If you are not familiar with the Society for Creative Anachronism, you probably don't realize that making swords in my world is a woodworking project. I've been making swords for 15 years now, and I'm just starting to get good at it. They are made of ratan, which is technically a grass, but enough like wood to qualify.
Tonight I removed the old sword from the basket hilt, cut a new length of ratan to the same length as the old one using the nifty "new" miter box that my friend Glenn passed on to me—a big improvement over cutting freehand with a crosscut panel saw—determined the "direction" of the blade, and thinned the full length to 1.25" using a draw knife.
Tomorrow I'll shape and size the handle, aiming to have it pressure fit into the basket hilt tightly enough that it would stay seated without tape. Then I'll mount and tape the sword using a combination of strapping tape, nylon webbing (to add weight and durability), duct tape, and electrical tape.
Every sword is a bit of a crapshoot, but careful and consistent work tends to produce a superior blade. It is easy to get carried away with the draw knife, so even though I'm working to a deadline I'll need to be slow and deliberate with the handle.
I'm taking pictures of all this, so I hope to post a "how to" entry with roughly step by step pictures of how I do this—maybe on Sunday.