Bronze sword WIP

Howdy all,
Well, it’s been a record setting January. We broke the previous records for lowest temps (-14 or -15) and most snow fall (around 28″). Since my knife making equipment doesn’t work real well in cold temps (my oven won’t even come on if it’s below zero) I haven’t gotten much knife making done.

So I took the opportunity to indulge in a fun project, namely, a bronze sword. I forged the blade on one of the warmer days a few weeks ago, and was able to do everything else in the comfort of the heated part of my shop.

Since bronze is not heat treatable, the oven was not needed.

So, without further ado, here are some pictures and descriptions of the process.

The alloy I used was aluminum bronze 954. It contains copper, aluminum, and iron. It’s a very durable material, as the bronzes go. It’s very easy to forge, grind, and polish, but very hard to machine.

I started with a 1-1/4″ round bar:

Heated it up in the forge:

and forged it into flat stock using the Bradley:

Then started forging in the point, and the shape and distal taper of the blade:

Then started forging the handle into shape:

The point:

Now it’s allowed to cool, (duh!) and the outline is traced on to a large piece of paper, and the centerline is drawn:

The it’s determined which half of the piece is smaller than the other, and the final shape is drawn, making sure that all the curves are pleasing to the eye.

Handle first:

Then the blade. After both are done, the shape is cut out to make a half-template:

Then the half-template is used to make a full template:

Which is then cut out.

Now the blade is ground clean on one side:

and the shape is drawn on using the full template:

Then everything outside the line is ground off, and the pre-bevels are ground in:

Now the bevels are ground down to the center line with a fresh belt:

Next all surfaces are ground to 240 grit, and the edges are sharpened with a slack belt:

Now it’s clamped to a sanding jig, and all the surfaces are sanded by hand to 400 grit, keeping my fingers away from the sharp edges!

I also beveled and sanded the corners of the handle, which makes it much more comfortable to hold.

Now it’s time to do the handle. Traditionally, bronze swords were cast, and often the handle was a separate piece, riveted to the blade. I’m putting a modern spin on things by using a full tang construction, so my options were to use scales and pin them on, or use some sort of handle wrap.

I wanted kind of a rustic look, so decided to go with a braided leather lace. I’ve never done any braiding, aside from a few Turk’s head knots, so this was rather challenging. In fact, the first attempt failed, because I had no idea how long to make the braided section. So the first one had 5 bights and 12 leads, with the lace going around 3 times. The second try had 5 bights and 24 leads, with the lace going around twice.

Since the first one was so short, I added on a Turks head knot to help fill in some, but it was still too short:

Here’s the second try, with a few in progress shots.

Here’s the sticks that I make the knots on before transferring them to the handle:

The knot with just one pass of the lace:

On the handle:

With another pass of lace and after tightening down:

The first attempt took about 4 hours, the second about half that.

And here are some completed pics:

Thanks for reading, and, as always, comments and questions are welcome.

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3 thoughts on “Bronze sword WIP

  1. Did you have any problems with the bronze cracking? I recently tried forging the same type of bronze, but the rod keeps cracking right about at the spot where I hammered it. Do you think I’ve just been underheating it?

    • Hi,
      No, I’ve never had it crack. You do need to keep it hot, but not too hot. Barely red to bright red works (in my shop). If it stops moving, stop hammering.

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