Example of work "from the iron ore to the finished sword". Making of the laminated ingot from bloomery steel block, forging of the blade, sanding, polishing and handle making with morta (swamp oak) and bone, glued with fishglue.
I started some time ago to "wrought" an iron bloom stemming from the last furnace smelting that I managed.
This raw iron is the result of the reduction of two ores (haematite and sidérite) that I recovered in Catalonia (the French part) during two years (2002 and 2003) when I had the opportunity to work in Arles sur Tech, a small village where in the old times the raw ore intended to be crushed and roasted (enriched) was transported by cableway.
These ores come from the mines of Batère, some 60 km South/West of Perpignan and close to the Peak of Canigou. The mines of Batère were exploited for more than 2000 years before being definitively closed about twenty years ago.
Not being a metallurgist and unfortunately not being able to practice smelting as often as I would like, the work presented here remains a test (a positive one in my opinion but a simple test, a try). I do not claim to be an expert in this field.
My work does not let me time to use this type of iron regularly, and furthermore, historically, a smelter did not craft finished objects and a swordsmith did not smelt the iron for his blades either.
The bloom that I show here is rather carburized in some places; it weighted a little more than 4340 grams (9lb 9oz).
I cut it in two pieces in order to wrought one.
To do it, I began to heat this raw block to then compact it by hammering. While beginning to refining this not yet homogeneous material, three fairly good sized pieces separated from the initial block, allowing me at the time to transform them already into gross ingots, three small ones weighting 1230 grams (43.38oz) altogether. Some 800 grams were left of this half bloom; I transformed it in small plaques which I shall assemble later for another project.
Of these three small ingots, only one seemed to be much carburized (= steel), the two others had a very low, if any, carbon content, only iron as a matter of fact. Then I began to fold, pile and hammer weld these three ingots to homogenize them while being careful not to heat the metal too much so I would not lose too much material during forge welding.
After eleven such folding operations (giving 2048 layers x the three ingots, so 6144 layers altogether) I had a single ingot of exactly 830 grams (29.28oz), enough to forge a short sword blade.
After forging of the blade, I decided to quench it with a good result. The edges are enough hard for the cutting of lots of materials.
For the realization of the guard and the pommel, I used morta or petrified oak (wood having apparently spent a few millenniums in peat bogs).
The grip is made in a calf bone given by the butcher in the village down from my house.
The shaping of the grip and the ornamentations by chiseling are realized with grater and file.
The mounting is provided with bone glue and wooden holds.
A rosette shaped bronze rivet block allows the peening of the tang over the pommel.
Blade polishing and all finishes are handmade.
Total length: 78,8 cm (31.1⁄32in)
Blade length: 65 cm (25.19⁄32in)
Blade width at base: 4,1 cm (1.39⁄64in)
Grip length: about 9 cm (3.35⁄64in)
Center of gravity is at 20 cm (7.7⁄8in) from the guard
Weight: about 600 grams (21.23oz)