This is a tutorial I did in 2003. It was the first composite pattern welded sword I made and I can still remember the nervous excitement of planning the project. I received a grant from my local arts funding organization (Arts NB) to give me the time to make the project happen. I’ve learned allot since I wrote this tutorial almost ten years ago, but I think it gives you an idea of how the process of pattern welding works and it’s a record of how I made my first pattern welded sword. Enjoy 🙂
the Blade construction is made of three billets of laminated steel. This is a picture of the initial forge welding of the edge billet which has twelve layers of alternating 1084 and L6 steel. when struck at high heat, steel will form a molecular bond and fuse together.
Once the billet is welded, I draw it out using the hydrolic press and my 6 pound sledge hammer until it is long and square. This is the edge billet that will wrap all the way around the two central billets, so it is roughly four feet long when I am done drawing it out.
the two central billets (pictured on the right of the above photo) are twisted to mirror each other, this is called an alternating twist pattern and was popular with Anglo-Saxon and Viking smiths from the Migration Era to the Viking Age. The edge billet is pictured at the left of the two twisted central billets. All the billets have been ground so that they will weld together without forming scale inclusions.
this is a sketch to show you what the steel pattern looks like under the fire scale.
I have now wrapped the edge billet around the edge of the two central billets. It is secured with a steel collar that I forged into shape and then hammered in place; this holds the three billets together using tension. I have begun to forge weld the tip of the sword billet, so that all three billets will be fused together into one solid sword blade.
The blade has been successfully forge welded together into a single piece of steel. I’ll now forge it to shape and begin the grinding and polishing process. Then I will heat-treat the blade to make it tough and durable. Once that is done I will finish polishing it and etch it to bring out the pattern created by this elaborate pattern welding process.
Here is the blade once I have done an initial etch to see how the pattern turned out. you can see the swirls in the pattern where the central billets are twisted to mirror each other.
In this picture you can see where the edge billet which is twelve layers of laminated steel wraps around the tip of the blade (around the two twist billets).
Now I have to construct the hilt and scabbard and the fittings for them.
I construct the models for the fittings out of wax, then I make a wax ‘tree’ of sprews and encase it in plaster. I steam the wax models out so that they leave the cavity of the mold empty in the negative shape of them. Then I pour molten bronze into this mold and brake the mold away, revealing the bronze hilt and scabbard fittings(below)
Once I have broken the bronze castings out of the mold there is quite a bit of finishing to do, I have to remove flashing where the molten bronze flowed into tiny cracks in the plaster and I have to remove the fittings from the spews which are the avenues that the bronze flowed down to fill the mold.
Once I have carved and coloured the wooden scabbard and grip I have to fit the spacers of antler and leather and make sure that the bronze furniture fits together snugly on the blade.
Once I am satisfied that I have a precision fit I epoxy the fittings on and peen the tang to hold the hilt firmly in place.
On this piece I also scrimshawed Nordic Runes on the spacer above the guard before I finished the hilt assembly. the Runic inscription says Heimdall on one side and Bifrost on the other. Heimdall is the gate keeper of the Gods in the ancient Norse mythology, and Bifrost is the rainbow bridge that spans between Midguard the land of mortal humans and Asgard the land of the Gods.
The sword is now photographed and packed to be shipped off to Denmark where it’s new owner is eagerly awaiting it.