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Greetings from California

Jeff Pringle

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Hello, all -

I’ve come wandering over from Don Fogg’s bladesmith forum, where Ford posted a link to his very lucid inlay tutorial on this site.

I tend to make things in metal and wood, and am fascinated by both the history and entropy of objects and processes involved in their creation. Thus I like to use outdated, pre-industrial tech & materials, as well as patinas and non-mirror finishes.

I also like to work back as far as I can in the creation process, for instance by smelting ore to get metal instead of going to the store to get metal (this of course is not always possible). More due to an interest in gaining a thorough understanding of the entire creation process behind an object than a pursuit of ‘sole authorship,’ but sometimes sole authorship is nice too.



Electric Hardingfele in maple and ebony




Sword hilt in forged iron with copper and silver inlay



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Guest ford hallam

Hi Jeff,


welcome to the gang. Glad my tutorial was able to lure a few of you fellas over here. You were lucky though, I'm not always that lucid! :D

That's a pretty fancy bit of inlay there, is that silver/copper twisted wire inlay interspersed with copper and silver strips?


I like the sound of your approach, smelting my own tama-hagane is definitely on my " to do" list....someday.


cheers, Ford ( the tsuba guy )

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Is a Hardingfele Norsk? Does one use a bow with it?


Yes, it’s Norwegian, and bowed – apparently at some point in the baroque era, a Viola di Amore made it into the Hardanger region and over the next couple hundred years the local instrument makers kept the sympathetic strings while moving the shape more in line with the standard violin. They are supposed to look like this:


The sympathetic strings make the acoustic fiddles pretty amazing in live performance, especially in the hands of someone like Annbjørg Lien ( http://www.annbjorglien.com/ ) who isn’t doing a strictly traditional set of tunes. I learned of the Hardingfele from the CD liner notes of the band Hedningarna ( http://www.silence.se/hedningarna/ ), a Swedish-Finnish roots rock group who electrified a bunch of traditional Scandinavian instruments. I had the original members of the band sign my fiddle when they toured the US. :)


is that silver/copper twisted wire inlay interspersed with copper and silver strips?


Yes, right and left hand twists alternating with plain wire, into engraved dovetail channels and planished out over the surface – quite a bit of surface!... usually inlay is a minor component in my work, but back in the day total coverage seems to have been the way to go so I had to see what it was all about - took me a couple years to build up the courage to start in on it, but once started it was relatively easy to maintain focus to the end... now if only I could get my eyes to uncross! :D:)

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Is that signed by the folks of Hedningarna? if so...lucky man!


Good to see you over here btw.

I'm also wondering the same thing as Ford with regards to the inlay on the hilt and pommel of the norse sword, is that Pringelli as well btw? haha

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Is that signed by the folks of Hedningarna? if so...lucky man!


I was able to convince Hållbus, Björn & Anders to sign it, since they inspired it. Unfortunately, if your group is labled 'traditional' or 'folk' music, you don't get the same options in booking concerts so the US audience never got a chance to experience Hedningarna as a rock band, and the band was not impressed with the venues available here. :D


is that Pringelli as well btw?



Indeed it is! I should explain that:

There is another type of inlay associated with this piece, Damascus wire forgewelded into the blade. One of the firms doing this work in the 9th & 10th centuries signed their blades “INGELRII” and it occurred to me that I could use the technique to sign the work AND make a really obscure pun by inlaying “PRINGELRII” as my signature. Here is a photo of the blade after heat treatment and etching to show the design, once the blade got polished it appears more like a watermark, obvious in direct sunlight or when the blade is in motion, but elusive to the camera.


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Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone!


Is the whole blade damascus, or laminated steel?


The blade is straight 1070, with a bit of alloy banding to give it texture. This style of sword blade represented a big improvement in smelting technology and blade design back at the end of the first millennium, which also killed off pattern welding as a standard manufacturing technique for swords. No longer did the bladesmiths have to assemble sword-sized steel from smaller bits which could be arranged in interesting ways, they now had big enough lumps of homogenous steel to make entire swords. The patterning of the older swords was a mark of quality, almost certainly, so a non-structural inlay of Damascus may have been necessary to break into the high-end sword market initially. I normally use Damascus, but considering Ingelrii’s place in sword history it seemed wrong to use it on this piece.


What is the tuning of the sympathetic strings? Do you play violin yourself?


There are a bunch of tunings, the most common is ADAE with the sympathetics at BDEF#A; but traditionally it’s all a half-step over what’s written, i.e. A does not equal 440 hertz – I usually keep A at normal pitch on the electric though.

I do play the violin - just not very well :D , or often enough. :):)

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Thanks Jeff,


Many years ago, long before you could buy ready-made damascus, (when Cyril Stanley Smith was the only one who had ever written anything on the subject) I dabbled in making laminated and pattern-welded blades from recycled wrought iron and carbon steel. I became quite into it, but moving to the big city for the big jobs put an end to my dreams of re-forging the sword of Sigurd.


I did do a really cool carving of it once though, as a retirement gift for a Norwegian master gunsmith that I studied under.


Nice to see someone who appreciates plain old carbon steel. 1070 also makes great edged tools and punches.


Again, nice work!



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