Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search


Please help our efforts with a donation. It's time to pay our annual server hosting bill. We've collected 1829.00 towards our goal of 2640 USD. View Goal Progress
Last 10 Donors: Alan Schiff, Horace C Squire, Ralph Grinly, Sřren Niedziella, Gregg Sobocinski, Neil Eddiford, Antal László, Stefan Gruenewald, Chad Arnow, Adam Simmonds (View All Donors)

Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > The "perfect" cutting sword? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
David R. Glier





Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Thu 08 Apr, 2004 10:39 pm    Post subject: The "perfect" cutting sword?         Reply with quote

Oooh, I think I just opened up a can of worms... Razz
This idea has been bouncing around in my head for years, and though I've doodled dozens of sketches, I'm just starting to try to set it into words. So go easy on me. =)

I suppose it all started with Lord of the Rings. I was fascinated by the elven swords -and who wasn't? I made sketches, sketches and more sketches, intending to make one -someday. Confused But, as I did, certain elements of the design started popping out at me.


Blade Geometry -common knowledge. Almost everyone here knows what makes a wide, thin blade cut better than a narrow, thick one; I don't need to address it in detail.
Curved Blade -again, I think we can call this common knowledge. The curved blade facilitates and at times creates a draw cut, and -all things being equal- should cut deeper into a soft target than a straight blade. We can agree on that -at least in principle, right?
Recurved Hilt -or "Blade Forward" design -here, I'm beginning to wade in over my head. Outside of kukris -which aren't the kind of examples I want, here- I have no personal experience with recurved swords. Everything I know is secondary or tertiary, and I could really use the help of you Saber aficionados out there. However, from what understand, the blade-forward design moves the point of impact in front of the hands, meaning for any given swing a blade-forward sword would hit its target sooner than a straight blade, and a recurved hilt will take out the "lag" that curved blades experience.


So as I sketched and re-sketched, I was constantly thinking on how to optimize those elements in a design (realize that I'm still thinking along the lines of the elven longsword).
I bent the handle more, I curved the blade more -but I ran into problems. For the recurved design to work, the bend has to be above the handle -not in the middle of it, otherwise you ruin the point! So I move the bend into the blade, around the ricasso area -and I realize that the pretty, fluid transition between the two curves is making for a lot of "lost" blade length -ie: area that doesn't get "the saber affect".
So, to maximize backward-curved blade length, I made the transiton between curves more pronounced and less fluid over less length of the blade. It started looking a lot like a Kopesh.

Well, I either had an epiphany or a pipe-dream, because the sketches I wound up with after that started looking like something from another planet. My most conservative designs look like a sabre blade with two 90 degree bends, making a three-inch forward offset right above the handle. From there, I wind up with things a Klingon would be comfortable with. Confused I'll post some pictures for you to giggle at later.

In the mean time, you can see what I'm dealing with: trying to maximize elements that made good swords in a way that never occured in period. So somebody tell me I'm crazy and why it won't work, or tell me why it's a good idea. Either way, I'll be able to put the matter to rest and save my scratch paper for other things. Laughing Out Loud
View user's profile Send private message
Shawn Mulock




Location: Calgary Alberta, Canada
Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 100

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 6:30 am    Post subject: Hmm...         Reply with quote

I'll not tell you that you are crazy, that's the realm of mental health professionals. However, I will say that I am a firm believer in the idea that the weapon smiths of the relevant era(s) and their clientele were probably as on the ball as one could get. I believe they already made the perfect cutting swords and then they went on to make the perfect thrusting swords and explored most everything in between.

A personal observation on knives (related, trust me).
When I was in service to EIIR I was issued a basic fighting knife, rifle mountable to be used with my 'bess (you who know, know). It was a decent enough piece of kit, what with the simple geometry and shape. I also picked up a commando knife for my time doing odd jobs. Both were simple straight forward designs that were extremely capable of doing grievous harm to my opponents. I recently went and looked at some of these flash new style knives with their blocky geometries, squared off designs, nifty new material science etc.. They are reportedly used the same way my commando knife was, but from what I can tell their design leads to a decrease in performance over my good 'ole basic commando knife.

My commando knife and the RMFK shared certain traits with blades used to kill four hundred years ago, wherein the flash new sci-fi cutters do not. The methodologies involved in the knife fighting courses I undertook share an amazing similarity to those used by fighters as early as the middle ages. I believe we can translate that across to the arena of swords as well. The best cutters have already been designed, in my opinion. They were made by the Europeans, the Ottomans, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Thais and anybody else who happen to make swords of metal. I also believe that the weapons geometries play a bigger role than the sharpness of the edge in regards to effective cutting.

"It is not what you have, but what you have done".
View user's profile Send private message
Russ Ellis
Industry Professional




Joined: 20 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Posts: 2,607

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd probably have to go along with Shawn with this one. I'm sure other factors came into play when the ancients were designing their swords. Some of those things were stuff like materials available, environment, weaponry and armor of opponents and maybe even (especially with decorative motifs) cultural sensabilities. However having said that if you boil down the sword designs they were essentially made to be the best weapons they could be. That applies whether we are talking about a type X cutter of the viking era or a type XVII thruster meant to deal with plate.

Please understand I'm not dumping on your designs. You may have come up with something that you like and it may in fact be a very efficient cutter. Innovation is rarely a bad thing, and I certainly would not want to discourage it. However I think at best that's all you can do is design a sword that is very efficient against targets. In some ways it reminds me of the chisel ground tamegeshiri (spelling?) katanas. They may be better then traditional blades against mats (although I'm sure that is subject for debate) but they have not been in combat and they have not stood the test of time. Nor have they gone through the refinement process that ancient weapons did. They are very good mat cutters and that's all they can ever be. They are sporting equipment just like a baseball bat or a fencing foil.

To my mind a highly fanciful design is as Shawn says more likely to be taking a step backward then one forward.

TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
View user's profile Send private message
David R. Glier





Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 8:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No no no, don't just react, think!

I'm most certainly not in the market for fantasy, art or other blatently a-historical designs. Historical designs work best -from blade geometry to hanging armour. I suppose I ought to have introduced myself -this is Destichado, for any of you from the Archive.

Historical Designs work. Now -what makes them work the way they do?
My "idea", the question, what's been nagging me, is to figure that out, isolate the elements and magnify them.
A curved blade aids in the draw-cut. Okay, we know that sabres with more curve were better cutters, (noting the saber article on "that other forum") but how much curve was too much? Do we know?
The recurve helps. How much, and in what ways, I don't know. I can only immagine and theorize. -Russ, I was kind of banking on your experiences, here. How much is too much? Can we serve the basic purpose via other methods???

What I'm talking about is engineering. And I'm a liberal arts kind of guy. Worried Come on, gimme a hand here.
View user's profile Send private message
Angus Trim




Location: Seattle area
Joined: 26 Aug 2003

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 870

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 8:17 am    Post subject: Re: The "perfect" cutting sword?         Reply with quote

David R. Glier wrote:

Curved Blade -again, I think we can call this common knowledge. The curved blade facilitates and at times creates a draw cut, and -all things being equal- should cut deeper into a soft target than a straight blade. We can agree on that -at least in principle, right?



Actually, I consider this a common myth. I understand the reasoning, but most people that say this with all assuredness are long on talk and short on cutting experience......

With all due respect that is.......*G*

Its been my experience is that there is no real {as in "REAL LIFE} advantage to a curved blade in cutting. A good wide body type X or XIII is also a very good cutting type, hard for certain cuved blades like sabers or kabbage kutters to match.

The most important thing in a cutting weapon is edge geometry, blade geometry, mass distribution, etc. And when you reach a certain point, you get to a point of diminishing returns where the average man {and even big fellas} can't get the "potential" {if its a real potential} out of something "superior" anyways.......

Once you have a decent cutting weapon, the rest of it is up to the cutter. One person can do real well with sword "X" for instance, and the next doorky doo that picks it up can't cut his way out of a wet paper bag.......

Auld Dawg

swords are fun
View user's profile Send private message
Steve Fabert





Joined: 03 Mar 2004
Likes: 10 pages

Posts: 493

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 8:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few hundred years of human design effort is likely to have produced some pretty useful blades, but don't forget the millions of years of evolution that have gone into teeth and claws. The geometry of biological cutting devices is worthy of serious study. If there are patterns that recur from species to species over millions of years, on both teeth and claws, these patterns are likely to be a good summary of strength, durability, and cutting efficiency. Teeth and claws suggest the usefulness of forward curvature and the comparative unimportance of undue sharpness versus more durable geometry. Ancient blades may have been shaped as much to ease their manufacture, as to maximize cutting ability. Now that virtually any shape can be hewn out of nearly any material, the production limitations faced by the smiths of past centuries can be bypassed to produce a blade that is as effective as the best tooth or claw nature ever made.
View user's profile Send private message
Alexi Goranov
myArmoury Alumni


myArmoury Alumni

Location: San Francisco, CA
Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Reading list: 72 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,191

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David R. Glier wrote:
No no no, don't just react, think!

I'm most certainly not in the market for fantasy, art or other blatently a-historical designs. Historical designs work best -from blade geometry to hanging armour. I suppose I ought to have introduced myself -this is Destichado, for any of you from the Archive.

Historical Designs work. Now -what makes them work the way they do?
My "idea", the question, what's been nagging me, is to figure that out, isolate the elements and magnify them.


Hi David,

I think the guys that responded did think before they posted. A historical sword worked because in its design it combined several physical and geometrical aspects. Trying to isolate and magnify them will almost certainly yield some tool that is NOT a sword. It may be a cutter but it will not be a sword.

Swords have weight, balance, vibrational nodes, size, edge geometry, mass distribution, just to list several of the measurable elements. The sword is a nicely tuned combination of all those. If you magnify one, others will be diminished, the balance (do not mean the PoB) will be offset.

We have discussed previously (on other threads) that tools could be made to cleave metal helmets on a pole (something that should NOT be expected of a period sword), but this tool will not behave as a sword in other aspects.

Just to give you an idea of what I mean. Let's say you were to make a "perfect cutter" that surpasses by some margin the more dedicated period cutters in cutting straw mats. My questions are going to be how well does it cut through bone, how well does it retain its edge, how durable is it, what happens when clashed into another weapon (not edge to edge), how well does it handle, can a warrior wield it for hours without getting exhausted?......I would certainly expect that your tool will fail in most other categories when compared to a period weapon.......I am repeating Russ here......

Now lets talk about engineering. You want to understand swords and what makes them such good cutters. Well one approach is to study period weapons.........which is what most people do. There is quite a bit of information out there, even if some of it may not be on paper.

Can you tweak the sword to make it cut better? Probably! But you will also probably lose some other essential characteristics of the weapon.

Another approach is to attempt making an accurate, period sword. I think that this is more productive than making a dedicated cutting tool.

This whole post is based this on the premise that you are interested in what makes the sword a sword as opposed to what makes a tool cut.

And I did not just react, but thought about this! Did I offer a constructive input.......No....I simply want to emphasize the difference between what makes a tool cut and what makes swords good weapons.

Cheers,
Alexi
View user's profile Send private message
Geoff Wood




Location: UK
Joined: 31 Aug 2003

Posts: 634

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Fabert wrote:
A few hundred years of human design effort is likely to have produced some pretty useful blades, but don't forget the millions of years of evolution that have gone into teeth and claws. The geometry of biological cutting devices is worthy of serious study. If there are patterns that recur from species to species over millions of years, on both teeth and claws, these patterns are likely to be a good summary of strength, durability, and cutting efficiency. Teeth and claws suggest the usefulness of forward curvature and the comparative unimportance of undue sharpness versus more durable geometry. Ancient blades may have been shaped as much to ease their manufacture, as to maximize cutting ability. Now that virtually any shape can be hewn out of nearly any material, the production limitations faced by the smiths of past centuries can be bypassed to produce a blade that is as effective as the best tooth or claw nature ever made.



Well, yes and no. it is an interesting area for comparison. Some teeth are, as you say, very good cutters. Some sharks teeth would be good examples, with a relatively fine serrated edge and a triangular shape. They were also relatively liable to damage or detachment, which is why they could replace them quickly with one from the row behind. However, lots of teeth are for other tasks than cutting. Some sharks teeth are more for crushing shellfish than for cutting flesh. Teeth are also important for piercing (e.g. canines), some work against one another like scissors or shears, some are for grinding, some for holding and some for injecting. Similarly some claws are for piercing but many appear to be designed and used for holding. I can't recall any good cutting claws at the moment, but I have a bad memory. Maybe some of the dinosaur ones were for this purpose, although most I've seen seem more likely to rip than to cut. I think Peter J. has referred to this in a comment on tip cutting with very pointy swords. I always rather likes the self sharpening aspect of the incisors of gnawing creatures. A wonderful example of making use of the properties of different materials to achieve an end. Bit of a digression. Ho hum.
View user's profile Send private message
David R. Glier





Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, come now. If you can say a Kopis, Kopesh and Hunga-Bunga are all swords, most any flights of fancy we take today can still be swords. Axes have weight, balance, vibrational nodes, size, edge geometry, and mass distribution, too -and so do my pruning shears! And depending on what you compare them to, their perameters are all pretty similar. Wink


Ah, Mr. Trim: that's what I needed to hear.
If I read you correctly, you're implying that no matter what contortions I do to the profile, as long as I get the cross-section and the ballance right, differences in performance will be academic. That an accurate conclusion?
I might have known you'd say that. =)
View user's profile Send private message
Angus Trim




Location: Seattle area
Joined: 26 Aug 2003

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 870

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David R. Glier wrote:

Ah, Mr. Trim: that's what I needed to hear.
If I read you correctly, you're implying that no matter what contortions I do to the profile, as long as I get the cross-section and the ballance right, differences in performance will be academic. That an accurate conclusion?
I might have known you'd say that. =)


Hi David

Well almost. I hate making too general a statement, because its possible I suppose to come up with a profile that won't work.......

But straight works, curved works, and so does the wavy edges........{ie flamberge}

And they all have their fans........

swords are fun
View user's profile Send private message
Bob Uhl




Location: Denver, Colo.
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 1:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Hmm...         Reply with quote

Shawn Mulock wrote:

When I was in service to EIIR I was issued a basic fighting knife, rifle mountable to be used with my 'bess (you who know, know). It was a decent enough piece of kit, what with the simple geometry and shape. I also picked up a commando knife for my time doing odd jobs. Both were simple straight forward designs that were extremely capable of doing grievous harm to my opponents. I recently went and looked at some of these flash new style knives with their blocky geometries, squared off designs, nifty new material science etc.. They are reportedly used the same way my commando knife was, but from what I can tell their design leads to a decrease in performance over my good 'ole basic commando knife.


What's your opinion, based on the techniques you were taught, of the so-called 'tanto' point? Better, worse, makes no difference? I ask because I really don't know: some folks rave about it, others think it's silly. My brother--who's a naval aviator--prefers it because he thinks the tip is less likely to chip off, but I wonder.

I figure that you might actually have some insight into this. Thanks much.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger
Shawn Mulock




Location: Calgary Alberta, Canada
Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 100

PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2004 1:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Hmm...         Reply with quote

Bob Uhl wrote:


What's your opinion, based on the techniques you were taught, of the so-called 'tanto' point? Better, worse, makes no difference? I ask because I really don't know: some folks rave about it, others think it's silly. My brother--who's a naval aviator--prefers it because he thinks the tip is less likely to chip off, but I wonder.

I figure that you might actually have some insight into this. Thanks much.


I find the tanto point both round and clipped are not as effective as a basic dagger point in the thrust. However, a tanto point does the job just fine as well. If the point chips off, you have bigger problems at hand. I have only had this happen once with a tanto point (round), but during "kill drills" I actually had a tanto point ride off of a carabiner on the "victim's" (mannequin) assault vest and simply slide harmlessly off the harness as the point simply slid away. I have never had that happen with my dagger pointed commando knife or RMFK as they would stick into the fabric and gain purchase. But your brother has other applications for his knife besides killing things, as he is SERE trained... but he had better keep that baby sharp. Wink

"It is not what you have, but what you have done".
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > The "perfect" cutting sword?
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum