For second attempt I have decided that the tools that are at my disposal are not sufficient to do what I want to do. So I have made a tool.
I took a piece of wood from my late cherry tree that had about the right diameter and I rounded one end with an axe and a rasp to desired shape – a cylinder with the outer diameter just slightly smaller than the actual dagger handle has. I have put it in a bucket of water so it does not burn too quickly and I proceeded with the forging.
First I made the same shallow bowl shape that I have done previously, but when making it deeper I did not use the ball peen hammer anymore, instead I have inserted the prepared cherry tree block and whacked it with 1 kg forging hammer (also courtesy of my late uncle).
It has worked rather well. Not as well as a metal die would of course, but reasonably well. After only a few whacks I got a shape with which I was content.
That was not the end of the usefulness of this highly sophimasticated tool. After drilling the hole for the tang and rounding the edges on belt sander I nailed the bowl on the cherry wood for polishing.
To avoid too excessive material removal I did not do it on belt sander this time, but I have used my angle grinder with lamellar soft abrasive wheels. It has worked very well and in mere minutes I had sufficiently polished surface. Some pitting remained, but I have decided against removing it completely to avoid one of the mistakes from previous day (making the steel too thin in places).
Now for the grooves. I could not forge them hot, because for that I would need a special die. I could make one of course, but that would be extremely time-consuming and my anvil cannot hold dies yet. I had to hammer them into cold steel and from previous day I knew that I need support and space for the bend at the same time.
So I took a rasp again and I filed grooves in the end of the very useful cherry log. They are intentionally asymmetrical, because that is the look I was aiming for.
On thus prepared support I have fixed the bowl, this time not with a nail, but with a fairly long and thick screw.
A lot of banging has followed, first with masonry chisel to mark the groove, then with the smith’s hammer and old file used as a flat surface, and with small cross peen hammer. The steel was a lot tougher than I thought it will be so the cherry wood collapsed a bit. The result is that some grooves are better looking than others and some are nearly symmetrical, but that is actually correct as far as the 3D model from the game goes – the grooves there are notably different and one even looks like botched. And whilst I am not aiming for exact replica, I am aiming for the general look of the thing.
The rondel has circa 50 mm in diameter and is circa 10 mm tall. Grinding that out of solid block of steel would take an inordinate amount of time, eat a lot of abrasives and definitively weigh way too much. So I think this is mission accomplished.
Next time I will be doing something like this I will most definitively do a better job at it, but I do not think this is all that bad and I will use it. Now it will be polished and buffed together with the bolster and the guard as long as it takes for all three components to have the same look to them. That will probably take a few evenings. However I will not remove all pitting from the rondel, because I fear that it might destroy it.
And then comes the assembly. I literally cannot wait…