Thursday, 27 September 2012

Water casting.

As part of a jewellery commission, I have produced today my own alloy from which I will produce a large cuff with an engraved botanical motif.


The alloy I have made is a Japanese type called “Shibuichi”. It is made of copper and silver, in this instance 300 grams of copper and 100 grams of silver.


  These materials are heated together in a large crucible inside my furnace. In order to properly hold the crucible, I forged a specific set of long tongs. Making tongs is a pleasure and it is always worth investing the time to produce a decent set rather than rush.


The tongs were carefully formed to grip the whole circumference of the crucible, rather than to apply pressure on any one particular point.

Once the furnace was brought up to temperature the crucible with the casting grains were placed inside and allowed to melt together.


The method employed here is to cast the liquid Shibuichi into recently boiling water, with a cloth suspended in it.  The theory is fascinating as it relies on the understanding that you are not attempting to quench the liquid metal in hot water, but rather super-heated gas. The ingot of metal will float on top of this gas jacket on top of the cloth and thus not burn through despite being many hundreds of degrees in temperature.

Apologies, the video is quite loud (as ususal!) so turn the volume down
The resulting ingot will be forged out make the blank for the cuff.

Friday, 21 September 2012


This sword is now essentially finished.
Only the etch is left before I can trim the tang and peen it down, bringing all of the hilt parts tightly and permanently together.


This week I have carved and fitted the grip

Final pre-etch polish for the blade
I will etch the blade over a few days to get the desired depth and texture in the steel.




Monday, 17 September 2012


It’s been nearly two weeks since I posted an update here on my current main project- The wedding sword.


Last time round, I showed you that I was casting copper ingots to be formed into the hilt parts for the sword.


Last week I cast the final parts and fitted them to the tang.

Each of these copper parts was then hot forged into the final scroll forms of the hilt parts.

This was quite a challenge as copper behaves very differently to iron when hot. (It is a much better conductor of heat so a larger are of material will become soft as opposed to the controlled, short heats that are possible with iron.

On both pieces, the first scroll was easy as the opposite end was straight- allowing the piece to be gripped and worked. But once the first scroll was formed, the ease with which I was holding the work changed and I had to adapt my technique not to deform or damage the already finished scroll.

Much of the hot forging was done with a leather (rawhide) mallet to prevent unnecessary “dinging” of the surface. Hot copper is very, very soft.

I also cast the pommel with the tang hole already in position (rather than casting a solid block and punching and drifting to the correct proportions. This worked well and I will elect to use this method again.


Once all the hilt parts were forged and fitted, I turned my attention to the wooden grip, which in this case is the heartwood of Yew.

 The Yew has long been held as a sacred and revered tree. For its association with ancestry, longevity, immortality and stoicism I believe that the material is appropriate for use at the point where the human and the object meet- the grip.

Where the hand sits on the sword, for me, Is a special point of consideration and deliberation. It is through the hand that the power and presence of the object is ffelt. As my friend Jake Powning has said, the sword is a power-object, forcing the person to acknowledge their actions- “[The Sword is an object of] conscience, because you are directly responsible for what you do with it.”

Whilst many would suggest burning a hole through the material, I prefer to slice the wood into two halves. I do this by hand with a tenon saw held in a vice. By holding the wood rather than the saw, I have more control and the cut is straight and consistent.

Once two halves are made, the tang is marked out on onto the blanks and a recess is carved allowing the both halves to be brought together and glued. Once the glue has set, the handle maybe shaped to the desired form.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Kentish Hunter and Hector Cole

 I’ve been away visiting my brother for the last week. Whilst we both had some time off we saw the sights of Dover castle.


One of the best parts of the day was meeting these two chaps.
Maroc and the Huntsman

We got chatting initially over having such a fine dog but then I noticed that he was holding two equally fine spears made for him by the great Hector Cole.


Hector is, as far as I am concerned, the authority on period weapons manufacture particularly Arrowsmithing.
Whilst I have never met Hector, I would jump at the opportunity to do so.

 This was the first time I had seen any of his work in the flesh and I quite enjoyed it.



Sunday, 2 September 2012

Forging copper

The billet of cast copper was sawn in half and one of the halves was taken as an experiment to get a feel for hot working this material.
I found that it would happily be drawn or forged out at colder temperature but when punching; the stress caused it to crack.


After this experiment, I proceeded to forge out the other piece of copper to a tapering lozenge shape

The hole was hot punched with my father’s help

And fitted to the tang of the sword with a few taps

Next job is to file in the form and then scroll up the guard.