Ok, I lied. The blade was NOT the longest part of the build. So far that goes to the pommel cap, which was a TREMENDOUS pain in the ass. There are quite a few rather small parts and I had to make several attempts before I got some of them cut right, so yeah, I went through a few versions before I finally got what I wanted.
The first step was the easiest: Cut out the core of the pommel cap and get it to a fairly rough shape. I did some further cutting, including a hole for the sword core to fit into, not visible here. Once that was done, I layered a bit of fun foam to smooth it out and help establish the shape, like so:
Trying to cut this to exact shape wasn't working well, so instead I cheated like this...
...and used a final layer here to get the form I wanted. And that's about as easy as this part of the build gets until I attach the cap to the rest of the sword later on... I'd already decided to do a garnet cloisonné-style pommel, so to get the look right this requires cutting cells. The easiest piece was the part that fits onto the top of the cap.
Fairly simple, a roughly cross-shaped center with a piece in each corner. This design comes from a historical pommel, which IIRC was part of the Staffordshire Hoard, so fits in the c.6th Century style I'm going for.
Next I cut out the pieces that go on either side, and this is where I ran into problems. I had a basic idea for a design, but the problem was translating it in a way that would actually WORK. Cut the cell walls too thin and the whole thing would fall apart. Too thick and I'd have to simplify things too much. I went through several different versions and gave up on trying to make a template, so finally managed to do them all by hand. If I ever think of a better way to do this, I'll be sure to implement it in the next version. Cutting them out also took a good bit of time.
ANYWAY, the design in a stylized dragon's head. The one on the left is the version I went with and used as reference for the second piece.
With these segments cut out, I attached them to the core of the pommel cap.
After these pieces were placed, I cut the cells for the sides. I chose to continue using the dragon head design, and worked it into another element I've used on previous swords: Ŝunor's Hammer. This symbol was a fairly important and popular one among the pagan Anglo-Saxons, as Ŝunor was seen as a guardian, and his hammer was often used as a protection charm, just the sort of thing a warrior would want with him heading into battle. The head of the dragon became part of the handle, with the "head" extending out from either side at the base of the pommel cap. I borrowed another design element from the Staffordshire pommel cap. On either side of the hammer is a highly stylized boar's head. I like how these pieces flow together as three separate images but part of one unified whole.
The side panels were then added to finish the core.
With the pommel cap's core completed, I decided to go ahead and do some of the finer detail work I have planned first, before attaching it to the rest of the sword. It will be much easier to do this now than try and attach those pieces later. I'll be using a bit of woven cord to simulate the filigree-work often used as detail work on these swords.
I cut four small pieces of foam and wrapped cord around the three outer faces. These four pieces will be forming the posts for the "pins" that were used to hold the pommel cap to the rest of the pommel.
I put two of these on each side, as well as running a length of cord around the end of the pommel cap as a sort of decorative border. This completes the construction of the cap itself (FINALLY).
With that finished, the pommel cap was cemented onto the upper guard.
The next step is one of my least favorite parts of building a sword: The grip.