Saturday, December 1, 2012

Finishing a Sword and a Social Smelt

Warm from the friction of the tumbling media and wet from the water inside the tumbler, the guard and pommel emerged about six hours later looking like this.  I cleaned the grime off with steel wool, and can't pretend I wasn't enthralled with the warm, matte glow of the pieces.  They fit the blade perfectly, and it was time to think about finishing the blade and assembling it all. 

These same few days included a unique experience: a bloomery iron smelt, and a visit from modern English pattern-welding pioneer Mick Maxen.  The picture below is just a little sample billet of some of modern-style pattern-welding Mick excels at:

For those of you who don't know, bloomery smelting is an ancient method of iron-making out of iron ore that can be found in various earthly deposits, like black sand and so-called 'bog iron'.  It consists of a clay stack with forced air and charcoal for fuel, which burns continuously while the stack is charged with ore and its impurities, which separate, and the iron can be consolidated and used to make awesome things like swords and fire pokers and nails.  Here's a picture of our (11-kg?) bloom after it got smashed flat and cooled, chilling next to the compost in the kitchen:

Swedish magnetite smorgasbloom

I didn't get many pictures of the smelt itself because I was the one with the camera, and when I wasn't holding it I was definitely needed to do something!  Most of the pictures and blow-by-blow can be found here on Don Fogg's bladesmithing forum, well documented by Mr. Owen Bush, Esq., resplendent in his great overalls, for all the world like a kid playing Brio trains.  You know, with a 28-lb sledge and a two-hundredweight Alldays & Onions power hammer. 


Anyways, for some reason the only picture I got during that episode was this MySpace-style shot, complete with charcoal-nose and hardworking squint.

But enough of my emo-generation internet use.  Here's my sword after using some secret Owen-techniques to get the fit really perfect:

These are the components as permanent as they'll be before the tang gets peened over on the end, but they're more or less immovable.  No adhesive! 

I have not at any point brought up my fuller or anything that happened after the rough grind and heat treat to the blade.  That's for a few reasons: I ground the fuller completely freehand on a 1" contact wheel and it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life.  It still stresses me out to think about doing that.  The other reason is that, while I love the meditative state of hand-sanding the blade, it's dead boring to talk about.  I listened to a lot of Sunny Day Real Estate while I was doing it. So much '90s music that month. 

One last glamour shot in the sun, its last moment in naked steel before I fit it for a grip. 

1 comment: