Modifying the Deepeeka British Sword


The sword 

This sword is the one produced by Deepeeka, as such it leaves alot to be desired.
The blade, while fairly good looking breaks easily when used.
The handle is made from eastern wood and the scabbard, while not bad is actually welded.

However, when I wrote this it was all we had to work with and it's still a useful article on how to build a handle assembly from scratch. 

Sword anatomy

Missing from the picture are the blade (obvious one) and the rest of the tang, which is the part of the blade that lives under the handle.

Compulsary modifications
There are a couple of modifications that MUST be carried out, even if you cannot be bothered to individualise the handle assembly.

1. Grind the edge of the weapon to 2mm and round the tip to the rim of a five pence piece. This can be done with files (hard) or an angle grinder (less hard).

2. Remove or modify the brass nut on the end of the pommel. You have a couple of options:
  1. Remove the nut entirely, replace with small hand made washer, cut down the tang to just above it and rivet it over.
  2. Grind the nut so it no longer looks like a nut, take a bit of the bottom (so it's less tall) and refasten with mole grips/pliers,
  3. Grind the round end of the nut away as well as the edges and then rethread with molegrips/pliers AND then peen over the end.

A couple of spanners will easily disassemble the weapon into it's component parts. 
There are two nuts involved, the one above on the end and another above the grip.
Both will come off easily leaving you with the three wooden pieces and the two nuts. Notice that the tang is a single forged piece and the thread had been cut onto the last few inches. This thread will prove useful you decide to make a new pommel

You will also note that the crossguard with the attached metal guardplate is actually held with rivets which have been very carefully polished level with the rest of the guard. These will have to come out if you intend to reuse the guardplate but not the wooden crossguard.

if you are going to customise the sword then you need to decide exactly how far you want to go. In degrees of hardness, here are a few suggestions:
  1. Easiest change would be to get the horrible shiny finish off the wooden parts with sandpaper and then sand very smooth and use an oil finish (linseed or otherwise).
  2. Replace the grip/handle with another wood, horn, bone or antler example. Simply follow the original construction re-using the second nut if you want.
  3. Replace the pommel
  4. Build a completely new assembly from scratch.
  5. Build a completely new assembly reclaiming the curved guard plate. This is the hardest as the new crossguard must be fitted exactly to the old guard plate.

My project will be to rebuild from scratch using some horn and horn substitute that I have about. I am going to choose to rebuild with a flat guard plate and to cut the scabbard accordingly to fit (which is the easiest option). I have looked a the Kirkburn swords (not just the flash one but all the other basic ones) and they are 1, 2 or 3 piece constructions using a variety of organic components. Some have the companulate (curved) crossguards and the later ones are horizontal.

1. blade

The first thing I do is to take the edges and point of the sword back to the required bluntness (2mm). With my blade clamped securely in the workmate edge up then I can use my handy file and angle grinder.

2. handle assembly components
The next thing I do is to rough out the 3 pieces required for the assembly; the grip, the pommel and the crossguard. The grip here is the original wooden one to show you that it could be used. I actually used some fake horn in the end. the crossguard and pommel are actually black horn after roughing out with a bench grinder, files and sandpaper.

The next thing I decided to to was to polish the horn components. Owning a couple of very old motorbikes means that I have a set of polishing mops and creams to get a good finish quite quickly. If you don't, then it's lots of work with sandpaper or
emery cloth.
As it was a little bit of work results in a good finish on the horn pieces.

The next thing that I tackled was the handle itself. I chose horn substitute as I had some but a good british hardwood is as good. I actually turned the handle on my lathe and then used a rasp to make it oval. I then sanded it perfectly smooth and reuse the polishing mops. 
The handle will need be drilled and, luckily the lathe ends make ideal centres from which to do this.

2. handle assembly fitting
Once all the parts are made then they have to be drilled out to fit the tang. This is easily done with care and patience and remember they need to be a tight fit BUT never force parts on as they may split and you'll have to start again. 
I made up a guard plate from thick brass using the crossguard as a pattern and then went for a dry assembly:

You can see that I still need to polish the pommel and the grip.

As there is a threaded end to the tang, then I drilled a hole in the horn exactly the same size and screwed it on for extra security. You could do this with most organic parts; metal parts would require tapping out.

I then cut out some leather 'washers' using the components as templates to provide some shock absorbtion. I polished all the parts as this stage too.

3. Finishing Touches
I cut a leather washer for between each component and then dry assembled to make sure everything was okay. I then dis-assembled and then re-assembled using wood glue. I use wood glue as it sets more flexibly than other stuff (like araldite) and also makes it possible to pull the thing apart if needed. 

The scabbard was cut level with the guard to ensure a proper fit to the scabbard.

All that remained was to grind the nut smaller and rounder and to cut the threaded tang to leave just enough for the nut to be screwed into position with my molegrips.

Job Done !

All that Remains now is to decorate the scabbard but we'll do that another day.

Total time taken was around 6 hours not including a shopping break, lunch and dog walking.

Here is the properley cut and doctored tang