Monday, December 4, 2017
Steel Sword with Wood Handle
A few weeks ago I made a pair of scribing knives for fun.
The blades were made out of an old, dull circular saw blade that I cut up with my angle grinder, and the handles were Oak.
These were something I made while just fooling around, so I don't actually have a blog entry about them. I also don't have any dull saw blades left to make a pair of new scribes.
...but I still have some oak wood left that I would like to make handles out of.
Last week (on Thanksgiving) I also restored my Grandfather's carving knife. Again, I didn't make an entry about this small project, but it did make me want to make something else, knife-like.
So one day I was cleaning up my dirty workshop and noticed a cheap steel sword I had hanging by the door. I don't remember where I got it from - I just remembered it was inexpensive - probably from BudK. I've had this for many years, keeping it for God knows why.
The metal is black-painted steel and the handle is just black rope.
I figured I could use that Oak I have and make better handles for the sword. So I started by cutting off the many knots that held the rope handle together.
Underneath the rope was black tape...
...which I cut off using a box cutter. Under the tape were some pieces of curved wood, which made the rope handle fit better in a person's hands.
With the rope, wood, and tape removed, the handle is just the same piece of steel as the blade.
I took one of the oak boards I had...
...and traced the handle's shape onto it in pencil.
I then proceeded to cut out the shape on the band saw. I cut close to the lines I made.
Then I sanded the shape to the lines on the belt/disc sander.
The wood piece is almost exactly the same as the sword handle.
I was going to cut out both pieces of oak to make the handle, but I think the one piece is more than thick enough.
I just needed to carefully cut it in half on the table saw.
Now I have the 2 pieces for the handle...
...and the thickness of each piece feels good in the hand.
Next I debated about trying to remove the black paint on the steel.
On one side is this logo, and on the other side is the lettering "Made in China".
I decided to test how well I can remove the paint on the handle. This location makes sense - I can cover it up with the wood handles if I don't like it.
But I did like the metal look better than the black, so I worked with a sanding disc on my angle grinder to remove the paint from both sides.
I spent a good amount of time removing the paint.
Both sides could use a buffing, but I will save that for one of the last steps.
Next I mixed up enough epoxy and applied it liberally to both handles.
Then I clamped them onto the sword and let dry for several hours.
In the image above you see how I left the sword handle drying: on top of my work bench. After a few hours I had trouble removing the sword (The epoxy squeeze out attached the sword to my work bench). I ripped a chunk out of my table top. Luckily both the excess wood on the sword handle and the missing wood on my work bench can be fixed.
I used a grinding and cutting disc on my angle grinder, as well as some files to remove any excess metal sticking out.
Cutting into the metal really heats up (and can ruin) the metal. So I used a spray bottle of water to cool off the metal every so often.
I then worked on making the wood level with the metal - mostly by using a file. After a while the metal parts of the handle were level with the wood parts.
Next it was time to shape the wood handle better. I moved it to my other bench vise, which sits on top of my work table. This will make it easier to shape the handle than on my bench vise that is attached to the side of my work bench.
Using files, sandpaper and sanders, I began rounding over the edges of the wood parts.
After quite a while I had a nice, rounded wood handle.
The wood around the top of the handle was pretty difficult to shape...
...as was the rounded area on the bottom of the handle. These 2 areas received some scuffs on the metal, but I managed.
Next I began trying to remove a lot of the scuffs I made by sanding with some ultra fine 1,000 grit sandpaper.
This removed a lot of the scuffs and made the blade a bit shiny.
Some of the other scratches and scuffs will hopefully be fixed with my buffer attachment on my bench grinder. But I'll get to that later.
Now I figured would be a good time to stain and protect the wood handle. I'll be using some Danish oil.
I applied the oil liberally and let dry for several hours.
In the evening I did some more sanding, this time using water in conjunction with the sandpaper.
To make things easier I stapled some sandpaper onto a scrap block of wood and sanded the whole sword smooth.
The next day I used my buffer to shine up the metal. This wasn't super easy given the size of the sword. If I had a buffing attachment for my drill I could have probably done a better job.
I was able to get a mirror finish to most of the blade, however I still need a lot of practice smoothing out metal. There are some scratches and scuffs made by the sanding disc that I couldn't get out. But it'll do for now.
I also didn't make the blade sharp. It's a decorative piece, not an actual weapon. So after a bit of clean up, my new sword was done.
This was a fun project that took me 2 days to do.
Although I didn't technically make this sword, the changes I gave it truly made it my own.
Since this sword no longer has rope to hang it by, I'll just place it on my shelf with some of my helmets to display.
One day I'll make a stand or sheath for it.