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I Forge Iron

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Just a head's up; this is a work-in-progress post that's pretty picture heavy.

March 20th through 31st my girlfriend and I traveled to Cyprus on vacation... with additional ulterior motives. She was featured in a motion graphics and animation festival hosted at the European University Cyprus, shortlisted to the top of her category. She is also addicted to anthropology. 
I went there for inspiration on my next blade, and to get my hands on old iron and steel. 

We traveled the country visiting historical sites and landmarks. The Gladiator's house provided many inspiring mosaics. Sadly, museums lacked when it came to ancient weaponry, although often exhibited a wide range of styles due to the many forces that had occupied Cyprus over time (although I must admit I am spoiled by living in NYC a train ride from the Met).2015-03-24_09.56.49.thumb.jpg.d92351d9492015-03-30_10.06.28.thumb.jpg.6bc757a4bf2015-03-30_10.07.10.thumb.jpg.82760dbcba2015-03-24_10.23.34.thumb.jpg.6475eef4102015-03-24_10.23.46.thumb.jpg.d3ca0cc8d42015-03-24_11.11.59.thumb.jpg.68febb06312015-03-24_11.12.31.thumb.jpg.6851291d9e2015-03-24_11.12.59.thumb.jpg.a0641be9072015-03-23_02.51.55.thumb.jpg.5e1cb4649c2015-03-23_02.51.19.thumb.jpg.97fc6ea08a

Occasionally we were able to visit the shops of fellow craftsmen. Everyone there is extremely friendly, and will serve you tea while telling you of their family.2015-03-23_04.09.15.thumb.jpg.bff946d5862015-03-23_04.09.23.thumb.jpg.63a48c84092015-03-23_04.09.30.thumb.jpg.19eb9c3ff32015-03-30_15.49.28.thumb.jpg.e4ace47a182015-03-30_15.49.30.thumb.jpg.4e837ca3be

Got to visit a fellow blacksmith in Nicosia, wonderful gentleman that's seen his country go through many drastic changes.2015-03-26_16.22.37.thumb.jpg.c142b5a1352015-03-26_17.04.38.thumb.jpg.34546dfb1b

Oh, and there are cats everywhere... we love cats :32015-03-28_14.27.45.thumb.jpg.dde9dc6f15

I found a goodly lot of usable metal. The machete was found in the sub-basement of an antique-restorer's home, and has seen some serious use. The scythe was the least decrepit of what I could find in Nicosia. The pony and horse shoes look to be fairly old and used, with the nail still hanging onto the larger one. The prize find was an iron ring used to weigh large loads - still has Greek lettering on the surface. The door hinge (like the shoes and scythe) came from the dark corner of one or another antique store.
One of the shops I visited was a woodworker that conveniently had recently taken down a 200-300 year old olive tree and had the perfect pieces of seasoned wood for me... for $12 I got three small blocks perfect for a knife handle each, and a huge chunk 9.5" x 12" x 2". I tried to explain to him how hard/expensive it would have been to get all of that back in America, but to them olive trees are all over and can be a hindrance. 
Lastly, I visited a leatherworker that sold me a piece of goat leather that stood out to me, and passed off some scraps with the fut still on I'm thinking of using for a detail on the sheath. I very much like his product and want to use it for my day job (product designer) creations too.


Currently the metal is sitting in vinegar to strip some of the nasties away.2015-04-06_21.13.44.thumb.jpg.d8e83e75e7

Initially I wanted to forge a gladius or xiphos, but my personal preference towards Anglo-saxon skull-splitters let me to the kopis. I am thinking of patternwelding the machete with 15n20 and forge-welding the iron as the spine. The scythe and horseshoes could be used to forge a sister blade if the demand is there.
The blade's tang will travel down through the pommel and become the horses' mane. The horse head and mosaic pattern will be 3D modeled to appear as if they are sculpted from tiles, then 3D printed in brass or bronze. The olive wood I picked up will obviously be used for the grip (with the Greek pattern embedded). 20150404_202559_1.thumb.jpg.9b26d4d984b6Comments and critique welcomed,






Edited by TheoRockNazz
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Wow, what a trip Theo! Did you frame the pic of the helmets to show your girlfriend in the reflection like she was wearing one?

You to were sure grinning a lot good for you.

Have you ever tried Naval Jelly to revert rust to steel/iron? Using it as directed it leaves a phosphorous oxide black finish but I found diluting it in clean water, letting the rust soak and neutralizing with soda water and rinsing when finished often returned what looked like book pages of rust to clean steel/iron. It doesn't always work but might be worth a try on some of those antiquities. I've had less luck using dilute phosphoric acid but I believe the surfacants in Naval Jelly have a lot to do with it's effectiveness.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Haha, purely coincidence. My natural smile looks like a grin... has gotten me in trouble a couple times.


So two days in vinegar took off some nasties, but I'll still hit it with the turbodisk to get rid of the final bits. Date showed up on the machete; 1914, so that answers that.2015-04-09_00.49.34.thumb.jpg.ff225381b4

The markings on the weight are still illegible to me, but seeing how it's a weight... probably it's weight :)2015-04-09_00.50.02.thumb.jpg.2d6c435170

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Uh HUH. MY natural smile IS a grin. Get used to being in trouble it ain't so bad. My sense of humor is my armor against how terrifying the world is for those with wit to understand so I Joke.

"Those who matter don't mind, those who mind don't matter." Might be a bit simplistic but it works for me.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 4 months later...

FINALLY had the opportunity to start working that old iron.

I need some advice from folks with more experience than myself at working iron:
It moves and works like some of the wrought iron and pure iron I have forged in the past, and isn't cracking or falling apart like when you hammer iron or meteorite too cold... but I noticed if I try hard I can tear it.

I first noticed this when I used the edge of the anvil to cut, it sort of tore the final bit through. Impossible to take pics of, but it looked to me like when you beat the snot out of copper without annealing it, then bend it til it tears... except with fibers/strands like torn leather. 
Afterwards I continued to work the metal with no issues, and no signs of tearing or cracking elsewhere.

This has got to be because of the impurities in the metal - it is well over 500 years old - right? Has anyone seen/heard of this before?

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Hmm, guess I've been spoiled with the relatively modern iron I've worked with haha

Should I fold it a couple times to try and unify the piece, or keep it as is and run with whatever intense grain pattern I get? I was going to twist it and use it for the spine, so impurities would matter less and maybe lend to the pattern?

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...
  • 1 year later...

Just got back from another vacation with my wife, so felt the pressure to get something done with the kopis project.

I call it a "san mai lazy mosaic", basically skipped a step and didn't properly tile the slices. Kinda looks like camouflage. Only rough ground, gotta reheat and tap the core/edge center. 


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