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Thread: New highlander project-Help needed Please

  1. #1
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    New highlander project-Help needed Please

    (Warning, this is a slightly long post)

    Greetings fellow swords enthusiasts. As you can probably tell, I am new posting here, however, I have read these forums for a while now. I come to you in need of assistance as I have a few questions about a project I am starting. The basic idea is this: Make a fully functional Highlander katana (Connor Macleod's) from a Japanese blade I already have in my possession. I was inspired by the work of a few people here who have remounted their own Highlander katanas as well as the excellent (albeit overpriced) work done by the good folks at Albion Armory. So far, I have two questions (I have done sword work before), and here they are:

    First, what would be a good material to cast the hilt out of. I am planning on painting/weathering it myself so colour is not an issue. I will be reinforcing the tang of the blade within the hilt as well by using steel inserts, epoxy and adding in a pin for further safety. I am thinking either fiberglass or a tough ABS plastic or resin, but if anyone has a good material (and a source for it), it would be great as I am not sure what would be best as far as strength goes.

    Secondly, and this is the big one, I plan on casting it off of a Official Marto Connor's Katana. Now I can easily make the moulds myself, but I would really not like to damage my sword, therefore using a nice pristine copy is out of the question. Does anyone know where I can get a casting of the Marto hilt to make my mould from or perhaps someone has a broken sword they would like to sell cheap =o) I plan on casting the Marto hilt and then further refining it to more closely replicate what was used in Highlander I or III. In addition to finding a casting of the hilt, I am also in need of fittings for my katana. Does anyone here have a good source (or once again willing to sell Marto fittings cheap) for a tsuba, fuchi, and habaki from the Marto swords (or similar in nature to Connor's tsuba) The tsuba is estremely important to me and really I like the designs used on the Highlander I/Marto tsubas and am having difficulty finding something similar (nothing close yet) and I frown at destroying a Marto sword to make my own. I would cast the tsuba myself, however, I am not good with metal and have no idea what else I could make it from. (In addition to that, I would still need a tsuba to make the casting so I might as well get a tsuba.)

    Thanks for all of your time and if you can be of any assistance, it would be greatly appreciated.

    (Also, please note that due to the money I have already spent on the blade, expensive suggestions such as getting someone to custom cast/make/carve something for me are out of the question. Keep it cheap n easy please )

    Thanks again for reading my rather long post.

  2. #2
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    Re: New highlander project-Help needed Please

    I think your project is a little too much to ask since the parts your are going to make might not be functional (enough).

    If you liked the TV series, then this link might help.

    http://www.pointgallery.com/sword/pages/sword.html

    I currently own one of the first few made.
    I'm lost---- I've gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait.

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  3. #3
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    What kind of blade are you using?
    But hey, at least I still have my hands!

  4. #4
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    As for the functionality of the parts, that is why I wanted to ask about casting materials. As far as the Marto fittings go, I may re-cast them into a stronger material as well, however, I still need something to cast

    Originally, the blade was to be a KC 29" blade, however, a friend of mine is re-doing his sword so the blade will be from a Paul Chen katana he has refit with a new blade (he purchased a folded steel blade, lucky SOB) and he has agreed to sell me the old one. I think it is from the Golden Oriole Katana, however, I am not positive. The purpose of this is to make a sword that is more than a mere wallhanger, though it will be not used that heavily even though I intend for it to be functional. I do enjoy martial arts and will be using this for practicing forms, however, I do not do much cutting so it will be used for very few cutting exercises. Also, I have seen the Musashi katanas, but I am looking for Connor's sword otherwise I would have already bought that and not worry about the long, hard work ahead of me.

  5. #5

    Hum...

    I wouldn't call the KC 29" a Japanese blade. Just say what it is. As to the GO blade, I don't see why not.

    As to the mounting... meh. I think it'd be hard to make it functional.
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  6. #6
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    (I consider the Oriole blade a Japanese blade-it isn't a traditional one, no, but it technically could be considered one. I know that KC blades aren't Japanese.)

    Anyways, I know this will not be easy, however, that is part of the purpose-the challenge of it. I am going for something similar to the Musashi katana or Albion's katana, just a bit less fancy (albeit slightly less functional) Right now the hardest part is finding the right material for the hilt (as others have already pointed out) so that it is sturdy enough to not break. At least I am not trying to mount my blade in a Marto hilt like some have. THAT definitely would not hold up. Any and all suggestions for what to cast the hilt from are welcome-I do know a good sword when I hold one so if it is not sturdy enough to hold up, I will realize it before the hilt breaks. And remember, it does not have to look like ivory as I can paint and weather it myself. (I hope) Does anyone perhaps know what Albion makes their hilts from specifically?

    Also any ideas on the Marto pieces as well? I have seen some pictures floating around of casts from Marto swords but never see any for sale. I may have to cheat and use something less-accurate to the film if I cannot find the Marto fittings to cast. (I just spoke with my uncle who is a metalworker and he can recast them and retool them in a stronger metal so they will hold up better) I just need to find a way to get them without ruining my wallhanger. Thanks to those who have replied and tried to save me trouble by reminding me how hard this will be, but I still would like to try it.

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by Mark P.
    (I Right now the hardest part is finding the right material for the hilt (as others have already pointed out) so that it is sturdy enough to not break. Does anyone perhaps know what Albion makes their hilts from specifically?

    No idea what Albion uses for their handles... I expect it is a trade secret for them, since I couldn't find out when I asked.... lol

    As for what to cast in, look into the different types of epoxy materials out there, for a start. I can't say which you'd want but I expect talking the requirements you have for a handle over with a dealer would maybe yield some results. I've had Smooth On suggested to me by some... But, since I'm perpetually broke, I haven't looked too deeply into it yet. It is not really cheap to get the good stuff....

    As for the hilt casting and where to get the positive for the mold, I don't know. Honestly, it seems to me that with a little care you could take a mold directly from you Marto without worry of damage. Just make sure to use some mold release or something to keep the new mold material from sticking to the hilt. I have used a brush on mold material to make molds off various things before and it works well. Just open the jar of the stuff and paint it on, coat after coat. Get them thick enough to stand up to use, then make an outer mold to cradle that in plaster to support the shape when it is taken off the handle form.

    Or, get ambitious and get some clay or plaster or carving wax and sculpt your own handle model. That way you can embellish it if you want to, or change it to look as you would like....

    Just some thoughts, anyway...

  8. #8
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    Hey dude

    This was a project in my head for sometime now aswell. Albion uses some kind of hard resin for their handles. And they probably just add white color to it, shouldn't be that hard to age either. Let me know if you get this project off the ground, I'd love to see the finished result.

    As for functionality, totally possible with the right material/resin. Only thing I'd worry about is the slipperiness of the handle when ya get sweaty.

    Brian
    "He was an angel once, he didn't mean to fall. He just hung out with the wrong people..."

    Good Omens

  9. #9
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    Well, thanks for the support and ideas-keep em coming. This project may take a while for obvious reasons since I am custom-casting the hilt and fittings and plus money is a factor as well (Casting materials I am looking at are starting to add up) However, I fully intend to see this project through and I'll be sure to post some pictures as soon as it gets off the ground. Right now the only factor is how long before it is done-not really sure, but I took this on with it being a summer project so as long as it is done by then I will be happy.

    Edit: Almost forgot, the hilt being slippery is not an issue since I usually wear gloves when I am practicing.

  10. #10
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    This might help


  11. #11
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    Now I have another question. Has anyone ever successfully disassembled the Marto version of Connor's sword without damaging it? I have seen the knock-offs disassembled but since the Marto version is more well-constructed, I am unsure of how I could do this without damaging the sword. Any ideas would be great. (I don't think it can be done without breaking the hilt)

    Edit: I just received a reply from Albion-their customer service rep said he is unsure of what they make their hilts out of (I expected as much), however he did say that they did a few tests "TRYING" to break it and it would not break. Sounds like good stuff, unfortunately does not help me much in my search. However, it is great to know if you want to buy one of their swords.
    Last edited by Mark P.; 06-08-2005 at 07:03 AM.

  12. #12
    Have you seen the construction pics at Albion's site? Sorry I'm too lazy to link the set I'm thinking of. In one pic i recognized the material they were using. I did read, here or myarmory, maybe even on the Albion page-one of those 3- that stabilized birch was what they used. The material i saw looked incredibly similar to baltic birch plywood.

    As to your intentions with the casting. If you haven't already, I would suggest you try a couple of "regular" hilts first. you have a much better chance of finishing by summer and really what would you cast if from that will be stronger than the marto- and how will you know it is?

  13. #13
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    Good questions. I already have a disassembled knock-off sword that I will use as a test for casting a few times before casting the Marto sword. As for the material itself, I have already tested a few resins and abs materials that are stronger than Marto's, but I am still looking for the right material as some are still not strong enough and others have other limitations (harder to cast, detail, painting, etc.) The knock-off versions are easy to disassemble-remove red gem, tap out peg, pull out blade. Marto's version does not have an easily accessible peg that I can see. I would drill it out but only if I knew the exact point. One tiny hole can be filled and repainted to look new on it, but I am not going to tear up the entire sword.

  14. #14
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    The Marto Sword of Connor: the tang is wrapped in a plastic casing with the outside faux ivory cast around it. You won't be able to dissassemble it without destroying it. I can speak from experience. The Sword of the Dragon is a lot easier to take apart. I have been wanting to take mine apart for the tsuba, but since my wife bought it for me, she isn't to keen on the idea.
    zeistarmories.com

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  15. #15
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    Well, that raises a question. On the albion site they have a comparison pick of the Marto hilt (just hilt) next to theirs. I am curious as to if they managed to get it off without messing it up or perhaps they did a cast of it or even broke it and then glued it back together. I shall look at mine a bit more closely and see what I can get out of it. Also, related to that, I may be able to get a second sword of Connor for about $115 and that I could deal with damaging for the parts to cast, although that adds another $115 to the cost of this project. I'll be sure to show post-destruction pics should I do it (the mere thought bothers me as I love the sword, wallhanger or not) and of I am successful at doing it with little damage, I will tell how I did it as well. I still think I can find a way to disassemble it without doing too much damage to the sword. The fuchi and tsuba aren't the problem, its just that the damn abs the hilt is cast from has to be broken to free the blade...

  16. #16
    oh yeah you want the hilt off. It's a wallhanger right?

    Any damage to the habaki or blade from heat discoloration could be cleaned up with abrasive. There has to be some price to pay afterall. parts will be annealed

    If you're determined to try something, i think carefully heating up the habaki and just below while heat sinking the rest of the blade would soon get the tang hot enough to break the epoxy bond holding the hilt in place.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the info Kevin I am trying to take the Marto Official Sword of Connor apart with minimal damage. My question-wouldn't the heat melt the plastic hilt as well? Also, can I be sure that it is just epoxy holding the blade in? If there is a pin or screw inside merely heating it would not work. Just curious since you seem to know about this. The purpose is to completely disassemble the sword without damage (or much damage) since I plan to cast the hilt and fuchi and tsuba and then re-assemble it so it can once again go on display. (The casted hilt would obviously be the base for this new project, a functional Connor sword.)

  18. #18
    I don't know about this in the way that i've taken one of these apart. Maybe Benjamin could tell you what the tang is like.

    I know about it in the way that i've taken some swords apart and put them back together and have used epoxy and have overcome it's use by others.

    I don't know anything about casting but i suppose if you used bronze

    There's always risk . Again:
    "D. Opheim I think your project is a little too much to ask since the parts your are going to make might not be functional (enough).

    If you liked the TV series, then this link might help.

    http://www.pointgallery.com/sword/pages/sword.html

    I currently own one of the first few made. "

    and: "As to your intentions with the casting. If you haven't already, I would suggest you try a couple of "regular" hilts first. you have a much better chance of finishing by summer and really what would you cast if from that will be stronger than the marto- and how will you know it is?"

    Plastic parts and paint could get damaged quickly and now I'm conflicted, telling you how to and not to at the same time I think it would be more honorable to make your own carving in the style of or influenced by. in wood. Holly wood
    would polish up to be very bone like and provide a bit of irony.

  19. #19
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    The tang is really small. I wish that I could take a pic or something, but I have since remounted mine with a nerf handle and alot of epoxy so I couldn't remove it even if I wanted to. I will try to draw a pic of it and post it so you can get a better idea.
    zeistarmories.com

    Blessed be the Lord, my strength, that teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight. Psalms 144:1

    Sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare.

  20. #20
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    Well we need not worry about the plastic getting damaged. I think I have decided on my material and it is pretty much as strong as wood. I plan on casting it in a High-Impact ABS resin. This is the same type of stuff used to cast the fighting and stunt props (Lightsabers and Staffs) for the Star Wars Prequels and I believe it to be very similar if not the same as the kind used by Albion. In short, the hilt will definitely hold up as the material has had plenty of harsh testing. It also is naturally an off-white colour so it will not need much painting. Now given I am going to end up spending quite a bit more than planned but as some of you pointed out, cheaper materials may not be functional enough. The Habaki will be the one that came with the blade (The Oriole blade, not the marto one) and the Tsuba will be the Marto Tsuba and eventually replaced by one machined of either steel or bronze. The blade will be double-pinned for sturdiness and it will also be epoxy'd in as well. Also, inside the hilt, the tang will be held within a metal sleeve to add further protection and I am considering a layer of molded rubber as well to absorb shock. These are my current plans. I will begin work after doing some of my own tests on the hilt material when it arrives. Basically, I plan to run over it with my car, drop it from a height of about 50 feet onto concrete, and then finally do a few impact/smash tests. If it passes, I am fairly certain I will use it. Feel free to make any comments and/or suggestions.

    Note: Once again this will never be used for anything besides light cutting exercises and form practice. It will not be hitting the blade of another sword or any thick woods or anything else that could damage the blade.

  21. #21
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    Project Update

    Well, the casting materials should arrive soon so in the mean time I have prepared by disassembling the Marto sword. Basically, the heating method worked and the sword is undamaged (Except I have to re-polish the blade) I have attached a picture of the disassembled sword for those who are interested in seeing it. (Sorry for the poor picture quality.)
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Mark P.; 06-24-2005 at 09:42 AM.

  22. #22
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    Project Update

    Sorry, double post.
    Last edited by Mark P.; 06-24-2005 at 09:41 AM.

  23. #23
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    Hey, while you are at it, can you make me a copy of the tsuba?

    J/K.......
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    Blessed be the Lord, my strength, that teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight. Psalms 144:1

    Sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare.

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    Casting...

    Quick update on the hilt. I have finished what I think is the final cast (Turned out great) Snapped a quick pic with the cheap camera (Since it is all whitish, details wont show in pic) Once I find my good camera I will snap a new shot of the hilt. Tomorrow, painting shall commence

  25. #25
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    Casting...

    Okay, picture should show up now. (Feel free to delete previous post. Here is the casted hilt (Again, sorry for quality-cheap camera) Though the pic doesn't show it, all of the hilt details were retained in the cast.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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