Sword Grip Project

This paticular project attempts to show how creat a new wood handle, and a cord wrap leather grip.

This project is in two parts. Part I (the page you are currently viewing) deals with adding a new wood grip, while Part II deals with wrapping the grip with leather.

Part I of this project deals with a Windlass type XIV. The sword came with a guard that was a bit uneven, so I decided to fix that and at the same time customize the grip. The picture below shows the hilt on the XIV, and you can see where the guard was not ground correctly and it is off center. Also the grip is pretty plain, and a bit small for my taste.

Part II mostly shows a modified Windlass Classic that I apply a cord wrapped leather grip to.

Part I

Part II

Sword Grip Project
Part I

The grip doesn't look too bad, but it is small, and I needed to destroy it to fix the sword. To change this grip to what I want I will need to actually remove leather and the wood core and start over.

My procedures here are pretty standard, and you can find a lot of different ideas on the Sword Buyers Guide Forum

Ok, let's get started!

The Wood Handle

The picture above shows the sword dis-assembled. I show these steps at the SBG site Removing Peened Pommel

You DO NOT need to remove the pommel to replace the wood handle.

I have removed the old handle and I have a few small pieces of poplar wood on hand to create the new handle. I cut the first piece a little larger then the size of the finished handle will be. This allows for some touch up and sanding. I layed the tang on the wood and copied it by drawing some lines on the wood. Next I took a couple of small pieces of poplar which will end up being the sides of the handle. These are 1/4" thick, while the top and bottom pieces are 1/2" thick.

In the picture above I have glued (using any good wood glue) on the two 1/4" thick pieces to the wood "bottom". I clamp them and let them dry for about an hour.

The above picture shows the two side pieces glued to the bottom and the top piece (idential to the bottom piece) cut and ready to be glued on.

I wanted to be able to form the handle and yet still be able to seperate it so I can glue it on the tang. It is MUCH easier to glue the handle to the tang if the handle is in two pieces. So I use an old woodworkers trick of gluing the two pieces (top and bottom) together with a piece of paper between them. This makes for a strong connection that allows me to cut, form and sand the handle, then seperate it before gluing it on. The picture above shows a piece of paper glued on the bottom. The best paper to use is something a little heavier then standard paper. Here I am using some yellow paper from an envolope.

Now earlier I mentioned that the two side pieces were 1/4" thick. The tang on this sword was closer to 3/16" so I sanded down the side pieces until the were just a little larger then 3/16 to allow some room for the epoxy glue I will be using to glue the handle to the tang. Go slow here.. do not remove too much wood.. a little more is way better to too little!

Apply a little glue to the other side of the paper and glue on the top piece of the handle. The picture above shows all the pieces being clamped.. about an hour will do it. Again only use wood glue here.

In the diagram above I show how the four pieces go together.

This diagram shows how the paper fits between the top and sides to hold everything together during forming.

When you have glued everything together you are now ready to from the nice rounded handle from the square blank. Again, go slow here. A belt sander somes in real handy to do the forming, but it can be done by hand. I tried to shape it so that the top and bottom of the handle matched the thickness of the pommel and guard.

After careful measurments, and going slow I have formed the handle. I have sanded it so it is fairly smooth. You will need to do a final sanding after it has been glued on the tang, but for the most part you want to finish it as much as you can before gluing it on.

In the picture above I am just showing a trail fit. Again, for this handle I was trying to match the thickness to the pommel at the top, and the guard at the bottom. I also made sure it looked like I wanted it to, and that it felt comfortable in my hand.

If your pommel is still attached to the tang make sure the handle fits really snug so it exerts pressure to the guard and pommel.

I am satisfied with the shape and finish of the handle, and I am now ready to to split the handle apart again. Just slip in a screwdriver and gently pry the two pieces apart at the paper line. When you have two pieces again, you will need to do a bit of sanding to remove the paper that is left on the wood. The picture above shows my trial fit.. looks like it will work!

I use a 5 minute epoxy to actually glue the wood handle to the tang. Make sure the tang is clean and free from any oils. Mix up the epoxy and apply some to the tang and both pieces of the handle. Make sure you don't too much near the sides or ends.. you don't want a bunch of epoxy squeezing out when you clamp the handle. Next place both pieces of the handle on the tang and line them up. Now clamp them down for about 20 minutes. Make sure when you clamp them that they don't slide around and mis-align. You may wish to check them a few times to make they stay aligned while the glue is drying.

Also make sure that the handle pushes tight agains the guard so it won't be loose. I usally add a little epoxy around the guard for good measure.

My pommel was off, so when I designed the handle I made sure I had a little bit of the tang extending above the pommel for the peen. Epoxy will stay a bit flexible for a few hours, so after it initally setup, I proceded to peen the pommel back on. This way the pommel peening actually had a chance to tighten everything up. Don't glue and then peen a few days latter.

The above picture shows the handle glued to the tang. It is starting to look like a sword again.

You will probably need to do a little touch up sanding for any glue that might have leaked out of the joints, or for just a final cleanup. Just be careful not hit any metal parts when doing this.

You may wish to also try it out.. you may decide to change the shape a bit.. not impossible to do at this point, again just be careful with the guard and pommel.

Part II shows how I add a leather grip.

Part II


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