Friday, March 26, 2010


Before and after gold plating.
The second from the left is awaiting a new buffing and cleaning, seems there are spots on it, in back where you can't see it. But the customer is very picky. (Imagine the meanest Sergeant Major you ever heard about. Now imagine HIS boss. Yup, thats who I am fixing up these swords for! ) When I finish prepping it, it will look like the other three.
A lot of difficulty getting this gold to took a bath in muriatic acid to convince the gold to find a home. Toxic darned stuff that! I am coughing from the vapors from the neutralizing solution. And the gold solution. And the cleaning solution. And the buffing and polishing dust. All the hard polished hammer faces in my shop have turned green. I think that happens with chlorine.

I was asked by email why the Canadian Military has these old Air Force swords anyway. I mean, they must date back to the middle of the last century! Well, they use them to hold the flags down on the casket of fallen flying officers. They decided that using "army" swords was not really the right thing to do. So even though I am making, what, fifty cents an hour repairing these old swords, I think it is a privilege to do these swords up to where they should be.

I'll put a nice little photo essay up here in the next couple of pages, say, when I get some of these swords all proper and ready to go. There were many setbacks during this job.

click on the images to enlarge.
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Helve Hammer

While waiting for the water to warm up in my electrocleaning bath, I decided to tinker with a hammer. I figured one which would have lots of mass and not a very long stroke would be most useful. I drilled a three-eights hole in a hammer head (that was harder to do than I thought it would be...I think it was case hardened) and rounded and put a mirror finish on the business end. A wooden wedge holds the thing in place as you can see. A bungee cord supplies the recovery.
I cut notches in the spring to ensure the thing doesn't slide back and forth. It seems to have seated nicely. It doesn't jar loose when I use it at any rate.
As you can see by the above picture, its not quite finished. Some duct tape, a temporary measure which could become permanent if I am not careful, and a couple of pieces of twine which go down to the motive power below.
And as you can see by the above picture, this is the motive size eight boot stepping on a board. I was a little surprised how well this worked...just shifting my weight forward and back on the board will drive the sledge down on the wooden anvil at a comfortable 60 times per minute. I could do this for an hour without any real effort, lots less effort than say, stair climbing! Compare to swinging the sledge with my arm! Oh my!
Now a better anvil is in order. I am thinking of a forty inch high block of maple from the tree we felled last year. A solid surface may make all the difference...this buck-shee method, although effective, is not really very stable and is of course, only for the proof of concept. And maybe something that looks a little better than the duct tape. I expect the twine to fail soonest, but then, I have been fooled before.
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Grad class, Plante spring 2010 and 2026

(I figure if Shayne can have a babe on his arm, I can have a babe on mine! )

Back row. Dan, anonymous, Jenna, Rob, another anonymous
Front row. Lea Anne, Andrew, Shayne, Bill and Nadia.

Both Dan and Nadia decided to take the basic again because it was more fun.

And a good time was had by all.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010


In the frantic attempt to take advantage of the last remnants of disposable cash in the fiscal year, the local pipe band has asked me to refurbish sporrans! All my patiently waiting customers must perforce be put on hold for me to take advantage of this minor windfall. The upside is that I will be able to pay the rent this month. The downside is that good folks like Louis, Catherine, and Trevor must be sincerely apologised to for the consequent delay.

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Friday, March 12, 2010


These swords are in really bad shape. Above is the result of about a half hour on the buffer
And below is what they look like after most of a day being buffed down.

They have lots of scratches. In the below picture, you can see how bad they really are. They have not been kept in any sort of cloth bag or other protection, and in fact, the leather scabbards are even broken.
Below is a closeup showing the scratches which need to be buffed out. All without damaging the surface features!

Above you can see how long it has been since they have had any maintenance...the brass is showing crystals.
And above, the handle has been dropped so that the backstrap has been sprung outward.

The damage is fairly extensive. Below, making them look worse than they are, is the results of attempting to polish with brasso. Compare this picture to the one at the top of this post....same sword!

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mark's Armour

This is the armour that Mark made for his wedding. Thats the style of shoulders I made back then....which is fine. However since then I have made measured drawings of shoulder armour, and there are some bits that don't look quite right to my eye. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with these! Kudos to Mark to get those shoulders done...this was his first time making armour! Oh my!

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Monday, March 1, 2010

The Wurm is a Forgery

click on these images to enlarge. What you see is my forge work. The item on the top is a wadding hook, and the item on the bottom is a wurm. I forged those out myself tonight to be the answer to junk left down in the bottom of scabbards.
Its fairly crowded down there in the bottom of a scabbard! And there is not a lot of room to get a tool down there. The hook is pretty useful, however, you have to get under the obstruction to allow it to work. The wurm was forged, twisted, and sharpened with the intention of drilling a hole in the obstruction to allow the hook to get in there to do its job. Traditionally, of course, a wurm was a tool designed to bit into a lead musket ball to allow it to be extracted in the event of a misfire. This one would not work for that purpose, I would have to make the little points on the ends a lot longer to make it into a true bullet extracting "wurm".
These tools are really small, I included a penny to show how small they are.

The top picture shows the junk I extracted from the bottom of Pierre's brand new Tinker hand and a half sword. What "WERE" they thinking!!!!

(technical specs....1040 steel, snow hardened. Hardly rocket science!)

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Louis's shoulders

click on these images to enlarge. Below is a closeup of the shoulders. I think they are strips of overlapping leather, perhaps with some decoration on them. In two layers.

Below is a picture made by an eye witness to real Byzantine armour. It is of a fairly high ranking (white cloak!) individual. The painting is on the wall of a church in Cyprus

Louis wanted an armour which would look Byzantine. That means scales, oxblood leather, and of course, it has to be solid enough to stand up to the sudden impact of SCA fighting. I can do that.

These shoulder cops are made from sixteen gauge steel to withstand the impact, and they buckle around the upper arm with a one inch strap. I am not really fond of the location of that buckle though....but there are not a lot of choices here. I may install a tongue under the buckle....not that I am especially worried that the buckle would be driven into the skin, it will be on the inside after all, but maybe better safe than sorry.
The eyelet holes, of course, are for the elbow cops which I have yet to make. He will only use two of them, but this will provide some adjustment. Once you get all the equipment out to set eyelets, it takes much the same time to set six as it does to set four. I am sort of thinking right now that they are all out of place, but oh well, at least they are decorative. More eyelets are easy to install if I need to.

How does it look so far Louis?

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