I recently made a wooden sword and thought I would give a quick run down of how I did it. I plan to make quite a few more swords and used this as a practice run to see where potential issues lie and to get a feel for making a sword by hand.

Around a year ago I bought a nice piece of hemlock from a local timber merchants. At the time I didn’t really know what I was going to use it for, but it was being sold at a reduced price, so I decided to buy it and figure out what I wanted to do with it later.

After a week or two of continuing with lining the garage walls, I had been toying with the idea of making a wooden sword out of it. My knife turned out pretty well, so why not try a sword?

I started by playing around with the shape and size that I wanted the sword to be.

The initial piece

The initial piece of Hemlock

After toying around with some sketches, a rough design is decided

After toying around with some sketches, a rough design is decided

From here I started out by making my first mistake. This was to try and rough out the shape of the blade and the handle at this stage. This turned out to be the hard way of doing things. For the next sword that I make, I will reduce the blade area down to thickness first and then give it shape afterwards.

Initial shape established

Initial shape established

This is harder because it is more ideal to rip the blade area down to thickness before you reduce your blank to a less vice friendly shape. The next step for me was to then get the blade section down to a thickness approaching that of the finished piece.

Ripping the piece down to width for the blade

Ripping the piece down to width for the blade

With the blade reduced to a nice thickness, my next step was to refine the overall shape of the blade (and the handle a little). To do this I used my trusty Stanley No4 plane and also some bench chisels. The aim here is not to get to the finished article, but to get to a close approximation so that you can start to really picture the finished piece.

After a bit of refinement, things are coming together

After a bit of refinement, things are coming together

Unfortunately I didn’t capture the next stage in pictures, using a spokeshave to really give the blade and handle some shape. This took quite some time and a lot of careful manoeuvring, but the result that I got in the end I was very pleased with. Following the shaping of the blade using a spokeshave, I added a hilt to the sword. This was made from Mahogany as I wanted a contrasting wood to the main blade to give a better overall look.

The hilt blank being glued in place

The hilt blank being glued in place

With the hilt glued and the glue dry, all that was left was the final shaping and adding a leather wrap to the handle. Hopefully you agree that the finished article looks OK. I am quite pleased with it, especially as it is a prototype and was mainly used to iron out the kinks.

Close up of the leather wrapped handle

Close up of the leather wrapped handle – I know, I need practice

 

The finished sword.

The finished sword.

I should note that I added 3 coats of boiled linseed oil to the sword after sanding it to 240 grit.

The next sword will surely be better, but if anybody has any input/suggestions, please let me know.

~Alistair

 

 

 

 

 

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