Knife Making: Anglo Saxon Sax

Introduction: Knife Making: Anglo Saxon Sax

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.

See this instructible for making a grip :-

Step 1:

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.

Another tutorial will demonstrate how to make a grip and attach it to the blade.

The Anglo-Saxon blade is complete.

Be the First to Share


    • Bikes Challenge

      Bikes Challenge
    • Remix Contest

      Remix Contest
    • Make it Move Contest 2020

      Make it Move Contest 2020

    7 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice instructable. Nice picture of your spring fuller. Homemade or bought and used heavily? And I must ask about your forge itself. Did you make that and if so, any plans to show us as well? lol again, well done.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Home made spring fuller. This is one of these tools that makes life so much easier. They aren't difficult to make.

    The forge is a purchase, I bought it a while back, but I make forges these days, also pretty easy to make.


    Reply 5 years ago

    do you think you can make an instructable or a talk through on how one can make a forge similar to the one you utilized in your instructable?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Do you have a website or someplace I can buy one of these? (I see you made several blanks.) I would love to get into forging but cannot afford the extra hobby with now. I would like one of these knives though. Let me know!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    A website... not active at the moment. This batch of blades are already spoken for, however if you tell me which country you live in I can give you contact details for so friends that make excellent knives. This will be good for you as the postage wont hurt too much ;-)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Interesting 'structable yes thanks ... helped me understand more about metal-working, too.. and can you tell us more about just what and how the 'sax' is used?

    Question: the 1 mm thickness of the steel seems to be very very thin .. and made thinner on the anvil .. Is that an error in your 'parts' list?

    I see you intend to show us more about this device .. we'll be grateful!
    is it a spear-point? or a handle ? is it a single-bladed device? I'm quite curious!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your kind comments. I did have a slight error in the materials list, which I have corrected. Again thank you for spotting this.

    A sax is a knife, used by the Anglo-Saxons of England. The shape was specifically designed to separate the links in a coat of mail. The style of blade was used purposes other than military. In this case it's an eating knife.

    The next planned tutorial is going to be about making a nice handle.