I recently found a sword blade, it was hiding in the tailgate gap of a car I bought, and decided to make a handle for it. It appeared to be a short cheap version of some japanese-ish straight sword. But that's kind of boring so I went for more of a 17th century naval short sword look.
Step 1: Cut Out Rough Profile
First cut to length, then cut the basic profile, I chose to make the top of the guard 3 inches before starting the curve down. On the downward curve the face of the guard tapers from 2 inches to 1 inch wide. At the bottom of the guard 1 inch section was left to attach to the bottom of the handle via a rivet.
Second mark and drill a hole for the sword handle in the top of the guard, use the file to match the hole to the profile of the handle, it should be a tight fit.
Also drill a hole in the center of the 1in square for left for the bottom.
Step 2: Shaping the Guard
There's really only one way to achieve a hammered finish look on steel, and that's to bang on it with a hammer.
Using the peen of a ball-peen hammer on the underside of the guard first go from side to side along the bends made with the vise. Then, to get the steel to curve along it's width start in the center. go from top to bottom and then alternating sides move from the center to the edges. The more you hammer the more shape you'll get and usually the better the finish will be. You could take days and get the exact shape you want, however, I spent less than an hour on this.
As you hammer the metal will deform and with it the shape of the holes you made. Simply use the file to restore them to their original shape and keep going.
Step 3: Finishing
Once you have the guard shaped make sure that the handle tang will fit tightly through both the top and bottom holes in the guard.
A wooden handle can be either made in one piece to slip over the tang or made in two pieces and bolted or riveted to the tang after the guard is on. I chose the former and bored a hole for the tang through a piece of walnut.
If you choose to make a one-piece handle, slip the tang through the top guard hole, put the handle on, then fit the notch in the bottom of the tang through the hole in the bottom of the hand guard.
Firmly clamp the blade in a vise then use the peen of the hammer to flatten the part of the tang sticking out past the hand guard. This will rivet the guard permanently to the sword. While doing this make sure the blade doesn't slip in the vise so the top of the guard is resting on the vise, this will affect the fit and shape of the guard and can break the handle.
Once you're done, further shape the handle if necessary, file down your edges, and sand everything smooth.
-note- if you want a bright finish make sure to sand any finish or patina off the guard before you start to shape it-
To round out the english short-sword look I was going for I reshaped the tip of the sword
Makes a good costume piece, wall hanger, and machete while boating/camping.