Blog » British P1796 Light Cavalry Sabre Restoration

British P1796 Light Cavalry Sabre Restoration

Posted: 26/11/18 (12:26pm)

I made a start on the 1796 Light Cavalry sabre. As you can see from the photo, a previous owner had made rather a mess of re-hilting the sword. The new owner wants it returned to how it should be. 


Notice the gap between the ricasso & leather washer and the front of the guard. For some reason, when replacing the original grip, someone added a wooden block. I really have no idea why they did this. 

 I began by un-peening the tang and removing the string, pine wood, glue and leather "repair," In doing so I discovered that the tang had been irreparably damaged.

Broken Tang

Not only was the tang double drilled, the drilling had cut through the edge, leaving only a few millimetres of steel attaching the blade to the tang. On closer inspection, I found a hairline crack through the remaining section. There was absolutely no strength or integrity to the tang and the consequences of swinging the sword - even without impact, could have been catastrophic. It is likely that the bend and crack in the tang were the result of just such an action and it is a miracle that the blade did not fly out of the hilt and that nobody was injured.
I am going to have to remove the damaged tang from before the holes, fashion a new tang and weld it onto the remains of the original. There is enough good steel for me to make a strong weld, after which the tang will once again be able to support the stresses of use. Regardless of whether or not the sword is going to be swung in future, it is vital that its strength and integrity are intact.

Once I have remade the tang, I will carve a new grip from oak, wrap it with shagreen, re-wire it and reassemble the hilt before re-peening the tang. Then I will make a replacement cross rivet, drill one neat hole through the new grip and tang and peen the cross rivet in place through the ears. Once again it will look as it should and would have looked when first made.
I will also media blast the guard and back strap before reassembly, re-polish the blade and media blast the scabbard before re-polishing it. I will not be able to do anything about the pitting to the scabbard and hilt furniture but having removed the rust and polished the steel, the sabre will look a great deal better.
Several applications of renaissance wax over the following weeks will protect the steel and help to prevent new rust from forming.
As promised, I will keep you posted on how the restoration progresses.