I began planning this sword at the start of 2019 after completing a Bearded axe for a colleague’s Christmas present. As with the axe, I was originally going to model, print it out and cast it, but I had difficulty with the blade bevels. Eventually the project was forgotten while I worked on other things. As Christmas came around again and I began thinking of another present, I remembered the sword.
Rather than continue with 3D modelling the sword, I decided to make it from wood – I could always work on the model at a later time. As I had great success making a wooden dagger from bass wood, I purchased some more.
Before I started, I decided to drop my custom design and go with something a little more historically accurate. I already had a plan for the blade but needed a crossguard and pommel. While searching, I found a great site for references – vikingage.org, which has loads of images and information on everything from Viking weapons to household goods. Eventually I settled with a slightly modified Type IV, Type K, with a 5 lobed pommel. This was drawn out, scaled and then printed off along with the blade to create templates.
Bass wood is a lot stronger than balsa wood, while still being easily shaped with hand tools. This also allows you to make wooden sword blades of the correct thickness without needing any extra support. My blade was composed of 3 × 1.5 mm sheets laminated together with wood glue, as I couldn’t find anything thicker that was the right length.
When dry, I roughly cut out the shape of the sword before using the template to mark the blade onto the wood. I then used various files and sand paper to get the exact shape.
With that done I cut out the center of the blade template and drew around it. This was coloured in using a marker and would be useful later in sanding the fuller into the blade.
Next I marked out where the blade edge would be using an appropriately sized piece of plastic. Using these guides I filed/sanded the bevels onto the blade. Care is need when getting close to where the bevels meet – in my case I didn’t make it into an exact edge and left the bevels around half a millimetre apart.
With the bevels done on each side I began work on the fuller. To help with this I created a few round sanding tools using some plastic rods and coarse sand paper attached with double-sided tape. These were used to remove the coloured center, being careful to stick within the lines. To finish, I went over the blade with fine grit sand paper. The blade was now complete and it was time to move on to the other components.
Crossguard, pommel and grip
Both the crossguard and pommel were made from some spare soft wood that was lying around, which turned out to be just the right thickness. The templates were used to mark out the parts which were then were cut out and shaped.
A lot of time was given to the detail on the pommel which was shaped with needle files and fine sand paper. Two rivets were also added on the other end of the pommel for extra authentic detailing. To finish, slots were then cut in both, so they would fit on to the tang.
The grip was made from left over bass wood which was to create a box around the tang of the blade. I left this removable, so I could shape it and then glue it on afterwards.
When complete, I then moved on to sealing the parts, so they wouldn’t look like wood when painted. After a failed attempt, I went with a new idea which was cover the blade in super glue. This was done outside (making sure to wear a mask and gloves) using cheap glue and a piece of scrap EVA foam. I made sure to hang or support the parts so I didn’t have to handle them. I found this to dry really fast, even in the cold and after a few layers left a hard finish which was lightly sanded down to a nice smooth finish.
Painting and finishing
Before painting, all the parts were give a wipe over to make sure there was no dust and then given a coat of black spray. This was warmed slightly in water to make the spray finer. Not doing this can lead result in texture on your nice smooth blade. It is especially important to do this if the paint has been left somewhere cold. When dry, I did a few light layers of silver paint.
When these were ready, all the parts were dry fitted before being glued together. A 1 cm wide strip of faux leather was cut and wrapped around the grip, which I lightly sanded on the edges.
To finish, the faux leather, crossguard and pommel were weathered using a mix of black and brown paint