Introduction: Hand Forged Cthulhu Cutlass

Picture of Hand Forged Cthulhu Cutlass

This bladesmithing project is advanced, and contains a number of steps and techniques. Many of the techniques are worthy of their own Instructable. My goal here is to provide an overview of the entire project.

Step 1: Cutting the Steel Bar and Guard Material

Picture of Cutting the Steel Bar and Guard Material

This is the 5160 flat bar stock and 16 gauge mild steel guard material. The 5160 has been cut close to final size and the mild steel is close to it's final profile.

Step 2: The Forged Blade

Picture of The Forged Blade

Here the blade has been forged to shape, including the edge bevels. I used 2.5 and 4 pound hammers, a 125 pound anvil, as well as a hydraulic forging press. I used large flat dies on the press to maintain the blade's flatness and straightness during the forging process.

Step 3: Rough Grinding

Picture of Rough Grinding

Here the blade has been rough ground with a 60 grit belt on a KMG grinder equipped with a flat platen.

Step 4: Blade Hardening and Finishing, Starting the Fittings

Picture of Blade Hardening and Finishing, Starting the Fittings

Here the blade has been hardened and finish ground.

I hardened the blade by heating it in a 22.5" computer controlled Evenheat oven and quenching in a commercial quench oil. The blade was then tempered.

The bevels were ground to 120 grit, and then soaked in ferric chloride to remove the forge scale and to create a gray patina. The blade flats were left "as forged". I then wire wheeled the entire blade, giving it a glossy, gun-metal gray finish.

The guard was shaped by using an oak die, and refined by cold forging with a light hammer on the horn of my anvil. It was then cold blued in a selenium / phosphoric acid solution.

The white oak handle has been roughed out and drilled through.

I tapped an octagonal piece of mild steel to serve as a temporary nut to hold everything in place for the final final fitting. There was a lot of assembly / disassembly while everything was fit up.

Step 5: Cup Guard, Handle, and Copper Kraken

Picture of Cup Guard, Handle, and Copper Kraken

Here the cup guard has been fitted with an ostrich leg skin overlay and leather bolster on top, and stingray skin on the inside.

The oak handle has been torch scorched and stabilized under a vacuum with wood hardener. I use two part marine grade epoxy putty to fit the tang hole perfectly to the tang.

The hilt assembly is then temporarily assembled for fitting and adjustments.

In the last picture there is a copper fitting depicting a deeply etched kraken. I used a masking process and ferric chloride soak to make it.

Step 6: Wooden Scabbard

Picture of Wooden Scabbard

This is fairly self explanatory. I cut the 1/4" poplar on a band saw, used wood glue, and clamped it up.

Step 7: Sintered Bronze Cthulhu Head

Picture of Sintered Bronze Cthulhu Head

I made this bronze Cthulhu head by pressing a mixture of bronze powder, methylcellulose, and water into a silicone mold, allowing it to dry, and then firing it, sintering the bronze powder into solid bronze. It is attached to the leather backer with contact cement and two screws.

Step 8: The Eye of the Kraken

Picture of The Eye of the Kraken

Here the scabbard has been sanded and stained.

This kraken eye was made by mounting a glass cabochon on a printed eye graphic, mounting that on leather, and covering it with an ostrich leg skin eyelid.

Step 9: The Finished Sword...

Picture of The Finished Sword...


ElijahH16 (author)2017-02-05

Excellent work! How long did you make the handle? I am in the process of forging another cutlass myself and would like to hear your opinion about handle length. I tend to make my handles a bit too long for fear of having an uncomfortably short grip. Your response would be greatly appreciated. Again, thank you for sharing your outstanding work.

tgdula (author)ElijahH162017-02-05

This one was custom for a very large man, so the handle is about 4.75". For an average sized hand I'd go 4.25".

Tom tee (author)2016-09-17

Could you just give me a quick update on the sintering part? I mean as in what's the weight numbers of what you used (ratio wise maybe). Also, I'm guessing you used warm water, but can it also be done with Carboxymethylcellulose?

Sorry for a spam of questions, but an answer would speed my project up some.

tgdula (author)Tom tee2016-09-18

3 parts bronze powder to one part methylcellulose by volume. Carboxymethylcellulose will work. I used room temperature water - just enough to get a very thick clay - too thin and it's sticky and will sag.

ZiggyBaggins (author)2016-09-14

Where did you get the steel?

tgdula (author)ZiggyBaggins2016-09-15

I buy all my blade steel at

The Baron ships fast and offers the best quality blade steel that money can buy.

deluges (author)2016-09-13

This is amazing, thanks for sharing! As Troy said, it'd be even better with images of the process :) Still very inspiring.

I think an instructables on the bronze sintering methode you used would be extremely interesting for a lot of people arounf here (including me)

tgdula (author)deluges2016-09-13

Yeah, I know this is a pretty high level overview. I intend to do a separate Instructable for each stage as I do them on new projects. THANKS!

deluges (author)deluges2016-09-13


alimorina (author)2016-09-10

hail hydra!

smartrem (author)2016-09-09

I love the copper kraken, which you'd make an instructable about it. Voted!

tgdula (author)smartrem2016-09-09

I intend to! Thanks!

Tom tee (author)2016-09-05

Can I ask where you got the Cthulhu head mould from?

tgdula (author)Tom tee2016-09-05

I made the mold with two part silicone molding compound. The original is a refrigerator magnet I've owned for years.

Mipy (author)2016-09-04

That is an amazing sword, I am a ameteur knife maker and personally, I prefer AUS8A steel but thats my opinion really

Mipy (author)Mipy2016-09-04

BTW I voted for this

tgdula (author)Mipy2016-09-04

Thanks, I appreciate it!

BKLaRue (author)2016-09-02

It's a beautiful sword!!! Great work!

tgdula (author)BKLaRue2016-09-02

Thank you!

RamblinLane (author)2016-09-01

Wow. Nice sword and instructable. Well done

tgdula (author)RamblinLane2016-09-02


The Rambler (author)2016-08-31

Looks fantastic!

tgdula (author)The Rambler2016-08-31

Thanks! It was fun to make.

ClenseYourPallet (author)2016-08-29

Awesome sword! Wow... How large is the sword?

tgdula (author)ClenseYourPallet2016-08-30

Sorry, I forgot to include that. Overall length is 22".

tomatoskins (author)2016-08-29

This looks great! I'd love to see any in-progress shots you took while you were forming the blade!

tgdula (author)tomatoskins2016-08-29

Thanks! Unfortunately I was working alone when I forged it, so not a lot of progress pics on the actual forging. That is something I'll do in future projects.

About This Instructable




More by tgdula:A knife from a shot out M1 rifleHand Forged Cthulhu Cutlass
Add instructable to: