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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.

Pointy Things

Posted 2008.09.24 0.00 in Swords

A few days ago, I posted about that sword I was working on, that I’d finished but wasn’t too happy with.

I didn’t have any pictures at the time, and I was babbling, so, bunny and pancakes.

Well, now I have a pic. I’m not really any more happy with it, but now it’s immortalized with a picture.

Sword made from Del Tin Orcrist blade

Translation Solved!

Posted 2006.12.20 1.00 in Swords

A few weeks ago, I asked for help with translating the Mei on the Nakago of a Nihonto which I had recently aquired. (Signature, on the Tang, of a Japanese Sword.)

Well, the other day I finaly received some books that I’d ordered and one of them was a book called The Samurai Sword – A Handbook. I just finished reading it and there was a section which lists various Kanji characters, including lots of different forms.

And there it was, at the bottom of page 115! One of the twelve different forms of the Kanji for “Kane” matched the one on my sword! I had already identified the second Kanji as “Moto”, and this book confirmed what I had learned on the internet.

So, mystery solved, the signature on my Wakizashi is Kanemoto. I still have more research to do in order to confirm other information about the sword, such as the year and place of manufacture, but the data I have so far is that it was in the Mino province, about 1560-ish.

The Samurai Sword Handbook

Kanemoto is the name on this sword.

Need Help with Translation

Posted 2006.11.23 1.00 in Swords

So I’ve got this sword. It’s a Japanese sword, a wakizashi, purported to be late Koto period. It has a two-character mei (signature) and I’m trying to translate it.

I don’t speak Japanese, and know very little of the written language. My ignorance is compounded by the fact that the mei is, perhaps, 500 years old, scratched into steel, and not necessarily the best handwriting to read in the first place.

Of the two characters, the second one was relatively easy to transcribe. I am fairly sure it is moto. The first character is proving more difficult. I’ve been reviewing the Kanji tables on various websites, but haven’t found anything conclusive. The closest I could get, and this is by no means certain, is that it might be a very stylized kane but I don’t have anywhere near enough experience to really say with any degree of certainty.

I’ve looked into databases of Koto smiths, and there are a line of swordmakers with the name Kanemoto, of the Akasaka school, who worked in the Mino province. Really though, the first Kanji I have does not match the first Kanji that I see for the Kanemoto name, so unless mine is very stylized I can’t really say this is it.

The image below shows a photo of the mei on the sword, and my drawing of it. It’s very hard to get a good photo that depicts the mei well enough to illustrate. I made my drawing using a point-source light at various angles to get all the details.

I know there’s a possibility it’s a fake, it could be a nonsense marking, but it could also be a legitimate marking, just poorly made. And really, it’s the mystery that makes it interesting.

Anyhow, if anybody can help me out with a translation or information on this mei, or that first Kanji, that would be most appreciated. I can be reached by email, my address is at the bottom of the page.

Wakizashi

Real Swords, Real Expensive

Posted 2006.11.13 1.00 in Swords

Came across this website while doing some online research into Japanese Swords (aka Nihonto).

This guy’s got some beautiful swords displayed, lots of great pictures and some good info.

What really left me a bit stunned, was his list of for-sale swords. How about a sword with an asking price of… $95,000.00! Yeah, ninety-five thousands, for one sword. Add up everything he’s got for sale right now, it’s worth more than my whole house.

Now, I’m not saying the swords aren’t worth it, they’re beautiful, old, papered, and I’m sure they’re worth every penny. But…who’s got the money to indulge in that hobby? $95,000? Yikes!

Of course, if you do, and you’re looking for some acquisitions, then here’s the link: Check it out!

Fine Japanese Swords

Sugata
Photo from nihonto.ca website.

When things sometimes move by themselves…

Posted 2006.07.20 0.00 in Spiritual

…is it wise keeping swords laying around the house?

I’m a serial hobbiest. I’m interested in damn near everything. One of my many, many interests, is swords. Specifically, European military side-arm swords of the 19th century. I am also interested in Japanese swords, but authentic ones are way out of my budget, whereas European swords from the early to late 1800s can sometimes be had for a reasonable rate.

So, the other day, my dad was carrying some boxes into the house; heavy boxes full of books. While he was putting them in the livingroom, one of the swords I had on display on the entertainment unit over the TV suddenly ‘fell off’ and landed on the floor next to my dad.

Naturally I got all upset and accused him of bumping into it and being careless. The injured sword is one of the highlights of my collection, an 1847 French short sword from the Ch√Ętellerault armoury. The handle was rattled a bit loose and the tip was a bit dinged.

Well my dad apologized and felt really bad about what had happened…but he insisted, and maintains, that he never bumped into anything, and that the sword fell down by itself.

Considering all the other bumps and bangs and falling pennies and whatnot, and the fact that I am sure that my dad would have admitted it if he had bumped into the stand, I’m inclined to take him at his word, that the sword did ‘fall’ all by itself.

Swords on Display

British Transport Corps Sidearm