Introduction: Anglo Saxon Knife Making Complete

This Instructible is to show you how to forge an Anglo Saxon sax (aka seax, but I've never prescribed to that name).

The design is a utility sax, not a sax for re-enactment combat.

With a little bit of ingenuity you can use tools other than the ones shown in this Instructible, however the principles will stay the same.

This instructible will be divided into two parts.

Knife Making and Grip Making

Step 1: Knife Making

Materials :-

1 x 5mm x 50mm x 1000mm flat bar of 5160 spring steel

Mark out the flat bar into 150mm sections, you should have a 90mm piece left over. Divide the 150mm sections in half.

You should be able to make 13 reasonable sized knives out of the steel bar.

Step 2:

Clamp securely and watch the sparks fly.

You may choose to cut the steel with a hacksaw, but clamping securely will make it easier.

Clean off any sharp bits and you're ready for the next step.

I've kept the odd sized end piece (on the far left of the last image) for a rainy day.

Step 3:

This is the start of the tang of the knives.

A spring fuller tool, is a very simple tool, and are well used in the knife makers shop.

Placed in the anvil.

The metal blanks are heated and hammered between the rods of the spring fuller tool.

The point is to start a dramatic transition between the blade section and the tang section.

Step 4:

As you can see in this step the tang is drawn out, and greatly exceeds the original length of the material.

The blade has also bee drawn out, in width and length.

The blade has been cleaned up, hammer marks removed and bevels set. The bevels on this blade were blended into the body of the knife. A severe transition would have made the blade look "modern" which is not the idea behind this project.

Step 5:

You will need to heat up your blade to the critical temperature, or cherry red if you've used 5160, this is a pretty universal step with most steel alloys, but if you are unsure heat the blade until it is non-magnetic.

If you use a magnet you just need to wave the magnet above the hot steel, touching the hot steel will demagnetise your magnet (which I found interesting, but counter productive).

Once your metal is at the critical temperature, you need to plunge it into some oil. Water risks cracking the blade, even air hardening steels can benefit from an oil quench. The motion you should use is a vertical up and down motion, never stir the blade in your quenching medium, you run the risk of warping the blade.

*** WARNING: Do not remove the hot blade totally from the oil while there is a lot of smoke, it will ignite. If it does ignite, oil has a high ignition point so, you can extinguish the flames by placing the blade back into the oil.

Your blade should look all black and nasty. Your blade will be hardened, you can test this by running a file over the blade, it should sound glassy and the file blade should not bite.

Step 6:

This is the tempering part of the operation.

You will need to clean one side of your blade so that you can see the colours run.

This is where you "paint" the temper on.

Heat the back of the blade until you see a slight change in colour, a straw colour will be the first you see, then move the flame a little further along drawing the colour along the back of the blade.

You have to be careful at this point, you are aiming to get a straw colour, or a bronze colour on the edge of the blade, if you pass those colours you will have to start the hardening and tempering process again.

When you have the colours on the blade where you want them, quench the blade in oil to freeze the colours where they are. If you leave the blade to air cool the whole blade will go purple, and you will have to start the hardening and tempering process again.

It's difficult to see in the photo, but the back of the blade is a purple colour, and the edge is a bronze colour. This will be fine to hold a sharp edge.

Step 7:

The final step is to once again clean the crud off the blade with some emery.

I only went to 320 with this blade, as I didn't wanted it to have a mirror finish.

Step 8: Grip Making

This is a fairly easy way to make a knife grip.

The materials you will need :-
1 x knife blade Some copper for the bolsters (or another metals you want to use, like some custom alloyed bronze an Instructible later) 2 x pieces of maple for the grip 5 minute clear epoxy Penetrol (or tung oil)

Sizes are not included as all custom knives are not necessarily the same size.

Step 9:

Mark out on your pieces of maple where your tang is going to go allowing a little room for your sheet bolsters.

Step 10:

Carve out your maple to a depth of half the tang thickness.

Sometimes this takes a little time to get it right depending on the tang, if the tang has a distal taper, or has high points.

Step 11:

Next thing to do is is cut out your bolsters.

I chose to use perfect ovals, and they fit nicely with the design of the blade, but there is no limit to what shape you use.

Just remember that the grip has to match the bolsters, and the grip has to transition from one bolster to the other.

I could have made the bolsters the same size, then there would have been no transition, but the transition from large to small works nicely with this blade.

Drill and file out the holes for the tang and slip fit to a point where you are happy. It is important to create a bevel in the rear bolster hole so that when you rivet there is some room for the tang to spread and secure the grip.

Step 12:

Now it's time to glue.

Put on the front bolster.

Apply the 5 minute epoxy to the back of the bolster, and to the inside of the grip where the tang touches.

Put a little epoxy on the rear bolster and slide into place.

Clamp securely, and leave to dry. Five minutes is fine, but overnight is better.

Step 13: Complete

The glue has dried, so now is a good time to peen on the tang.

Carefully peen the tang onto the rear bolster. You will need to secure the knife in a vice to do this. I recommend using thick pieces of leather over your vice jaws to protect the surface of the knife.

You will need to transition the maple smoothly from the front bolster to the rear bolster. This can be done with rasps, or carved, but I use an abrasive belt.

Smooth the grip using some glass paper, 320 should produce a nice finish.

Lastly us some fine steel wool (not the soap impregnated kind).

Apply some Penetrol, when dry, use steel wool again, and another coating of Penetrol.

You will have a very usable grip that looks nice, and feels good in your hand.

Knives and Blades Challenge

Runner Up in the
Knives and Blades Challenge