Napoleonic Light Cavalry Sabre, Back in the Swing

Posted: 18/01/19 (14:44pm)

It has taken me a while to get back into the swing of things. I have not yet resumed work on the restoration of the P1796 light cavalry sabre. In fact, I have not managed to get any work done in the workshop since returning from my Christmas break.

I have not been sitting idle though. I have been attending auctions and carrying out research on items that I intended to buy or bid for.

I was at an auction in Cumbria on Tuesday and really had my heart set on buying two early 18th century hangers. They were beauties, green stained ivory hilts and silver mountings, complete with scabbards. Once the early bidders had dropped out, only myself and one other bidder remained. Unfortunately, for me, the other bidders’ pockets were deeper and I had to drop out at £2000.

C’est la vie.

The next day (yesterday), I drove to Greater Manchester to attend another auction. This time with more success. I managed to come home last night with five Napoleonic period French sabres, the first of which, a year XI light cavalry sabre has just been added to the website.


Now that I am once more back in the swing, I will be returning to the workshop next week and will continue the work on the British P1796 LC. This work will feature in my next blog.

I am also meeting with my web guru on Monday and soon after will be holding the sale that I promised. I intend to reduce the price of all stock that has been on the website for more than a year. There are going to be some great bargains!

Happy New Year

Posted: 31/12/18 (7:59am)

Happy New Year one and all. I wish you all the very best for 2019.
I haven't been doing much work over the Christmas period so don't really have much to share. I'm looking forward to getting back to the workshop and to finishing the P1796 restoration. 
I will also be attending a number of promising auctions in January so hope to have plenty to share soon.

Happy Christmas and Thank You All

Posted: 23/12/18 (8:55am)

Happy Christmas and a peaceful and happy 2019 to all.
2018 has been a good year for Bygone Blades and I would like to thank you all for your custom and support.
I will be adding lots of exciting new finds to the website over the coming months and Bygone Blades will also be having a sale in the New Year.
Have a great Christmas!
All the best,

Back from Blasting. P1796 Restoration.

Posted: 19/12/18 (12:42pm)

I got the scabbard and hilt furniture for the P1796 back from the media blasters yesterday. I am not going to be doing any more work on the sword until the New Year but I thought that it might be interesting for you to see what steel that has been cleaned by media blasting turns out like.

after media blasting

The first time that I had something blasted, I thought that the guy had painted it with grey primer.

As you can see, the blasting gets to the bottom of any pits and removes all rust, paint and yes, patina. I would not usually use or recommend blasting but on something that is heavily pitted, and if the customer requests it, it is a quick way to clean up the piece prior to re-polishing.

Once polished, the steel will again be bright and shiny and as the customer requested, the colour and polish on the hilt will match that of the scabbard. After polishing the pitting will of course remain but as long as the metal is regularly cleaned and polished with Renaissance Wax, the rust will not return and the pits will merely be testament to the age and authenticity of the piece.

after media blasting 1

I photographed the blade alongside the scabbard and as you can see, it also requires a good clean and polish. I would never recommend having a blade media blasted. In this case, I will hand polish the blade, beginning with 240 grit and working my way up to a 600 grit finish. This will not remove all of the tarnish but it will remove some and lighten the rest, improving the overall look.

P1796 Light Cavalry Restoration part three.

Posted: 11/12/18 (16:13pm)

I managed to finish the P1796 grip yesterday. I rounded the edges a little more. Then I began work on the hole through which the tang would pass. I began by drilling a hole through the centre of the grip. That part was easy, my drill press made short work of it.


Then came the time consuming job of chiselling and filing out the hole in order for the tang to fit snugly. I kept the blade on hand and constantly tested the fit. This photo was taken at the mid way point. It took a couple of hours but eventually I had a nice tight fit. 


Having finished the woodwork, it was time to put the leather on the grip. Originally, I had planned to use shagreen but the presence of an ordnance stamp on the blade indicates that this was a trooper’s weapon and as such, the grip would most likely have been finished with leather.

I used a square of calf leather, which I soaked, shaped and then attached, smoothing the leather as I went and working it into the grooves. While the leather dried and bonded firmly in place, I aged then twisted the brass wire that would be used to complete the grip. Once the leather was dry, it was time to stain and age it before finishing it with the wire.


The grip fit perfectly into the old hilt furniture and I am happy with the antiqued finish I managed to get on the leather. It would not look right if the grip stood out as being brand new.


As you can see from the photo, I also got the welding done on the tang. The steel of the original tang was in good condition under the thin layer of rust so instead of making a new tang and welding it on to the stump of the old, I decided to grind a “V” through the holes, clean up the metal and fill weld. It turned out nicely. I also added a couple of centimetres to the tang tail in order to be able to peen the tang onto the hilt. I added far more steel than is needed so once the hilt is assembled I will shorten the newly added tail so that it is about 6mm proud of the pommel. The general rule when peening is that the piece to be peened should be the diameter of the tang plus 1mm.

The remaining work is to media blast the scabbard and hilt furniture. Media blasting will leave the steel a matt grey colour so it will all need polishing before assembly.


Once reassembled and after peening the tang through the pommel, I will drill through the ears and insert a cross rivet through the tang before peening both ends. Lastly, I will give the blade a good polish and coat all the metal with Renaissance Wax. However, all this will have to wait until after Christmas.

Second Phase of the P1796 Restoration

Posted: 06/12/18 (12:17pm)

I spent some time yesterday making a new grip for the P1796 light cavalry sabre. I started with a block of seasoned oak. The first stage was to reduce the block. I used the grip collar from the sabre to outline the front of the new grip – the part that will eventually fit inside the grip collar.

Having marked the wood, I reduced it using a Tenon saw. I prefer to work with hand tools; a band-saw blade wanders as it cuts whereas a stiff bladed saw, such as a Tenon saw will give one a nice precise cut.


After reducing the block, I roughed out a blank of the grip using a coping saw. A coping saw is ideal for cutting curves.


I regularly referred back to the original steel grip furniture to ensure that I was getting the right shape and fit.


Once happy with the general shape I roughed in the grooves and again tested the fit.


That is as far as I was able to get in the time I had available yesterday. This afternoon, between jobs, I will finish the grip by rounding it fully and sanding it smooth, ready for the leather and wire finish which I will describe and show in the next blog. 
You may be wondering why I am doing this restoration between jobs as opposed to cracking on and getting it done in just a couple of days. Well, the answer is that when I agreed to take on the project, I informed the customer that I would not be able to make a start on it until early in the New Year. By using the down time on more urgent jobs - while I wait for glue to set or stain to dry etc, I am hoping that I will get this sword finished before Christmas and so be able to give my customer a pleasant surprise - although if he is reading this blog it will not be much of a surprise.
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