View Full Version : Need a weapon?

14th July 2002, 10:49 AM
Have a look here. (http://www.bladesunlimited.co.uk/uk2shop-10.htm)

Sometimes my bookmarks worry me! :insane:


14th July 2002, 01:52 PM
Ptretty sweet, I actually saw a sword i have there :sunshine:

15th July 2002, 06:45 PM
No, no, NO!

You don't make weapons out of stainless steel for goodness sake..... :(

Sure they may look pretty, and don't rust, but I'd take brushed case hardened mild or spring steel over stainless any day. And if you actually try hitting anything with stainless, well get ready for lots of flying shards..... :(

Ooops, sorry for the rant. It's just I tend to see lots of young loonies waving stainless steel katanas around and thinking they are the second coming, or a wicked Ninja, or just proud that they are carrying a real weapon. It is a TOY for goodness sake.

I made a few blades a while back for some friends, and they cost considerably more than 50 (and that was selling at cost!). I used bars of EN45 spring steel for the blades, and then heat treated the edges to harden them. Once the blades were attached to the pommel, and suitable balanced, I brushed and oiled them - the heat treating and polishing gave the blades a truly gorgeous rainbow effect to the shine. Unfortunately the process of making swords is ruddy hard work, and getting the balance and heft right is an absolute bugger (especially oriental swords). The first couple of blades I made needed REALLY strong arms to use, cos the balance was totally off.

OK, Rant over.... :)


16th July 2002, 12:33 AM
Fallguy, how does one go about learning to make swords ?

The Therion
16th July 2002, 01:57 PM
Go to Spain or Japan :p

16th July 2002, 02:50 PM
more importantly ..doe Styng shine blue when Talon is near?

16th July 2002, 05:18 PM
Originally posted by Gservo
Fallguy, how does one go about learning to make swords ?

With great difficulty. If you want to learn the traditional way (i.e. forging) you will be extremely hard pressed to find somewhere that will teach you. Those places that do still make swords properly are exceptionally rare (the demand is not there), and you would have to apprentice for a considerable period of time to learn the process.

If however, you are prepared to use modern tools, you can make one. Experience with machine tools is a must, I'm afraid.

You need access to machine tools for a start - a milling machine and a lathe, as well as an angle grinder (with several grades of sanding pads), an air brush, and a decent set of hand tools.

I personally researched it at the library before I started my first attempt. I got out several books on metal working, and then a book with lots of pictures of swords. I chose a relatively simple european design (for a hand-and-a-half, or *******, sword), and used that as my template.

Materials wise, I started with some spring steel bar for the blade, and some scrap bright steel for the pommel and cross guard. I carefully marked the template onto the spring steel bar, and then milled it down to approximately the right thickness and shape (taking care to mill off both sides of the bar equally to prevent warping). Once the basic shape was there, I sanded out the milling marks, and then heated the blade up til it was gently glowing. Because this was a European sword, it had 2 edges and a point, so I carefully used a water soaked rag to cool the edges of the blade rapidly (which helps harden them) whilst leaving the body of the blade to cool naturally.

I made the pommel (a simple round block of bright steel with a circular hole for the handle) on a lathe, although I made it too light(and hence buggered up the balance). The cross guard was also made of bright steel (milled to shape - a basic rectangular shape, with a hole for the blade to socket in, and a smaller hole for the tang to pass through). The actual gripping handle I made out of 2 pieces of wood cut to shape to fit around the tang of the blade, and lock into position by wedging into the crossguard and pommel. Once in position, I was planning just to use 2 rivets to hold the blade to the handle, and 1 rivet to hold the pommel to the handle, but my measurements were a bit off, so I had to reinforce the whole thing with a fair bit of glue - this not only solidified the whole weapon, it also helps absorb the impact when you hit things (this wasn't intentional, but hey!).

That may sound easy, but making the 2 halves of the handle the right shape was probably the most difficult part of the manufacturing. It took me 4 attempts to get the wood cut into the right shape to fit the tang of the blade, as well as fitting the pommel and cross guard. It took hours of sanding, fitting, sanding down a little more, fitting, etc. Even then, it wasn't a great fit.

Once the blade, cross guard, handle and pommel were attached, I took the whole weapon and air brushed it (the blade, the cross guard, and the pommel) to give a good shine, and then oiled the blade lightly to stop it from rusting (I used, for this blade, simple vegetable oil, however I discovered that trumpet valve oil, whilst expensive, is probably the best for blade preservation).

So now I had a basic sword, however the grip on the wooden handle was not very good (I had sanded a bit too much there, and it was very smooth). To counter this I cut some leather I had into a long thin strip, and wrapped it round the handle. In this case I used some smooth light leather, which did improve the grip, but in future I used much rougher leather as it offers better grip. I also made the mistake of oiling the leather to preserve it - this didn't alter the grip, but made the leather less capable of absorbing sweat.

Using bright steel for the pommel and cross guard was also a mistake. It looked very shiny and impressive, however it rusted horribly unless well treated, and bright is actually fairly soft, so the cross guard dented quite easily.

The tang on the blade I made was also too short - obviously this was something I couldn't see on my template picture, so it was pretty much guess work as to where it went. The tang should have extended all the way to the pommel, but it actually stopped about 2 and a 1/2 inches short.The blade was too thick - I had made it slightly thicker than my template just to be on the safe side. This increased the weight considerably, and threw the balance right off.The pommel was too small - in my template the pommel was made out of a heavier material, so the bright steel pommel was not adequete to counter the blade weight (even assuming I hadn't made the blade too thick).

These mistakes with the blade, tang, and pommel, meant that the actual balance point of the weapon was a hair over 6 inches to the blade side of the centre of the cross guard, and this made the blade VERY unwieldy. Ideally for a ******* sword, the balance point should be within 2 inches of the guard to the blade side - it should have some momentum to a swing, but not require arms like Arnie to stop that swing. Of course, some blades are designed to be more off balanced - a sabre for example is supposed to have a fairly unbalanced blade, as it is designed to chop down from horseback. A rapier on the other hand is supposed to be almost perfectly balanced about the guard, as it is designed for precision thrusts.

Ok, now I have convinced you I am a total loony, please let me add this - I am absolutely hopeless at actually using a sword as a weapon. I have been training in martial arts for some time, but I still would not consider myself competant to pick up and use a sword of any type - although it takes a lot of time and effort to make a sword, it takes even longer to master using it. I haven't made a blade for a good while now (I don't have access to the machine tools any more), and I never actually made a weapon for myself.

Still, I suppose it gives you a decent idea why a good hand made weapon usually costs between 500 and 1000 to buy. Even then, they are usually cheap, if you consider the time and effort put in to the manufacturing, and work that out at minimum wage. And there is certianly nothing more gutting that making a blade, and testing it (by striking a steel block) only to see the blade shatter or notch badly. If this happens, you pretty much have to start again.

Making a blade is a process of trial and error, and lets face it there is no substitute for experience. I made 6 blades in all - the ******* sword (described here), 2 long knives (where the balance didn't matter too much), a katana (this was an absolute bugger to make, and again the balance was way off), another ******* sword (much better balanced than the first), and a langseax (best described as a single edged short sword without a guard or pommel). Only on the last 2 did I actually start to get it right, and even then there were much better examples out there.

Anyway, I have rabbited on for long enough, lol! If you have any more questions, then a new thread might be in order, lest we wonder too far off topic (heaven forbid)! :)


20th July 2002, 04:50 PM
Hm, if you want to make a sword there is in fact only one way to do the job........ PROPERLY.

A sword blade MUST be forged, and must be made from a carbon steel, forget completely anything from stainless, though spring steel is a very good commercially available material.

Now under no circumstances must any form of cutting be performed this rule is absolute with the exception to a cutting op to produce a rough blank (emphasis on rough) if required and final grinding and honing to produce the edge.

Now there is one and only one way to form the blade and tang and thats forging, ie heating the steel and hitting it with a hammer, swages and formers can be used to help with this process, and if you have access to a 'modern' auto hammer, stamping press or forging press then much of the sweal can be taken out of the job.

There are two reasons for this approach, firstly the purist hate the thought of a machined blade, secondly, the purist are well justified in their opinion, as a forged blade is many times stronger than a machined blade and far less likely to shatter during use.

Now for a complaint......

I am 34 years old and quite capable of correctly using the term B A S T A R D, but since the nannies in this world feel I should not use the term B A S T A R D, all you would normally see is *******, which renders any discussions about:-

******* swords
******* files
The ******* of normandy
and indeed the *******isation of the english language

rather difficult

20th July 2002, 07:34 PM
Its great if you have access to a forge,
but alas, I haven't seen one in all the years I have worked in manufacturing (before I switched to computers). I confess I was mainly working in machining and fabrication (you may have guessed, lol!), but still.

I agree that cut blades are less sturdy than forged as a rule, however with cut blades you can use a stronger base material, perhaps a modern steel-titanium alloy that you could not forge properly. I wouldn't think of it, mind you, I guess I am traditional that way. A blade should be steel, end of story! :)

As for blades shattering, well I always tested mine quite extensively (using an anvil, and hitting it as hard as I could, to see if the blade notch's easily, or if it shatters). Some shattered quite badly, some didn't. Thats the main weakness of machined - you don't know the consistancy of the material you are machining, or the quality to which it has been made. You do also have to be very careful not to machine in any stress concentration points (I actually did a stress analysis on a rough CG model blade at Uni for a laugh, its quite impressive how badly a right angle weakens a blade, particularly at the blade/tang interface).

Anyway, I think we have answered Gservos question.... :)


20th July 2002, 11:51 PM
Forges are not really all that hard to come by if you are serious about sword making, there are no end of blacksmiths about... remember your a guy with access to a machine shop which is as seamingly out of many peoples reach as a forge, and if you are serious then making a forge (hearth + blower device), is in fact easier than making the sword itself not to mention a lot easier than making a milling machine, and making an autohammer isnt too hard for the mechanically minded either (mass + anvil + reciprocation mehanism).

My experience in this matter come from medeaval reinactment, to date Ive made my own swords and armour using both modern and period methods. Im also a time served machinist with access to a well equipped machine shop, but when it comes to swords and armour, unless you are going into mass production there is absolutely no replacement for an anvil and a good hammer!