Melton Forge Works - DerekMelton.com

Forged in Fire

A blog where I detail some of my thought processes and experiences from being on Forged in Fire Season 5, episode 20 in April 2018. The episode aired July 24, 2018.

Round 3 - Day 3 Forging the guard pieces

Day 3 started with another pre-day interview and then I immediately jumped into the final forging of the guard piece. In the smallsword, what I am calling the 'guard piece' is made up of several parts: the knucklebow, the 'pas-d'anes' (or finger rings) and the rear quillion. These were all required parameters for the smallsword build and I wanted to make this entire piece from one forging in order to stay as historically accurate as possible.  In my research I found several examples of these guards in their disasembled state, however most of them seemed to be cast rather than forged. I knew I didn't have the time or equipment setup for casting so I spent time drawing out the various steps I thought would be necessary to forge this shape from one piece of the wrought iron.  I was able to get the first rough-forged shapes done on day two so I began by taking the 'submarine' shaped piece of wrought and I made two cuts on the bandsaw so that I could forge out the pas-d'anes, knucklebow and rear quillion. 

The wrought iron I chose to use had some special significance in that it was the original material that had been purchased from a wrought iron supplier in the UK to rebuild a fence around the Old Mississippi Capitol building. It was well-refined '3rd puddle' wrought iron that had been re-formed into new barstock from old English ship anchor chain.

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I had some initial trouble forging the wrought because I was trying to do too much too quickly and had to start over once because of cracks that formed in the material. Once I figured out what temperature to forge the material at it went fairly smoothly. Forging that odd shape from one piece of old wrought iron was very satisfying and by 2:30 I had the guard shapes forged to final form including a small leaf as the rear quillion. The leaf gave me a bit of trouble at the stem, being that it was such a small area it cracked during forging and needed a touch of mig welding and a bit of filework to smooth out but in the end it turned out pretty nice I thought. After forging I did a bit of hand filing over the entire piece to clean things up.

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 I drilled a hole for the tang into the guard piece and found that it was slightly off-center at the bottom but centered fairly well on the top. I contemplated scrapping it at this point but since it took me over a half day I was afraid I would run out of time so I decided to go with it, despite the slightly off-center tang hole. In the end it had no effect on things and I was really happy that I didn't obsess over it.  Next it was time to finish forging the clamshell portion of the guard. I took the rough shaped part and spread it out a bit more, curved it into a rough bowl shape using a swage block and then used a file to cut in some recesses on the sides and the underside to allow for the finger rings to 'lock' in place.  This would prove to be critical with the round tang; without having this 'lock' method for the guard the entire mechanism could swing around freely. The overall tension of the pommel nut combined with these 'lock slots' I filed in seemed to work very well. Finally, I drilled holes in a triangular pattern in the center of the clamshell and filed out the shape for the blade.  I was able to do a test fit near the end of the day, it was very exciting to see the sword coming together.

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I left the blade alone for the majority of the day except for a little work on the bottom hollow grind and a few passes on the top two bevels with some finer grit belts near the very end of the day. I also spent a little time grinding the tang down to the necessary diameter that was required to pass through the ricasso. By the time I heard the alarm go off signaling the end of the time for day 3 I had test fit the guard a few times and had blade about 90% completed.  I felt like I was ahead of schedule going into day 4.

Derek MeltonComment