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Klaus Gimm




Location: Germany
Joined: 08 Aug 2008

Posts: 62

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 6:21 am    Post subject: Question regarding wire grips         Reply with quote

Hi folks.

I have been a visitor of the forum for a while and am still very much a beginner in the topic of swords. But it still itches me to place an order for a custom sword in the forseeable future. Having red various posts on that topic i stumbeld over the line: "read twice pay once" (paraphrased) and i must admit .. even though i am usually more an impulsive buyer ... that it really makes sense.

So taking my time asking myself what i want i have come to the conclusion that i want it to be a two hander: a german Flamberge.

Since i am not in a rush and i want to do it (hopefully) right on the first try, i have been looking at various pictures here in the gallaries and posts.

My question at this point is on how hilts were done on historic examples. From the pictures i were able to find it seems to be mainly plain wood. Some reproductions i have found (namely Lutel, Arms and Armor, Del Tin) seem to be leather wrapped. But i must say I have always had a fable for wire wrapped grips.
Would it be a typical for a two handed sword to have a wire grip ? Or how common were wire grips at all in historical terms. I see them quite often on 1 hander reproductions.

The sword that (slowly) takes shape in my mind is not to be a specific reproduction of a historic example but should be a piece that would fit into the historic line.

So in closing - would a wire wraped 2 hander be a possiblity or is that too far off from reality ? On a later note, i sometimes read that wire wraps loosen. with time due to shrinking wood. Is that really an issue to be concerned about or just on (lower quality) mass produced items ?

Thanks a lot in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Klaus
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In theory, any wood will shrink as it dries, which could be more of a problem for a wire binding than a leather one. But well-dried wood will shrink less, so quality of construction is of importance here, and will distinguish top custom manufacturers from mass-producers. Environmental conditions will play some role as well. If you live in a rain forest you might have problems you wouldn't have if you live in a desert, and vice-versa.

But is wire appropriate for a large two-hand sword? I would say no, but only because I don't remember seeing that treatment on an historical example. Assuming wire is particularly vulnerable to damage over the centuries, there could be many swords of all sizes that originally were wire-bound but no longer bear the traces. We do see wire binding of the upper portion of some longsword grips, but I think that's about as close as I've seen to what you're talking about.

I would guess that the main problem of wire on the very long grip of the relatively heavy two-hand swords is that the binding would probably be subject to greater stress than a similar binding for a sword that weighs several pounds less and is carried and used in a very different manner. Keep in mind not only the way these swords were used but also the way they were carried. The grips would have been handled almost constantly during carriage because the weapons are too long to wear on the body. In general, I would expect that any weaknesses inherent to wire binding would be magnified as the size of the grip and amount of handling increase. That's only a guess, though.

If you just like the look of a wire binding, you might be happy with the more historically common leather-over-cord binding or temporary cord over leather binding, both of which create a nice, textured finish. You could even use a temporary overwrap of wire to impress the twisted wire design into the leather.

For the classic German two-hand swords of the kind you want to commission, plain leather over a waisted grip seems to have been most common. See this album for examples:

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/thumbnails.php?album=41

You can dress up the grip with colored fabric fringe at top and bottom if you want a bit of historically appropriate flare.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Josh MacNeil




Location: Massachusetts, USA
Joined: 23 Jul 2008

Posts: 197

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Klaus. If I understand you correctly, you want a piece that is historically plausable as opposed to a piece made to precise historical specifications. If that's the case then I would say a wire grip would be fine if that's what you want to do. As Sean mentioned, the large size might magnify the funtional weak points of a wire wrapped grip. But unless you'll be carrying it into battle on a regular basis, I wouldn't worry too much about it. It should still hold up fairly decent if used for attacking fruit and milk jugs in your backyard. And despite it not being 100% historically accurate, it's not completely out of the realm of possiblity. And the good thing about that is you'll have a chance to have a piece that is more interesting and unique. So I'd say go for it if that's what you want to do.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 2:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are some Danish two-handers with some wire wrap, but not over the entire grip. A&A did a custom version.

In terms of "functional weakness" I'd think that wire-wrapped would be better than plain wood. The wire would act as reinforcement to the wood more than leather, right?

If you're concerned about wood shrinkage, have the maker use a stabilized wood that should be much less susceptible to humidity changes. It's not historical, but Albion uses it and A&Ahas as well. It will be under the wire anyway, so who will know? Happy

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
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Fabrice Cognot
Industry Professional



Location: Dijon
Joined: 29 Sep 2004

Posts: 354

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 3:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To the question : would wire wrapped grip be remotly historical on a large two-handed sword of the XVIth century type?

In short : no.

This is based on historical examples I have seen, which were either leather covered, or velvet covered (an alternative not seen too often on the market nowadays BTW) - materials that are confimred by the remaining status and regulatiosn of sword-makers or sword-furbishers we have.
On those with ony the wooden core remaining (ie cover lost due to time), I'd also say it is unlikely they had a wire wrap cover, due to the relative dimensions (diameter) of the grip : wire wrapping adds a significant thickness to it. Another argument in the same direction would be that, except for very short handles, the immense majority of wire-wrapped grips (I mean on shorter weapons) were fluted or gooved.
And another reason is that wire-wrapping is complicated simply to put in place on such a long handle. A simple calculation should be enough : even with the simplest wrapping, of 1 mm thick wire, on a 30 mm diameter handle (making things simple, considering it of circular section) 40 cms in length, it would need almost 44 meters of wire. Now imagine that generally speaking things were not that simple, wire was twisted around itself, or coiled, or all kind of fancy things you can do with it.

Not even mentionning that you need your wire to be kept under a certain tension when wrapping it tightly around the wooden core.


But the most important thing i what I say above is :
- no historical example (well, none that I know of)
- period documents do not metnion it at all, only the two other methods (leather or velvet).

Fab

PhD in medieval archeology.
HEMAC member
De Taille et d'Estoc director
Maker of high quality historical-inspired pieces.
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John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
There are some Danish two-handers with some wire wrap, but not over the entire grip. A&A did a custom version.

In terms of "functional weakness" I'd think that wire-wrapped would be better than plain wood. The wire would act as reinforcement to the wood more than leather, right?

If you're concerned about wood shrinkage, have the maker use a stabilized wood that should be much less susceptible to humidity changes. It's not historical, but Albion uses it and A&Ahas as well. It will be under the wire anyway, so who will know? Happy


That Danish two-hander by A&A is one of the niftiest things I have ever seen. It adds a lot of the functionality of a wire wrap (grip texture, strength) to the wooden grip without the weight, expense, or potential looseness (due to shrinkage or flexing) of a full wrap.
I am seriously considering doing this to the haft of a short polearm.

Another option for a wire grip on a big sword might be a half wire, half leather wrap, such as found on some longswords or bastard swords. I have always thought that was a great look, and wouldn't be out of the realm of reason for the 16th century soldier who wanted a little something special on his biggest and best weapon . . .

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Klaus Gimm




Location: Germany
Joined: 08 Aug 2008

Posts: 62

PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Folks !

Thank you so much for the great input. Its much appreciated. I took a look at A&As danish two hander and that looks very lovely indeed. It might make a beautifull contrast on a wrapping as well.

I think i am really falling love with that idea. and the base then leather with the suggested patterns .

Thanks alot for the warm welcome and the constructive ideas.

Awesome.


Best regards .

Klaus
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