Monday, May 7, 2018

Special Forces Spike Hawk

I made this work for a retiring member of the US Army Special Forces. The colors and etchings all relate to the unit of the person who is receiving this as a retirement present.

1075 steel hand forged by me. Heat treated and tempered to be fully functional. Head patina is a mix of several processes. Sealed with Renaissance Wax. Pommel spike is the same, save for being made from mild steel

Handle is curly maple stained, filled, and sealed with a process used to make violins in days gone by. Green leather pig skin grip, cowhide and silk thread fixings.


Here I've folded the face over and forge-welded it to increase width to draw the edge down for a more graceful look.

I did a quick preliminary grind to make sure everything is the right shape and that I'll have enough material for the complete piece. This passed muster so I went forward with filing in details and refining everything. 

After shaping, drifting a detail hole just forward of the eye, and polishing to 600 grit, I do several cycles of cleaning with mineral spirits, acetone, and water to prep the surface for etching.

The original artwork, left, is placed on the right side of the tomahawk face. I use graphite transfer paper to carefully place and cut the art into the etch resist by hand (right).

Both sides have been etched. I used what is called the Bordeaux method to electro-chemically pull iron away from the work. It's simply an even mixture of copper sulfate and un-iodized cooking salt. The resist I use is a mix of fine rosin, asphaltum, and bee's wax. 

For this project I needed to make a pommel spike. I used a piece of 1" heavy wall steel pipe, cut in half, and shaped each half to what was essentially a pair of 'witch fingernails'. I then forged and stick-welded these together, cleaned them up, and drilled a hole for a hollow steel pin.

Working on the fit of the head and pommel spike on the curly maple handle. I've learned to leave a little extra at the top of my handles until the fit is exact and the surface has gone through one or two cycles of grain-filling and final sanding. The big extra bit up top gets cut off later.

To finish the piece, I dyed some feathers and wrapped the tips in deer hide and twine. I then added a thick braid of twine to each and looped them through the detail hole in the head. 

The handle got wrapped with green pig skin which I affixed with a corset stitch and a little glue. Over this I placed two decorative leather turk's heads.

I'm pretty please with this one and was very sad to see it go.

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