Diagrams of Parts of the Japanese Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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For a lengthy glossary of terms see here: sword-site.com/thread/546/japanese-glossary-sword-terms







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Japanese Glossary of Sword Terms – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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For diagrams of the part of a Japanese Sword see here: sword-site.com/thread/547/diagrams-parts-japanese-sword

AIKUCHI
Aikuchi (literally “fitting mouth”) is a form of koshirae mounting for Japanese tanto blades (up to 30cm) in which the handle and the scabbard meet without a guard in between. 

ARA-NIE
Name given for large coarse Nie. Nie are martensite crystals that are formed during the heating and quenching process. Nie are crystals that are large enough to be viewed as individual particles.

ASHI 
Projections or short lines of soft steel that run from the border of the hamon (patterns of Nie or Nioi) to the edge of the blade. Literal translation is “Leg or Foot”.

AYASUGI
A pattern of grain (Hada) forming regular wavy lines used mostly by the Gassan and Satsuma Naminohira schools. 

BOHI
Wide groove almost filling the shinogi surface.

BONJI
Sanscrit characters occasionally carved onto the blade surface. 

BOSHI
The shape of temper line in the point of the sword. 

BO-UTSURI
Straight faint mirror like reflections of the temper line.

BUSHIDO
Literal translation: “Military-Knight-Ways”. An unwritten code of moral principles which the knights (Samurai) were required or instructed to observe. Inazo Nitobe wrote BUSHIDO: The Soul of Japan in 1900 which is a recommended book for those interested in learning more about BUSHIDO.

CHIKEI
Term used for a bright curved line (such as Nioi) that occurs in ji (grain body of the sword).

CHOJI
Hamon (temper line) that is in the shape of cloves. Typical swords in the Bizen tradition feature temper lines with choji. 

CHOJI-MIDARE
Term given for a clove-shaped temper line mixed with irregular shapes.

CHU-KISSAKI
Chu means ‘middle”. This is a term for a blade point of medium length in proportion to the width of the blade near the tang. 

CHU-SUGUBA
Chu means ‘middle”. This is a term given for a hamon (temper line) that is straight with medium width.

DAISHO
This is a matched pair of swords (typically a katana and wakizashi with koshirae mountings). Only Samurai carried a daisho.

DAITO
That A [sic] long sword. Literally a large sword.

FUKURA
The cutting edge of the sword point.

FUKURE
Flaws

FUMBARI 
A term used to describe a blade which becomes noticeably wider as it approaches the hilt. A feature of Koto blades.

FURISODE
A tang shape with the end deeply curved toward the back side which resembles a kimono sleeve.

GAKUMEI
The signature removed from the original tang and inserted into the shortened tang.

GINSUJI
A silvery color kinsuji line in the temper line (yakiba).

GISHI
A man of Rectitude. Rectitude is the power of deciding upon a certain course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering – to die when it is right to die, to strike when to strike is right.” (Inazo Nitobe, BUSHIDO, The Soul of Japan, p. 46)

GUNOME
A type of Hamon (temper) resembling regular half circles.

GUNOME-MIDARE
An irregular mixture of ragged gunome.

GUNTO
A general terms for swords with military mountings. 

HA
The cutting edge of the sword. 

HABAKI
The collar around the blade above the tang to fit the blade securely into the scabbard. 

HA-BUCHI
The border line between the Ji and the Yakiba.

HADA
The surface grain of the blade. There are many types and more than one type can be on the same blade. 

HAGANE
Steel used to make a Japanese sword (may also be referred to as tamahagane, the raw steel)

HAGIRI
A flaw where the blade edge is cracked entirely through the edge of the blade at a right angle to the edge.

HAKIKAKE
A feature of the tempered edge in which Nie appear in a swept or brush-stroke pattern.

HAKO BA
A box shaped Hamon.

HAMACHI
The edge notch where the blade joins the tang. 

HAMON
The temper line. 

HANDACHI
A katana with partly Tachi mountings. 

HI
Grooves cut into the sword. 

HIRA
Flat surface of the blade.

HIRA-ZUKURI
A blade shape which is flat without shinogi ridges.

HITATSURA
Name given to a blade with a hamon (temper line) pattern known as full temper. The blade tends to resemble a tiger.

HITSU ANA
One or two holes in the sword guard (Tsuba) through which the kozuka and/or kogai are inserted into pockets in the scabbard.

HORIMONO
A general term for carvings on the blade surface. Here is a wakizashi by Nobukuni that features Bonji, which is Horimono

IHORI-MUNE
Two surface shape to the mune (back edge) of the blade.

IKUBI-KISSAKI
A short and stubby point said to resemble the neck of a wild boar.

INAZUMA
Lightening shaped bright lines in the Yakiba or the Hada.

ITAME HADA
Wood grain pattern in the surface steel.

JI
The surface of the blade between the Yakiba and the Shinogi. 

JIHADA
Surface texture. The various patterns of Hada. 

JI-NIE
The presence of Nie in the Ji.

JINJA
A shrine (jinja) is a sacred place where kami live, and which show the power and nature of the kami. It’s conventional in Japan to refer to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples – but Shinto shrines actually are temples, despite not using that name. Every village and town or district in Japan will have its own Shinto shrine, dedicated to the local kami.

KAEN
A flame shaped boshi pattern.

KAERI
The shape of the turn back of the boshi pattern.

KAI GUNTO
Term used to descrive modern Japanese Naval swords.

KAJI
A swordsmith

KAKU-MUNE
A square shape to the back of the Mune.

KAMI
Shinto is based on belief in, and worship of, Kami or ‘spirits’. Kami can be elements of the landscape or forces of nature. For a well produced background on Kami, please visit the BBC website here.

KANJI
Chinese writing characters used in Japan. Our calligraphy artist Houso Oguri produces lovely Kanji artwork that you can see here.

KANTEI
The study and appraisal of Japanese swords.

KASANE
General term for the thickness of the blade.

KATANA
The general term for a long sword (2-shaku) 60.6cm or greater, worn cutting edge up through the sash. 

KATANA KAJI
Swordsmith. 

KATANA MEI
Name given to the signature on the side of the tang which is AWAY from the body when the blade is worn with the cutting edge up.

KATANA TOGISHI
A sword polisher. Here is a photo of a sword polisher’s workshop in Kamakura, Japan.

KATANA KAKE
A sword stand horizontal display.

KATAKIRIBA
A sword shape with a ridgeline on one side only and the other side flat.

KEN
Straight sword which is double edged.

KENGYO
A butt end of the tang with a symmetrical V-shape.

KINSUJI
Whitish golden lines along or in the Yakiba.

KISSAKI
The point of the blade. Many shapes. 

KITAE
The style of forging.

KIZU
Various flaws or defects in a blade. Literal translation: “cut or scratch”.

KODACHI
Term given to short tachi blades usually 60.6cm or less from the Kamakura period.

KODOGU
This is the collective term for all the fittings except the Tsuba.

KOGAI
A hair arranger which fits into a pocket in the scabbard and is withdrawn through the tsuba (Hitsu Ana). 

KOJIRI
Fitting on the bottom end of the scabbard. 

KO-KISSAKI
A blade point of short length in proportion to the width of the blade near the tang.

KOMARU
A small round boshi.

KO-MOKUME
Small wood burl grain Hada.

KO-NIE
Tiny Nie (Martinsite) crystals along the Hamon.

KOSHIRAE
Sword mountings including scabbard, fittings, and handle. 

KOSHI-ZORI
A type of blade curve which has the maximum curve point nearer the tang than the middle.

KOTO
Old swords. Usually means swords made before 1596.

KO-WAKIZASHI
A short wakizashi.

KOZUKA
Small utility knife which fits into the pocket in the scabbard. 

KURI-JIRI
Chestnut shaped tang end. 

KURIKATA
Knob on the side of the scabbard for the belt cord.

MACHI
Notches in the blade to stop the Habaki. Edge side is the Hamachi; back side is the Munemachi.

MACHI OKURI
When the notches have been moved up the blade.

MAKI ITO
The braid for wrapping handles.

MARU-DOME
The round end of a groove.

MARU MUNE
Rounded back edged of the blade.

MASAME-HADA
Straight grain

MEI
Signature.

MEKUGI
The peg holding the handle on the sword. 

MEKUGI-ANA
The hole for the Mekugi. 

MENUKI
Ornaments under the handle wrapping to improve the grip. 

MIDAREBA
Irregular Hamon patterns.

MIDARE-CHOJI
Irregular clove shapes in the Hamon.

MIHABA
The general term for the width of a sword blade (from the back edge to the cutting edge). 

MITSU MUNE
Term for a three surface back edge of the blade.

MIZUKAGI
This is the white diagonal stripe at the base of a retempered blade.

MOKUME-HADA
A burl wood grain Hada (body).

MONO-UCHI
This is the striking area of the blade, generally 12-16cm inches below the point (Kissaki). 

MOROHA
This is a doubled-edged sword.

MOTOHABA
This is the width of the blade measured at the Habaki (collar of the blade).

MUMEI
A blade without a signature. 

MUNE
The back edge of the blade. 

MUNE MACHI
The notch in the back of the blade to stop the Habaki.

MUNEYAKI
This is the term for a temper pattern along the back edge of the blade.

MUSORI
A blade without curvature (sori). 

NAGAMAI
A type of koshirae used on a Naginata in the late Kamakura and early Muromachi periods . It came from the fact that the hilt for the long blade was wrapped with a cord or a leather strip wound around it.

NAGASA
The length of the blade. 

NAGINATA
A long hafted sword, wielded in large sweeping strokes. This is a sword blade of one of several similar shapes that was used attached to a long pole. It is also referred to as a polearm.

NAKAGO
The tang of the blade. The part of the blade that fits into the handle.

NAKAGO JIRI
A general term used for the butt end of the tang. 

NAKAGO MUNE
The back edge of the tang.

NAMBAN TETSU
General term for foreign steel.

NAMBOKUCHO
The period of the Northern and Southern dynasties, ~1333 to 1392. Here is a Nobukuni wakizashi from the Nambokucho period.

NAOSHI
Corrected or repaired.

NIE
Martensite crystals formed during the heating and quenching process. Nie are crystals which are large enough to be viewed as individual particles.

NIOI
The same as Nie except that these particles are too small to be discernible to the naked eye and appear like a mist or fog.

NOTARE
A term refering to a Hamon outline that is wavelike. 

O-CHOJI
Hamon of large choji patterns.

OMOTE
The side of the sword away from the body as it is worn. The opposite side is called the ura or back.

ORIGAMI
A certificate of appraisal.

ORIKAESHI-MEI
Blade signature folded into the opposite of the tang when the blade is shortened.

OSHIGATA
A rubbing of the inscription on the tang. Here is an example of an Oshigata on a certificate.

O-SURIAGE
A shortened sword losing all or most of the original tang.

O-WAKIZASHI
Longer Wakizashi, almost 2-shaku (60.6cm) in length.

SAGEO
The cord or braid attached to the Kurikata on one side of the scabbard. 

SAIHA
Term given for a re-tempered edge.

SAKA-CHOJI
Choji shapes slanting down toward the base of the blade.

SAKI-HABA
The width of the blade at the Kissaki (point of the blade). 

SAKI-ZORI
Curvature of the blade with the more pronounced curve toward the point.

SAME
Patch of skin from a ray fish used on sword handles and sometimes on scabbards. 

SAMURAI
Samurai warriors were the elite of four classes of Japanese feudal society; samurai, farmers, craftsmen, and then merchants. The samurai were expected to bring security to the members of the other three classes. The term, samurai, is 
a derivative of the Japanese verb for service, “saburau”. Samurai literally means “one who is a servant”, and that is how they began, as ‘servants’ to Emperor Tenmu back in the 7th century.
Samurai were inspired by Bushido “Military-Knight-Ways” is an unwritten code of moral principles which the knights (samurai) were required or instructed to observe. Bushido made the sword its emblem of power and prowess. The very possession of such an instrument imparts to him a feeling and an air of self-respect and responsibility. What he carries in his belt is a symbol of what he carries in his mind and heart, – loyalty and honor.

SANBONSUGI
A “three-tree” type pattern Hamon (temper line). Swordsmith Kanemoto of Mino province (modern-day Gify prefecture) was famous for this.

SAYA
The scabbard or sheath. 

SEPPA
The washers used to fill the space between the tsuba and the sword. 

SEPPUKU
Literal translation: “stomach-cutting”. Known also as Hara-kiri. A form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. A good article can be read here.

SHAKU
The Japanese unit of measurement equaling 30.3cm (11.93 inches). A tanto measures less than 1 shaku, a wakizashi measures between 1 and 2 shaku, and a katana is 2 shaku or more in length.
1 shaku = 30.30cm (11.93 inches)
1 shaku = 10 sun
1 sun = 3.03cm (1.193 inches)
1 sun = 10 bu
1 bu = .3030cm (0.119 inches)
1 bu = 10 rin
1 rin = .03030cm (0.01193 inches)

SHINAE
Small cracks cross-ways in a blade. A flaw.

SHINOGI
Ridges on each side of the blade. 

SHINOGI-ZUKURI
These are swords made with a ridge line, the most prevalent type of sword. 

SHINTO
These are ‘New swords’. Swords produced between 1596 and about 1800.

SHINTOISM
The essence of Shinto is the Japanese devotion to invisible spiritual beings and powers called kami, to shrines, and to various rituals. Shinto has no known founder or single sacred scripture.
Shinto is wholly devoted to life in this world and emphasises man’s essential goodness. For a well produced background on Shintoism.

SHIN-SHINTO
Literal translation: “New, new swords.” Swords between 1800 and 1870.

SHIRASAYA
White wooden scabbard usually made from Japanese ‘Honoki’ wood. 

SHOWA-TO
These are handmade blades made after 1926.

SORI
The term for the curvature of the sword. 

SUGUBA
This is a sword with a straight Hamon paralleling the edge curve. 

SUN
The Japanese measure for one-tenth of a shaku.
1 shaku = 30.30cm (11.93 inches)
1 shaku = 10 sun
1 sun = 3.03cm (1.193 inches)
1 sun = 10 bu
1 bu = .3030cm (0.119 inches)
1 bu = 10 rin
1 rin = .03030cm (0.01193 inches)

SUNAGASHI
Sweeping lines along the Hamon like floating sand ridges.

SUN-NOBI
Longer than average Wakizashi or Tanto.

SURIAGE
A shortened blade. Generally performed from the base of the blade by cutting the Nakago.

TACHI
The general term for swords slung blade down, carried mainly on horseback. Tachi swords were mainly produced during the Heian period (794 to 1185) and the Kamakura period (1185–1333)

TACHI KAKE
This is a sword rack or stand for a Tachi.

TACHI MEI
This is the name given to a sword whose signature (mei) is on the side of the tang which is away from the body when the blade is worn slung with the cutting edge down.

TAMESHIGIRI
Term given to the cutting test on a sword.

TANTO
Short daggers less than one shaku in length (30.3cm).

TOGI
Polish on a sword.

TORII ZORI
The curvature of the sword with the deepest part in the center of the blade.

TSUBA
A sword guard.

TSUKA
A sword handle (hilt).

TSUKA ITO
The braid for wrapping handle, normally made of silk.

TSUKA MAKI
The sword handle wrapping.

TSUNAGI
This is the term for the ‘mirror’ wooden sword that keeps the Koshirae intact when the blade is in the Shirasaya.

UBU NAKAGO
An original unaltered tang.

UCHIZORI
A type of curve that bends slightly towards, rather than away from, the cutting edge.

URA
The side of the sword next to the body when the sword is worn.

UTSURI
A misty reflection found on the ji and shinoji of swords of every possible type of surface grain. These faint lines appear to reflect the Hamon.

WAKIZASHI
Medium length sword between one and two feet. See available Wakizashi swords here.

WARI KOGAI
A kogai split to form chopsticks.

YAKIBA
The tempered surface along the edge.

YAKIDASHI
The end section of the Hamon near the tang.

YAKINAOSHI
Retempered blades.

YARI
A spear.

YASURI ME
File marks on the tang.

YOKOTE
The line separating the blade portion of the sword from the point portion. 

YUUKI
(勇気). A quote from Prince Mito: 揑t is true courage to live when it is right to live, and to die only when it is right to die.�As titled in Chapter IV, BUSHIDO by Inazo Nitobe 揅ourage, the spirit of daring and bearing.

ZAIMEI
A tang with signature. Visit our page with detailed information on parts of a Japanese sword.

ZEN
Japanese equivalent for the Dhyana, which “represents human effort to reach through meditation zones of thought beyond the range of verbal expression.” (Lafcadio Hearn, Exotics and Retrospectives, p. 84)

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How to Grind a Fuller on a Sword or Knife by Bill Blake – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum!

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The elusive fuller. For a long time I struggled with them. For almost as long I was really unhappy with the way mine used to turn out. Then I read Tinker Pearce’s The Medieval Sword in the Modern World, and finally I was able to develop a technique of my own standing on the knowledge Tinker imparts in that seminal book that allowed me to fuller swords with excellent results.

I’m not going to discuss the merits of fullering swords here, so much has been written about it already. I will say though that aesthetically a fuller is a very attractive addition to a sword, and getting them right is challenging. If you know how though, it gets easier and easier each time you do it.

So here’s the dilemma: most modern grinding equipment has a broad face. This means that it is not easy to get grinding gear into the fuller in the first place. The second problem is, when you get the grinder into the fuller, keeping it straight is difficult. People set up rigs, others use mills, others yet use CNC grinding gear. None of them are great solutions though for the following reasons (in order). Rigs tend to require a fuller to be uniformly wide the length of the sword, as do mills. CNC gear is prohibitively expensive for the average sword maker.

The solution I find works best presumes you have a belt grinder. I don’t mean a belt sander either, because take it from me, if you use them to make swords they won’t last long – the wheels they use are not designed for heat and heavy contact like a belt grinder which is designed for metal.

You really need something like this to do a fuller like the one I will be demonstrating. If you don’t you can still do fuller but you’ll need to do them with an angle grinder on a stand, using a rig made of pieces of timber to guide the sword.

First mark out your fuller:

https://i0.wp.com/i1337.photobucket.com/albums/o673/AlaeSwords/943449_518252701572006_587214720_n_zpsa4b0b491.jpg

I like Sharpies because the ink has amazing staying power and they are non-toxic, but any permanent marker or engineer’s chalk is fine.

As mentioned above, the contact wheel cannot be run up and down the area where I want the fuller, mine just wouldn’t fit, it’s 2 inches across. You might get away with it with a smaller contact wheel, but you would probably struggle to get the nice round hollow shape that most fullers are.

Next you start grinding! Hold the sword by the tang and the tip. Tinker points out that this part of the sword making is best done before any other grinding has been done, and it’s very true. This is for a bunch of reasons: if you muck it up you can figure out how to fix it more easily, it’s almost impossible to get a good result with a fuller on a sword that has distal taper or the edge bevels in place already. There are other reasons too, take it from Tink though, do the fuller first!

Run the sword up and down, taking a little more off each time. I like using a 60 grit for this stage, but you might prefer a 40 or 80. You could theoretically do this part with a bench top grinder stone if you don’t have a bench grinder belt attachment, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t vouch for it either way.

It will take time, believe me, you will probably be going at this for hours. I get my blanks prehardened so I keep them cool with a watering can I keep outside my grinding room. Always pour water over the sword on the grass outdoors WELL AWAY from powertools! Also, always wear rubber soled shoes when working with electrically driven power tools! I hope I don’t also need to point out that you should ALWAYS, ALWAYS wear eye protection. It only takes one little piece of metal at the right angle to take out an eye, and no sword is worth that. I wear a pretty heavy duty dust mask with a latex frame and replaceable catridge type filters, but I make sword as an occupation, but I understand this isn’t practicable for the average hobbyist so get yourself some good dust masks and make sure they are fitted tightly. I use welding gloves to grind with, as when I was a starter making swords I suffered two major hand injuries from angle grinders, and f$%k they hurt, not to mention that I could have lost a finger. Just remember all this stuff. It can happen to you. That doesn’t mean it will, but why the hell take the risk?

After many hours of grinding when you’re happy with the shape move on to 80, then 120, then 320. Tink then uses a buffing wheel to remove the horizontal lines that will be left in the fuller, which is a fantastic way to finish it off. Unfortunately I don’t have a buffing wheel attachment, so I do the next best thing which is get some emery paper over a small block of wood I rounded off on one side. These are easy to make, and you can make different ones for different types of fullers. The other great thing about ‘blocking’ like this is that it removes any waviness in the fuller. Tink can probably grind a fuller spot on by feel, but I’m not that good, so the block goes a long way to tidying my work up.

You’ll be left then with a very pretty custom fuller like this:

https://i2.wp.com/i1337.photobucket.com/albums/o673/AlaeSwords/965186_536514046412538_360716443_o_zps1b6f5447.jpg

I’ve tried a few other ways of doing this, to say the least, but this consistently produces the best results for me. I’ve tried flap discs but they were problematic because the edges tend to score a crooked line in the fuller when used at an acute angle. I’ve also tried using flap wheels on a dril which results in bumpiness in the fuller.

With practice and a bit of patience you’ll be able to use your bench grinder to create beautiful fullers using the technique described above. I’ve tried so many other ways of doing this, and to date, I’ve never found a technique that works as well.

Happy grinding!

Bill Blake – Alae Swords

http://www.alaeswords.com

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Finished sword:

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What to Look for in a Functional Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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10 or so years ago when I was starting to make swords and buy them I really had no idea what to look for in a sword. Thinking about this recently made me decide it would be a good idea to explain some of the basics to make it simple for beginners who are looking to buy a sword. I will discuss here the basics right through to some of the finer points as I understand them.

STAINLESS STEEL

Stainless steel is great for knives. For swords though it is not so great, unless they are intended for decoration only. Actually it can be dangerous. Once a length of stainless steel gets to about a foot long, or if ground too thin, it becomes weak enough that the amount of force a human can exert upon it will make it prone to breaking. This is because while stainless steel is hard, the hardness comes at the cost of being more brittle.

You’ll notice that on alot of knives made of stainless very sturdy ‘grinds’ are used. In other words the steel is left thick in a decent portion of the blade. For instance bowie knives tend to have a long flat surface which is as thick as the stock the knife was ground from, this is to counteract stainless steel’s being prone to breaking if it is too thin. On a sturdy knife stainless steel is perfectly safe, and an excellent choice of material because it is extremely resistant to corrosion.

So while a stainless steel sword is great for a display piece, it is unwise to use one to spar with one, and also using them to cut water bottles and tatami mats can result in them breaking. The piece or pieces that come off during the breaking of the sword are very dangerous and have resulted in serious injuries. They are as likely to hit the person wielding them or bystanders.

CARBON STEEL

It’s a tautologous term in some ways because steel by definition is a combination of iron and carbon. When the term ‘carbon steel’ is used in regards to a sword though it generally refers to high carbon steel.

Mild steel contains 0.3 – 0.6% carbon and is generally not considered an optimal material for knives and swords. This is because it does not harden as well as steels with higher carbon and alloy content, so it is more prone to bending and does not hold an edge as well as high carbon steels.

High Carbon steel contains 0.6–0.99% carbon and so will harden better and hold an edge better. In the context of a sword a high carbon sword will flex like a spring when properly heat treated and ground / forged into an appropriate shape. Importantly high carbon steels used for swords also contain a number of other elements that impart a number of qualities to the steel. High Carbon steels for use in swords are often referred to by their American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) designations, for instance 1060 contains 0.6% carbon – 1095 contains 0.95%. Outside of the sword world these steels are frequently used for things like Industrial Guillotines.

Two other elements worth mentioning (though there are also many others but time and space does not permit a full discussion of all of them here)are Maganese and Silicon. Maganese increases hardenability, as does copper – copper also imparts a modest amount of corrosion resistance (minor compared to stainless steel however). These elements will both be found in High Carbon Steels. Silicon, found in many spring steels imparts springiness. Spring Steels are high carbon steels but have an extra set of qualities. Some people prefer them. The afforementioned 10 series steels are technically spring steels, but have a lower silicon content than steels from the 5, 6 and 9 series (for instance 5160). Some makers prefer the latter, others the former. All of them are great, it comes down to a matter of taste, suitability for the type of sword and so on. In the world of industry these spring steels are often used in automotive springs.

Tool Steel generally places accent on Vanadium content. Vanadium imparts steel with shock resistant qualities, so the steel may be in some ways ‘softer’ though this would hardly be noticeable except in laboratory conditions, but can withstand more shock without developing stress fractures. Tool steel is frequently used in, you guessed it, tools! Tool steels have names like O1, L2, L6 and so on.

All of the above specialities steels with the exception of mild are perfectly suitable for a sword, and none of them are superior to each other, they just have different uses, and slightly different qualities.

If you are interested in learning more about steels, Wikipedia represents an excellent and free starting point. I’ve made a summary above in my own words, but if you are serious about acquiring a deep technical understanding of steel sources like Wikipedia, and technical manuals will always be superior to abbreviated summaries.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_steel

DISTAL TAPER

I could write alot about distal taper, and alot has been written. Rather than slow the narrative down though I will explain the basics and let you do your own thinking about it, because you will find with regards to distal taper that everyone has an opinion, but that no one has all the answers.

Distal taper is taper of the sword’s thickness. In general this will result in a sword that is thinner at the point and thicker at the base. What this does is help the sword’s balance in the hand, and affects the way the sword will flex. Some swords have lots, others have none. A sword without any can work just fine, in fact some swords suit having none.

It is really up to you how important distal taper is to you on a particular sword, so don’t believe anyone who tries to convince you they have the be all and end all answers on distal taper, often it is a matter of taste and suitability.

HEAT TREATMENT

Heat treatment is how steel has been ‘cooked’. Steel will come from the steel factory in an unhardened state, and then can be hardened according to needs by the end user. What this entails in the context of a sword is heating the sword until it is so hot is no longer magnetic (about 1200 c) – it will be about a red colour. It is then ‘quenched’ which means it is rapidly cooled by immersion in liquid. For swords the quenching medium is usually oil.

This hardens the steel. The steel is reheated to about 400 c and then either quenched again or allowed to cool in the air. This makes the steel springy. The end result is steel that is hard and springy, not brittle.

There are other technical aspects of heat treatment and finer aspects, but the above represents the basics. If you want to know more the Wikipedia article linked below presents excellent in depth information and links to further relevant material:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardened_steel

EDGE GEOMETRY

This is a term that refers to the shape of the cutting edge of a sword. Most modern knives have a bevel and then a secondary bevel which is the part that does the cutting. Alot of historical swords had the same type of edge geometry. Others had a smoother transition and this is often called ‘appleseed’ geometry. It is a bit like a parabolic curve.

Neither is superior. Both will cut fine. It is a matter of choice and taste which you prefer.

PEENING

Alot of historic swords had hilts which were ultimately held in place by burnishing the end of the steel that came through the centre of the handle and through the pommel (the piece of metal at the very end of the hilt). Peening is still used today.

Other methods of holding a hilt together include riveting the grip to the tang (the tang is the metal underneath the handle / grip which is connected to the rest of the sword). This was also done historically.

Yet another way of holding a hilt together is with a nut at the end of the tang, which allows for the sword to be relatively easily disassembled. This method came into use around the 16th century and so is also a historically represented technique.

All three of the above methods will hold a sword together just fine, and again it is a matter of taste which you prefer.

Another method which is found occasionally is where the pommel is screwed on to the tang. This method can hold a sword together tightly but is not as popular as the above method, because unless the pommel is also affixed with epoxy resin, this method can be prone to rattling and coming loose unintentionally. If done properly though it can be a perfectly acceptable way to secure a hilt.

IS A FORGED SWORD BETTER THAN A SWORD MADE FROM STOCK REMOVAL?

This one comes up quite a bit. In short it is a matter or taste. In the past it was necessary that all swords were forged – steel had to be refined in this way to make it suitable for use as a sword. Nowdays the steel comes out of the Steel Mill so pure that forging is optional, and results seem to indicate that it does not produce superior swords but rather ones of equal quality.

Often you will find that sword makers tend to forge a sword either to create an interesting effect in the metal like pattern welding (where two or more types of steel are forged together then etched, the different reactions the two steels make to the acid producing a pattern); or the steel is forged so that a shape that is not otherwise practicably achievable – like the curve in a scimitar.

SWORD PHYSICS

This is an area that is very controversial in swords. Ultimately the controversy is due to huge variances in personal taste.

For this reason I believe it is preferable for people to make their own minds up, try different types, and see what they prefer.

You will find issues discussed like nodes (where a sword vibrates when the blade is struck), point of balance (where the sword balances when held on one finger like a see saw), pivot points (the axis around where a sword pivots when swung) and many others.

It is up to you what is important – if they interest you learn about them, if not do not worry.

Myself personally, while I have spent a long time learning about them, I prefer to judge a sword by how it feels overall and whether it suits my tastes. You may find that you like analysing statistics and data before making a choice. There is no perfect answer, it really is up to you.

PARTS OF A SWORD

Below is a chart provided by Wikipedia that names the various parts of a cruciform European Sword. This diagram represents all the basic elements of sword, and if you know the names of the parts listed in this diagram you will likely not need to know or master many other names:

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/da/Sword_parts_no_scabbard.PNG/800px-Sword_parts_no_scabbard.PNG

+ + + + +

I hope you have enjoyed this brief introduction to the world of swords! Rather than drawing acute conclusion I have attempted to present the basics in an open way. Do not let anyone close your mind about swords, or try to convince you that they have all the answers. You will find the people who attempt to do that never know as much as they claim to, and either have a financial or ego driven stake in trying to convince you that they know everything.

Keep your mind open. I have learnt a great deal about steel from professional metal workers like welders and fabricators. I wouldn’t have been able to learn the incredible things they have taught me if I strutted around as a sword maker pretending I knew everything.

Welcome to the world of swords and enjoy the ride!

Bill Blake – Alae Swords

http://www.alaeswords.com

Read more: http://sword-site.com

Alae Swords Heavy Infantry Spathion – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum!

http://www.sword-site.com

Hi All!

So I just finished off another Spathion, this one with a fuller and a characteristically Byzantine down turned cross guard.

A touch over 30 inches long, 1.3kg (2.8lbs), blade width of 8cm (3.14 inches). Peened, countersunk pommel, pommel also rammed on and cold fitted as was the guard.

Handles like a dream, a real ‘hewer’. Makes beautiful sweeping cuts and is excellently balanced for thrusting. Really happy with this one!

Excited to watch the verdigris develop on the guard and pommel!

I did a hand polish on this sword, which I’ve grown really fond of. It’s has a more dynamic appearance, the grain is more alive.

I used Tasman Oak on the grip held in place with two tonne per square inch strength epoxy. The grip was then wrapped in hemp and vegetable tanned goat leather.

All Australian materials and workmanship as always!

https://i1.wp.com/24.media.tumblr.com/e1feaba0805cbfa7db934c9f7e3fd5ed/tumblr_motx27TLQe1s5o057o4_1280.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/24.media.tumblr.com/a476fb0186f77a2b4cb1a76cec6a5a33/tumblr_motx27TLQe1s5o057o1_1280.jpg

https://i0.wp.com/24.media.tumblr.com/9ad26195af5e63472e7add64faaf4365/tumblr_motx27TLQe1s5o057o2_1280.jpg

https://i2.wp.com/25.media.tumblr.com/5fe66e9690ed955d42575b579a7a8e25/tumblr_motx27TLQe1s5o057o3_1280.jpg

Bill Blake – Alae Swords

http://www.alaeswords.com

Read more: http://sword-site.com

Bill Blake / Alae Swords – Reddit AMA – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum!

http://www.sword-site.com

I just finished an AMA on Reddit! It was alot of fun!

http://www.alaeswords.com

http://www.sword-site.com

Rather than just post a link I’ve copied the text, Reddit archives all it’s data after a little, this way it will be viewable indefinitely.

All the best,

Bill

/r/AMA

I make swords for a living! Ask me anything. (self.AMA)
submitted 19 hours ago* by AlaeSwords
Some background about me. I graduated from a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Ancient European Literature. While at University I became deeply enamored with European Swords, subsequently my interests have branched out to include Eastern European, Byzantine and Sassanian swords. My website is www.alaeswords.com and I run a forum www.sword-site.com
Look forward to fielding questions from budding sword makers and sword collectors alike!
Kind Regards,
Bill Blake

[–]Landja 
That is a very cool job!
How many swords do you make/ sell in an average month? How many different “standard types” (, i.e. not for a specific customer) dou you make? What kind of sword is most fun to make?

[–]AlaeSwords 
Hi Landja!
Thanks for your questions!
I make about two swords in an average month, sometimes less, sometimes more. I don’t make any standard types like specific models that I repeat, but I do start from a basic shape which is cut out en masse by an industrial guillotine maker for me. These lengths are like cardboard cut outs and require extensive shaping by hand, hilting, sharpening etc. The swords that are the most fun to make have a ‘lenticular’ blade cross section. The thing I like about making them is that they always seem to stay on track as projects, whereas some other types are much more fiddly to get right. I guess what I’m saying is that lenticular are the easiest truth be told ;D I also have a deep fondness for that style.
The reason I don’t make standard sword types is because I get bored of doing the same thing repeatedly, so I don’t do custom orders, but rather make the swords I like and then sell them. Sometimes this means swords take a bit of time to sell, but I don’t mind because it keeps things interesting for me always working on what I want to. I used to do custom orders, but found it to be problematic for another reason, which was that some customers are serial mind changers… it was frustrating to work really hard on something someone wanted, only to have them have a change of heart and decide they wanted something that was difficult to change redone in a different way, it frequently left me out of pocket, and used up alot of my time.

[–]Landja [+1]
Thank you for the quick reply!
If you know that someone wants to use a sword for re-enactment or sports (like Iado or Tai Chi) what would you suggest? Would you do anything different if you design a sword for this?

[–]AlaeSwords [+93]
No probs!
I’m not well versed in Oriental Martial Arts but usually for sport / reenactment type swords a number of things are done differently: edges are blunted and rounded, the swords also tend to be made lighter so there is less force behind them. One really important one for reenactment is that the tip is really round, so it doesn’t have penetrative power. The last thing is that if it is designed for sword on sword clashing, and lots of it, certain parts of the sword tend to be reinforced, especially around the base of the blade; also the fittings tend towards being utilitarian, no point having gold or silver decoration on a sword that is purely designed for recklessly beating into other swords.
Regular swords on the other hand tend to be treated with more care, so ornamentation is more practical on them. Some of the above features though are pretty common on ‘battlefield’ swords. Me personally I specialize in the ‘battlefield’ aesthetic. I see swords as tools, and I expect my shovel and hammer to be tough, so I expect the same from my swords ie. they should be ‘fit to task’.

[–]Fox_Here
How can customers do that, if I asked someone to build me a house and then said I didnt like it, I would be stuck with that house because its what I said I wanted, ugh people

[–]AlaeSwords 
It’s just one of those things that happens in business, fortunately most people aren’t like that though  :)

[–]airbadfly
What is the most unusual sword you have been asked to make?

[–]AlaeSwords 
Hi AirBadFly!
Thank you for question!
I once had a customer start enquiring about me making a sword for him. Emails went back and forth, it was all pretty normal until he started explaining to me that he was a practioner of black magic and the sword was for ritualistic use…
Hey whatever floats his boat! I’m not his hall monitor he can do whatever he likes with his life as long as he’s not hurting anyone. I wasn’t very keen on doing business with him though, guy seemed a bit unhinged, fortunately the sale never progressed as he encountered financial difficulties and had to back out.

[–]airbadfly
Thank you for the reply, did he mention what type of rituals he would be performing with it?

[–]AlaeSwords 
Hahaha, no, and I wasn’t about to ask. I think swords are used in processions by those ceremonial types, I think when they shed their own blood they do it with daggers? He insisted his interests were in nothing illegal, otherwise I would have ceased dealings with him.

[–]airbadfly [+1]
Ok fair enough thanks for answering x

[–]NumberMuncher
Do you get requests to make swords from books/movies? If so what are the most popular?

[–]AlaeSwords 
Hi NumberMuncher!
Thanks for your question!
Definitely the books/movies that I get the most enquiries about are Lord of the Rings. People don’t usually want direct copies of the swords in the film but want my interpretation of say the WitchKing Sword or Orcrist for example.
The great thing about J.R.R. Tolkein is that he gave the sword the importance it often had in sagas and epics of the Northern European cultural tradition, in this way he has kept alive the traditions of the past. His works of fiction were a great gift to the world because of his voluminous knowledge of language, history and literature. He successfully put back into the collective consciousness many noble and fascinating ideas from the past.

[–]kittymommameowmeow
this gave me a thought! My husband loves swords and LOTR books. I don’t really know anything about the specific swords in the books, but do you have a suggestion for a good sword he might like from LOTR? I’d be really interested in getting one for him, but I know nothing! Cool AMA, by the way!
I guess I’ll pose a question too, even though I’m a noob about swords: What do you most of your clients do with their swords? Are they for use or display or something else?

[–]AlaeSwords
Hi Kittymommameowmeow!
Thanks for your question!
I’ll answer your questions in reverse order if ok. So alot of people I sell swords to want an heirloom they can hand down to their children. Also they want a nice decoration and talking / display. Alot of people want a sword for display that could be used for fighting, but they have no intention to use it that way, but might occasionally take it into the back yard and chop watermelons with it for fun. Other people like the idea of having a sword, because swords are so important in our cultural history, it can be a nice thing to have. Lastly, and people don’t usually say it, but I think some buyers want to have a sword for home defense, kind of like having a baseball bat, and safer than having a loaded firearm in the house (though if swords are not treated with care and respect the risk of accident or injury is very high so I always advise people to be incredibly careful with them, never unsheath them when standing near anyone, and never ever swing one unless they are absolutely positive no one is anywhere near them and have checked there are no children in the general area). So the ironic thing about keeping a sword for home defense is they really do need to be treated with the same respect as a loaded firearm, but then I guess the chance of a sword going through three walls and a fence is far less than an accidentally discharged bullet.
A LOTR sword for your husband I would recommend is Sting by United Cutlery. It’s a beautiful piece, a reasonable price and it comes in stainless steel so it doesn’t need to be oiled. That’s if you’re in the market for a display piece (stainless steel isn’t suited to being used to cut with as it is prone to breaking).

[–]kittymommameowmeow
Thank you for such a thorough answer! I was going to ask what you recommended for cleaning as well. I’ve usually just wiped down his others, but never put anything on them because I wasn’t sure. I think he would like a display piece. He has only actually used his swords once…at his bachelor party chopping pumpkins! Where should I go to get some info on a custom order?
Ninja Edit: googled the sword, I do recognize that one, great suggestion!

[–]AlaeSwords
No probs!
I recommend denatured alcohol to clean the blade (methylated spirits) but don’t get it on any painted areas! Then wipe down with a thin coat of baby / mineral oil once dry.

[–]Go_To_Jail_Card
If you were able to make a sword from any work of fiction, which would it be?

[–]AlaeSwords
Hi Go_To_Jail_Card!
Thanks for your question!
I’m planning on making Hrunting (Beowulf’s Sword). This will make it an approximately 3rd century Northern European Spatha type sword.
A few movies have had a go at it, but I don’t really like what they came up with. I figured I’d have a go and do something I like!
There’s also Durandel from ‘The Song of Roland’ which I think I will try sometime, and another sword that fascinates me is Excalibur. The thing I like about Excalibur is the fusion of Celtic / Roman and Germanic sword culture it embodies, a fascinating mythology, and the whole story revolves around the sword as the central character.

[–]djfutile
What are the major differences between the “replicas” you can buy at the sword stores and a “real” sword you make? How much would you charge to make me a real broadsword with sheath?

[–]AlaeSwords
Hi Djfutile!
Thank you for your question!
The main problem with some swords is that they are made out of stainless steel. While it is great for decoration (won’t rust) stainless steel tends to be a material that is a bit too hard for use in swords, so can end up breaking when using it to cut things. There’s a video on youtube of this happening to an unlucky TV presenter:

…poor guy looks like he really got hurt, though at least the piece coming off didn’t hit anyone in the eye, throat or temple – it could have been even worse.
So the material of choice for handmade sword makers like myself are high carbon steels. There are other differences though like how the sword is designed, aesthetic details and so forth too though.
Honestly though there are some great store bought swords out there, though some are obviously better than others. I’m not against stainless steel swords either, as display and talking pieces I think they are great as they never have to be oiled.
Where I differentiate myself is that I offer swords that are one of a kind. I only ever make a sword design once, and I place a maker’s mark on the sword to show it’s mine.
The price of my swords range from a few hundred dollars through to more than a thousand. A good sheath is maybe a couple hundred.

[–]Dr_Merkwurdigliebe
Damn that video’s scary. The guy who comes in at the end is priceless, though.

[–]GreenStrong
Do you use traditional forging techniques, or do you shape blades by grinding bar stock and then tempering it?
If the former, /r/blacksmith would probably have a ton of technical questions for you…

[–]AlaeSwords 
Thanks for your question!
I work from hardened stock, traditional forging doesn’t necessarily produce a better product any more and it is fraught with pitfalls.
I can do forging, actually I’m pretty good at it, but I don’t do it very often for the above reasons.

[–]moltenrock [score hidden] 15 hours ago (0|0)
Is it true there can be only one?

[–]AlaeSwords
Yes!

[–]moltenrock
Why I’m not rolling in up votes like George Jones rolled in country poon-tang I’ll never know.

[–]AlaeSwords
I think they turn the votes off for a week on comments so the group think can’t affect the results of AMA’s

[–]cavemanbud
Have you ever attempted Damascus steel blades?

[–]AlaeSwords
Hi Cavemanbud!
Thanks for your question!
Yes, I have made pattern welded blades, but these days I work almost exclusively with monosteel blades. I really love the damascus look, but it just doesn’t grab me as much as homogenous steel swords do.
I think this is for a couple of reasons. Firstly damascus / pattern welded blades are not as cost effective to make. It takes a really long time to make them, and so they end up costing alot more, and I try to make swords that are within the price range of the average person, rather than cater to an elite crowd. The second is practicality, damascus / pattern welded swords no matter how well made can be prone to unpredictable behaviour. For instance splitting and warping during heat treatment, coming apart under extreme stress and so on. It takes alot to get a damascus / pattern welded sword to disintegrate, but a comparitive monosteel sword (modern monosteel as compared to modern damascus) is less prone to those sort of problems. Mostly this is not an issue because damascus swords in the modern world are usually so expensive they are never used. My personal point of view is that a sword is a tool though, so I make them with that in mind, form in tandem with function.
There is a type of steel called Wootz which is made in a crucible which sometimes people refer to as damascus steel that I have not attempted making, smelting is not really my cup of tea, but there is an amazing documentary about it called ‘Secrets of the Viking Sword’ that was on PBS a little while ago if you’re interested, it’s available to watch online.

[–]cavemanbud
Awesome! Thank you for the lengthy reply.

[–]Obliviouschkn
really cool ama! I’d upvote just for the video of the sword breaking.
My question is more about old swords. Was it common for swords to be the high quality you see in movies? How would a blade from that era hold up to a similar sword of yours and what makes the difference, if any.

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
So the main difference between the swords of history and the steel if today is that modern steel making is able to produce a more consistently pure product. The purer a steel (less contaminants) the better it is – stronger and more reliable. Also because of modern chemistry we understand which other elements to add and how much of them to add to ensure a high performance steel, for instance copper improves hardenability.
Another important difference is heat treatment which can be done more accurately and evenly.
It would be a terrible waste of an irreplaceable artifact to bash an old sword against a new one, but say if it we’re done hypothetically the old sword would be more likely to be dinted.

[–]Kill_Kendall
Is it possible that you could make a hammer? Say .. Mjolnir?

[–]BigKev47
I love the little mental-movie you gave me of OP accepting your challenge, and slaving night and day over his forge to create an exact replica Mjolnir, only to finish it, and realize he was too exact because he or any other mortal is completely incapable of lifting it, as to remove it from his workbench.

[–]AlaeSwords
Yes!
Where is Thor when you need him?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
Hammers are not my thing, but Museum Replicas make a pretty nice looking Mjolnir!

[–]Lucky75
What’s the process for “folding” the steel like? Do you do that on all blades, or just the katana ones? Does doing this always make it stronger and the more folds = more strength?
As a related question, how can I tell when I’m buying a sword that it’s strong enough to use and not just for decoration? Are certain techniques stronger than others? And what type of metal is the best, carbon steel?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
It’s a good question! basically folding is an optional extra these days. The best way for me to answer this one is to direct you to an article on my forum:
www.sword-site.com
Click Feature Articles>What to look for in a Functional Sword
It contains a really detailed explanation of the things to look for, and to look out for!

[–]Gryndyl
About how long would it take the average complete beginner to go from zero to swordmaking should they take up smithing as a hobby?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
It can be done pretty quickly, especially if you get your head into some good books, and outlay a bit of money on some equipment. It’s taken me ten years to be really happy with the swords I’m making, but I think if I had a belt grinder that was decent earlier I could have been happy with the results much earlier than that. I worked alot by hand on the beginning which has been really good training for me, but it was frustrating at times.

[–]ckenney
How did you learn how to make swords? Are you self taught?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
I learnt by talking to metal workers, reading every technical manual I could find, and by spending many years trawling the net for every bit of information I could find!
In 2007 a book came out called The Medieval Sword in the Modern World by Michael Tinker Pearce which contains pretty much every bit of info you need to get, I really recommend it. It’s pretty much a one stop source for sword making info.

[–]smiles134 [score hidden] 15 hours ago (0|0)
What’s it like living in the 16th century?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
Not sure, you’d have to ask Shakespeare!
I don’t go in for reenactment and dressing up in period clothing myself, I prefer the comforts of the 21st century!

[–]BigKev47
So let’s talk about Valyrian steel (I can only assume one in your position is familiar with Game of Thrones/ASOIAF, and it’s minor point, but I’m gonna to try to use spoiler tags just in case…

Also, much less of a spoiler so unhidden, but kinda the inverse… Does “Andruil, forged from the shards of Narsil” actually make any sense as a weapon? I’m not well-versed enough in the text to be sure, but the impression I always got was that the actual shards were simply heated and “rejoined” or whatever, but that seems from my layman’s understanding of material science to be a really bad idea…
Thanks for the AMA! And I’m totally with you in opposition to the oppressive Obama sword-control agenda!

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for the questions!
I pride myself on being an honest man, and truth be told I don’t watch Game of Thrones! I can see why people love it, it looks great, but it’s not my cup of tea.
As for the shards of Narsil in the movie it’s a magic swords and Elves are magical, so it’s perfectly plausible  ;) in real life yes repairs were sometimes done like that, but it tended to involve just two pieces, like when a sword tip broke off and I do not believe the sword would then be actively used. It was just to repair and keep intact an heirloom that would then be retired from active use.
I’m Australian so I don’t know about sword law reform in the U.S. but I have noticed that almost all sword crime involves samurai swords. In the UK they have tightened the law on Samurai Swords only. I think that was a sensible approach to policy change.

[–]Australian_Translate
˙ǝƃuɐɥɔ ʎɔılod oʇ ɥɔɐoɹddɐ ǝlqısuǝs ɐ sɐʍ ʇɐɥʇ ʞuıɥʇ I ˙ʎluo spɹoʍS ıɐɹnɯɐS uo ʍɐl ǝɥʇ pǝuǝʇɥƃıʇ ǝʌɐɥ ʎǝɥʇ ʞ∩ ǝɥʇ uI ˙spɹoʍs ıɐɹnɯɐs sǝʌloʌuı ǝɯıɹɔ pɹoʍs llɐ ʇsoɯlɐ ʇɐɥʇ pǝɔıʇou ǝʌɐɥ I ʇnq ˙S˙∩ ǝɥʇ uı ɯɹoɟǝɹ ʍɐl pɹoʍs ʇnoqɐ ʍouʞ ʇ,uop I os uɐılɐɹʇsn∀ ɯ,I
˙ǝsn ǝʌıʇɔɐ ɯoɹɟ pǝɹıʇǝɹ ǝq uǝɥʇ plnoʍ ʇɐɥʇ ɯoolɹıǝɥ uɐ ʇɔɐʇuı dǝǝʞ puɐ ɹıɐdǝɹ oʇ ʇsnɾ sɐʍ ʇI ˙pǝsn ʎlǝʌıʇɔɐ ǝq uǝɥʇ plnoʍ pɹoʍs ǝɥʇ ǝʌǝılǝq ʇou op I puɐ ɟɟo ǝʞoɹq dıʇ pɹoʍs ɐ uǝɥʍ ǝʞıl ‘sǝɔǝıd oʍʇ ʇsnɾ ǝʌloʌuı oʇ pǝpuǝʇ ʇı ʇnq ‘ʇɐɥʇ ǝɟıl ǝuop sǝɯıʇǝɯos ǝɹǝʍ sɹıɐdǝɹ sǝʎ ǝɟıl lɐǝɹ uı (; ǝlqısnɐld ʎlʇɔǝɟɹǝd s,ʇı os ‘lɐɔıƃɐɯ ǝɹɐ sǝʌlƎ puɐ spɹoʍs ɔıƃɐɯ ɐ s,ʇı ǝıʌoɯ ǝɥʇ uı lısɹɐN ɟo spɹɐɥs ǝɥʇ ɹoɟ s∀
˙ɐǝʇ ɟo dnɔ ʎɯ ʇou s,ʇı ʇnq ‘ʇɐǝɹƃ sʞool ʇı ‘ʇı ǝʌol ǝldoǝd ʎɥʍ ǝǝs uɐɔ I ¡sǝuoɹɥ┴ ɟo ǝɯɐפ ɥɔʇɐʍ ʇ,uop I ploʇ ǝq ɥʇnɹʇ puɐ ‘uɐɯ ʇsǝuoɥ uɐ ƃuıǝq uo ɟlǝsʎɯ ǝpıɹd I
¡suoıʇsǝnb ǝɥʇ ɹoɟ sʞuɐɥ┴
FTFY

[–]AlaeSwords
Finally someone who speaks the language of my people!

[–]BigKev47
Thanks for the response. The sword law bit was a bad joke about the current gun debate here in the states. Though I appreciate the earnest answer, as I don’t spend much time considering the legal hurdles of your industry. Did your study to do the more ornamental work you currently do involve much work with like ‘battle ready’ weapons? Or are swords-as-weapons pretty much all machined these days?

[–]AlaeSwords
Most big company sword makers produce machined swords – Albion and a number of others. Myself and makers like me lovingly craft swords by hand, which produces a truly handmade sword, a one off, a superior product.
My swords are definitely ‘battle ready’ – man that term is a stinker!  :)

[–]airbadfly
Also while I am asking what type of sword is the hardest to forge? What piece of work are you most proud of?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
When it comes to forging Chinese smiths say the octagonal cross section found on some of their Jian swords is the hardest. From what I’ve seen I’m inclined to agree with them.

[–]LibraryLass
How does the process differ for making straight bladed swords from making curved ones like scimitars or sabres?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
Actually the processes involved in making straight and curved swords are the same, depending on how you approach making them.

[–]dimitrideas
What’s your favorite lunch meat?

[–]AlaeSwords
Tough call, probably roast beef. Mmm meaty.

[–]dimitrideas
I think my all time favorite would have to be pastrami. Thanks for answering my question.

[–]Redskull673
any good books on the subject?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
I think Michael Tinker Pearce’s The Medieval Sword in the Modern World is the best book on the subject of sword making.

[–]striker746
can you post a gallery of some of your latest swords? do you make game swords (Links sword, swords from skyrim, etc.?)

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
On my website there’s a link to my Tumblr feed which has a gallery of some of my work.
Game swords no, I prefer the historical styles.

[–]striker746
So, like, spartan, Roman, Egyptian, etc.? Which style is your favorite?

[–]AlaeSwords
Without a doubt my favourite are Byzantine Swords! I’ve written a really length pictorial thread on them at SwordSite
www.sword-site.com
Feature Articles>Byzantine Swords

[–]tyrannosaurus_fred
Why is there a “W” in the word sword. Why not sord?

[–]AlaeSwords
Originally the w was pronounced, but it has fallen out of usage.
We should start writing it as sord all the time and see if it catches on!

[–]dragontouch
How much swords go for? whats your most expensive sword? Do you drink alot of milk?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your questions!
There are antique swords that sell for millions of dollars.
My most expensive sword was around two dollars. I could have charged alot more, but I don’t believe in charging prices I can’t hold my head high about. The customer got alot for his money, and would have been charged double elsewhere for what they got.

[–]dragontouch
my god you’re awesome…..

[–]AlaeSwords
Haha two thousand… oops!

[–]AlaeSwords
Yes I love milk!

[–]Zanowin
Ever thought about making mini sword streak knives….err streak swords?

[–]AlaeSwords
No, but that’s an idea so crazy it just might work!!! I like it!

[–]BigStickOSalami
I am 18 years old. Please for the love of god explain to me how I would become a blacksmith, swordsmith for a living. Always wanted to do it. Thanks.

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
I mentioned in one of the other posts, and it’s true, the way to make good money in this business is to get your work done by third world labour. Pretty shitty reality, but reality nonetheless.
I get by because I’ve got another passive form of income, so the swords provide a nice bonus every week or so. Making 50,000 a year is about as much as a handmade sword maker can achieve without utilising advanced machinery (in which case swords cease to be handmade) or outsourcing work to the third world. Doing either really requires making ‘models’ rather than ‘one offs’
Hey man I was in your position once, I really do know what it was like. I have to be honest with you though. If you really love working with steel / blacksmithing, then commerical wrought iron makers and farriers (horshoe makers) do pretty well for themselves, and you could make swords as well.
Until Western Governments stop using variable exchange rates as a tool of oppression, and China pegs its dollar at a sensible rate it will always make more sense to send work offshore. Pretty shithouse if you ask me. I’ve chosen to do everything in Australia and use Australian materials and that’s put me at a disadvantage, but I just love making swords and through sheer luck I am in a financial position that I can do it. Also I strongly disagree with Western Governments sending all our manufacturing jobs overseas, so I’m trying to do my bit to keep some work here in Australia.
Possibly the exception to the rule though is Japanese Sword Smiths. The apprenticeship is 11 years I think, but they command $20,000 a sword and more. I believe they are allowed by law to make one every two months, so they’d be pulling in $120,000 give or take. You’d need to go to Japan. I’m told it’s a beautiful place, so spending your twenties there could be lots of fun I imagine!
To start making swords definitely I’d recommend books. First one to get would be Michael Tinker Pearce’s The Medieval Sword in the Modern World. It’s invaluable. Very helpful.
Come and sign up to SwordSite too! www.sword-site.com we’d love to have you, and you’ll find lots of interesting and useful stuff there!
I hope my answer has helped you. I really do empathise with you, and trust me, if you want enough you will be able to figure out a way to make it work for you.

[–]amayernican
What’s your favorite sharpening technique? Oil stone, whetstone, sthrap, grinder? I’m a chef and I demand a precision edge (especially with meat) and just want a different point of view on metal edges.
Thanks for the AMA, it’s titillatingly unique!

[–]AlaeSwords
For kitchen knives I find I always get the sharpest edge using a belt grinder with a fine grit on it, like 120 grit or higher. I can do a tougher edge with stones but I’ve never been able to make it sharper than a belt grinder does it. Never tried using a leather strop, but straight razor fans swear by them, and they seem to be key to getting a blade sharp enough to pop hairs.
A belt ground edge with the grain going perpendicular to the blade can be great, it has microserration. Also I achieve great results running the grain parallel to the blade too, which suits meat better in my experience.
All the butchers I’ve ever watched sharpening seem to start with belt grinders and then hone with steels. Butchers are the kings of sharp knives, along with Chefs, so I’m inclined to think they have a better idea about what they’re doing than I do.
The straight razor has become pretty popular again too, so there’s probably some really knowlegeable leather strop users out there who can maker a blade wickedly sharp!
Out in the field it’s amazing how good of an edge you can get on a knife with a suitable rock! River pebbles make for really good finishing stones toon because they are so smooth.

[–]amayernican
Wow, what an informative answer. Thank you so much!
You’re a gift to the world, sir.

[–]rko1985
How much money do you make a year?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
At the moment not alot, I’m doing it for the love of the art. The money’s in off shoring to the third world so you can sell swords cheap and en masse. I don’t believe in that though, so I use all Australian materials and workmanship. Fortunately I do have another source of income too, and without a second source of income, honestly it is tough for handmade sword makers to support themselves on their craft alone. If you make 50,000 a year and you make one of a kind handmade swords, you’re doing well. Same goes for knife makers I’m told.

[–]wishabay
Have you ever tried knighting yourself but ended up cutting your ear off?

[–]AlaeSwords
No, but I saw King Ralph do that to someone accidentally. Ouch!
Funnily enough in the grand old days of yore the knighting ceremony was capped off with a punch to the jaw, so the knighted person knew what to expect from their career. It has since been gentrified to a touch with a sword on the shoulders.

[–]HeyThereMrBrooks
You sound like a pretty sharp man!
Have you ever considered making a sword for yourself for self defense, or something like that?

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks for your question!
Yes actually I do keep a sword of my own! It’s got a broad blade so it cuts like a demon and it’s 30 inches long so it can be used indoors as well as outdoors. fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/1014791_540608496003093_933362679_o.jpg 
If I had to use a sword for real that would be my personal choice. The Polish apparently have a saying ‘Lord Grant Me a Sword & No Reason To Use It’. That pretty much sums up my attitude to self defense. Actually we were discussing self defense the other day on SwordSite, definitely worth a read: sword-site.com/thread/64/any-knife-fighters

[–]technoholic
Just wanted to say awesome work my friend. And just one thing, you don’t need to be all formal with the Hi <username> Thanks for the question stuff. This is reddit man…chill  :)

[–]AlaeSwords
Thanks man!
I have always prided myself on having good manners and treating people with respect unless they give me reason otherwise. I want to let people know I genuinely appreciate them taking the time to ask me a question about what I love doing!  :)

[–]technoholic
Cool !!! Best of luck man!

[–]AlaeSwords
Thank you!

Read more: http://sword-site.com/

Assymetries on Historic & Modern Swords – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

*This is the article that got me kicked off SBG! Yes, I am very proud of myself! XD

Example of a beautiful historic sword clearly demonstrating assymetries: The sword has undergone a transformation from tool to art, but it is not quite sitting in art as it should, by this I mean I have never heard an art critic berrate Da Vinci or Rembrandt for visible brush strokes. There are modern examples, like Peter Lyon who I consider to be a true master. Even his work has assymetries in it, but is by no means the result of sloppy work: And that’s the product of a guy at the top of his game, with other craftsman assisting him on his swords. Then there are historical examples like the Sword of Saint Maurice, which clearly was not Roman in origin as the contemporary Germans may have insisted, and was likely commissioned by the top strata of society, therefore produced by the best available craftsmen: But I don’t believe any of this makes them less beautiful, quite the opposite and I do not think the above examples show anything but excellent skill in manufacture. I think to a certain extent we have fallen victim to photoshopped images depicting perfection, which invariably are false. For example this picture of one of Peter Lyon’s swords once the photographers, lighting technicians and photoshop tweekers have gotten hold of it: In my view a process similar to what has happened to women’s body image via photoshopped magazine images has taken place. It has left us wanting something that doesn’t exist, isn’t attainable and made us dissatisfied with everything. As an example: The one of the left is still a beautiful albeit plastic surgery enhanced face, but the one on the right more like a computer generated image than a photo. * * * * * The Importance of Assymetries & the Physical Function they Impart I believe there is a link between the asymmetrical properties of handmade swords as compared to automatically machined swords which makes them inherently better. Going through the motions with a CNC milled sword one day it struck me how lifeless the sword felt. I then repeated the same motions with a hand made sword, which had asymmetries and other humanistic attributes. The sword felt so much more alive. After much thought on the subject I think I know why. I believe the quality of a sword being alive is intrinsically linked to variations in the distribution of mass. CNC milled swords do not features these qualities, and although balance may technically be more precise, the numbers do no tell the whole story. A sword with edges that are not uniformly thick, whose pommel may be slightly thicker in one direction, whose blade features more mass on one side than another though it may seem at a disadvantage, I believe the hand made piece has an unforeseen advantage. This I believe is what makes hand crafted swords better than CNC milled swords. It’s ironic, because some people go OCD over variances and asymmetries in their swords. Although distal taper, balance, percussion, harmonics and all the rest are still critical elements, I think that a mathematically symmetrical sword will never provide the performance of a well hand crafted sword and it is the idiosyncrasies of a particular excellent sword that set it apart. The CNC milling process is a cost cutting measure, but I believe it will never replace the work of a skilled craftsman. An analogy can be seen in music – real instruments and human performers as opposed to electronica. My proposition in no way diminishes the importance of excellent workmanship. One must learn the rules to break them. I’ve been at swords for ten years, and I’ve put my work out for public scrutiny. Some people like my work, others don’t, and that’s ok with me. But I am not some critic with no work of his own for others examine, firing off shots at other people who are out there having a go. I’ve done the hard yards, filing, hand finishing, using stones, forging and grinding, and while I always feel I have room for improvement, I do feel like I have a decent handle on the basics and produce good work. My moment of revelation came as I was pondering the virtues of swords. I had always felt that there was something superior about good hand made swords, but I could never put my finger on it. It is quite distracting to see so many posts on other forums where people get OCD about minor variances on a hand made blade, and I believe this had distracted me from realizing what makes a handmade sword better earlier. In an age where technical perfection is now more achievable than ever, it is ironic that the human hand is what produces the best swords. Swords are not machine parts, treating them like they should be is a step in the wrong direction. Rather the sword is and will always be defined by the individuality of its personality, the idiosyncrasies of its design, the love imbued into its form while crafting it, and the humanistic qualities of its manufacture. Below are more examples of high end historic swords showing that the modern obsession of reviewers for things like milled guards that fit a sword to within microns are in fact just that, modern obsessions that bear no historical counterpart: The beautiful ‘Charlemagne Sword’ – can you imagine how a typical modern review might deal with the tang slot on this sword of Kings? Bill Blake – Alae Swords http://www.alaeswords.com Read more: http://sword-site.com