronounced distal taper, grinding the primary bevel down til the edge is sharp, and removing material from the massive pommel on this sword. I'm hesitant to mess with the pommel because its design and finish is probably the most aesthetic part of this sword, but it does weigh 16.5 oz...

I might be nitpicking at this point; the sword as it stands certainly doesn't feel overly heavy by any stretch, it's just not as light and quick as might be ideal. I just don't really have enough experience with bastard swords(I've handled a fair few longswords, but this is actually my first bastard) to determine if it's really significant enough to worry about.


There are much heaver swords out there, both reproduction and original (see A&A's German Bastard Sword and Albion's Svante, among others). It's all about the balance. Also, my recent project is a bit too light, in my view. It could use a stronger blade presence.

I took Sean's advice and left the sword's weight and proportions as they were, since the balance was already about 4 1/2 inches from the guard. I've since shimmed the guard, wedged and peened the pommel and sandwiched a new wood grip on the tang. I'll do the leather wrap and hopefully start the scabbard over the weekend.

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Another quick update, just finished the leather wrap.

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Nice looking piece of work. I've got an old Windlass "German War Sword" with powder coated fittings (their version of a verdigris finish...) that I'm getting inspired to finally work on after seeing what you've done with this and a few other threads that have been running through lately.
Thanks for the compliment Victor. I'd definitely encourage you to work on that German War Sword; admittedly, my Homildon felt pretty bad when i first picked it up, but after the work I've done it actually feels like a real sword, and not an awkward dumbbell! All the individual components were solidly made, it was really just the construction that ruined the sword, and the "one size fits all" approach that Windlass takes(overly long and large handles that ruin grip and balance). I'm sure you could reassemble that sword and end up with a far better product than you purchased. Cheers, and good luck!

Could you please post photos? This sounds like a great project, and as I have the same sword with a seriously bent cross direct from MRL, I'm very interested in what you've done perhaps as a template for me to follow. It's seemed to me that the grip is too thick, the pommel just a bit too massive, and of course, the cross on mine is rather wonky, so I'd love to be able to visually see how you've approached things.


Hey Robert, are you referring to the Homildon or the German War Sword? I just want to clarify that before I start giving you advice on the wrong sword. And good luck, it should be a pretty fun project!
It's the Homildon. The blade is pristine and for the first time, the sword stays in the scabbard when turned upside down (mostly). That's the main reason I didn't return it. However, the cross is seriously bent along two axes. Yeah, typical MRL/Windlass quality control, I know, but the "stays in the scabbard," bit made me keep it.

Oh ok. The guard on mine was, and still is slightly bent. It's very subtle, almost unnoticeable without further inspection, so I left it alone. I'm really not sure how easy it would be to bend bronze, but you could certainly look into it. Posting a couple pictures of the hilt would help. I assume you also want to redo the grip and shorten it?
Bronze is softer than steel, so it should take less heat and/or pressure to bend - just a matter of how to do it without adversely affecting the finish and decorative elements. I would confer with others more experienced, but, conceptually, if you dismount the cross, heat it with a handheld torch, then gently place it within a vice with leather padding and maybe some blocking, and apply gentle pressure while warm, you should be able to straighten it out a distortion that originates in the middle of one prong or the other. If the bend begins near the blade/opening for the tang, then it would be a similar procedure, only instead of straightening with the vice itself, you would apply pressure manually while the piece is firmly held by the vice near the point of the bend. Of course, this all assumes that you're actually dealing with bronze and not bronze-colored pot metal. Before I started to heat or bend anything, I'd want assurance I was dealing with whole metal and not something that would shatter when I applied pressure, or melt like solder as soon as heat was introduced.

As for Robert's sword staying in the scabbard - did you have it sharpened? I have a feeling my Windlass would stay in its scabbard as a blunt, but it slips as a sharp.

Good luck!
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