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Thread: How it's made-Albion Sword

  1. #1
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    How it's made-Albion Sword

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTg0Oc0mQy4

    I would like to know what you think of the way the handle is put together. that is, the two halves glued to the tang and to each other than wrapped.


    I am thinking this is a lot easier and stronger than the way I have been doing it

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    What way have you been doing it David?
    I dunno. Iron is sort-of the Paris Hilton of metals, and carbon, nickel, chromium silicon, etc. are a bunch of good looking guys she just met at a party. - Al Massey

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Salvati View Post
    What way have you been doing it David?
    Making two halves, carving the center out like a tuska , gluing them together and slipping them over the end of the tang, same basic way Atrim does it. Getting the fit just right is a pain for me. there are always these little gaps or places where handle and hilt do not line up perfectly.

    I think I could get a better fit the Albion way.

    I do have a new band saw for my birthday though that has a guard rails, t square and laser guide (My wife Rocks!!!)

  4. #4
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    My meager collection of at least four Atrim European-style swords all have solid wood handles rather than halves. The interior was lathed into a rectangular shape to house a rectangular tang. Japanese-style, it's accurate to do two halves, but then it's better if you have a full rayskin wrap, as when the rayskin cools as it's formed around the tsuka, it helps reinforce the two halves.

    If the glue of the epoxy is strong, and if the wood is strong, that may be a good way of doing it too.

    Years back, I saw swords of a different manufacturer where the glue was actually stronger than the wood. Mixed blessing there.
    Adrian
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    I'm not sold on it. The Albion method requires a perfect fit before applying the two halves. Which is ok with a computer cut tang, coz it's a predictable size and shape.

    My tangs can't be perfectly symetrical, So I cut my blank halves a little longer. Trace the tang. Cut in the outline with a dremel disc. Chanel it out with a chisel. And fit it so it goes on further than I need it to. That way I know I have a tight fit, then I glue it, and I can trim it back to the right length.

    If you were concerned with gaps around the tang in that method, then a liberal amount of epoxy could be applied, filling in every spare space, though I don't think it's really necessary.

    The thing with albions are the super fit which allows the guard to be swaged on, and the pommel peened onto the tang, with no compression on the grip.

    The thing that struck me when I watched the video was that Albions maximise the size of their tangs, and only have about 1/8" of wood around the tang. Because the glue attaches the whole tang, the wood joins aren't all that's holding it all together.

    Happy sword making

    *edit* Re Adrians post: I use epoxy to glue my hardwood (Jarrah) handles together. I had to get one apart once, and I couldn't split the epoxy without splitting the wood first. So I certainly trust epoxy (Bostik brand) as a glue.
    Last edited by Brendan O.; 10-20-2008 at 06:21 PM.

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    Brandon:

    that is sort of what I have been doing, but its not the fit around the tang that I am unhappy with, its the fit around the guard and pommel that are giving me 'perfection problems'

    there are wee gabs between the hilt and guard and hilt and pommel. (I will post photos later this week)

    how about a wax hardened leather spacer used like a washer put on while it is still hot and 'soft'?

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    Brendan,

    Thanks for the first-hand info!

    I also updated your title to "Custom Knife and Sword Maker".

    I love your "Blue Knight", "Fleur de Lys" and "Euphrania" swords. Very nice finish, and quite an approach to guard design that those of us used to 2D illustrations would probably have not thought of. Quite "out of the box" thinking there!

    Not sure about that He Man sword though. Haha, just kidding!
    Adrian
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Ko View Post
    My meager collection of at least four Atrim European-style swords all have solid wood handles rather than halves. The interior was lathed into a rectangular shape to house a rectangular tang. Japanese-style, it's accurate to do two halves, but then it's better if you have a full rayskin wrap, as when the rayskin cools as it's formed around the tsuka, it helps reinforce the two halves.

    If the glue of the epoxy is strong, and if the wood is strong, that may be a good way of doing it too.

    Years back, I saw swords of a different manufacturer where the glue was actually stronger than the wood. Mixed blessing there.
    I dont really have the tools to do a drill job all the way through a handle. I have two atrims and have had a few more but never looked under the leather to see what they looked like

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    I dont really have the tools to do a drill job all the way through a handle. I have two atrims and have had a few more but never looked under the leather to see what they looked like
    Unless the sword's tang end was peened to the pommel and you have a fastening nut, the sword hilt can be disassembled. You might need vice grips and something like leather (so as to not mark or deface the nut) when removing it. Other than that, a flashlight to examine the interior should be sufficient to determine whether or not it's in halves.
    Adrian
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    Thanks for the upgrade Adrian. I really appreciate the support of SFI for us sword makers trying to make something of our passion.

    You're right about the majority of photos being 2D front on. You'll notice I always photograph my pieces from low angles to show the shapes. I really like the guard on the Edward sword!

    As for the He Man sword. It takes all types hey? I am presently working on a He Man sword to totally eclipse the last one, hahaha!

    David - If you are worried about the look of the gaps, I think that leather would look worse. You should be able to file the fit down to eliminate gaps, provided the pommel can just be clamped down to close it all down. But if it has a leather wrap, then I'm prefer to definitely fold it over the ends. I cut little triangles out of it so it can fold down flat.

    If the problem is with guard movement on a peened sword - here's a little trick for people who have rattley guards. Take some very light weight fishing line. Anchor it to the guard and wrap it really firmly around the tang between the grip and the guard. Wrap it until you can jam it in anymore. Pull it out half a turn. Smear a little epoxy on the line. Pull it in hard. Tie it off, wait for it to set, then trim it up. No more rattley guards!

  11. #11
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    They could, possibly, cut the wood to fit the gap after it's assembled.

    I'm more concerned with the cast guards. I know guys that use these swords for HEMA stuff and if they caught a blade right with that cross there could be issues.
    I like swords.

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  12. #12
    Yeah, the casting always scares me as well. Casting, even if heat treated properly, will never be as strong as a forged or machined piece.

    The one major issue I personally have with Albions grip method, is "if" the sword ever comes loose, which, if used hard over several years, it mostly likely will, there is absolutely no way to retighten it up, no way at all. This most likely won't happen for people who are just doing cutting or no contact techniques, but if you get that guard banged a few times by another sword, it will eventually come loose.

    If you have a normal compression fit with a peen, you just repeen it. If you have a tang bolt, you can just retighten it. If you have an Albion, you have to destroy the whole grip, remove the pommel and replace the guard with a new one that presses back into place.

    As for those small gaps, Brendan took what I was going to say, either let the leather wrap fold over, or file and sand the grip to be even with the guard or pommel. I use leather over Hickory for sharps, but for stage pieces, I actually use a thinwall stainless steel tube with leather over it, as it is much stronger that any wood, and it allows for a much thicker and wider tang. The tube also never compresses over time like wood does, so retightening or repeening is rarely, if ever, needed.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Ellis View Post
    I'm more concerned with the cast guards. I know guys that use these swords for HEMA stuff and if they caught a blade right with that cross there could be issues.

    No there couldn't. We beat the hell out of cast guards on both Albions and A&A and haven't had even the hint of an issue.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Edelson View Post
    No there couldn't. We beat the hell out of cast guards on both Albions and A&A and haven't had even the hint of an issue.
    It may be from the fact that they're not mass produced that they are casting so well.

    I've personally had issues machining cast parts that had to have a perfect finish on them and voids turning up inside them. Hundreds of pieces.

    I'm not syaing this is the case with Albion, I hadn't heard anything about it happening, but was still raising the question anyway.
    I like swords.

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  15. #15
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    Seeing as I have used Albion and A&A swords for almost daily training (both have cast guards), I feel I should chime in and say that you have nothing to worry about with the guards breaking. The difference between their cast guards and a forged guard are almost negligible.

    Remember, it isn't casting that makes the steel weak, its *bad* casting that makes it weak... and the same can be said about forging. So unless if you plan on putting your sword in a vice and using a sledge hammer repeatedly on the guard, I wouldn't worry about it. Western Martial Artists all over the world don't seem to be having any problems with cast guards.

    The one major issue I personally have with Albions grip method, is "if" the sword ever comes loose, which, if used hard over several years, it mostly likely will, there is absolutely no way to retighten it up, no way at all. This most likely won't happen for people who are just doing cutting or no contact techniques, but if you get that guard banged a few times by another sword, it will eventually come loose.
    A few times? The guards on my training swords have been banged on thousands of times by this point. There's been no sign of loosening. I'm not saying that it can't happen, but I really don't think there's anything the be concerned over.
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  16. #16

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Fields View Post
    But what if it does happen?
    If it does, and like Bill I use these things all the time, and use them hard, and have never had it happen, then you put the sword in a box and ship it to Albion or Arms & Armor, pay them a reasonable fee (beause after all it was you that broke it and you shouldn't expect them to pay for it), and then it comes back in a couple of days good as new.

  18. #18
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    I'm not sure what the issue is with tightening an Albion hilt if it should loosen up. Since I have not heard of this happening it doesn't seem to be an issue.

    David- No offense, and I don't mean to be harsh or patronizing but there really is only one good solution to your 'gap' problem- do a better job fitting the handle. Leather washers, wrapping cord between the cross and handle etc. have all been tried and will work for a while but there is no real substitute for doing it right the first time. As an old boss of mine used to say, "If you haven't got time to do it right how the heck will you find time to do it over?"

    Medieval sword handles for European-style swords were almost always made of multi-piece sandwich construction and then wrapped with cord, wire, leather etc. I used to do bored-through handles that were epoxied to the tang. These didn't often loosen up but on the two occasions that they did they couldn't be tightened without disassembling the sword. Which meant smashing the handle with a hammer, removing whatever held the pommel in place (often pins through the tang and pommel) then heating the pommel to several hundred degrees to melt the epoxy. BIG p.i.t.a.! I have changed the way I make hilts and handles since then.

    On several examples of medieval and renaissance swords that I have examined the handle was actually made in four pieces rather than one or two. This is how I make handles now- two pieces for the sides, two pieces for the edges. I mount the guard- these days it's usually tight enough that the guard has to be tapped into place with a soft hammer. Then the side-piece is placed under the tang and the tang is traced with a fine-point pen or pencil. The edge pieces are glued in place and while the glue is drying the edge pieces are pressed into contact with the tang. After the glue has set I remove the guard and refit the handle to the tang and sand the edge-pieces flush with the top of the tang before gluing on the top-piece. After that glue is dry I sand the ends of the handle flush and even, fit the entire hilt assembly and trace the edges of the guard and pommel where they meet the handle. I then draw another line inside that to make allowance for a cord wrap and possibly a leather wrap over that. I then shape the handle, wrap it in linen cord and coat the cord with a thin acrylic coating. Then if I want I wrap the handle with leather if the order calls for that.

    This results in a handle that is flush and square and extremely strong- you can't put enough compression on the handle to cause problems tightening the hilt by hand.
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  19. #19
    Don't get me wrong, Albions are made extremely well, and it is rare if they ever come loose. I'm not saying it's a bad construction method, I'm just saying that "if" it does come loose, you have no option to tighten it except for spending money and shipping back to Albion, where as, if you have a compression fit, you just retighten it.

    In my years of engineering, I have learned that most things that can go wrong, will go wrong eventually. A sword might become loose, so might as well design a blade to account for it if it ever loosened, and design it so that it can be retightened easily.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Fields View Post
    Don't get me wrong, Albions are made extremely well, and it is rare if they ever come loose. I'm not saying it's a bad construction method, I'm just saying that "if" it does come loose, you have no option to tighten it except for spending money and shipping back to Albion, where as, if you have a compression fit, you just retighten it.

    In my years of engineering, I have learned that most things that can go wrong, will go wrong eventually. A sword might become loose, so might as well design a blade to account for it if it ever loosened, and design it so that it can be retightened easily.
    Let me put it to you this way.

    During some particularly heavy cutting (mugen dachi tripple mats), one of my Albions had its peen loosen. You could spin the peen block in cirlces.

    I only realized this after the cutting session was over. The hilt was still rock solid. I easily fixed the peen with a hammer...all it took was a couple of taps. I should have checked the sword after every cut, but I trust my Albion's hilts, and apprently for good reaason.

    Had this been a compression fit hilt, a loosened peen block would have sent the blade flying, possibly killing someone.

    Because of this incident, I do not allow compression fit peened hilts to be used for cutting in NYHFA. I allow compression hilts fitted with a screwed on pommel nut, but these must be checked frequently, as they have sometimes come loose (though this does not result in a catastrophic failure unless you keep cutting with it).

    This incident really cemented my appreciation for Albion's hilt construction.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    I do have a new band saw for my birthday though that has a guard rails, t square and laser guide (My wife Rocks!!!)
    Kiss the wife and get back to work, we demand pictures of your work!

    As the other Albion sword owners stated, i see no problems with the way the hilt is built or why i couldnt retighten it in the event of it coming lose.
    Last edited by Remy B; 10-21-2008 at 10:28 AM.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Fields View Post
    Don't get me wrong, Albions are made extremely well, and it is rare if they ever come loose. I'm not saying it's a bad construction method, I'm just saying that "if" it does come loose, you have no option to tighten it except for spending money and shipping back to Albion, where as, if you have a compression fit, you just retighten it.

    In my years of engineering, I have learned that most things that can go wrong, will go wrong eventually. A sword might become loose, so might as well design a blade to account for it if it ever loosened, and design it so that it can be retightened easily.
    I can't speak for Albion, but I assume this is something that was considered, but ultimately discarded in place of their current method. If I were a betting man, I would point out that this is likely due to their flair for accuracy and the collector market they tend to cater to. For a vast majority of their customer base, the peened construction of the hilt combined with the grip done this way is favorable to other methods, including hex nut assembly and the various other options out there. I get tongue-tied over terms, but I guess my larger point is that the sacrifice in durability is probably bext explained through marketing and customer base.

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Tinker Pearce View Post
    BIG p.i.t.a.!
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  24. #24
    [QUOTE=Michael Edelson;1044380]
    Had this been a compression fit hilt, a loosened peen block would have sent the blade flying, possibly killing someone.
    QUOTE]

    I have to point out that if a peened compression fit is done correctly, the blade will become loose far before it's ready to fly out of the handle. So that statement is incorrect. It takes alot to be able completely wear down a peened end before the block and pommel can slide over it.

    Yes, a peen block is easy to repeen, but "if" your guard came loose, what would you do? Thats the only point I'm trying to make.
    Last edited by Chris Fields; 10-21-2008 at 10:45 AM.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Fields View Post
    I have to point out that if a peened compression fit is done correctly, the blade will become loose far before it's ready to fly out of the handle. So that statement is incorrect. It takes alot to be able completely wear down a peened end before the block and pommel can slide over it.

    Yes, a peen block is easy to repeen, but "if" your guard came loose, what would you do? Thats the only point I'm trying to make.
    That depends on how it fails...if it loosens or if the force of the strike breaks the peen around the pommel hole.

    But to answer your question, with a hilt like that of Albion you'd have to send it back to them, and in my experience (in my case hilt wraps and other minor things like that), they have a 1 day turnaround for repairs.

    I think we're giving too much attention to this concern, however, as I've never seen it happen nor heard of it happening to anyone.

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