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New Project: A Fullering Tool for Sword Making

A "Fuller" is a groove that goes down the blade of a sword or a knife. People often think that is called the "Blood Groove". Because it allows blood to freely flow out and it prevents suction from getting the blade stuck.

But this isn't true. It is put there by the blacksmith because it makes the blade much stronger. Really! By forming a groove in the blade you add some edges and the concave shape. These things make the blade much stronger.

On this page I go over the basics of the fuller and the tool. On the second page I show you how it is made and it includes a video.


Fuller in a sword

This picture shows the fuller in a katana.

(Note that this is a sword I bought in Kyoto Japan. It was a fun adventure. You can watch a video of that whole process on my youtube channel right here: The Quest for a samurai sword, An american in Japan.

A drawing of a fullering tool

This is a project that I will be starting soon. I want to make a fullering tool that fits in the hardy hole and makes it easier to put a straight fuller on both sides of a sword, nice and even and on both sides at the same time. The picture here shows the concept. The two rods of steel are what actually put the fuller into the blade.

There is a bit of a desing problem with this particular one in that there is no good way to hammer down on it. The U shaped rod is in the way. So, let's try another design.


Some Notes about the Fuller

It is also called the "Cannelure" but that is a rather old term that is not used much. A really good definition for its existence is that as metals got better and swords could be smaller, lighter and thinner the Fuller actually helped this. It made the sword lighter while still making it stronger. And it also significantly reduced any whipping action of the sword while it was used.


About making the Fuller

There are a few different ways to make it of course but if we are going to use a fullering tool like the one I am making then this is a good process:

  • Start out with some kind of a fence to guide the sword as you use the fuller to just start the groove.
  • Once the whole groove is started then you remove the fence and use the fuller to get the full depth of the groove.
  • You can't use a fence to guide the sword becase as you are fullering the displacement of the steel will move the sword away from the fence, causing your fuller to be crooked!
  • So, use a guide (fence) to just start the groove. Then remove the fence and do the groove to full depth.


Fullering tool with rods

So here is a new version of the fuller tool. With this one we have used a band of spring steel. This way we have that section of spring steel at the top to hammer on.

Much better.

I should note something about these drawings though. The steel rods both top and bottom that actually cause the fuller appear to be just cut off of rod stock. All the ends of these need to be rounded off. They should look something like hot dogs.


Just some thoughts about other way that fullering tools can be made.

Drawing of a fullering tool

You can also use some kind of a die holder and dies like shown here in this drawing.

I don't know it for a fact but I would imagine you can buy the dies in any size fuller that you need. Or just make them.

NextOkay, I have completed this project and made the fullering tool. You can watch the video and see the actual fullering tool right here


The complete modern blacksmith book

The Complete Modern Blacksmith

A truly unusual and unique resource, this extremely hands-on book brings together three popular but long-out-of-print classics (THE MODERN BLACKSMITH; THE RECYCLING, USE, AND REPAIR OF TOOLS; and THE MAKING OF TOOLS) essential for anyone interested in the making, repair, maintenance, or arcana of tools. An essential volume in any serious craftperson's library, this book covers setting up a smithy (anvil, forge, hammer, tongs, and all), and manufacturing everything from stone-carving chisels to decorative wall hooks.




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