|Project by BTimmons||posted 326 days ago||13336 views||22 times favorited||24 comments|
This is what happens when I don’t have pressing projects to work on and I feel compelled to make shavings, regardless of the outcome. In any case, it’s good “me” time, and it’s been great practice using planes for freehand shaping, rather than mere flattening and smoothing. I’ve always been something of a sword nut, so when boredom struck it didn’t take me long to decide what to do.
The large one was inspired by the German bastard swords seen in the late Medieval period and early Renaissance. (They were called “bastard” swords because they were neither true one-handed or two-handed swords, but more of a mix between the two.) This one was finished with boiled linseed oil, and I kind of wish I hadn’t. It yellowed the maple too much.
The smaller one which will be a gift for my nephew’s 9th birthday was inspired by the ubiquitous one-handed Norman sword of the early Medieval period. On this one, I’m pretty happy with how the octagonal sections of the cross guard and pommel turned out. Could be better, but planing free hand can be tricky. I did use boiled linseed oil on the hilt in order to darken it, but the rest of it will be waxed only to preserve the contrast between the maple and mahogany. This one is also built at roughly 3/4 scale. He’s only 9 after all. Swords of this type had a blade length around 30-32 inches, whereas this is closer to 24 inches. The hilt is also appropriately smaller to fit his hand.
There are lots of fun steps that go into shaping these, so I included some process pictures. There are a lot more of the larger sword since I had to really stop and think in between steps. I was totally winging it. Plans are massively overrated, anyway. Working on the smaller one felt much more automatic, having done the larger one already. The few pictures that I did take, it required a lot for me to slow down long enough to pull my phone out. On both swords, the hilts are mahogany and all other components are maple.
Here is the rough maple blank that forms both the blade and the tang.
Roughing the tip into a point.
At this point the blade has been shaped into a diamond cross section, and the homemade scratch stock has been used to carve out the fullers. (Scholarly nitpicking: The proper term is fullers, not blood grooves. The idea that the human body creates a suction when stabbed, requiring grooves to let blood flow and relieve said suction, is an old wives’ tale. The fullers are there to lighten the blade by removing mass, while simultaneously stiffening its cross section.)
The ugly little scratch stock that could. All I used was an old hacksaw blade. It was little flimsy and I had to bend it back into shape more than once, but I was able to rough up the edge enough to get the job done.
Here the lower edge of the blade has had a distal taper applied to it. Very seldom did sword blades have perfectly parallel edges. It was much more common to see very subtle narrowing towards the tip to help balance the blade.
Both edges with distal taper now.
The cross section of the mahogany hilt was done with my table saw.
Mortise for the cross guard has been chiseled out and fit onto the tang.
Here the pieces for the hilt have been cut and sandwiched together, forming a hexagonal cross section.
Now the cross guard has been shaped. The tight radii were done using a Forstner bit on my drill press, all other curves were roughed out on a band saw.
Just wanted to see what it looks like in my hand at this point.
The maple spacers were cut by hand and beveled with a smoothing plane.
Test fit of the hilt with the spacers. The table saw kind of got away from me when I was roughing out the blank along the tang, so I had to fudge a little bit and use a shim to tighten things up.
The hilt was profiled with some curves. Then the pommel was mortised, shaped, then glued into place.
EDIT: Almost forgot to include these two pictures of the smaller sword in the works. Like I said, I didn’t take many process pictures this time!
Here the blade has been roughed out along with the cross guard. The octagonal pommel is yet to be cut and shaped.
This pommel is secured with a mahogany wedge that fits into the end of the tang. You should be able to make it out in picture #5 up top. Trust me, it’s there!
Thus concludes the great wooden sword making adventure (for now).
EDIT: Added a picture of the birthday boy. Needless to say, it’s a hit.
-- Brian in Arlington, TX