Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Work in Progress - the Cawood sword

For the past few months I've been working on probably the most challenging swordsmithing related commission I've ever tried to tackle to date, making a reproduction of the "Cawood sword" and crafting it as traditionally as possible without the aid of modern power tools.

The original digital photoshop render I made for the customer:


The elements and methods of making the Cawood that he asked for sounded like to much fun to pass up.
He first and foremost inquired about a reproduction of the piece because the name "Cawood" is in his family history. Secondly he wished it to be made as authentically as possible, asking if we could do it without aid of power tools... Now you dont have to be a bladesmith to know that this is a challenge, and its one that we've never faced. We're obviously young bladesmiths who dont claim to be experts by any means, with only minimal experience. But again, it was far to fun of a challenge to pass up. So I personally took up the main responsibility for the project, and began work with a fervent rush of energy and excitement...


Now the important thing to note is from the start I knew I would not be able to claim my methods of manufacturing on this sword to be exactly "historical" by any means. I may be using historical methods of manufacturing, but at the end of the day even the tools I am using for such old techniques like forging and draw filing are tools made in this modern age.
Yes I was forging, but out of a charcoal forge we made, not with a hand powered leather bellows iron age ground forge.
Yes I was draw filing the blade and using wet stones on it by hand, but I was using files and stones bought at hardware stores.


So while I am unable to claim the victorious statement of crafting this sword "historically" I can most definitely say it was at least made as "traditionally" as I could possibly manage. And if anything has ever been a learning experience  this has...

The finished blade, polished and etched to show the 200+ layer pattern, and engraved with the same Latin letters seen on the original:


After months and months of work I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and nearing completion. At the moment slowly working on carving patterns into the figured walnut wood of the scabbard and grip.

 The gentleman who commissioned the piece also asked if I could document the process in great detail from start to finish. So thus far I have a collection of well over 700 photos yet to be sorted through.
Once their in order I will begin the process of crafting a hand made leather bound booklet showing each key step with hand written notes and accompanying artwork to compliment the photos on the antiqued hand made brown paper. And of coarse I will also be sharing the process from A-Z on the Mad Dwarf Workshop's website when completed.

Even though I can see the light at the end of the tunnel I've still got a ways to go.