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Old 26th December 2011, 10:41 AM   #1
delor
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Default A new yataghan

Hello,
I recently made a new yataghan and asked to Jim McDougall whether I might show it here, as I would appreciate feedbacks about my work, especially from all of you being used to real antique weapons. Jim answered that I was welcome to post this piece to promote observations toward historical discussion, so..here I go !
This commission is based on characteristics of real antique yataghans (most of my documentation I got from Ethnographic Arms and Armour Forum, and also from Artzi Yarom Oriental-arms site galleries). Nevertheless, some of the characteristics differs from traditional technics, because of today's constraints, or because of the commission itself. This I would greatly appreciate to discuss with you. So, first of all, here are the main characteristics :
  • the blade is made of wrought steel, 1200 forge welded layers. I was asked to make it as bright as possible, with a very low-contrast pattern, so I choosed two different steels which took bright / light grey colors, so that it finally looks like an ancient blomery steel,
  • as the yataghan was to be shipped to US, I decided not use walrus ivory for the handle. I asked to the US customs services, but never had a 100% guarantee that there will be no problem with walrus ivory, so I used mammoth ivory instead,
  • the scabbard is made of sculpted wood with leather coverage,
  • all the fittings are made of silver plated casted bronze. This was one of the main issues as my client did not want those fittings to be made of embossed / chiseled metal as usually, and asked me to make something that looks more "strong" and "heavy". Mainly, I had to forge the blade with a thiner base, because the blade fitting was thicker than usual ;
  • the fittings patterns have been drawn from antique yataghan pictures ;
  • the blade has been acid etched with a turkish sentence I picked up from an antique yataghan ;
  • yatagan length : 76 cm
  • blade length : 60 cm
  • yataghan weight : 900 gr
  • scabbard weigh : 700 gr

Some photos :
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Last edited by delor : 26th December 2011 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 26th December 2011, 12:09 PM   #2
Gavin Nugent
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Delor,

You should be very proud of this work, it is a very faithful example of old world style meets modern technology, congrats, I am impressed, very bold and dramatic.

Gavin
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Old 26th December 2011, 01:02 PM   #3
Battara
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Very impressive work!
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Old 26th December 2011, 03:30 PM   #4
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Amazing!
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Old 26th December 2011, 04:40 PM   #5
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Wow!! Stunning ceaftmanship!!
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Old 27th December 2011, 06:43 AM   #6
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Thanks to all of you.
I would be very interested by any question or remark from you, concerning the departures from characteristic aspects of the genuine models you might have known (size, weigh, design...).
Regards.
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Old 27th December 2011, 07:45 AM   #7
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Very faithful to the original work

Handle seems shorter
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Old 27th December 2011, 06:03 PM   #8
delor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nalan1978
Handle seems shorter

Yes and no... the whole size of the handle (bolsters + ivory) is as usual, but you're right, the ivory part is shorter (see attached photo).
The reasons for this are :
  • mammoth first quality ivory is quite hard to find. You already need two large blocks because of the "ear" shape, and longer would mean really much more expensive. So longer bolsters and shorter ivory is a good compromise ;
  • this is what the customer asked for, having already seen the same kind of design with another contemporary yataghan... (same constraints, same solutions).
Thanks for this interesting remark. I shall keep it in mind !
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Old 27th December 2011, 09:40 PM   #9
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Very, very nice , if you have any 'construction' photo's ....especially of the hilt and how it was fixed to the tang, I would be grateful if you could post them.

Kind Regards David
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Old 27th December 2011, 10:14 PM   #10
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Thanks !
Yes I have many photos of the whole making process. Maybe it's better to start with the beginning and the blade forging :

The commission was mainly based on a single drawing, and a common agreement to decide on the embellishments details "on the way".
The blade was made of 60Ni20 and 80CrV2 steels, (choosen for their bright and gray colors after etching), which were forge folded up to more than 1200 layers.
Then the blade was forged out of the folded billet, and finally roughly buffed.
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Old 27th December 2011, 10:33 PM   #11
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The next step was to do a better grinding / buffing. A wooden handle was made at the same time, for the customer to see what the whole thing will look like...
Then came the heat treatments and a long polishing phase to reveal the final steel pattern.
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Old 27th December 2011, 10:46 PM   #12
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The handle parts, and other fittings were first made of jewellery wax, then bronze casted, and finally silver plated.
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Old 28th December 2011, 06:59 AM   #13
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delor
The handle parts, and other fittings were first made of jewellery wax, then bronze casted, and finally silver plated.



Salaams delor ~ I think that is just so very impressive... The photo record is superb ....Magnificent work ! Some of the best workshop technique I have ever seen.... Shukran !!

Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi.
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Old 28th December 2011, 01:20 PM   #14
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Delor,
Good work overall, considering the requirements. I understand that you've been asked not to engrave/chisel the fittings, and to bronze-cast and plate instead, etc. Essentially, your client asked for a "custom job" based on his/her preferences, not on “historical” accuracy. Speaking of fittings: from standpoint of comparing to traditional techniques - they cannot even be compared, other than based on shape and overall look, which is not wise thing to do. I do not like the fittings, they look like furniture embellishments from the hardware store (the better ones have finer and crispier details, sorry). The scabbard itself is not of proper form for yataghan! in my opinion - it falls short on these two points.
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Old 28th December 2011, 02:27 PM   #15
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Alex,
you are right to point out these two issues, and this is the exact difference between custom job and historical accuracy.

The fittings had to be casted, because it was the client request to get the same aspect as the one you will find with most of the modern sword / sabers. The design was taken from antique yataghans, so the global shape and general design are the same, but - as you precisely said - the object completely differs from the genuine model because the technic is not the same (this I would like to discuss later).

The scabbard design has also been a difficult issue to me. Because of the overall bending of the blade I had to make it quite large, and it makes it look something like a black sea yataghan scabbard. Of course I have noticed that genuine scabbards are usually narrower. This makes no problem when the yataghan has a straight blade, but when it has a more bended blade, I don't see how it's possible. Would there possibly be a split at the aperture, just like some others sabers ? I never saw this on a yataghan scabbard, but couldn't examine much anyway... so if you have any clues or explanations on this issue, I would greatly appreciate !

Some words about the historical accuracy and the use of one technic or another. My opinion is that the only way to reach (or should I say try to reach) historical accuracy, is to keep on using the exact same technics as those ancient craftsmen used to. Only then, with the same tools, and trying to reach the same skill, sometimes you see that the result is going to be OK, and you start feeling you're walking the same path the ancestors did.
At the opposite, using different technics will bring you to some different point which might sometimes be close to the genuine object. But always the "flavour" will be different, and an experienced eye will always notice the differences.

Thank you very much for your critical review. This is exactly what I was looking for by posting in this forum. I hope you will be so kind to answer my questions about the scabbard design, if you can help...
... and I also hope that I will have the opportunity to show you some more historically accurate work in the coming monthes (by the way, I might have two commissions planned for 2012 : a shaska and a kindjal, with chiseled / embossing traditional work on both of them).

Kind regards,
Bernard

PS : I apologize for my english speaking which might look a bit "frenchy". Hope it remains understandable...at least !
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Old 28th December 2011, 02:47 PM   #16
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Bernard,
A classical Yataghan's scabbard should be of full/round, oval-like shape to accomodate approximately 1/4 of the handle length when the blade is fully inserted. The scabbard's profile should resemble the profile of the blade, but be slightly wider at the throat side to fit the blade's tip upon insertion. I may have some pictures of original yat scabbard, disassembled. will post later.
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Old 28th December 2011, 03:07 PM   #17
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Thanks Alex,
yes, I made it narrower at the throat side because I felt it would have been really too large to accomotate the handle itself. I think this bring us back to the point of having casted parts : only embossed metalwork would allow an overall thiner aspect and would make possible the genuine scabbard design, because the wood thickness requirement would be less.

Still remains to me the question of the general scabbard bending. Could you please have a look at the attached photos and tell me if it looks OK for you or if you see something that should have been made differently ?
Of course your own photos are more than welcome. Will be very profitable to me as scabbard is not what photos usually focus on.
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Old 28th December 2011, 03:40 PM   #18
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This is absolutely astonishingly beautiful craftmanship Bernard, and thank you so much for sharing the developing work along with your thoughts, ideas and steps. It is fascinating to learn more on how this weapon was produced and the details on things like which type of ivory to use, something I would not have even thought of.

Alex thank you for the valuable input as well, and as Bernard has noted, this is exactly what was hoped for...to add historical context to this weapon which is a masterfully produced interpretation of the original forms. As an arms historian I admit I have always had reservations about 'reproductions' and 'replicas' as they are clearly not actual vintage items, however this has given me the opportunity to truly appreciate the work presented in these.

Absolutely outstanding, and well presented Bernard, with excellent discussion!
Thank you guys,

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 28th December 2011, 07:40 PM   #19
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Bernard,
The side form is right. It follows the profile of the blade. Now, lets talk about the width of the scabbard: it should be wide and round enough to take in the bolster and base parts of the handle. You achieve this by taking more wood off the inner surface of the scabbard close to its throat. The overall outer width should remain the same, but inside you just file off more wood from each insert using round file, thus increasing the diameter of inner opening to match the bolster and handle base. I attach some before-and-after-restoration pictures of original 19th Century yat scabbard. Notice the shape of its opening and inserts. the old wooden inserts are chipped at the edges and slightly bent. Still, fit the blade perfectly and it goes in and out with no effort. Also, see another yat and its handle after disassembing. Hope it helps. Good luck with your projects.
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Old 28th December 2011, 09:55 PM   #20
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To Alex : thanks a lot for your explanations and photos. Both will be very useful to me.
It confirms that heavy fittings cannot fit with the required width of the wood. So I have no regrets for this time, I couldn't have managed to do it a different way. But, most important is that I exactly know by now how to proceed next time.
I feel more comfortable with the handle photos, as they show the same kind of construction as I did myself. Nevertheless, this bring a new questions : it seems to me that the holes in the tang are wider than the pins diameter. Do you confirm this ? Along with the resin (or wax / cement) used to fill the handle, it would be a good mean to avoid the breaking of the ivory scales because of the underlying steel tang dilatation or contraction due to temperature, by providing a loose junction.
Thanks for your wishes about my new project. If you agree I might come back to you (and maybe other forum members) for advices on the way !

To Jim : many thanks for welcoming me. Yes this discussion is very exactly what I was willing to find here, considering the knowledge and experience of the members.

To each member that had the kindness to comment : thanks again. Your comments are very encouraging. I try to improve myself each time I get into a new project. Will probably will have more stuff to show you in the future.

By the way, as we were speaking of scabbard, I attach some more photos of the sculpting and leather coverage process. Have to say that I did the sculpting myself but had the leather coverage done by a specialized leather craftswoman.
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Last edited by delor : 28th December 2011 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 29th December 2011, 04:09 PM   #21
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Bernard,
You noticed it correctly. Yes, the holes are wider than pins, The pins are held by resin and by being flattened at both ends to hold the handle in place, so once the edges cut and loose, it is easy to dismount the handle by (gently:-) hammering the pins out (without breaking the scales:-)
As for scabbard, good work in terms of quality. as for stiching - this particular stiching is more proper for a "fantasy" sword, as it is not "historically accurate". I recommend using "cut" method instead, which is also better to use with natural leather, and not vinyl:-)
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Old 29th December 2011, 04:45 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALEX
You noticed it correctly. Yes, the holes are wider than pins, The pins are held by resin and by being flattened at both ends to hold the handle in place, so once the edges cut and loose, it is easy to dismount the handle by (gently:-) hammering the pins out (without breaking the scales:-)


Hello Alex,
I'm really glad to read this ! Apart from being able to dismount the handle, the main issue is that the tang lenght can change because of temperature changes (as it's made of steel...) although the ivory scales length cannot change at all. By the way, you have good chances to end with broken scales. Modern knifemakers are aware of this problem and are usually reluctant to show ivory fitted knives at outdoor knive-shows !
I have be thinking of this problem for a long period of time and found that same solution of loose riveted pins could be the best one, at least with that specific assembling. So it's a good news to discover I followed the right way, just as the ancients did

Quote:
Originally Posted by ALEX
As for scabbard, good work in terms of quality. as for stiching - this particular stiching is more proper for a "fantasy" sword, as it is not "historically accurate". I recommend using "cut" method instead, which is also better to use with natural leather, and not vinyl:-)

Nevertheless, I confirm this is natural leather. But, of course, it is "brand new", so a bit shiny. It could have been aged, but the purpose, as you understood, was not to make a fake trying to look like an antique one.

If you don't mind, I shall post some more photos about other technical issues, as I'm sure you will certainly have more relevant remarks...

Regards,

Bernard
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Old 30th December 2011, 07:07 AM   #23
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Bernard,
I agree, you followed proper handle mounting technique. Well done!
I am also glad to hear that your purposes and intentions were/are "pure". This is quite noble of you and very commendable.
The reason I thought you used vynil is that I saw some whitish background/undercoat layer on one of the pictures above, and this along with its structure looked like vinyl.
By all means, please share your photos, questions and comments with us. I am sure many forumites will contribute and benefit, with as pure intentions as yours:-)
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Old 30th December 2011, 05:21 PM   #24
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The leather had been freshly "recutted" to make in thiner by removing half of the material. This is why the reverse side looks so clean.

Switching to another issue, I would like to talk about the blade engraving. I proposed several technics to my client :
  • gold "koftgari" engraving,
  • simple hand engraving,
  • acid etching
Gold was not accepted because, my client wanted the whole work to look only black and bright silver.
Acid etching was choosen because it was less expensive.

I picked up the sentence from a photo of an antique yataghan (found it it the forum archive...). I removed most of the (unwanted) ornaments and kept only the script itself. I had it checked with a friend of mine who can write arabic, and so confirmed the writing was correct, although the sentence itself was not arabic but turkish.
I covered the blade with graver varnish and reported the sentence on it, then dis the acid etching.
I don't know if acid etching was one of the "genuine" technics that were used in the old times with those blades. I never could tell from photos, as you must have a very close look to distinguish both...
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Old 31st December 2011, 07:12 AM   #25
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Acid etching was used on some items like armour, metal trays, etc, but not that common on arms. It was/is considered less prestigeous and desirable. As you properly stated - it is less expensivel, and would not be considered a mark of high quality. Nowadays, it is used as quick, sweat-shop mass production method as it allows multiple items to be produced at the same time.
I'd also like to comment on the placement of the script: I'd suggest placing it closer to the handle, toward the center of the blade.
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Old 31st December 2011, 08:52 AM   #26
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Yes wou're right ! I hadn't been aware of the scripting placement. I decided to center it in the "remaining" space, between the blade fitting and the tip of the blade, but it would rather be closer to the fitting and the center of the whole blade, according to most of the genuine yatagans (usually having shorter blade fitting, too).
I would really have enjoyed to choose a more "noble" engraving technic. Moreover, I am used to deal with a very good arms engraver who can do this perfectly well (eg : attached photo, the work he made for me on a pesh-kabz).
But there was no way to get this kind of work within the limits of the commission. Next time, maybe... Most of the people think that the forging of the blade and the forge welding process is going to be the most expensive part of the work, but that's not true, at least when you are experienced with the blacksmith work, this is rather quick and simple. At the opposite, the fittings, engraving, chiseling...etc can become extremely expensive and time consuming. Moreover, these technics are now far from being widely practiced as they used to be in the old times, and this also makes them very expensive.
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Old 28th January 2012, 11:10 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALEX
Acid etching was used on some items like armour, metal trays, etc, but not that common on arms. It was/is considered less prestigeous and desirable. As you properly stated - it is less expensivel, and would not be considered a mark of high quality. Nowadays, it is used as quick, sweat-shop mass production method as it allows multiple items to be produced at the same time.

Casting aside the issue of weapons and looking at the issue of illustration, acid etching is what produced some of the world's great illustrative artwork such as that by Durer. If Durer's fifteenth century plates existed in good condition today they could be used to produce much the same fine work - on some sort of paper of course.

Depending on the masking technique, acid etching could outline a project to be engraved further or prepared for koftgari - though I never heard of anyone doing it. It would be useful today to neatly outline the metal to be chiseled away, for example, from the top of a Persian barrel I have where there are raised sections with koftgari overlaid with silver. No one ever did it that way, I bet, but it could be done today. I speak as someone with recollections of limited printing and hand lithography experience. It is possible to cross-apply the techniques to hopefully simplify the job at hand.

I suppose depletion gilding could be used over an etched surface or even gold foil. I have some Indian tulwar hilts which have broad sections of silver leaf hammered on the usual scratched surface. I had an Algerian jambiya with a light gold inlay of pears on the blade. The surface wasn't scratched but simply hit with a file.

In all these things cost and time are the factors.
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Old 29th January 2012, 08:00 AM   #28
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Contemporary engraver Antonio Montejano does an outstanding work based on traditional etching technics.
A video of the engraving of Picasso's Guernica onto a spanish folfing knife : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJhmg8zH_b0

And some more "classic" work :



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Old 29th January 2012, 02:03 PM   #29
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I suppose someone could go one step further and coat a blade with a photo sensitive solution and expose a negative through an enlarger. Then it could be acid etched and/or hand engraved. And you could be the first kid on your block to coat a blade and then expose it through a special camera like a tin type thus permitting "on the scene" image recording. That would be the next step in social and professional status seeking among engravers.

Someone desiring to compete with that could then go back to the middle ages and try to produce a camera obscura image landscape through a pin hole onto his sensitized blade. The image would then be hand chiseled. This should be the ultimate status in image reproduction and impression - until someone discovers some other way to achieve the task in a more primitive way and thus trumpet a victory.
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Old 2nd February 2012, 04:28 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delor
PS : I apologize for my english speaking which might look a bit "frenchy". Hope it remains understandable...at least !
Hi Bernard
don't be worry about your English ...
our friends here, are customary now to read me, since years

anyway, I'm taking the opportunity to congratulate you, for your amazing acheivement,
it's worthy of a "Chef d'oeuvre" to reach the rank of "Master"

toutes mes félicitations les plus sincères

à +

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