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Cutlass build - Group WIP

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith, Sep 27, 2016.

  1. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    A recent thread about a cutlass has made some folks consider building one. Lets have a group build project where those interested can build a cutlass and post the results here. It would be great for those with the skills to post as a WIP with pre-steel sketches, in progress photos, and final shots when done. I'll participate in doing that.

    A cutlass can be small ( hand cutlass) or really large. Most were medium size. Shapes varied a lot, too. This leaves a lot of room for artistic interpretation.

    Some basics -
    Cutlass is the French word for "knife like", or "machete like". It is a short broad slashing weapon with a hand guard ( usually cupped). The blade is usually slightly curved, but there are examples from straight blades to very severe curves. The length was kept short to be usable in close combat on ship decks. The mass was fairly high, and the force concentrated on the forward part of the blade, to give chopping and hard slicing the best advantage. It is the smaller descendant of the larger swords of medieval times, particularly the falcion. Other countries and parts of the world developed similar shapes in varying sizes. The ones from Arabia and the orient were often huge.

    So, who like this idea?
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  2. jmcdaniel0

    jmcdaniel0

    47
    Sep 22, 2015
    I love it, Now I hope I have time to actually participate!
     
  3. Folsoml

    Folsoml

    61
    Jul 15, 2016
    I can't wait to see them!
     
  4. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Moved to Shop Talk for more people to see.
     
  5. timos-

    timos- KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 22, 2012
    Hmm, interesting. I have a sort of knife I have been meaning to finish that might fall into this category. I wouldnt have much to add in the way of experience though. By hand guard do you mean like a D guard or just any shape?
     
  6. BKT

    BKT

    150
    Feb 15, 2016
    Love this idea. I have never made a sword, but always wanted to. I am very busy and not much time for fun projects, but I would love to participate. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and I know this will be a lot of fun and very educational.
     
  7. Ghostman3

    Ghostman3

    165
    Jan 12, 2016
    Ok so going off your description I drew this.

    [​IMG]

    Would this qualify? I have some 52100 I can use for it. Will have to figure out how to weld the end up thicker so I can spread it out under a hammer. Bar stock is only 1.5" wide. Is 1/8" thick enough?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  8. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    There are several good things about building a cutlass.
    First, it is a very loosely defined shape. Whatever you make will probably fit the genre.
    Second, it does not require a complicated sheath - plain leather or none at all are normal.
    Third, the slight curve will form naturally as you forge. If you do stock removal, just grind in the curve.
    Lastly, it is not a high fit and finish style sword. Those who like the Brut-de-Forge look will be right at home here.

    The guard can be worked from sheet metal (steel or brass), and can be very primitive and still look good. A 24" piece of 6X6 to 12X12 ( or a section of dry tree trunk from the firewood pile) with a depression ground in one end using an angle grinder makes a good swage block. A croquet ball screwed to one side of the same board makes a good working form. Use the flat sides as working surfaces for metal shaping and raising. The hot metal will scorch the wood, but that won't hurt anything.

    I have a big trailer 2-3/4" ball that I got at a yard sale for $1. I ground the 1" shaft on it square and it drops right in the 3/4" hardy hole. This works as a great round hardie tool at a fraction of the cost of a commercial one.
     
  9. Darrin Sanders

    Darrin Sanders Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 6, 2009
    I've always wanted to build one so I guess now is my chance. I'll do a bit of research and come up with a drawing to post here.
     
  10. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    I like the idea of the group build. I might not do the work, but I sure will follow the thread and plan to learn a LOTS..... who knows, might just get the time to jump in with a build myself.

    Ken H>
     
  11. JTknives

    JTknives KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    Oh man Stacy you got me. I have been itchin to do one for awhile and then got reinspired by the post and now this put me over the edge. So yeah I'm game to join the project as I was already planning out the build in my mind on the drive home from work this morning.
     
  12. Kevin McGovern

    Kevin McGovern KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 31, 2015
    Talk like a pirate day was last week Stacy.
     
  13. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Arrgh ... I missed it again!

    timos - any hand protecting guard will work. A D-guard, cup guard, basket guard, or something like Ghostmans shape - all will fit the genre.

    Ghostman - looks great. Can't wait to see it in steel.
     
  14. JTknives

    JTknives KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 11, 2006
    So where do we post our pictures of our progress. I have pictures of making the giant Damascus billet.
     
  15. navman

    navman Basic Member Basic Member

    169
    Mar 4, 2013
    This is a great idea...and way beyond my capabilities! I have a personal attachment to the cutlass. The Navy Cutlass is a (optional) part of the Chief Petty Officer's dress uniform.
     
  16. S.Alexander

    S.Alexander KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 7, 2013
    I like it.

    I have a big bar of 5160 that is just asking to be a sword. This is definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I will give it a try!
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  17. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    This will be the group build thread, so you can post them here. If you plan on a complete WIP as a final presentation, you can start a separate thread and ask me to put it in the WIP BBQ sticky individually. When we are done with this group build thread, I will also put it in the BBQ.

    Hopefully, this build thread will become the place where a search for "cutlass" sends people.
     
  18. Folsoml

    Folsoml

    61
    Jul 15, 2016
    Here's the one I just made that (I believe) was the inspiration for this WIP thread. It has flaws that Stacy and I discussed in my original build thread, but it is one of my first sword attempts.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. I've been having ideas in my head about starting one. What thickness of stock do you guys planning using? I was thinking 3/16. Also, you think mild steel would do alright for a guard? I wonder if it would darken very well with an acid etch for some contrast...
     
  20. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Mild steel or brass guard, 3/16" to 1/4" stock. The thickness depends a lot on your style and if you are forging or grinding. For forging, I would suggest a bar 1" to 1.25" wide but 1/4" thick. For a stock removal blade, 3/16" would be good.
     

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