My latest sword- the sword of Elector Christian I of Saxony

#1
Years ago when one of my best clients asked if there was a sword that I had wanted to make, and one immediately came to mind. On one of my sword research trips, to England, back in 2008, I had studied some fantastic pieces at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. These really great swords are not on display but are tucked safely way in an archival vault. Since that time, several of those swords called to me from my stacks of sword documents. One in particular had both elements of a cut and thrust sword and a rapier, handling just like the later but also capable of a serious cutting action. It was believed to have been assembled by Dresden swordsmith Othmar Wetter in 1590 for Elector Christian I of Saxony, and the hilt work was stunning. I always wanted to recreate that piece and now a client was offering me the chance.



I created some design drawings for the project and, after deciding to forgo some of the more over-the-top elements of the lavishly gilded hilt, my client agreed that it would be the sword to make. Over the next couple of years, I worked on the piece while also tending to my many other teaching, speaking and general bladesmithing obligations. It took me most of the fall of 2017 to finish the decorative chisel work in the complex hilt, but by February I was finally ready to deliver what was one of the finest pieces I have made to date.




The Blade is L6 tool steel, martempered for maximum strength and impact toughness. The Pommel and complex swept hilt is 1018 steel chiseled with a vine like scroll work that was copied from the original and then fire blued, rather than gilded (the idea of burning off a gold/mercury amalgam did not appeal to me). The grip is wrapped exactly as the original with two twisted wires of bronze, separated by a single twisted iron wire. The scabbard is of my own design, since the original is long lost, and is carved poplar wood covered in a rich, goat skin, book binding leather with 1018 fire blued throat and chape.

The sword is incredibly light and fast and feels fantastic in the hand. I very much enjoyed the look in my client’s eyes when he held it for the first time when I delivered it to him at the Badger Knife Club show in Janesville WI, where it won the Best of Show award.

 
Last edited:

C Craft

Well-Known Member
#2
some of the more over-the-top elements of the lavishly gilded hilt
Kevin, your work always fascinates me as well as thrills me. If you left out some of the over the top elements I can't imagine what the original looked like!

She is impressive and the engraving takes it over the top in my opinion.

and then fire blued, rather than guilded (the idea of burning off a gold/mercury amalgam did not appeal to me)
Quite understandable to the"burning off a gold/mercury amalgam" but in my "uneducated opinion in the field of swords", the piece has so much to look at everytime I go back to the pics I see something new. Oh and congratulations on best is show! I can't imagine going up against a piece as well thought out and achieved as this one!!

I always appreciate you advice in the metallurgy side of things, looks like I have more that that to appreciate! I bow to the master!!
 
#3
Somebody once said of lamborghini when still handmade... lamborghini is made for everyone to appreciate... the wealthy are made to buy lamborghini so that the rest of us may appreciate them... Magnificent piece!
 

Brad Lilly

Moderator and Awards Boss
#4
Amazing work, I'm just floored over the detail that is in this sword. I would bet the new one is far better than the original in every category.

I'm curious about the 1084 for the guard and fittings, Are they heat treated?
 
#6
Kevin, your work always fascinates me as well as thrills me. If you left out some of the over the top elements I can't imagine what the original looked like!

She is impressive and the engraving takes it over the top in my opinion.



Quite understandable to the"burning off a gold/mercury amalgam" but in my "uneducated opinion in the field of swords", the piece has so much to look at everytime I go back to the pics I see something new. Oh and congratulations on best is show! I can't imagine going up against a piece as well thought out and achieved as this one!!

I always appreciate you advice in the metallurgy side of things, looks like I have more that that to appreciate! I bow to the master!!
Thank you for the very kind words. I always feel that if one is going to spend so much time droning on about helping others make their knives better that, every now and then, it is important to show that one can walk the walk a little bit as well.
 
#7
Amazing work, I'm just floored over the detail that is in this sword. I would bet the new one is far better than the original in every category.

I'm curious about the 1084 for the guard and fittings, Are they heat treated?
I apologize, I have corrected that error to read 1018 instead. I have been doing some research that has me writing "1084" so often that my spell checker will take any number beginning with "1" and correct it to "1084". I like to use 1018 for all of my fittings. It is a clean and known alloy. Years ago I tried to use A36 or other unknown steels because, after all, it is only for fittings. But I would run into machining issues, welding problems and especially, coloration and patination consistency problems. So I told myself that if knowing my steel chemistry was so important for working my blades, why shouldn't it be important for the other jobs I do. It only costs a little more but the 1018 is worth it to buy because of these reason.
 
Last edited:

KenH

Well-Known Member
#10
WOW!!!! Kevin - that sword is just one of the reasons you're known as the "Master". The rest of us "mere" mortals stand in awe of any of your work, but this sword is tops!
 
#11
What a beautiful work of art! That's one I actually want to swing...Lol. If broad swords are Cadillacs.....that's a Porshe 911 turbo...lol
 
#14
WOW!!!! Kevin - that sword is just one of the reasons you're known as the "Master". The rest of us "mere" mortals stand in awe of any of your work, but this sword is tops!
Believe me, I am just a slob, trying my best to make sense of this whole bladesmithing thing, I am just a bit dumber to make it even tougher by trying to do things that haven't been done in over 500 years.
 
#17
Oh, I did write "martempered", didn't I? I normally prefer to use the term "marquenched" as it is more accurate, I don't know why I chose to use the other term. Essentially the salt baths were used to isothermally quench the blade so as not to plunge it quickly through Ms. This was accomplished with low temp. salts held at 420°F.
 
#18
is the “only” benefit the stability of the long thin straight thingy or is there another less obvious benefit to marquenching? And For blades do you also use air cooling out of the 420 f quench?
 
#19
There are gains in impact toughness and other effects beyond the scope of this thread. But it is just one tool in the arsenal of heat treatment. Not all steels respond well to the method. 10XX, W1 and W2 can't handle salts well, and one needs to have control over austenite carbon content since that determines Ms. It is a great match for something like rapier blades though.