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Greg Coffman




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Jun, 2007 9:30 pm    Post subject: Edge damage from the bind         Reply with quote

I hope these questions don't cause anyone any frustration. I found this sub-topic interesting to me and worthy of a different thread unrelated to the edge vs. flat debate.

What is the damage to the edge of swords during the bind or other actions? Other conversatin leading up to this thread...

Angus Trim wrote:
Lancelot Chan wrote:
All the swords that I've worked with, ranging from Albion to Atrim, Tinker to Cold Steel, Windlass, you name it... all the edge to flat contact would result in the edge being blunted immediately. The same with the winding move. Perhaps not many practitioners tried to use sharp edge against another sword? Otherwise, this would be a well known and obvious effect. The blunting I mean, doesn't result in the blade unable to cut. But the slicing ability would be greatly decreased to the degree of being ineffective.

Greg Coffman wrote:
Mr. Chan, not knowing the swords you are working with, it sounds like your swords have either too thin, too keen, or too soft an edge.

With blade damage, some is to be expected. With normal usage nicks and scratches are normal. However, much more serious edge damage can result from hard edge to edge parries which then cannot be grinded out easily or without substantial reshaping of the blade. That is what I have been taught.


Hi Lance

Good points.........this almost could be spun off to another thread of what happens to an edge when used appropriately, or inappropriately. And lets not forget such variables as sharpness right at the edge, edge geometry, edge hardness, grain size, and all kinds of other kool variables.......

Very simply, edges degrade over time. Cleaning an edge with a cloth can degrade the edge somewhat {hopefully, less than microscopically each time}, polishing will affect an edge, touching an edge can degrade an edge, and corrosion has an affect........

So, if this happens, what happens during a cut? What happens when a bottle is cut, or a mat? What happens when a pork shoulder is cut? What happens when a blade binds with another, and the edges run down one another? Etc and so on.........

What happens to a "paper cutting sharp" edge vs a "sword sharp" edge in these kinds of contacts?

All good questions, and questions that have been answered to an extent in the past, but not to any real depth, and lets face it, there's new info available today............

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Jun, 2007 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I haven't tried dulling a blade very often as I'm mostly trying to sharpen blades usually but if I would take the smooth and very hard steel I use to burnish an edge and pass it at 90 to the edge even a once paper sharp edge won't cut paper anymore but the basic geometry of the blade won't be changed very much: I would be taking a zero edge ( if perfectly sharpened ) and creating a very narrow flat.

My best guess is that unless this is done with a lot of pressure or impact the edge should be still sword sharp and effective in a cut but much less aggressive in a slicing cut.

Taking leather as an armour material the paper cutting sharp blade should be able to cut the leather easily while the dull edge would need much greater pressure to get through the leather. Actually I tend to think that leather makes adequate minimum armour for anything short of paper cutting sharp but behaves as if it wasn't even there with a razor sharp blade.

If you have done some leather work you may have noticed that a fresh exacto blade will cut very easily but as the blade dulls cutting heavy leather becomes almost impossible without very heavy pressure.

Anyway, low impact rubbing of edges against hard metal, edges or even flats, should quickly dull one edges, but the edge would take very little work to resharpen. The angle of the secondary bevels is one factor with sharpness and the meeting of the bevels without a small flat ( zero edge ) will also define the level of sharpness. The robustness of the edge will depend most on the angle: An obtuse angle will be more resistant to notching but even with a zero edge it won't cut as easily as a thinner but more fragile edge .

I'm no expert but I can usually get a hair popping edge on a knife. Oh, I don't sharpen my swords to this extreme.

Well the above is just an opinion and the way I understand it. Wink Big Grin

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Lancelot Chan
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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2007 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean, I think you've hit the nail here. Happy I share the same experience and that's exactly what I was talking about. Thanks for your elaborating description.
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David Evans




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 2:06 am    Post subject: Edge damage         Reply with quote

From memory, when I bind I tend to bind on my sword with the forte (probably not the correct German term but everyone should understand that term!) As such, I'm not bothered about edge damage because a) I'm not going to cut someone/thing with the forte b) any blade damage is probably on my opponents cutting edge!

If I go to bind and realise that I'm not going to bind on my forte but higher up on my blade then I try to void, cos my opponent is too far away to hit me!

I suspect the whole Edge/flat thing is half based on the condition of swords left for us to examine. Since those swords rarely show blade damage we assume something about the methods used. To be honest, when you assume something you make an ass out of u and me.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 4:14 am    Post subject: Re: Edge damage         Reply with quote

David Evans wrote:
From memory, when I bind I tend to bind on my sword with the forte (probably not the correct German term but everyone should understand that term!) As such, I'm not bothered about edge damage because a) I'm not going to cut someone/thing with the forte b) any blade damage is probably on my opponents cutting edge!

If I go to bind and realize that I'm not going to bind on my forte but higher up on my blade then I try to void, cos my opponent is too far away to hit me!

I suspect the whole Edge/flat thing is half based on the condition of swords left for us to examine. Since those swords rarely show blade damage we assume something about the methods used. To be honest, when you assume something you make an ass out of u and me.


Since the forte is usually dull on purpose a little contact or even a lot of contact won't affect its sharpness and as you say your sword won't get dull when you are using your forte to parry on your opponents foible or weak.

But then your foible should get some contact dulling from your opponents forte. I use the word " dulling " and not damage because I'm not going into the whole edge/flat parry discussion or the details of schools of thought about the swordsmanship involved. ( I'm not qualified to get into that discussion anyway ).

But any contact by a sharp edge, knife, sword, axe or any cutting tool will dull any blade, but dulling is not serious damage like a 1/16" 0r a 1/8" notch in a blade that means a lot of re-profiling of the entire edge to make it go away or creating a local small curve at that point of the blade to at least round out the stress riser.

Just an opinion: One would start a fight with a sword at a desired level of sharpness that would be part of normal sword maintenance and not considered a major repair. If any contact at all happened with an opponents sword or armour some of the fine sharpness would degrade at every contact, but if no major notching occurred, getting that sharp edge back would mean just a few minutes with a handheld grinding stone and this would remove very little material compared to a major repair.

Just as a chef's knife gets a little touch-up before or at least right after any use using a steel, a sword could be kept at a sword sharp with very little change in blade profile for many years of use and if not used often in actual battle for some time it would be best to not even touch the sword edge to keep it sharp.

As opposed to a chef's knife or even an axe used as a tool a sword needs only to be maintained ready with very light touch-ups if it hasn't been used to cut or contact anything i.e. not used in a fight. The edge would have to be protected from rust as this can dull the very edge of a cutting blade or the edge very lightly refreshed even if only dulled by pulling it out of it's scabbard or even wiping the blade with a cleaning cloth.

So in conclusion there is normal maintenance and damage repair and while the first has a low impact on the useful life of a blade, the second may mean removing a lot of material from a blade to remove major dings. Wink Big Grin

A sword starting out with a wide 3" blade at the guard might after years of use end up with a very much narrower blade profile due to many sharpenings but still be usable. A type XVI or XVIII sword might end up looking a lot like a type XV. Question Laughing Out Loud

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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This leads me to a question I have. I maintain my swords with a wipe down after each use with a silicon cloth. Soon enough, I will have a fine wood core scabbard for one of my babies too. Now I would expect both of these to dull a paper-cutting sharp edge over time, but will it dull a blade beyond "sword sharp"?
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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 10:09 am    Post subject: Re: Edge damage from the bind         Reply with quote

Greg Coffman wrote:
I hope these questions don't cause anyone any frustration. I found this sub-topic interesting to me and worthy of a different thread unrelated to the edge vs. flat debate.

What is the damage to the edge of swords during the bind or other actions? Other conversatin leading up to this thread...

Angus Trim wrote:
Lancelot Chan wrote:
All the swords that I've worked with, ranging from Albion to Atrim, Tinker to Cold Steel, Windlass, you name it... all the edge to flat contact would result in the edge being blunted immediately. The same with the winding move. Perhaps not many practitioners tried to use sharp edge against another sword? Otherwise, this would be a well known and obvious effect. The blunting I mean, doesn't result in the blade unable to cut. But the slicing ability would be greatly decreased to the degree of being ineffective.

Greg Coffman wrote:
Mr. Chan, not knowing the swords you are working with, it sounds like your swords have either too thin, too keen, or too soft an edge.

With blade damage, some is to be expected. With normal usage nicks and scratches are normal. However, much more serious edge damage can result from hard edge to edge parries which then cannot be grinded out easily or without substantial reshaping of the blade. That is what I have been taught.


Hi Lance

Good points.........this almost could be spun off to another thread of what happens to an edge when used appropriately, or inappropriately. And lets not forget such variables as sharpness right at the edge, edge geometry, edge hardness, grain size, and all kinds of other kool variables.......

Very simply, edges degrade over time. Cleaning an edge with a cloth can degrade the edge somewhat {hopefully, less than microscopically each time}, polishing will affect an edge, touching an edge can degrade an edge, and corrosion has an affect........

So, if this happens, what happens during a cut? What happens when a bottle is cut, or a mat? What happens when a pork shoulder is cut? What happens when a blade binds with another, and the edges run down one another? Etc and so on.........

What happens to a "paper cutting sharp" edge vs a "sword sharp" edge in these kinds of contacts?

All good questions, and questions that have been answered to an extent in the past, but not to any real depth, and lets face it, there's new info available today............


Lance and Jean already have given some pretty good stuff here, but there are some variables that might be worth mentioning........

Basically, if two edges are rubbed against one another, there's going to be some damage. But the variables that will tell how much, and which gets it worse are worth talking about.

Jean mentioned "zero edge". Well, the sharper the edge, the more its going to roll or flatten with the edges wiping against one another. If there's a bit of a flat on the edge already, even if microscopic, it'll have more of a tendency to survive this with very little damage.

Then there's the included angle of the edge........ The sharper the angle, the more likely the edge will "give" a little, than a more robust angle.......

Then there's hardness, the harder the edge {until you get to the point of being brittle}, the less the edge will roll or flatten during the engagement. The softer, the more likely to roll or flatten........

All edges the same "sharpness", included angle, and hardness are not equal. Then there's grain size..... the finer and tigher the grain at the same hardness, the more likely to hold up. This is why you cah have, for instance, a 52rc edge hold up better than a 56 rc edge at times........not just the hardness or geometry, sometimes the grain size.......

Every contact like this will have some damage to the edge {as Lance stated}. Its not always going to be readily apparent to everyone......

How the edge was before the contact will have a lot to do with how effective the edge will be later without repair.

The one thing that has not been mentioned, is how a "burred" edge deals with this kind of stuff. Quite often, a really, really sharp edge, "scary sharp" shall we say?, will have a burr. Sometimes not noticeable as a burr with the naked eye. It will have the "real sharp" feel to it when tested with a thumb. This burr however, makes the edge more vulnerable to wear and damage. When that burr rolls or gets pushed off, it generally takes good material with it, making for an even duller edge after the scraping use, than an edge without the burr..........

In general {my opinion}, a sword sharp edge will maintain its " bite" under abusive conditions, longer than a "paper sharp" edge, or a "scary sharp" edge....... But that is because there is no burr, and its not really a "zero edge" edge to begin with.........

swords are fun
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun, 2007 12:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Guss and when I mention a zero edge I'm just talking about a theoretical geometric perfection where the edge would end up being one Atom or molecule wide.

Basically just to make it clear that this would be the theoretically sharpest edge possible: In reality even the sharpest razor would look very rough at 200X magnification.

With real blades the level of sharpness and the angles are or should be optimized for the specific intended use.

One can also factor in if one wants maximum cutting for a short time or a sufficiently sharp edge that will stay that way longer when challenged.

I'm mostly just recapping what Guss posted. Big Grin Also he has much more practical knowledge than my just modest observations based on long ago machine shop courses and years of hand sharpening. ( but zero experience rubbing sharp edges together ).

What is interesting is that I assumed that the over sharp edge would just become the same as the already rounder more robust edge when dulled by contact: The fact that the sharper edge might instead become more irregular/ragged by the tearing off of burrs resulting in more damage than expected needing more repair i.e. less durable than an already duller but optimized level of sharpness and burnishing/smoothness of the edge.

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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun, 2007 12:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin Smith wrote:
This leads me to a question I have. I maintain my swords with a wipe down after each use with a silicon cloth. Soon enough, I will have a fine wood core scabbard for one of my babies too. Now I would expect both of these to dull a paper-cutting sharp edge over time, but will it dull a blade beyond "sword sharp"?


Swords degrade over time, whether they do anything or not. A sword hanging on a wall, or laying beneath glass, can corrode..........

But to answer you're question, its yes, maybe, and/ or it may take too much time for you to notice. Meaning lots of caveats........

What is the sword for? Is it an heirloom, or a user? If its an heirloom, then is it really important for the edge to remain paper cutting sharp? If its a user, then I'd plan on resharpening it from time to time..............

swords are fun
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