Nails to Seax

Here is an Anglo-Saxon style knife made from the ancient process of melting iron in a small forge into a slag-free steel.  It’s not known exactly when people began using this process but was likely a common method of producing high quality steel for tools, knives and swords in the European Iron Age.  A smith would have either recycled small bits of iron scrap from his shop or refined raw iron directly from the smelting stacks. While being practiced in Japan into modern times, the use of the method in the creation of European blades has only recently been re-discovered (Thanks to Lee Sauder and Skip Williams).

The materials for this knife were made a few years ago at my annual hammer-in ‘Shards of the North’ by AJ Moore and Jai Mather.  They built a small hearth from local mud and placed an air source in the side to make what is essentially a miniature charcoal forge.  The area of the air blast in the charcoal fire reaches extremely high temperatures and is capable of melting iron. In this case, we used antique wrought iron nails that were salvaged from a 19th century grain elevator in Superior, Wisconsin.   Nails were dropped into the burning charcoal one at a time until a puck of steel forms in the bottom of the hearth.  This is then retrieved and forged down into either a bar or flattened to be combined with more material. For this knife the raw puck was forged into a bar and then welded onto a core of modern high carbon steel.  The blade was etched to show the extraordinary grain structure of the hearth steel.

The blade is 4.5″ long and the total length of the knife is 10″.  The handle is a combination of buffalo horn and old growth white oak crotch burl salvaged from the bottom of Lake Superior.

I’m asking $400 for this knife and it will include sheath.


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