How To Make A Sword Part 3

Part 4 The Pommel:

The tang on the sword created in this process has been deliberately left wide till the last possible moment. These precautions are necessary so follow along a bit more. At this stage the tang is narrowed to the desired width using a disk grinder (or file) with the exception of the last inch before the guard. As always keep cooling the blade with a wet rag. This design is for a full tang so don’t remove enough material to slide a wooden grip onto it. Keep the tang as wide as comfortably possible and plan for a flatish sort of grip. A round grip on a sword is an uncontrollable absurdity (more on this in part 5). Using a file remove the last inch of unwanted material from the sides of the tang leaving the claws that hold the guard untouched. IMPORTANT do not file a sharp corner where the tang goes into the guard, use a round file for the last bit and don’t give a crack a place to start, especially at the weakest point of the sword. My favorite grip here is a sort of diamond shape with concave lines sweeping out to swell in the center of the grip that gives the top hand a better grasp. The tang should at no point be narrower than one inch, a wide variety of pommels existed and much ingenuity can be exercised in there construction. For this project we will use simple stacked pommel made from the same stock as the guard. Using a file remove one sixteenth of an inch from each side of the end of the tang for seven eighths inch leaving shoulders of a sixteenth of an inch. The pommel tang that results must be slightly tapered. Cut three two inch pieces of the guard stock. (One half by three quarters) Drill, chisel and file each of the pieces individually as in the guard and pound them into place and tightly as possible. The eighth of an inch the protrudes is pounded down like a long rivet. This metal is hard so hit it many times with a hard hammer. If the hammer dents try using a hard metal drift. If desired a thin piece of copper or brass can be put in between the steel ones. A thick piece of practically anything hard substituted for the center piece. File the sandwich of metal down into any one of several shapes. A basic oval is good and simple. This pommel should be just as solid as the guard. Notice that the guard and pommel do not depend on the grip material to hold them in place as in most modern designs. As alternative a larger piece of steel can be drilled and filed in one piece but thicker the stock is more difficult it is to start the file. Another possibility is to grind and file a more complicated pommel from a single piece of steel with a bottleneck or bolster extending from it this “neck” is split with a file and the end of the tang is inserted into the slot and the sandwich is drilled and riveted. Of course more tools and more skill can produce better and prettier things but the purpose here is to give anyone a chance at making and owning a sword that can be used for real. The sword described here can be made by a resolute armature with: a hammer, a stump, a chisel and two files. Any guild that cares to can set up to build a whole collection with a couple hundred dollars.

Part 5 The Grip, Sheath and Edge:

The grip of the sword that has been built in this five part project is designed around a full tang for strength. To begin with a pair of thin scales are made to sandwich on the tang. The cross section should be a flat oval, not round. No real sword ever had a round grip! No, not even claymores. A round grip will twist in the had and make true hits impossible. So make scales thin. They can be wood, leather or metal. Glue was a big thing from Egypt on so don’t feel bad about using modern glues. Certain epoxies can be used to build up grips alone. The best is a glue called P.C.7. to cover the scales several things can be used. Wrapping the grip with cord and glue is simple. Leather in two strips can be sewn over the grips using a simple trick. Cover the grip and leather with rubber glue and starting at the edges of the grip apply the leather with pieces meeting at the center of the side of the grip. Cut away the excess leather and sew the edges together using curved needles. The seamless leather grips seen on so many originals were made of fresh cow intestine secured at each end with a Turks head knot set in a groove in the grip. As the gut shrank and dried it tightly binds the grip components together. After shrinking wipe these grips with outgrow brand ingrown toenail medicine to instantly tan the leather and prevent stinking and future water damage. The possibilities are endless.

A sharp sword needs a sheath so make one before sharpening it. Leather is ideal but not always possible. Wood is useless, a wooden sheath is bulky and brittle. Decent sheaths can be made from canvass coated in liberal doses of latex paint. (The best black latex available is San Louis paints) Naughahide turned inside out and upholstery can work as well. Take the tapered blade and lay it on the material. Mark the outline and flip the sword. Mark a second outline exactly next to the first. A triangle that is twice as wide as the sword and as long should result. Add three quarters of an inch for seams and cut. To sew this special stitch is used called an English saddle stitch. The edges to be sewed, if leather, are punched using a stitching spacer if possible or just an awl. Heavy carpet or saddle thread is used with a heavy curved needle. The edge is folded in so that the resulting seam will look like the sheath was sewn turned inside out. Insert the needle into the first hole on the right side and then out the second. Then into the second hole on the left side and out the third. Then into the third hole on the right side and out the fourth and so on. The stitches are made to loose and the sewing proceeds a few inches they are pulled tight like shoestrings. When tightened the seam is inside inside the sheath and looks quite impossible. Trim the top of the sheath to fit the blade. The fittings of the sheath can vary according to taste and available resources. A layer of heavy leather sewn into a cone and glued to the tip of the sheath will help to keep the point from coming out the end of the sheath.

Now comes the fun part. Sharpening the blade is a rewarding almost meditative process. A course whet stone is required. A small wheel from a bench grinder or piece of a big wheel is held in the hand and stroked longwise on the blade with the tip on a bench and the hilt in lap. If the sword is clamped at this point it is difficult to feel the edge as it progresses. Have patience and take care to grind both edges evenly. Feel the progress by pinching the center of the blade and sliding the fingers to the edge with light pressure. By this means it is easy to determine if one edge is thinner than the other. Just keep stroking until satisfied. Some people desire a better finish than others. So now you have a powerful sword! Try it out! If you followed the instructions and trust your work you should be able to put the blade on two blocks and stand on it to start with. Smash a few pallets and cut a fifty gallon drum long wise. Chop down a small tree or a medium sized house, it shouldn’t matter. A real sword, like it said in the movie, you can trust!

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