Round 3 - Day 4 Fitting and Finishing the Handle
I started the day after the interview by reinforcing the stem of the rear-quillion leaf with a couple of tacks from the mig welder and then ground the excess off to match. I then began re-forging the clam-shell slightly thinner and wider using a swage block. The wrought iron cracked around the edges a bit but I was able to grind this away and still maintain a slightly larger clam-shell to cover more of the arms on the guard piece. After refining the clam-shell and making sure the cut out for the blade and guard had a good fit I moved on to the grip parts. I started with some brass sheet and cut out some coin-shaped washers that I would use to give a visible separation between the handle material and the wrought iron, 2 each above and below the rosewood. For the handle itself, I started with a 1.5 inch square block of the Patagonian rosewood. I drilled a center hole from both ends and started shaping it on the grinder with a 36 grit belt. I took off a bit too much material at the chop saw before starting and found out it did not leave me enough material to have a middle 'palm swell.' This first handle looked a lot like a hot dog so I tossed it and grabbed another block. On the next try I drew diagonal lines to find the center of the block and then drilled the 1/4 inch tang hole from both ends. I then drew a circle around the tang hole on the handle block and separated this into 8 equal sections. I drew a line around the block at the center of the material. I took the block with these marks to the belt grinder and ground at each mark until the top mark and the center mark around the block were met which gave me a rough octagonal block with which I could slowly grind by rocking back and forth on each facet.
Once I had the handle roughed out I went to work on the pommel. I cut a small square block from the same wrought iron that was used for the other parts of the guard. I forged it into a rough octagonal shape and then finished shaping on the grinder. I wound up with a pretty nicely tapered octagonal pommel with chamfered edges on the top and bottom. I drilled the 1/4 inch tang hole and then test fit all the parts on the tang.
This was the first test fit of all the handle parts and the first time I was able to hold the sword. It was a very satisfying feeling. At this point, I started to relax a little and began to feel pretty good about the sword and knew that I would have some time for refining fit and finish on day 5 as long as I did not mess the blade up. I put the brass washers on a bolt and locked them down with a nut, I put this in the drill press as a 'poor mans lathe' and cleaned the washers up with a file and sandpaper to try and get them as round as possible. I worked a bit more on shaping the grip and applied one coat of boiled linseed oil to see how it would look. I put the pommel, clam-shell and guard pieces into an acid bath to try and bring out some of the grain in the wrought iron. After etching and cleaning up I test fitted all the handle materials several times making small adjustments with small files to make sure that the ‘arms’ of the guard piece locked into the underside of the clam-shell and to make sure that all the pieces that met each other had good, flat surfaces and that the entire sword would ‘lock up tight’ when assembled. At this point I was still unsure about whether I should thread the tang, weld on a stub of threaded rod or just permanently peen over the tang to the pommel. After getting the handle parts to fit up to a nearly finished state I decided to grind the blade to a higher finish. I progressed through the various belt grits 120, 220, 400 and then used a scotchbrite belt to leave a satin finish on the entire blade. At this point the the edge still was not sharpened. I wrapped the blade in shop towels and electric tape to protect it. Day four ended with a nearly completed sword. For day 5 I knew that I needed to sharpen the blade, make a decision on the attachment method for the pommel and do some final polish on the guard and handle areas. While I was excited at this point, I was also a bit apprehensive to find myself so far ahead of the clock at this point. I went to bed a little unsettled that perhaps I was missing something but also really excited to finish the blade on day 5.