Making New Swords From a Broken Blade

Today we follow up on our previous video "How to break your sword" by making new swords from the broken pieces of the first. This is something that was very common during the medieval period, and was usually preferable to attempting to "reforge" a blade as we often see in fantasy and pop culture.

The first thing we did was to simply make a new blade for the sword that broke.  When a blade would break in period, if the hilt was in good condition, a new blade would often be constructed and fit.  Today, when most sword consumers live far away from a competent historical cutler or sword maker, if a sword breaks it becomes garbage.  Before the Industrial Age this was probably rarely the case.  Instead, weapons and other products were often remade instead of recycled.  

In the case of Nathan's broken sword, it is a custom hilt fit with a blade from our Durer Bastard Sword. Remaking this sword was as simple as grinding off the peen, removing the pommel, grip, and cross, and then modifying a blade to fit those parts.  

Durer Bastard Sword

Arms and Armor Durer Bastard Sword

The more intensive aspect of the project was salvaging the longer fragment of the broken blade, a section ~23" long from the pommel-end of the sword.  This blade shard was reshaped by hand on a grinding wheel to recreate a point and correct profile taper.  The entire blade was then worked to refine the distal taper.  Since this piece of blade had previously been the "strong" part of the blade, it had less distal taper than it would need to be a functional piece.  Nathan reground the blade, reducing the thickness by more than half in the distal section (the part closest to the point).  

broken blade     ground blade
Two pics of the broken blade, on the left with grinding lines added, on the right after reprofiling.
The tang on the newly ground blade was cut off and forged into a round at the end.  A new hilt was then fashioned based on a late 15th century Swiss Baselard.  
Swiss wearing schwiezer deggen
Swiss mercenary wearing a baselard.
swiss baselard
A custom Swiss Baselard by Arms and Armor (not the one in the video)
Check out the exciting and informative video below!

divider swords

Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography.  He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint, Western Martial Arts Workshop, and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985

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