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Last Updated 02/04/2002

Rapier Hilt Construction Part Three,
Building a Pappenheimer Type Hilt


    This page will detail the construction of a Pappenheimer style hilt. This hilt is based on an early example found in the Wallace Collection. These instructions assume that the reader has basic metal working skills. In order to build a hilt, the reader must be able to weld steel, or know someone who can. This is not a project for the beginning craftsman. If you are just starting hilt construction, please make sure you read the first part of these instructions, found here.

A very short history of the Pappenheimer

    Most historians place the Pappenheimer just outside the SCA period. The name certainly is. The hilt is believed to be named for a historical figure from the 30 years war, the Graf von Pappenheimer. Hilts of this type are normally dated to the first and second quarters of the 17th century. The earliest example I have found of this style of hilt, is in the Wallace Collection Catalog. The entire rapier is dated "about 1620". However, the blade was made no later then 1595. The makers mark is for a blade maker who worked up until that date. The text suggests that, the blade was mounted much later then that.

        If anyone has any documentation for a Pappenheimer style hilt, please email me. I would love to get more hilt documentation in General.


Step 1: Get your frame
    You should have already completed the frame of the rapier before proceeding with these steps. Instructions for the frame construction can be reached here. Please go back and read how the build the frame. That page also includes a materials and tool list.

Step 2: Form the outer rings
    Once you have your frame, you need to form your outer rings. For the Pappenheimer hilt, you will need to form two identical rings, because this hilt has balanced symmetry on each side. Unlike the three ring swept hilt,  that may be built following the other set of instructions on this web site.
   Clamp a piece of 3" diameter pipe in the bench vise. Heat your 1/4" bar or rod stock to a cherry red, using a forge or your torches. If you use torches, you will need to do this operation in several heats. Using your pliers, clamp the end of the heated stock to the outside of the pipe and then bend the stock around the pipe. continue this operation until you have formed a 360 degree circle around the pipe. In order to complete the circle, you will need the bend the bar slightly down so that it crosses under your starting point. Cool the piece and the repeat the process to produce two 360 degree circles.
    Cut the circles off of the bar leaving as small a gap as possible. Now take your circles to a hard flat surface. An anvil would be best, but a clean concrete floor will do in a pinch. With a hammer, gently flatten your circles. If you are using round rod, extra care is require to make sure you put a flat dent in your stock. While you are hammering your circles, make sure you close the gap created by the saw cut.
    Weld the gap closed, to create a solid ring. This weld needs to penetrate and be as clean as possible. Once the rings are welded, take them to the grinder and smooth the welds out until you have two clean unbroken rings.

Step 3: Form the cross bars.
    For this pattern of hilt, you will notice a curved bar going across the upper third of the outer rings, as you hold the hilt with the blade pointed down. The curve of this bar is formed around a 4" diameter pipe. Form the curve using the same procedure in the step above. Be sure to form a curved section larger then needed to go across the outer circle, we will grind the section to fit. Do this step twice, so that you end up with a matched pair of curved bars.

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