Monday, February 28, 2011

Some older Bladesmithing

(I know I've been a bit short on postings here the last week - so this is almost a place holder!)

One of the things I'm supposed to be working on is getting some additional work posted up to the Wareham Forge Gallery of Past Work section of the web site. Not only more recent pieces, but also some older work. I've been going back and scanning images from slides to do this.

Some (much older!) Bladesmithing:

'Robbin's Sword'
About 1990?
Forged spring steel, etched, antler hilt with cast tin alloy guard and inset

Forged mild steel, leather disk hilt
(Big story here - this blade has seen actual combat use)

Layered Skinner
Mid 1980's
Layered steel, brass guard with olive (?) hilt
One of a series of small layered steel with carbon steel cores I made and my brother sold while he was living in the high arctic. The lower layer count seen is typical of my first work with the method.

Etched Knife
Details ?
Likely forged spring steel, etched.
At one point I was doing a large amount of decorative acid etching.

Carved Seax
Pattern Welded steels, deer antler hilt (carved by Steve Strang)
This was one of the first knives on which I used the combination of twisted rods for the back welded to a flat slap with carbon core edge.


Polymarkos said...


You tell us one blade was in combat, then don't give us the story!

I repeat: GAAAAAH!

Tell us! Tell us! Tell us!

STAG said...

I always liked your etched work.

the Wareham Forge said...

Because someone asked...

Legbiter and its sister, Hydra, were a matched pair of blades I did fairly early on. (I had been working at the forge for maybe four years at that point, primarily as a student - with no teachers!)
I was just out of the Canadian Reserves. The blades were designed to be 'short Infantry swords', a requirement suggested from stories told by instructors and friends who had served in Viet Nam.
The length was determined by the length of a man's thigh, the combat mounts were built so the blades would tie flat along the upper leg. This stopped any flapping when running and kept the scabbards from catching up on stuff.
The blades had full bow guards. Our own practices had shown that without these, hand strikes would be pretty likely. The heavy guard, fixed at top and bottom, also worked as a knuckle duster for direct strikes.
The profile of the blades was based on the Medieval falchion, single edge with extra meat just at the strike point to increase impact force. The top edge was sharpened and ran in a straight line before curving to the back. This to increase potential penetration.
The blades were forged quite thick, about 5/16 along the back edge. Again for durability and mass.
Although the blades were fairly identical as forgings, Hydra (which I can't find a half decent image of) was a 'parade' version, Legbiter a straight combat model. Hydra has an etched blade with a profile cut and etched brass guard.

The reason to create the blades was because my best friend, Rob Angus, was going on a deployment with the Canadian UN contingent to Algala Egypt. This would have been about 1980. We were close, and since I would not be with him to watch his back, I wanted to send a 'friend' with him. His blade (which he named Legbiter) hung as part of his webbing. Rob was posted working with the medics, but as a well known crazy man, even in this 'non combat' role he maintained his BGKM stance. He was working primarily as a driver, so his webbing hung normally over the back of his jeep's driver's seat.

(go to part 2 - the Tale)

the Wareham Forge said...

So - this is the tale as I was told it, as I remember it:

New Guy arrives on base. There is the customary introduction session in the Australian mess (who flew a full pallet of Fosters in every week). New Guy wants to 'see the sites'. Well lubricated, the lads say 'why the fuck not', through caution to the winds, commendeer the jeep and set off for the 'Dead City'. (Angøøse described the Dead City as 'the outlining slums of ancient buildings, where the poorest of poor live. They would fill the buildings with garbage, then move over to another abandoned section, slowly making a circle over generations.')
New Guy (for some reason never made clear but perhaps because of many beverages?) is driving, Angoose in the passenger seat.
Well, look at the colourful locals! Of course, any vehicle with obvious tourists, even green clothed tourists, becomes quickly surrounded with kids. Babble, babble, New Guy has virtually no local language, but likes the smiling faces. Hey, lets toss out some money - the coins hardly come to a few pennies in real money. Bad Move, the scent of money suddenly draws adult men out of the claywork, kids instantly disappear. More, we want MORE! New Guy musters up his minimal command of local tongue, and shouts out some insult involving sisters and camels. Very Bad Move, as Egyptian men are very, very fussy when it comes to insults, especially about sisters and camels. Voices are now angry, a mob is forming around the jeep. New Guy panics, dumps the clutch and stalls the engine out. As fists are being raised, he pretty much freaks out.
Leaning over to the drivers seat, Angøøse is trying to bat New Guy's hands out of the way to get at the starter switch and gear shift. He catches a flash of light over his right shoulder. He yanks Legbiter out of the scabbard and makes a sweeping cut in that direction.
'Thats all I remember. Next thing that is clear is that we are coming up on the base gate. I'm driving, not easy because its a standard shift, and I've got to keep my right hand clamped to the deep gash on my right thigh. New Guy is a whimpering pile on the bottom of the left seat, unhurt. Later we find a battered switch blade and a severed thumb on the floor boards there.'
Legbiter bears two deep gouges into the edge, marks of aggressive strikes and parries.

In our world of soldiers and conflict, a minor incident.
But proof is in the performance.

Ryan Woodall said...

Beautiful work with the etching, it looks like many medieval swords I've seen. Your blade smithing is better than almost any I've seen


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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