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Wolf's Tooth Spear Update

It's been a while since I have updated the blog on my quest to construct a wolf's tooth spear. Here is the latest series of experiments. The basic approach is to take a bar of high-carbon tool steel and split it in the middle either with a bandsaw or by using a hot chisel. The drawback of the hot chisel is that it creates cuts that are not square. It requires the steel to be squared up afterwards with a file.

To create teeth in the high-carbon steel, I am using a double up chisel in which the cutting edge of the chisel points is about 1/8in apart. I do one pass in which each pair of teeth gets a couple hammer blows and then do another pass to square the teeth back up. Adjacent teeth tend to move a little bit when the next set of teeth is being created. The result looks as follows:


Afterwards, I forge wrought iron in a 3/8in square bar that is hot forged into the teeth. This can either happen with a hammer and a helper or by using a hydraulic press. The wrought iron needs to be hot and squishy. This creates matching impressions in the wrought iron. After cleaning up with a wire brush, the pieces are fit into each other and forge welded. This process needs to be done carefully since I don't want to draw out the steel. Here is one side after forge welding:


The resulting pattern looks very similar to original finds. Although the mono steel does not show any forging lines, the grain in the wrought iron, clearly shows the process:


Now, it's time to forge the spear for real.

The Bookshelf Project

What does creating a bookshelf have to do with blacksmithing? Watch the video to find out. This was a weekend project and it started by creating a scrolling jig that we used to forge many many identical scrolls.



After this project is done, it's back to crucible steel and knife making.
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From Wrought Iron to Crucible Steel Knife


We converted wrought iron from old wagon tires into steel for a knife. To make steel, carbon needs to be added to the iron. We accomplish this by melting the iron in a crucible together with charcoal and special alloys. Wrought iron starts melting at around 2,800°F (1,538°C). The alloying elements came from O1 (Chromium) and H13 (Molybdenum). The total charge of the crucible was around 2000 grams. To be precise, we added 2006g wrought iron, 30g charcoal and 75g (O1/H13).

The firing time was pretty quick; around 30 minutes to get to temperature and then ramping it down for 60 minutes. The crucible cooled in the furnace for about 12 hours. We took it out at around 250F. Unfortunately, there were a lot of gas bubbles in the glass as well as in the steel. The carbon content was also lower than planned, maybe around 0.6% rather than the 1.5% we were aiming for. However, it forged very nicely and showed great carbides.

The experiment will likely show up as Forge Diaries: Episode 8 or as Wootz: Episode 6. Stay tuned.

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Forge Diaries: Ep. 6.5: Update on Wolf's Tooth Patterns

While I am still experimenting with how to achieve different kinds of Wolf's Tooth patterns, I thought a quick video update might be in order. This video does not show any process but highlights some of the experiments I have conducted lately. This includes high tech 3d modeling to create bronze guards for a dagger:
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Update on the Pattern-Welded Spear

I mentioned the spear head from Rovaniemi, Marikkovaara before. It combines twists and tooth-like patterns and the pattern welding is superbly executed. I continue to experiment with recreating it and just completed another experiment. Here are some in-progress photos.

The two pictures on the right show the assembled core of wrought iron and the twisted bar bend to match its shape. The first step in welding the two pieces together is to create a solid weld at the tip. The other photos show the next step in assembling the spear as well as the pattern right after heat-treating by quenching in oil. The final result can be seen at the top left. This includes forge-welding a socket and attaching it, too.
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Bronze Fittings for Wolf's Tooth Dagger



The upper guard and pommel finally arrived. The molds were printed wax which were then cast in bronze. The designs are celtic dog patterns from a book by Aidan Meehan. The fittings for this dagger are now complete now and I need to figure out how to finish the hilt. The options are a simple wooden hilt potentially with some carved patterns or a wooden core wrapped in leather.
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Forge Diaries: Ep. 6: Forging Chest Hardware

We are forging the hardware for a second Mästermyr-like chest. This video includes making nails, hinges, locks straps and a hasp:


The next Forge Diaries episode will be on making a small book shelf. Here is a teasier where we start aligning the scrolls:
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Forging a Stand for Ear Rings


As a detour to my current spear projects, I recently finished an ear ring stand. The feet were forged from 1/2in round just a couple different punches for the toe nails and a hot chisel for separating the toes. The three feet were then forged welded together at 120 degree angles. The finished product also received the head of three Viking warriors for protection; the heads are somewhat reminiscent to the Lewis chess men.
Categories: Forge Diaries

The pattern-welded spear from Rovaniemi, Marikkovaara.



Here is a comparison of my heat-treated experimental dagger/spear to the famous pattern-welded spear in the Helsinki museum. As I mentioned before the experiment was solely on creating teeth on both sides and in no way meant to be a re-creation. Nonetheless, it seems that at least the spacing of the teeth is pretty comparable. I need to do a few more experiments but I am slowly getting closer to an attempt of recreating this spear. That project will be video documented, so stay tuned.
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Refining Wrought Iron


Not much progress at the forge today but I started refining more wrought iron for future experiments. Instead of the high-phosphorous Globe Elevator wrought iron, I am using lower phosphorous wagon tire.

The idea with the refining is to remove impurities by forge welding at high temperatures. I also rotate the pieces against each other so that the grain does not always get forged in the same direction. See Forge Diaries: Episode 5 for more information.
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How I got 5 Million Views on Youtube!


As of today, I have officially reached 5 million views on my Youtube channel. That seems like a large number for blacksmithing videos and something I never expected when I started documenting my exploits. So, let's take a look at the most popular videos.

In 2013, I made a knife for preparing Persian Kabab Barg. This video alone is responsible for almost 2 million views:



A year before that in 2012, I had started working on the Serpent in the Sword. A Viking-era sword with a pattern welded serpent at the core of the blade. At that point, I was also still learning how to mix audio; it was so bad I had to put up an audio remix. The Serpent in the Sword collection of videos accounts for another 2 million views:



At that point, I started spending much more time on video editing but never ended up with another really popular video. I found that pretty ironic. However, in 2013 John and I started experiments with making crucible steel which resulted in a knife with Wootz-like patterning. As of today, this video has a little bit more than one hundred thousand views:


Another video series which documents a complete sword build surprisingly only got a very few views. This is the sword I made for the ChronoBlade game. It was a lot of work and shows all sword making steps in detail but never really got popular.


Those are the mysteries of Youtube! Here is to another 5 million views.
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Construction technique for a Pattern-Welded Wolf's Tooth Knife


Over the last year, I have been experimenting with different techniques for creating a Wolf's Tooth pattern similar to the famous pattern-welded spear from Helsinki. To keep track of the different experiments, I have literally kept a Forge Diary in which I document my different attempts. Here is what I believe to be the final potential construction technique for creating a Wolf's Tooth pattern.



The approach creates a sandwich of tool steel between wrought iron. To form the pattern, I forge grooves with a chisel on both sides which are roughly an 1/8in apart. I make a pass with the chisel in one direction to create the grooves and then go back the opposite way to open the cuts back up. After finishing one side, I switch over to the opposite side. Chiseling will cause the rod to bend, so it needs to be straightened occasionally. For this experiment, I used a discarded piece from a twisted bar of 1095 and 15n20. It was about 3/8in square. This is the size I use for all my pattern-welded rods. As you can see on the picture the cuts are not very deep.



After placing the tool steel between the wrought iron, I forge weld the pieces together and use a fuller to gain a little bit more width for the knife. Since I started with scrap pieces, I did not have a lot of extra material. For this experiment, I forged the cutting edge to final shape by the tang and let it grow thicker and less forged towards the tip. As a result, I needed to grind away subsequently more metal the closer I came to the tip. The reason for doing this was to visualize the progression of the pattern. Towards the tang the pattern should not be visible and by the time I reach the tip, the pattern should disappear as the outer wrought iron layer should have been completely ground away. The pattern requires that more of the inner layer is being exposed towards the cutting edge and less of it towards the back of the knife. I am thinking of it as taking a diagonal slice through the metal that reveals more tool steel towards the edge and more iron towards the back of the knife.

This worked out mostly but not quite. It was difficult to keep the tool steel exactly in the middle and I was also rushing the work as usual. While the pattern looks interesting, it is very unlikely that this technique was used for the spear. Nonetheless, it was an interesting experiment and the resulting knife is quite cute.

I am also somewhat curious about the origin of the term "Wolf's Tooth" pattern. I have not seen it properly defined anywhere and in German, I have seen it described as "gezackter Rand". If you have any insights into the term, please share them with me.

Anyway, this really is an entry from my Forge Diary :-)
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Towards Constructing a Spear with Wolf's Tooth Pattern

My latest experiments while still in the form of daggers are getting closer to how spears with this pattern look like. Here is the latest example. The first step is to insert the teeth using refined wrought iron into the high-carbon edge steel. For one side, I forged all the teeth and for the other side I cut them. Can you tell the difference?


Afterwards, I make the core from wrought iron and a twisted pattern-welded rod. In this case, I did a fish-mouth weld but that is not what I have seen in spears. After the core is welded, I fit both of the pieces together. The fit needs to be as tight as possible for the next welding step to be successful:


Here are the results before heat treating with a light etch:


Still far from perfect but slowly getting there.
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Another variation on forging the Wolf's Tooth Pattern





The first image shows another Wolf's Tooth experiment in the making - both sides have teeth in the high-carbon steel which have been filled with wrought iron. I need to weld the core next time.

The second image shows the model for the guard with a motif of celtic dogs from Aidan Meehan. This will be cast in bronze.
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Forging and Cutting Teeth for Wolf's Tooth Pattern

Here is an experiment with forging the teeth; refining forged teeth with the bandsaw, and different cuts on the bandsaw.



Ps: Only the first two teeth remain just forged; the rest I destroyed with the bandsaw.
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