On My Workbench…

Posted 2008.11.01 0.00 in Swords

So I got this great falchion recently. It’s by Angus Trim, and I think it’s just a great blade design. A lot of falchions, IMHO, are too blade-heavy. Like somewhere along the line people decided they should be like machetes with a sword hilt. Anyhow, this ATrim Makers Mark falchion looked great to me, and the stats backed up the appearance.

The only thing I was uncertain about, was the guard. I have a thing for small guards, I don’t like the great big ones. When I received the sword, I started moving it around in my hands, trying some manoevers with it, and sure enough I was right – the long guard was getting in the way.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have any access to metal-working tools, i.e. a machine shop. Nonetheless, I decided that this time, I was going to try to make a new guard (and pommel too, for that matter). Albion had a small guard blank and a cocked-hat pommel blank in their Moat sale page, so I ordered them up. They were both made of mild steel, the guard had a slot milled in it for the tang, and the pommel was drilled through and intended to be tapped for a screw-down tang.

With only hand-tools (hack saw, files, sandpaper) I got to work. It’s funny, at how things go. 30 – 45 minutes with the hacksaw to get the blank into a rough shape. Then 90 – 120 minutes with a file, to get rid of the hacksaw marks and finish establishing the final shape. Then another 90 – 120 minutes with (150 grit) sandpaper, to get rid of the file marks. Then a final 30 – 40 minutes with increasingly fine paper, to get a satin polish on it.

And that’s just for the guard. Do it all over again, for the pommel!

Speaking of which… holy moly. The cocked-hat pommel looks interesting but it is bloody hard to shape. There is not a single flat surface on it. Nowhere to grab or get a good grip, it keeps slipping or jumping of your hand. The vice doesn’t even want to hold it. And trying to file and sand on those whacky curves… I have yet another whole new respect for the craftsmen of old who did this day in, day out to make a living.

So, guard and pommel done, time to mount. The picture below shows them both mounted now on the bare tang. ATrim swords are designed with a clever pommel-nut construction, which allows one to take them down using just an allen key. My original intention was to make my cocked-hat pommel to accept the pommel nut, then I could swap back and forth between my hilt and the stock hilt. As I was working the pommel though, that plan started to lose its appeal for me. The only way it would work, would leave about 1/4 ” of the pommel nut exposed out the top of the pommel, which would spoil the fluid curves and angles of the pommel.

So in the end, I decided to peen the tang. In fact, I decided to hot-peen the tang, like they do at Albion.

Dang. If I had a friend to take pics, I’d love to have had a picture of that. Holding the propane torch in one hand, the ballpeen hammer in the other hand, trying to peen the tang down with sparks coming off and crap falling off my desk all over the place from the bang bang bang…

It was interesting, anyhow.

So now, I’m waiting for the thing to cool down. The peen is rough, it will need a touch of grinding or filing to smooth it down, and then I will have to polish parts of the pommel again. And yeah, after 2 or 3 hours of working to get the file marks out and a nice polish on it, nothing sucks more than having to touch it with a grinder or another file, because then those tool marks have to be sanded out, then it can be polished again. Grumble grumble grumble.

Anyhow, when this is done, it’s all woodwork and easy stuff again. Cheers.

Custom Archangel Falchion
My custom falchion, work in progress.

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