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Viking wire inlay

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Wherein Ben endeavors to explain one of his methods for inlaying non-ferrous metals into steel for knives and swords.
 
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Step 1: Layout

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inlay2.jpg
The first step is to mark the pattern on the steel. I like to do the layout in pencil.
Then I go over it in pen.

Step 2: Tools

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The gravers I use are (top to bottom): 1/8in flat, 1/16in flat, 3/64in flat, 1/16in V graver, knife graver, and round punch. For most of the work I drive the gravers with a hammer.

Step 3: Test piece

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This shows the test piece that I did to try the techniques for this blade. Doing a test piece allows you to make sure that all your tools and materials will work with each other.

Step 4:

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Here is the clamp set-up I use to hlt the piece. The 2x2in oak board is held in the vice and the C-clamps hold the blade. I use a towel for padding to help prevent scratching and to further secure the blade

Step 5: Engraving

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I use the 1/8in graver to cut the channel for the twisted wire border. Different patterns can be achieved by varying the depth of the cut.

Step 6: Engraving

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Next, using the V-graver, I engrave the trinity knot and herringbone lines.
I cut the runes using the 3/64in flat graver.

Step 7: Under cutting

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All the areas to be inlayed must be undercut or the inlay will work loose. I do this on the longer lines with the knife graver held at an angle. The finished channel should look like this /_\.

Step 8: Under cutting

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For the shorter lines I use one of the flat gravers to undercut the edges. The undercutting is the most critical part of the process. Done right, the rest is easy and the wires fly into the grooves. Done wrong, the wires will not stick and must be scraped out and the undercut redone.

Step 9: Under cutting

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The undercut notches on the bottom of the wider channels help lock the wires down.

Step 10: Under cutting

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Here is the blade with all the under cutting done.

Step 11: Forming the wires

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For the runes I first draw the wires out and square them. I use pliers
for this because I don't have a draw plate.

Beautiful. Have you ever considered trying the old fashion gilding process?

Eldalote3 months ago

one word - epic!

MrE9 months ago
Oh I have another question as well. I read all the comments and you said that your inlay is quite strong but have ever thought about running this through a draw plate mechanism to further force the inlay and provide a consistent and solid driving force? Or do you think this would be to much pressure and might actually drive the blade metal out of shape. I only ask because the hammering might not be consistent. I understand that you have many years of talent to compensate for irregularities but for someone less talented a drawing ight help smooth things out. Oh and one more when you undercut for the small circles do you use a graver for that and just loop the inside of the hole or how do you do that one?
sorry for so many questions but I a enthralled with this and am very curious.
ben potter (author)  MrE8 months ago
A draw plate would strip the inlay out. You MIGHT be able to use a roller mill, or a press but hammering is most likely the best (and it's traditional).
MrE ben potter8 months ago
I did mean roller mean roller mill, not draw plate, so thank you for that. Because now that I looked at it a draw plate is for wire. But thank you for all the answers.
ben potter (author)  MrE8 months ago
The small circles are undercut with a graver.
MrE9 months ago
This is so Awesome. I mean this it. My question to you is have you ever heat treated the inlay, and if you did do you use borax or some sort of rosin to permanently bond the two metals? Or would this cause to much thermal expansion. I ask because I have seen tutorials where you inlay the metal by fusing the layers by melting the metals. But that might melt your detail, so I can see where that might not be good. But my question still stands can you fuse the metals.
ben potter (author)  MrE8 months ago
The non-ferrous inlay would melt at the HT temp. You are talking about a steel or iron inlay like the "Ulfbert" swords.
elizruge9 months ago
I just went to the Viking museum in Lofoten, Norway, this morning and this looks like the real thing. Great craftmanship!
Zephyr6551 year ago
I went onto your website and saw some of your work. It was incredible! But how did you make dwarven head seax blade look blue like that?
thepelton4 years ago
You could use the runic alphabet from LORD OF THE RINGS.
 you mean the messed up writing stuff, like what is on the ring?
ben potter (author)  red-king2 years ago
It is not actually an elvish script, but the historical type of writing the the Anglo-Saxons.
J.R.R. Tolkein was a University Professor, so he probably used the historically correct Futhark.
ben potter (author)  thepelton2 years ago
Tolkien's dwarf runes are based on the original Futhark but have several differences.
ben potter (author)  thepelton3 years ago
I used a modified Anglo-Saxon Futhark.
 called elvish writing 
zombeastly2 years ago
i would really like to learn this language even if it is dead
Hehe luckily for you it's not a language. You don't learn how to speak runes, you learn how to transcribe into runes. Kind of like how we spell japanese words out in english, our alphabet is phonetic. Runes are an alphabet, and super easy to learn. I write in them all the time. This is the younger futhark I think, and the most commonly used. I use the elder futhark. This is the website I used to learn runes with :) (Without the spaces.)

ht tp : // runes . info / rune piece 07 . ht m
Raynor353 years ago
Ben, at what point in the process did you do the inlay?  I mean in relation to the rough grind, quenching, tempering, final grind/polishing, and sharpening.  It looks like the blade has already been rough-shaped and taken to maybe a 200-grit finish, so I would guess sometime after the rough grind.  And regarding that point, whichever it is, is that a pretty standard process for you, to inlay at that point in the process, or is there sometimes a reason to vary it?  Thanks!
ben potter (author)  Raynor353 years ago
you have to do the heat treating first or you will melt out the inlay. You have to do a differential heat treat so the the area to be engraved needs to be relatively soft.

It needs to be polished out to about 220gt and its final dimensions.
Actually, to simplify, did you do the wire inlays before or after heat-treating?
ben potter (author)  Raynor353 years ago
After, and you have to do a differential heat treat.
skimmo4 years ago
f,i,r,s, f,r,e,n,d,s first freinds?
ben potter (author)  skimmo4 years ago
fierce friend.  Anglo-Saxon Futhark. There is no "s" on the end.
hmmmmm i see, what is that letter?
ben potter (author)  skimmo4 years ago
it isn't a "letter" just a detail to balance out the chevrons in front of the runes.
i ment this the sowilo
sowilo.gif
MatrixRage4 years ago
Truely amazing man, I'm glad I added you to my favorites. I bought a video on engraving with gravers just a bit ago, and this will be a nice addition to my knowledge base.
strumbot4 years ago
Awesome work Ben, just beautiful.  Now I want to do this on my seaxs.  The broken back design really makes it look better too.  This method will be much better than the chemical etch and leafing I planned to do.  Thanks!

Rob
ben potter (author)  strumbot4 years ago
I'm glage you found it useful.
imbignate4 years ago
Are you using Elder Futhark, or a different alphabet? I'm having trouble identifying the fourth rune (sohwilo?). I can read the runes, but not translate. I get:

Fehu, Isa, Raido, (sowilo?) - space- Fehu, Raido, Ehwaz, Nauthiz, Dagaz, and then what looks like a backwards Kenaz.

Fears Frand = Fierce Friend?

If you're trying to write in English, then that's my guess- if not, then I'll be glad ot hear the answer.
it says fire friend
you left out the 4th rune, sowilo. It does indeed say Fierce Friend, which is the author's website.
It's not Elder Futhark, but it is very simmilar.
jaythedogg4 years ago
I almost yelled "THIEF!" until I saw it was Ben Potter, from the BladeSmith forums. :) Good tutorial though. :)
cava0024 years ago
The sword says Fire Friend?, what kind of alphabet is that?
that my friend is the elder futhark the same runes used by the vikings themselves
PKTraceur4 years ago
How exactly does it stay in? Other than that, BEAUTIFUL job, it looks amazing. How well would that work on a kukri blade 1/4 thick? -PKT
ben potter (author)  PKTraceur4 years ago
The wires stay in place because of the under-cut in the channels. similar to dove tails in wood working. This kind of inlay, while not traditional for a kukri would work, as long as it is made in the traditional manner with a differential tempered blade. The traditional Nepalese kukri is tempered by pouring water over the edge and not on the back of the blade.
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