Viking Wire Inlay





Introduction: Viking Wire Inlay

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

Step 1: Layout

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

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

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 10: Under Cutting

Here is the blade with all the under cutting done.

Step 11: Forming the Wires

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.

Step 12: Forming the Wires

Here you can see the wire drawn to the proper width. All wires must be
annealed to dead soft by heating up to red and quenching in water.

Step 13: Inlaying

The wires must fit very closely or gaps will be visible in the finished piece

Step 14: Inlaying

I use the 1/8in graver to cut the wires to size.

Step 15: Inlaying

For the dot inlays I form a bead on the end of the wire using a torch.

Step 16: Inlaying

Then I hammer them into place with a flat-end punch.

Step 17: Inlaying

Then I hammer them into place with a flat-end punch. Then once they are fixed I cut the wire and hammer them down all the way.

Step 18: Inlaying

For lines with sharp corners it helps to work from the corners out.

Step 19: Making the Wire Twists

This is my set-up for twisting the wires. They must be annealed several times during the twisting and again at the end before inlaying them. It also helps to square them.

Step 20: Inlaying the Twists

The two sets of twisted wires must be inlayed at the same time. Setting about a half-inch at a time helps keep them even. By changing the alignment of the twists different patterns can be formed.

Step 21: Blade After Inlay

Here is the blade after all the wires have been inlayed.

Step 22: Fileing

I then file off most of the extra metal being careful not to scratch the blade.

Step 23: Finishing

Finally the inlay is taken down flush with the rest of the blade using 220gt sand paper and a hardwood sanding block.

Step 24: Finished

Here is the finished inlay polished to 1000 grit and a shot of the reverse side of the blade.

Thanks for looking.

You can see pictures of the finished knife on my website





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Questions & Answers


You could use the runic alphabet from LORD OF THE RINGS.

 called elvish writing 

It's not elvish. The dwarven alphabet is based on Futhark, but the elven alphabet looks more like the Islamic alphabet and something else, I don't remember what. The writing on the One Ring is in the elvish alphabet.

 you mean the messed up writing stuff, like what is on the ring?

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.

Tolkien's dwarf runes are based on the original Futhark but have several differences.

I used a modified Anglo-Saxon Futhark.