At long last, I am pleased to present you with the Seraph blade Azrael. It’s been finished for some time now, but I have only had a chance to post about it now.
Azrael is the largest and longest blade I have ever crafted at the time of this posting. Its total length comes in at a whopping 30 inches. It can be wielded with one hand or two though due to it’s length and weight, I recommend using both hands.
This was the last blade to be forged in the Adamant Studio in Montreal before I moved to Finland and I’d like to share with you the making of my favourite sword to date.
First, the client contacted me with a request for a longsword of similar construction to this piece from Tomahawk U.S.A.:
I’m always pleased to get a picture or sketch of the desired shape. It makes it a lot easier for me to visualize what the Shadowhunter wants. Some tweaking was necessary to both satisfy the client’s wish for overall design and budget constraints. The ribbing on the handle would have been quite tedious so it was smoothed to a comfortable grip and the pommel was made larger to ensure that his hands wouldn’t slip during combat.
This ended up being the new design: long and straight with an upturned tip. The leading edge is to be sharp from tip to hilt, whereas the back edge was only to be sharp two thirds of the way.
The pattern was traced onto the guard paper of a large piece of inch-thick acrylic.
Then, Sister Verbena cut the pattern on her band saw. I’m usually not so meticulous with my first cutting when I use the band saw but Verbena prefers thoroughness. Hey, I’m not going to tell an Iron Sister how to do her job.
After the initial cutting, I shaped the edges of the sword on the belt sander. The beveling of both edges plus the upturned tip was a bit aggravating but I managed to overcome the challenge.
The curious orange thing you can see on my head is a pillowcase held snugly in place with a sweat band. Why? See all that white “snow” sprayed all over the floor in front of the sander? That is acrylic dust. When the plastic makes contact with the fast-spinning belt sander, the friction gives it a static charge. This means that each particle of plastic sticks to whatever it lands on much the same way a balloon does when you rub it on a cat’s fur.
Except millions and millions of tiny little balloons that would like nothing better than to cling to you for the rest of eternity. The pillowcase is the only solution I’ve found so far that absolutely keeps all the “snow” out of my hair.
I check the edges constantly to be sure they remain straight and true all along the length of the blade. I will not tolerate wobbly edges!
OW! Now, this is why we wear safety gear. Say it with me friends: “Safety gear is NOT OPTIONAL.” It took only an instant while I was getting into an awkward bend of one of the spikes for my knuckle to graze the sanding belt. The belt spins so fast that the heavy protective weave vaporized on contact. Less than a second and that whole section of glove turned to a tiny cloud of powder.
The safety gear gave me enough warning to yank my hand away from the belt immediately. I still got bitten by the sandpaper, but if I hadn’t been wearing gloves, I would have lost at least part of my knuckle. If you want to make your own Seraph blade, I encourage you to do so. But don’t try to be a tough guy and go at it without the proper equipment. The sander will not be impressed. Remember: if the belt is on, your gloves are on. And don’t ever try to move the sander or change the belt without unplugging it first.
At last, after several hours on the belt sander, the shaping is complete. Now it is time for the hand-polishing.
It takes a few days in total to complete a Seraph blade. This is because of the need to use finer and finer grades of sandpaper. It’s not possible to jump from 80 grit to 2500 grit. The burrs and scratches incurred by the shaping process need to be worked out gradually.
Even as clear as this almost-finished blade is, unless it passes the reading test, it’s not good enough for my standards.
But I think it’s worth it.
Looking good, but does it pass the reading test?
Yes. Yes it does.
It’s a bit on the heavy side due to its size but not quite as weighty as I feared. I had to make the blade thicker than I would have if it was steel because the plastic would wiggle if it were too thin. A careful balance between beauty and structural integrity is needed.
Well it looks quite nice in the light, but what about in the darkness?
If you’d like a Shadowhunter sword or dagger of your own, I’m currently taking orders for January 2016. I’d love to work for you sooner, however as I’ve just moved to Finland, I don’t have a workshop set up here or any of my tools and supplies. Thanks very much for your patience and as always, happy hunting!