So, first a little more information on what this project is. It’s a commission for a swordsmith I know who says he can’t tell me who the end customer is, so I have no idea where this one will end up. I hope I’ll at least get some pictures of the finished product. The guidance I was given was basically “something that evokes waves, and something that makes one think of the flaming sword of the Archangel Michael”. However, to up the ante a bit, this blade will be polished and have etched and gilded lettering in the fuller. The customer would like for the pattern only to be evident when you get very close to the finished piece. All of this with 40″ of blade and 15″ of tang. Seems simple right? 🙂
I decided on a 4 bar serpent core with twisted W’s (Firestorm) for the edges. It will not be a wrapped tip, but instead I’ll be doing a bird’s beak weld at the tip. That seemed to be the smart decision for a piece this large.
So, I’ve gotten a bunch of the basic forging of the components done, but this weekend is when things began to get fun. I’m using the “Jeff Pringle Method” for the serpent cores because I really like the way it looks when done vs. laddering or other options. This means a LOT of 90 degree twists. Each core bar is 1/2″ square and about 45″ long. This is a little overkill, but I’d rather have extra material than not enough. Yesterday and today I spent getting my twisting process dialed in and set to work. Below are a couple of pictures of what this looks like. I am purposely leaving a little bit of variation in the twists since the goal is “waves” and to my way of thinking, waves in water are periodic, but not consistent.
First, an untwisted bar on the left, and a twisted one on the right. That’s a 48″ ruler between them.
And a closeup of a twisted section.
I got one done and then ran out of acetylene about 1/4 way through the second one. Have to get the tank refilled tomorrow. I have to deliver a couple of thank you’s on this project. First off, a big thanks to Jeff Pringle for reverse-engineering an excellent method for making a serpent core, and for letting me know how much work I was in for without making it seem insurmountable (or laughing at me too much when he said it). Also, thanks to my neighbor and fellow blacksmith Ted McNett for the loan of his Henrob torch setup with a gas saver. This has made this project possible.The gas saver allows me to leave the torch adjusted but turned off between heats. I HAVE to have one of these setups….