Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Rehilt Project of Many Iterations...

This sword has been with me for many years, and represents my first inlay project and true rehilt on my own. It also holds the distinction of being the most frequently reworked of any of my projects, having been through four different iterations.

The first picture shows its initial form, as bought from a Renaissance Faire shop in the Cerritos mall (this shop later moved to the Del Amo mall, but eventually closed sometime in the mid-1990’s) back in c. 1993 for about $110. The blade is from Kris Cutlery and is one of their early Viking swords with simple brass fittings in a Viking-esque type of hilt, with wood scales riveted to the tang. Note that the blade lacks a deep fuller, and for this reason is somewhat heavier than would otherwise be the case.

Since this was not really historically accurate, I resolved to make a new piece, and created waxes for new hilt fittings, in a loosely Type R style, and carved grooves into the waxes to facilitate the inlay work. I had the pieces cast at a local foundry just up the street from me at that time in silicon bronze, to which I added the sterling silver wire inlay and a twisted sterling silver wire separator between the upper guard and pommel cap. The design is simple and taken from a Thorr’s hammer found in Kabara, Sk√•ne (Scania). As seen in the photo, it had a leather covered grip with simple silver vettrim made from thin sterling silver sheet with the ends silver soldered together. While not too bad, it was still a very heavy sword, weighing around 4 lbs. This, then, was its first rebirth, which I believe was completed c. 1994 (based on the fact that I recall asking for advice on the project at the Hammer-In up at Oso’s Forge in Bakersfield in 1993). The second and third photos below show this.

The second rebirth occurred as I realized I did not like this style, nor did I prefer the grip. This time I redid the pommel and grip, as seen in the next photo. Now with a bare wood (maple, in this case, stained with a special stain intended for maple which is then heated to bring out a rich colour) grip, and a more bulbous Type S style, it looked better. Note the real ivory used as a spacer in the center of the grip. However, the sword was still quite heavy and uncomfortable to handle and wield, mostly because of the weight but also too because the grip shape was a little too thin relative to the guards and pommel. Not that this is historically inaccurate – I have seen examples of grips this thin – but it just did not work with this particular hilt. This was likely complete c. 2000, perhaps a year or two earlier.

The third and (I sincerely hope) final rebirth came about as a result of the excessive weight of the piece and a feeling that the grip was too thin in cross-section, as noted previous. That, and I realized that the pommel was not quite accurate in shape. I finally decided, after much internal debate, to rebuild this piece for one last time. I made a new pommel cap which is more in accord with actual finds, and cut down the shoulders of the blade and tang to make the whole piece shorter and a bit lighter. I think it is more around 3½ lbs., now, which is much more reasonable, even if it still is on the heavier end of the scale. The grip core is shaped a bit like the Behmer type V “hourglass” hilts, with the ridges in the center carved into the wood (as opposed to being glued on leather cord). This rework was started in 2007, with the hilt mostly complete by Danish Days 2009, though the final wrapping of the grip with leather was not complete until probably late 2010 or even 2011.

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