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Ohm D.





Joined: 05 Nov 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 07 Nov, 2008 8:39 pm    Post subject: Sword Sharpening?         Reply with quote

ok so i would like to sharpen a couple of my swords cuz the edges are pretty dull right now, but i'm not sure how to. Could someone give me step by step instructions on how to sharpen a sword and the tools needed and/or an in depth video would be great.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 07 Nov, 2008 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sword sharpening has been covered many times on this forum. The Search function will yield many threads on the topic.

Happy hunting!

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ChadA

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Ohm D.





Joined: 05 Nov 2008

Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2008 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i've looked around a little but i haven't found too much on this website. there are a couple forums i saw that list some books to get and one that showed a website i've already found but besides that there wasn't much else so if someone could help me out it would really be appreciated
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Chad Arnow
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myArmoury Team

Location: Cincinnati, OH
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2008 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ohm D. wrote:
i've looked around a little but i haven't found too much on this website. there are a couple forums i saw that list some books to get and one that showed a website i've already found but besides that there wasn't much else so if someone could help me out it would really be appreciated


There are at least a dozen threads in our forums that deal with sword sharpening. Click the "Search" button next to the "Watched Topics" buttonand type something like "sharpen sword" as the criteria. It will return multiple pages of results.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2008 12:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sharpening a sword is not as straight forward to describe as one might think.
To give advice on how to sharpen a sword, will obviously depend on the sword in question.
Just describing how to hone a good blade to cutting sharpness might not be of great help if the blade is not properly defined to begin with, or might be lacking proper heat treating to carry an acute cutting edge.

The sharpness of the edge is absolute. But it is shaped on different angles depending on sword. Looking down the edge of a sharp sword, one should not see any light reflecting from the very edge. Any light showing as a hairline of white, means there is a section that is blunt.
The sharpness should be a gradual curve from main bevel to cutting edge. This is described as an apple seed edge. I like to describe the edge as a very pointy gothic arch.

However, even if a sword is sharpened so that no light is showing, the character of the sharpness, its bite, will depend on how much meat there is in the edge.
A meatier edge will be less hungry than a lean edge.
Ancient swords are more or less "hungry". Some ore more meaty. Most are much finer than is generally appreciated.

There is generally not a very highly developed awareness of the nature and character of the edge of european style swords. You need only browse through all the topics discussing wether swords were sharp at all to realize that what means sharp to one person is dull to another. Some people fully expect a sword to be pretty blunt, since it is a sword after all...

To my experience, swords were sharp. As sharp as need be and as sharp as the steel, makers and users allowed them to be. In the balance between sharpness and resiliency, sharpness is often favored, since you can re-sharpen a dulled or nicked edge after the fight and you want to cut with least effort possible. This goes against the thinking among many modern practitioners, who cannot imagine risking damaging their priced sword and seek the "strongest" weapon possible. MAking stronger is not difficult: just add more mass. Looking at historical swords it is evident that this was not a favored solution.
A sword that gets a nick is today often described as having an edge failure, instead of the cutting technique or choice of target being focus of our awareness.
Looking at ancient swords, this line of thinking does not show. Instead swords express awareness of the edge and its nature. Those using swords were aware of sharpness and how to best put it to use.

Ancient swords can be described as being sharp regardless of the angle of the edge or the overall geometry. Of course there were special weapons mainly exclusively used for the thrust but in general the edge must be understood as sharp. They did have varying degrees of acuteness in their edge angles and edge bevels. There is not one single type of sharpness.

Our contemporary somewhat confused awareness of the nature of the edge is also reflected in many replicas available on the market.
Swords who are popular since they provide "good value for money" and have a reputation of being very tough, might have been made with rather sturdy, or perhaps even clumsy edge geometries. To put a good edge on such a sword is more involved than resharpening a blade that has proper edge geometry to start with. The customer must in those cases first establish a proper edge geometry before focusing on the sharpens of the cutting edge. To do this might be risky as the blade in question was not made from a steel that can be shaped to this degree of definition as it was heat treated and shaped to meet other tasks that may or may not be realistic to expect a sword to deliver. Changing the overall geometry is pretty laborious and will introduce scratches that takes long time to work out. Reworking a blade on this level really demands a full dismounting of the sword, to be able to safely work the blade.
To describe how to fine tune the geometry of a sword blade is outside the scope of a post like this.

All this aside, what you need to do to get a sharp edge is to start with a coarse stone (or file if the hardness of the steel allows this) and establish a burr that goes all the way around the edge. The burr can be felt if you move your finger tip away from the middle of the blade out over the edge. It is a slight rise that will feel scratchy. Once you have this burr along the whole length of the blade (you can skip the first 4 inches of the base of the blade if you like: this was often not really sharp, but sometimes it was) you can turn to the next finer stone (or a stick with glued down emery paper and oil) starting to work on the side that has the burr. It will form a smaller burr on the opposite side. Take that burr away with the same grit of stone or paper and switch to the next finer. Do the same: remove the burr on the first side, and thereby forming it on the other then take it away from that side. Now the burr is very fine and you might want to use a very hard stone to do final polish of the edge. I use an arkansas stone or similar.
After this use a leather strop. For swords take a 40 cm length of flat wood with leather glued on, flesh side toward the wood. apply polishing compound on the leather used for shining chrome or similar. Spread this very sparingly as you want only a mild effect. Use the strop on the edge just a few passes, lie three or four on each side.
Now the edge is hair splitting sharp.
If you have a good edge geometry the edge will still be strong and will cut effortlessly.
Start with 60 grit, then 200 grit followed by 600 or 800 grit. then use an arkansas stone and finally strop with leather. USe slightly increasing angles, but only very gradually and gently so. Strive to shape the sharpness tenderly and with high awareness. If the edge gives way too easily in use, reestablish the new sharpness with slightly blunter angle.

The process I have described is the same as is used for fine woodworking tools. To get deeper into the subject, read texts describing proper care for cabinet makers tools.

For this to really make sense the sword needs to have a proper geometry and a good heat treat to start with.

Having said all this I realize that one might expect swords to have the edge of fillet knives. Indeed some does (and some are even finer), but this is typical for rapier and later period cut and thrust blades.
Earlier swords with slightly sturdier blades had sturdier edges. Still often finer than contemporary carpentry (as in cabinet maker tool) axes. Some pretty similar to carpentry axes. It will vary.
In general, heaver swords have sturdier edges. Swords depending more on finesse will have finer edges.

I hope this helps rather than confuses.
I hesitated about writing this because I feel somewhat burned on the topic of sharpness. Hope you find my advice useful.

Final note: sharpening a sword will demand acute awareness. It is a long length of very sharp steel that can cut to the bone before you even feel the pain. *Be careful* and do this on your own risk.
A sword with this kind of sharpness also has tremendous cutting power. Be aware of this at all times.

Good luck and have fun!
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