C18-19th Tulwar Restoration

Open to public view.

C18-19th Tulwar Restoration

Postby MattS » 08 Feb 2016 10:56

I bought late 18th to early 19th century Indian tulwar from an Mr Admin. It was a great price because it was in a very unloved condition and both blade and hilt were completely covered in red rust. I have now restored that to a nice condition in keeping with its age, and I though people might like to see the process of turning it back into a sword again.

For anyone interested in the technical specs of the sword: Its blade is 760mm long and has a distal taper down from 6.5mm at the ricasso to 3.5mm at the tip. It has a 240mm sharpened false edge. There is a narrow central fuller running approximately 3/4 of the blade with two very small fullers running 2/3 of the blade. The point of balance is about 185mm from the guard and the grip is 80mm. The hilt is made of sections of iron soldered together and is held on with pitch, which is clearly visible between the langets, and there isn't any play at all.

The process I followed to bring it back to life was:
1. I gave it a good coat of Plusgas to penetrate and loosen the rust.
2. After that had soaked for a few days it was brushed with a brass brush to remove the bulk of the red rust.
3. The remaining rust was removed with a combination of course steel wool and then a fine sanding sponge soaked in window cleaner. That left the blade with a heavy patina.
4. I took 800 grit wet and dry soaked in window cleaner and used it lightly to start to polish the blade. I then worked up the grits and ended on 2500 grit. I didn’t use any wet and dry on the hilt, this was just for the blade.
5. Using plenty of 3in1 oil I worked up through the grades of steel wool until the oil stopped changing colour (indicating it wasn’t cutting any more).
6. After that the blade was wiped down to remove as much oil as possible and then buffed with a felt wheel and very fine polishing compound. I used more fine wire wool after bussing to remove any leftover polishing compound.
7. I covered the blade in Brasso (other metal polishes are available). I used a few pieces of the felt to rub in plenty of the polish and help lift any remaining wax or particulate. I then polished that off with fine steel wool.
8. Sections of the edge started almost sharp and the cleaning process had sharpened them back to a decent edge. I the rest of the edge a uniform sharpness. I’ve not taken it to a proper razor edge, but it can cut paper.
9. I used a paper shop towel to wipe the blade and polish off any remaining particulate and polish.
10. The blade and hilt were given a final protective wipe down with oil.

A few notes that might help anyone doing this:
• Abrasives are cheap, change your papers and pieces of wire wool often.
• Electricians scissors (I have CK brand ones which I can’t recommend enough) are perfect for cutting sections of steel wool off the roll, which is easier than tearing it and you get the exact size you want.
• Bamboo skewers are very handy for directing steel wool and wet and dry into places you can’t get to with your fingers, like under those damned langets!
• Using 3in1 oil works better than WD40, and helped the wool cut for longer, for step 4.
• Using Brasso and longer pieces of fine steel wool in a ‘shoe shine’ motion is a really good way to get hilts polished.
• A corded drill is definitely better for buffing, I got through a lot of battery charges on my cordless. A larger bench top or free standing buffer would be most ideal, but I don’t have the room for one.
Attachments
Tulwar-2702.jpg
Lightbox glamour shot of the hilt and blade
Tulwar-2702.jpg (96.84 KiB) Viewed 5497 times
Tulwar-2682.jpg
Lightbox glamour shot of the hilt
Tulwar-2682.jpg (112.13 KiB) Viewed 5497 times
ArrivalCondition.jpg
Before I started work on it
ArrivalCondition.jpg (82.63 KiB) Viewed 5497 times
User avatar
MattS
Corporal
 
Posts: 54
Joined: 30 Apr 2015 18:09
Location: Surrey, England, UK

Re: C18-19th Tulwar Restoration

Postby ChrisBear » 09 Feb 2016 09:53

wow, that is some improvement there :-)

I would have stayed away from anything that rusted but I will consider it now I've seen this.
Bear

Still trying to learn which end of the sword is which
User avatar
ChrisBear
Private
 
Posts: 24
Joined: 18 Aug 2015 11:33
Location: Reading

Re: C18-19th Tulwar Restoration

Postby MattS » 09 Feb 2016 11:58

ChrisBear wrote:wow, that is some improvement there :-)

Thank you very much! I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.

ChrisBear wrote:I would have stayed away from anything that rusted but I will consider it now I've seen this.


You absolutely should, you can sometimes find some great bargains. Nothing about it was difficult to do, it just takes a lot of time and a pile of abrasives. I used up about £10’s worth of steel wool, wet and dry and a sanding sponge (the sponge would have still been fit for more use if the langets on the hilt hadn’t attacked it and gouged chunks out).

It’s also really rewarding to take a sword shaped piece of tetanus and turn it back into a shiny bladed object that looks good on display and could be happily used. If you do a restoration of your own, don’t forget to take pictures :D
User avatar
MattS
Corporal
 
Posts: 54
Joined: 30 Apr 2015 18:09
Location: Surrey, England, UK

Re: C18-19th Tulwar Restoration

Postby admin » 15 Feb 2016 14:52

You did a great job, Matt! This is a really nice sword and I considered keeping it to do the work myself, but I just have too many other projects. Something I did do recently was re-stablise a tulwar blade in the hilt. It's a really nice tulwar, but the pitch in the hilt has shrunk and cracked, leaving a slight bit of movement in the hilt. I used my blowtorch to heat up the hilt until the pitch melted (at which point you have to stop heating or it massively expands and shoots out of the hilt!) and then with a rubber mallet tapped the hilt deeper onto the tang and left it to cool. Sometimes you have to do this a couple of times, but once was enough with this sword and now it's rock solid again.
http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

I like swords more than you.
User avatar
admin
Emperor
 
Posts: 35093
Joined: 13 Mar 2006 17:28
Location: Guildford, Surrey, England.

Re: C18-19th Tulwar Restoration

Postby MattS » 15 Feb 2016 16:16

Thanks Matt, I’m really chuffed with how it’s come out. This one is going to get a little stand of its own (I might even etch it a little plaque), when I get round to building it… I should have really been working on a knife making commission, but it was such a good deal I couldn’t leave it and then when I had it sat on the workbench I couldn't not play with it :D

I was curious how, or even if, you can fix a wobbly hilt on a tulwar. I’ll file that away for future restoration projects, thanks for sharing! I still find it amazing that the hilts are only held on with pitch, and just how durable that is.
User avatar
MattS
Corporal
 
Posts: 54
Joined: 30 Apr 2015 18:09
Location: Surrey, England, UK

Re: C18-19th Tulwar Restoration

Postby Lyceum » 16 Feb 2016 12:01

Wonderful work, oh and great photos too. Any photos I take look as if they were captured with a potato and a piece of string. Quite a handy tip about resetting the blade in the hilt too, I have a tulwar hilted khanda that could really use it (ever so slightly off/loose). Might give that a go.
No language is justly studied merely as an aid to other purposes. It will in fact better serve other purposes, philological or historical, when it is studied for love, for itself"

Mind now changed...
User avatar
Lyceum
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 4208
Joined: 16 Nov 2007 00:02

Re: C18-19th Tulwar Restoration

Postby MattS » 19 Feb 2016 12:44

Swords make for tricky subjects for photos. They don’t fit in frame very well and they’re reflective so lighting can be a challenge too. One of the good things about them is that they’re long and thin and work really well for diagonal compositions.

The ‘before’ shot of the tulwar on my workbench was just a camera-phone shot. I broke out a proper camera for the ‘after’ shots. They were also taken in a Lastolite CubeLite, I have the 45cm x 45cm one, which gives a good background and I put my flash on top of the cube so the light diffused nicely. I really need to get a bigger background so that I can take photos of the whole sword in one frame.

Part of the enjoyment I get from my swords is actually taking pictures of them, the second thing I do when I get them home is take pictures of them. The first is obviously to swish them about :D
User avatar
MattS
Corporal
 
Posts: 54
Joined: 30 Apr 2015 18:09
Location: Surrey, England, UK


Return to Arms & Armour, History, Militaria, Archaeology, Art

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron