Intro: Sword Making by Stock Removal
This is a sword i made for a good friend a couple years ago. It's one of the few i've taken pictures of most of the process of making it. Usually i just zone out and go at it. This sword took me about a week of working late nights after my day job to make. There are many different ways to make swords, this will show you how i made This one.
The process of stock removal in blade making is more modern. With the right materials these blades can hold up pretty well, but the ones i make are mainly for art and decoration, tho. they will hold up to some abuse and are able to be handled. The quality of your sword all depends on the materials you use, the design you make, and the time your willing to put into it.
I've been building on my sword making skills here and there since i was younger. I started out with a hack saw and a file. One day I'd like to make my own forge and actually Forge swords, but for now, this is my method.
Step 1: Safety, Materials and Tools
Before you begin any project remember to protect yourself. Wear Eye Protection, Wear Gloves, and Wear Hearing Protection with loud tools. When welding make sure you use a good welding helmet and thick leather welding gloves, and ear plugs arn't a bad idea, hot sparks in the ear really hurt. Long sleeves or a welding jacket are also a good idea.
This method uses grinders, a welder and deals alot with really HOT metal. Be sure to be AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Work in a ventillated area. Make sure there is nothing flamable in the area your working in. sparks will fly everywhere and anywhere. Keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case. Also a bucket of water helps to cool pieces your working on because if your welding it, or grinding it, It will be HOT. use pliers or thick leather gloves to pick up pieces that are hot and cool them in water if you need to handle them.
Materials, most of which are pictured below, include:
-1 - 2" x 1/4" x 3' steel bar -( for the blade)
-1 section of 1" x 1/2" steel bar -( for the crossguard)
-1 section of 1/2" round steel stock -(for the claws on the pommel)
-1 1 1/2" round x 1 1'2"long section of round steel bar -( for pommel)
-1 large nut, a little smaller that a trailor hitch ball nut -(for pommel)
-1 old claw foot glass insert ( could probably use a marble or something- (for pommel)
-1 piece of aluminum tubing/pipe, that the glass will fit tightly in, and will fit tightly into the nut used for pommel.
-1 piece of hard wood for the grips of handle.
-2 or 3 small machine screws and nuts for countersinking through wood grips to metal handle part of blade.
- vinyl or leather for wraping the handle.
-quality wire to wrap on handle.
Your materials may vary depending on your design. This is just basicly what i used.
I use a wide variety of air, electric, and hand tools. The most expensive tool you could need in this project is a Mig welder. Your project can be as elaborate or simple as you want depending on your design, budget, and what you have to work with.
Here are some of the tools I used in this project:
- workbench with a vice.
- 4 1/2" electric grinder with cutoff wheel, grinder wheel, and sanding disc.
- air angle grinder with 36 - 80 grit discs.
- air dual action sander with 80 - 400 grit paper.
- die grinder with varying deburring bits.
- drill and drill bits.
- Mig welder.
- Files varying in size, shape and, courseness as needed.
- hammer, and punch chisel set.
- bench grinder.
- sand paper varying from 80 - 800 grit. and a backing (sanding) block.
- polishing wheel and several courseness of rouge.
- Dremmel with small cutoff wheels, small deburring bits, and pollishing bits for small hard to get areas.
Other common small tools may be usefull like pliers or vicegrips.
Step 2: Design and Shaping of the Blade and Crossguard
I went off a quick rough sketch for designing this sword. So I had a rough idea of what I wanted to make and I improvised from there. If this was a commission or something more specific I would probably have had a more strict design to work from.
*When working, my system is to rough cut then refine it as i go. So for rough cuts i'll use the 4 1/2" grinder with a cutoff wheel. Then shape it down with that grinder with the stone wheel on it. Then use the sanding discs or the air angle grinder with 36 to 80 gritt or finer all depending on the size of the area your working on.
*remember it's easier to take a little more off, then to add more on.
*Another tip is when making and fitting anything you want to make it tight. almost if not absolute zero clearance to where you have to tap the pieces into place with a hammer and a piece of wood or a nylon plastic punch. The pieces can then be wedged in place easily in the final step.
* Time to work.
#1 *Starting the Blade*
- First, Taking the 2" stock, I cut it to the desired length. Then I cut the tip to a point, then round it off a bit. don't worry about trying to give it an edge yet.
- Next Cut the handle area down to size. (Be sure to leave it thick enough for strength, but also for a comfortable grip.)
This one i notched either end of where the handle would be with the cutoff wheel then ground down the area between the notches. (note to leave the space for your pommel to attach to and be sure you know how you want to attach it before you cut that area.)
If you know that you're going to have the handle area all cut down as i did later then you could remove all of the excess with the cutoff wheel.
( after rough cuts, it's good to smooth sharp edges with an angle grinder and an 80 grit disc.)
#2 * Start the crossguard*
- I start with the basic shape of how it's going to look and build from there.
- First i took the 1"x 1/2" piece of steel and cut the the length of what i wanted for the crossguard.
- next, to make the opening so it will fit over the handle and fit in place, Cut the crossguard piece in half. Then cut a 1/4" notch in either center inner side of each piece half the width of the handle. fit both pieces back together on the sword handle to ensure fit. a file can be used for minor adjustments.
- once these are fitted and can slide on and off snugly, tack weld them back together with them in place on the sword then remove it and fully weld them back together being carefull not to weld the opening closed.
* (tip) when welding thicker pieces together it's good to grind a V in the joining pieces to allow for weld penetration. this helps ensure a good strong weld.
- now grind the welds smooth so that you have a solid crossguard that now has an opening to slide over the handle and into place. ( a small file can make quick work of removing any burrs or weld that may abstruct the opening.)
#3 Adding to the Blade and Crossguard.
- After the crossguard was fit i decided to add more to the blade and crossguard. below is pictured where i set it up and marked it with a sharpie how i wanted it to look.
- once i knew what i wanted, I cut, welded the added pieces on each part and ground them smooth and to shape.
#4 Give the blade it's edge
- Now it's time to give the blade it's edge. I made a blade clamp out of the ibeam seen in the picture below to make easier work of this long grinding process, but a vice can work as well.
-With the piece clamped horizontaly, use the 4 1/2" grinder with the grinding stone disc on it, start grinding the edges down. ( using a fresh grinding stone helps ensure a straighter edge.) You will want to hold the grinder fairly flat on the surface with it slightly down and away from the center of the blade.
- Don't make it sharp yet! You want to give it a nice even edge on both edges on both sides. the more even you make it the better it will look. the key it to just do a little bit at a time checking often for eveness and symetry on both sides.
- Once it is close to meeting to make the edge i switch to the sanding disc with 80 grit on the 4 1/2" grinder to smooth and even out all the edges to a nice symetry and to just barely not sharp. (sharpening, if desired, will come once the whole sword is complete.)
*if you do make any part of the edge sharp in this process dull it with some 150 grit and a backing pad. you don't want it sharp while working on it.*
Step 3: Making the Pommel
I had a vision to make the pommel with some claws holding an orb. This required some thinking.
first step is making the base and making it fit on the end of the handle. In the first two pictures below I have two nuts stacked. For this part you will actually use the 1 1/2" piece of round bar and a large nut about the same size or larger.
#1 With the cutoff wheel on the 4 1/2" grinder cut a deep 1/4" notch in the end of the 1 1/2" piece of round bar stock. this is how the pommel will attach to the handle of the sword.
#2 With it test fitted on the handle end, Carefully weld either side of the notch so it makes it a snug fit to the handle and solid around the piece. (adding grease to the end of the handle where the pommel fits on will "help" you to not weld the pommel to the handle. as molten metal can't stick to a greasy surface. )
- remove the bar stock from the handle and grind the welds smooth so it's nice and round again.
#3 Place the nut on top of the bar stock from step 2 as the two nuts look in the first and second images and weld them solid around where they meet to make a solid piece.
- Next Grind those welds smooth and grind the points of the nut smooth to make it a solid round shape that tapers down and has the hole in the top and fits on the sword handle at the bottom.
#4 Making the claws:
- These will be made one at a time from a single piece of 1/4" round bar stock so it's easier to handle.
- Take the 1/4" round bar stock and using a vice bend the end to the desired shape for the claw.
- Once bent, using a diegrinder, angle grinder with 80 grit disc and bench grinder, carefully grind the claw into shape. this can take some patience.
- it is easiest to use the bench grinder to rough out the shape then use the angle grinder for rounding out the form, and then the diegrinder with a smaller flat headed deburring bit for the detail and to carve out the underside of the claw a bit.
- I took a really small ball pein hammer to parts of the claws after smoothing them out to add some texture.
- Once one claw is done cut it off to the desired length, and repeat the process for the other two using the first claw as a template to try to keep the other two as similar as possible.
#5 test fit.
- Make sure the curve of the claws is right to the base so they come together at the top.
- Also make sure once these are complete and fit to sand them thuroughly smooth before welding them because it will be hard to sand the inside once attached to the pommel.
#6 design and making the Orb/Crystal.
- I found and used a glass insert from an old claw foot something or other. weird finds can often make nice focal points in art. ( a clear marble could also have been used.)
- To make it fit in the top nut opening of the base i removed the old rusty mount from the glass and Carefully pressed it into a piece of aluminum pipe that also fit into the base opening.
- With a small hammer and flat punch gently tap the aluminum pipe edge around the glass piece making it snug and secure.
- Test fit the glass/aluminum piece to the base, and tape the claws to it also to ensure a good fit.
( Make sure the glass aluminum piece can be added After the claws are welded on due to the fact that welding the claws on with the aluminum and glass piece would melt the aluminum and shatter the glass.)
- after test fitting remove and Sand and polish the aluminum pipe/glass piece.
sanding the aluminum with 320 to 400 grit should be good enough before polishing with a rouge for soft metals.
- once this piece was done i added blue paint to the underside of the glass to give it a blue cast in light.
#7 Final fit and welding of the claws to the base.
- First, fit the pommel base on the sword. Fit the glass piece in the base. Now the claws can be taped into place on the pommel base. I positioned the claws where one would be on top with the sword laying flat as the last picture shows.
- Next carefully remove the glass piece, as to not disturb the placement of the claws.
- Once sure on placement of the claws Carefully tack weld them in place.
- Now the pommel can be removed from the sword handle.
( after the piece cools down from tack welding, test fit the glass one last time to make sure it will fit in between the claws. it's easier to adjust something if it's only tack welded then if it's fully welded)
- Fully weld the claws to the base.
- Grind and sand to clean the welds up. This will take several tools due to the curvs and shape. some file work will be necessary. Then alot of fine sanding before polishing.
Step 4: Test Fit, and Making the Wood Handle Grips
Once all the main parts fit tightly it's time to make the wood grips for the handle.
-This is simply accomplished by taking about a half inch thick flat piece of hard wood, and cutting it to fit on either side of the handle. then cut and sand it to a rounded shape that will be comfortable to grip.
- I used tape to secure them on in the test fitting process. After they are shaped and fit as desired, i drilled, and countersank 3 holes through the wood grips and metal to use machine screws to keep the handle secure. one twards the crossguard, one center, and one twards the pommel.
- These will be covered by the handle wraping.
*note the glass is in the pommel, this was added only for the photos. this will actually be added to the pommel Last, once the sword is fully assembled and done.
Step 5: Sanding and Refining
Now it's time to clean up all of those ugly grinder marks and make sure everything is even and symetrical.
- During this process I sand it with 80 grit, down to 800 grit sandpaper. The finer the sandpaper you finish with the nicer and cleaner the shine will be.
- I usually start with a DA. (dual action sander) to get the rough spots out of it. with this i'll use 80 grit to 150 grit paper.
- Once it's pretty smooth from the DA. I hand sand it with a backing block to help keep the blade looking smooth and straight once it's polished. With this i'll use 150grit -320 grit then 400 grit wet paper to 800 grit wet.
(the wet paper on the finer grits like 400-800 grit help keep the paper from clogging up.)
Sanding all the pieces will shine them up a bit on it's own.
Step 6: Engraving and Personalizing
This was a gift for a Good friend of mine. She like me has German heritage and she likes Bats and Wolves.
Going off that I decided to engrave a saying on the blade and a bat where the enlarged part of the blade was. and to engrave her name on both sides of the hilt. The wolf paw is actually my makers mark I engrave on all the blades i make.
(most of the pictures are from the finished sword but i engraved it before polishing.)
#1 Take your time on the design and process of this step. 1 false move can really mess up alot of hard work and set you back.
#2 once you know what you want to engrave Carefully draw it out on the blade with a fine point sharpie.
#3 once your happy with how it looks its time to find a chair and get comfy.
I used a dremmel tool with small thin cutoff wheels to do the bulk of the work. then some finer detail parts with a small engraving bit.
This took Many hours of eye crossing fun. but in the end it was worth it.
In case anyone is interested the saying on the blade is german for "may the spirit of the wolf guide your soul"
Step 7: Polishing
Time to Make your work Shine!
*Safety Note* when Polishing be very Careful to hold the piece right and tight. Wear safety glasses if not a face shield, also wearing welding gloves is a good idea. The Polisher Can Rip the Piece from your Hands and Throw it if your not careful.
The polishing wheel is a mid to high speed cloth wheel thats used with rouge, a polishing compound.
Always note the spin direction and to not hold a piece to where the sharp point is against the wheel spin direction. That is when it can catch and get ripped from your hands before you can blink. it can ruin your work and or can really hurt you.
be very careful and patient.
Step 8: Final Assembly and Enjoy!
For the Final Assembly of the sword it's time to bring all the hard work together to make a beautiful sword.
#1 slide the crossguard onto the handle and tightly in place. with a hammer and small chisel bit tap either edge of the handle to set and fully tighten the crossguard in place.
If by chance it didn't set tight enough a tack weld can be carefully used on either corner but i prefer to make it tight from the fit.
#2 Place on the pommel. With a piece of wood (or a nylon punch) and a hammer carefully tap the pommel on untill it is good and tight. Once again if it failed to get tight through clearances then it can be tack welded out of sight where the handle would cover it. or you can drill through the lower part of the pommel trough the handle and hammer a pin through. this would require more grinding, sanding and polishing. but it would be the strongest method and could be done in the pommel making step if desired but would have to be attached in this step.
#3 Now you can place the Glass orb in the claws of the Pommel and tap it down very carefully until tight.
#4Attach the wood handle grips and use the machine screws to tighten them down.
#5 Wrap the handle with the Vinyl or Leather wrap as desired. Glue can be used to fix it in place for a tighter more durrable wraping.
#6 Wrap the wire (or small decorative chain if desired.) tightly around the handle. with wire it is easy to double over the ends and tighten them securely.
#7 Give it a final once over polish and Enjoy! Or Give it as an unforgettable Gift, as i did with this one.