Bladesmithing

These pieces represent only a few of the large number of knives, tools and weapons I have made since the late 1970's. In the past I have made everything from small 'hide out' knives to full sized 'bastard' swords. In fact, my very first blacksmithing projects were knives - as is the case with so many smiths! Rather than go over information you can find elsewhere on this site, use the 'send' button at the bottom of the page if you want more details on custom bladesmithing by the Wareham Forge.

Most of these knives are samples of my work with layered steels, most specifically with the Early Mediaeval technique of pattern welding.

Click on any of these images for a larger size picture - sorry that the patterns are often not very clear!




Norse Heavy Tool Knife - Spring 2007

The blade is a seax - here with more of a lift and curve to the point. The overall
length of the blade is a bit over six inches At its widest (just back of
the false edge) the blade is roughly 1 1/4 inch wide.
The blade is made up of 209 layers. The starting block was 13 layers : M/LM/L/M/L/M/H/M/L/M/L/M/L/M M = 1018 mild steel at 1/8" L = L6 alloy (.5 nickel and .5 carbon) at 1/16" H = 1095 carbon steel at 3/16" The overall carbon content is lower, with the bulk of the material being supplied by the mild steel. The inclusion of L6 is to mimic meteoric iron. This pile was welded and folded in three for a billet at 52 layers. That billet was drawn to a bar, with a third twisted right, a third twisted left. The last third was flattened and pulled out to twice that length, then welded to a second core of high carbon steel. The resulting bar was turned on its edge, and the two twisted segments welded into the final billet. This billet at 209 layers was forged out into the blade. The finished blade is ground back at the edge to expose this high carbon steel cutting edge. This edge is hardened a bit more than normal for a plain mono block knife, as the layered back adds the required flexibility for the final blade.
he hilt is a natural piece of caribou antler. The wire wrap is a feature the customer requested. I drilled two small holes that the wire ends tuck into, then the strands were soldered together at top and bottom.


Pattern Welded Norse Seax - spring 2007

The billet for this blade is primarily mix of mild steel and a low nickel alloy called L6, along with a layer of high carbon steel. The L6 simulates the use of meteor material in my historic blades. (L6 is .5 % nickel and a middle level .5% carbon - meteorites are closer to 5 % Ni, but with no carbon). The initial stacks were at 13 layers, these have been welded and folded to four to give a 52 layer bar.
Part of that bar is drawn and cut in two. A piece of high carbon steel is stacked between these and the whole welded to form the cutting edge (at 105 layers) When forged to a blade and polished, this hard carbon steel is exposed to form a durable cutting edge.
Next the remainder of each billet was pulled to a long octagon and twisted, just enough for two rods. These were then squared and welded to the prepared cutting edges. This gives a total count of 209.
The blade was hilted with a length of natural caribou antler. This was carved using Norse patterns by another artist.

Left side view
Right side view

Pattern Welded Sgian Dubh - spring 2006

This is a custom knife created for a customer who wanted to mark his upcoming wedding with a distinctive heirloom object.
The knife has a 5 1/2 inch long pattern welded blade in a semi drop point style. The hilt is bog oak - in this case oak recovered from an original Roman era timber dock at the city of London, about 2000 years old. (What the English supplier told me was the source.) It bears Celtic knotwork carving on the right (out from leg) side and the owners name and wedding date on the inner.
The blade is formed of a total of four core rods - each at about 40 layers.
I started with a stack of 9 plates, then welded and folded in four. The starting stack was composed of mild steel / L6 alloy / wrought iron / high carbon tool steel. The sequence was M/I/M/L/H/L/M/I/M. This block was drawn and half was twisted. This section with the right and left twist was then cut and forms the two core rods along the back of the blade. The remaining half of the block was drawn out and cut in two. These pieces were then welded to another piece of carbon steel. When I count the layers (I include all four bars) the total layer count is 158. The decorative material is ground back to expose that hard carbon steel cutting edge.
This was a fairly complex project. The creation of the pattern welded billet was the most straight forward part, but is always quite time consuming. The bog oak proved quite difficult to get. This material is quite hard, working almost like copper metal. The surface carving was done with burrs on a rotary shaft.


Left side view
Right side view

'Rivendale' was just one of a number of potential blade profiles I had designed for a customer in late 2003. The project involved creating a striking letter opener using the pattern welding technique. This particular profile, I had thought the most striking of the lot, was not the one the customer selected. Latter (early 2004) I decided to make up a small billet into this blade. In keeping with its function as a letter opener, it has no carbon steel core and is only sharpened at the very tip.




Shown in Use
Detail of the Layered Pattern
Overall View
Layered Steel Opener

This unusual piece - a Layered Steel Opener , was ordered by a customer as a special gift for a friend. It follows the form and function of a wine bottle opener - cork screw and foil cutter. I worked together with silver smith Brenda Roy - who created the silver bolster block inlayed with semi precious stones. Overall the piece has an Art Nouveau feel in terms of colour and line. Completed in December of 2003.



'Possibilities of Damascus'
Left side view
Right side view

'Possibilities of Damascus' was created for the exhibit 'Traditions & Innovations' in 2003. The billet it was forged from was actually made up several years earlier. This was a practice bar to show the effects of a number of possible surface effects on an even, high count, layered stack. Again I used the heavy one piece blade and handle style that I like so much.



'Orc Knife'

Orc Knife was a piece done at the very end of 2002, a couple of days after I had seen 'The Two Towers'. It was an experiment in a number of different ways. First - I had looked at the production designs used for Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings', and had tried to work in a similar style. Second - I had used the air hammer for about 90% of the forging, giving me good practice in shape generation on that tool. Third - this object was offered on sale over Ebay, my first experiment with that venue.

A copy of the original Ebay listing can be seen HERE.
This includes more details on the blade, the design and some detailed images.



Right side view
Left side view

'Sword of Heroes' is a Pattern Welded Short Sword produced in early winter of 2000. This blade formed the centre piece of a short television segment that originally appeared on 'Discovery.ca' in November 2000. This featurette was produced by the Royal Ontario Museum, as part of their continuing effort to relate their collection to the work of artisans employing traditional techniques.

More detail about the sword, with close up views, is available HERE



Cult of Head
'Cult of the Head'

This object 'Cult of the Head' was specifically created for the exhibit 'A Celtic Renaissance' in 1999. The blade is made of two five layer cores surrounded by ten layer edge blocks, all a combination of mild and high carbon steel. This piece takes its overall form from early Celtic Iron Age knives. The first use of iron was confined to weapons, with the profiles copied from even earlier bronze working traditions. The use of heads as pommels is also a feature of a number of artifact blades. This is another reflection of the Celtic 'Cult of the Head' The sinuous curves of the forged hilt reflects those typical of La Tene decorative work..



These Kitchen Knives are two other blades created using the 'one piece' style. The first uses wrought iron, high carbon and L6 (.5% nickel) alloys. The second has no high carbon in the layers, but more of the L6 - and was also etched using different acids. Both have two decorative layered slabs that are then welded to a central high carbon steel core. (Sharpening exposes the carbon steel cutting edge.) Both were commissioned as gifts.



"Norse Axes"
"Norse Wood Axes"

These Tool Axes are all part of the selection of Norse woodworking tools created for the 'Viking Encampment' - the living history program at L'anse aux Meadows. The first group includes a belt axe, a splitting axe and a two handed fighting axe (L to R - all 3/97). Each of these is made of a large block of mild steel, folded to create the eye. A sliver of carbon steel was welded at the overlap to create the cutting edge. The second pair are two fine wood working tools - a finishing axe and hand adze (L to R - both 4/97). In this case both have the eye punched out of a solid block, a method typical of Norse axes. These two pieces are exact reproductions from tools from the Mastermyr tool box (circa 1100 AD).



Drop Point
Layered Drop Point

This small Belt Knife is my constant companion (9/97). It is made up of two layered plates with a high carbon core. Each side plate is made up of two twisted rods, each of 14 layers - a total count of 57 layers here. This is a technique I am using for most of my layered steel tool knives now, as it blends the excellent edge holding characteristics of carbon steel with the decorative effect of layered steel. The one piece design is inspired by the same Romano-British knives mentioned above, and I have done several blades in this style.



Steak Knives
Steak Knife Set

This is a set of layered steel Steak Knives that was commissioned as a wedding gift (6/94). Each is about 100 layers, in this case in a flat stack Damascus (rather than twisted pattern weld). The handles are caribou antler, the box of cherry.



"Cable Damascus" Knives

These three pieces represent some early work with 'Cable Damascus' - a technique where braided steel cable is forged into a solid billet (7/93). The image is fuzzy - but the pattern was not dramatic in any case. More important are the blade shapes themselves. The top is patterned after the 'ulu' knife of the Canadian Arctic, with a caribou handle. The other two are variations on table knives from the Romano-British period (circa 100 - 400 AD).



"Layered Skinners"
"Nanchez Bowie"

The three knives show here are all made of flat stack - 'Damascus'. The two small skinners (5/93) have olive wood handles with brass cross guards. One features a rough peened back edge as a decorative treatment. The larger "nanchez" pattern bowie (1/93) is hilted with ebony and brass. The pattern here is created by cross peening the layered billet, then grinding the block smooth before forging the blade shape. All of these knives are early experiments with layered slabs on carbon steel cores.


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All text & images © Darrell Markewitz - the Wareham Forge