Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Sword maker ? Clearer labelling, please! Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
John McCullan




Location: Scotland / south England
Joined: 28 Nov 2008

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 1:34 am    Post subject: Sword maker ? Clearer labelling, please!         Reply with quote

I have actually been looking at this forum for some time,but only recently registered. In the last few weeks I have been in the company of a swordsmith, who is reproducing swords from some original pieces for my employer, who happens to be a landowner in Scotland. I have been following some of your threads, on sword production, reproductions, and the borrowing of other people's designs. On viewing some of these thoughts with the swordsmith. he came up with some views, which I feel as a beginner in this field are quite relevant should give customers a clearer understanding of the items they are buying.
His main piont seem to be about the mislabelling of one's profession SWORD MAKER. This he feels is too vague,, and does not give enough information on manufacturing process of the sword, and clearer titles should be used.

Sword Smith, a person who physically forges the blade to shape,,including fullers if historically accurate.
Sword Fabricator, a person who produces the sword blade by cutting, machining, and /or grinding to shape.
Cutler, where premade made blades are fitted with hilts -this sometimes requires some forge work to the fittings,. But the blade has already been premade.
These categories are not meant to degrade,production methods employed by some people,. He did point out that the Cutler is responsible for the feel, balance and overall appearance of the sword.
Sword fabrication leads to standardising in length, weight etc. in production runs of swords,, much more difficult to achieve on a hand forged item.
After many conversations I feel, I agree with his point. Far too many swords are marketed under the general Swordmaker banner,. Some manufacturers are completely open about their production methods,, others hide behind misconceptions and hints about what might be.
The term Sword maker hints, at swords being hammered out in a forge,ie. swordsmith,,and after thinking about this, I feel, a Sword Smith, is a person who could still produce work to the same standard he is producing now, if he was dropped into a mediaeval forge. A Sword fabricator is a person who uses modern technology to achieve mediaeval designs. A Sword Cutler, a person who hilts and grips premade blades.
I feel the term Sword maker, can be misused in marketing to the unwary, so how about a clearer labelling of professions and production methods of swords marketed today. Some people, I imagine use several of these methods, thet for should therefore clearly mark how the majority of their work is made to avoid confusion.
One more quick point, much is made of", if they had,had this technology that would have used it" is true-but they would have been making weapons, comparable with that technology -not swords.
View user's profile Send private message
Jason Elrod




Location: Winchester, VA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003
Likes: 48 pages
Reading list: 38 books

Posts: 698

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 3:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Welcome to the forums John.

I may be wrong but your post seems to imply that only Sword Smith's (i.e. people who pound out blades) make real swords:

"One more quick point, much is made of", if they had,had this technology that would have used it" is true-but they would have been making weapons, comparable with that technology -not swords."

If this is the case then I would have to completely disagree with you.

I unfortunately don't have time for a thorough response to your post right now but take a look at the "Ground vs. Pound" article here on this site: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_groundpound.html.
View user's profile Send private message
Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 3:29 am    Post subject: Re: Sword maker ? Clearer labelling, please!         Reply with quote

John McCullan wrote:
The term Sword maker hints, at swords being hammered out in a forge,ie. swordsmith,,and after thinking about this, I feel, a Sword Smith, is a person who could still produce work to the same standard he is producing now, if he was dropped into a mediaeval forge. A Sword fabricator is a person who uses modern technology to achieve mediaeval designs.


I think this is simplifying things a lot, and demands an unreasonable degree of traditional old-school craftmanship from sword producers just for them to be able to call themselves "swordsmiths." Most smithies today use advanced tools, and even swords that are forged by hand on the anvil will see a fair degree of shaping, adjustment and finish by modern machinery. I dare say the number of smiths alive today who could produce swords under mediaval conditions and maintain the same quality as they do today are exceedingly rare.

I personally have three years of blacksmithing experience, going on four. I'm by no means a master swordsmith but I do make swords. My prefered method is forging a piece of steel into a rough shape in the smithy and then use a lot of stock removal and grinding to give the sword its proper shape. I also use the forge for straightening, correcting and normalising the blades, lenghtening and adjusting the tangs, etc.

Now, if I understand your definitions correctly, this would make me a sword fabrictor, despite the fact that a fair part of the work I put into a sword is done in the smithy and that each sword I make is unique.

Be that as it may, I personally don't have a problem with the term "swordmaker", because I think it neatly sums up what we are talking about: people who make swords. I can see how customers might desire clearer definitions, but I think it would be better -and probably more effective- to demand that the maker simply advertise in clear terms how the sword was made, rather then trying to enforce specific labels.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 3:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to disagree with you, John, with much of what you have said.

A swordmaker is a person who makes swords. There are many ways to make a sword. "Swordmaker" is about as generic of a term as there is.

The fact that the term does not indicate if the method of making the blade involves forging or grinding or a combination of the two is a good one. But then again, it doesn't indicate any of the other parts of the swordmaking craft such as material selection (what kind of steel?), heat-treat, hilt construction technique, grip material or construction methodology, etc, etc. It also doesn't indicate the attention to detail, fit and finish, or any other quality of the sword such as tapers, edge geometry, etc, etc, etc.

None of the terms tell these things, which is exactly why any single term isn't enough to tell the whole story.

There are very bad swords that are completely non-historical that are forged. There are very bad swords that are created using stock removal. Likewise there are excellent swords made in both of these methods as there are examples of bad and good that use a combination of the two methods.

Swords were made historically through many methods including forging and stock removal. Some of the antique swords are wonderful quality. Others were not.

The whole story is what is important. On that, I'm sure we agree.

I'm sure we also agree that disingenuous makers who do not tell the truth about their products are to be avoided at all costs.

Sounds like your swordmaking friend might be a bit defensive.


Anders Backlund wrote:
Be that as it may, I personally don't have a problem with the term "swordmaker", because I think it neatly sums up what we are talking about: people who make swords. I can see how customers might desire clearer definitions, but I think it would be better -and probably more effective- to demand that the maker simply advertise in clear terms how the sword was made, rather then trying to enforce specific labels.


Well said, Anders. I agree completely.

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Peter Johnsson
Industry Professional



Location: Storvreta, Sweden
Joined: 27 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,757

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 6:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Being both a custom sword smith and sword designer for a sword manufacturing company, I get to see a bit of two different approaches to the making of swords.

Something that is often overlooked regardless of method of manufacture is the level of understanding of the sword that is the foundation for the craftsman or industry.
It is a sad truth that many swords today are marketed and sold mainly on the romantic (mis-)conceptions of the sword and the role of the smith. It is an easy thing to claim roots in traditions or authenticity in more or less nebulous manner. It is short work to write up a marketing label claiming museum research was the origin of the design (when in fact it may only have amounted to the leafing through of a catalogue or two), or that the object has the same quality as historical originals.
It is also pretty common to see contemporary craftsmen make claims of authentic working methods (since an anvil and a forge was used in the shaping of the blade blank: a very basic situation that does not amount to much when comparing to the complex, variable and lengthy process of forging a sword). Claims of authenticity is something that is easy to say, but perhaps not so easy to really truthfully know something about.
As long as the word "sword smith" and "authentic" are generating sales, we are going to see them being mis-used.
It may be difficult for customers to realize obvious falsehood in these claims as long as the understanding of the craft is of a generally rather low level.

When I forge my swords I do not make any claims of authentic working methods. This is not so much because I use an air hammer or a belt grinder in the shaping of my blades (most of the time is still spent with hand files and honing stones), but rather because I know that we know very little about how swords were forged in historical times. We do know general things about the craft. We do know some details of the materials used, but we can only see a very small part. Most is hidden and our vision is mostly based on conjecture. I am OK with this, as we always have to work with what we got, but it makes claims of authenticity something that is rather relative. It is relative to what you know, or believe you know.
Therefore it is much easier to make claims of authenticity and accuracy of you have a somewhat sketchy idea of working methods, styles, types and materials. If you have studied available material, the best you might be able to do is to *strive for* authenticity in materials and methods. There is nothing absolute in this. It does not even equate quality, it is simply a declaration of work methods and statement of attitude. To be interested in authentic working methods and materials is a journey in itself. It does not *automatically* translate over to other aspects of quality in the finished object.
To drop a contemporary sword smith back into an earlier era is an interesting thought. There is certainly a benefit for those who have skill with their hands and tools. On the other hand, there are going to be differences in how the work was organized that might seem unimportant to us, but were of central importance to the people of that time. Things you did, and things you were forbidden to do. Methods of working that had elements that make sense and others that were more about magic than anything else. The organization of work with levels of access and abilities between masters, journeymen and apprentices is central to the production during long periods and in many areas. You also see this system with a lot of variation. The lone sword smith in his hut would be something pretty rare. Just the fact that contemporary craftsmen generally work alone is a big difference between now and then. It will make a difference in how you work and plan the production.
If I had to adapt to that world of concepts and methods, I am not sure I could be of much of use. If I could base my work on the ideas methods I use in my work on today, I *might* have done decent business. But then again, am I really comparing myself to a medieval craftsman at all?

I find it difficult to understand that claims of authentic manufacturing methods often is enough to compensate for obvious shortcomings in finish, shape and function.
Equally strange is to see modern manufacture being an excuse for these same shortcomings.
Awareness and knowledge is the same regardless of the road arriving at the finished object: you need to know what a sword is regardless if you are a smith striving for authentic materials and methods, or a contemporary manufacturer or anything in between.
Knowledge of the sword is another never ending journey, for that matter.

A sword can be a high quality object, that is quite authentic in shape and function regardless of method of manufacture. Just like Nathan said above.
No method of manufacture is by itself a guarantee that a certain level of quality is obtained. It is all about the care and skill and dedication of the individual(s) involved in the making.

Our interest and fascination for the sword is more or less romantic in nature. The sword is a powerful image. It is easy to be blinded by this. The urge to fulfill this romantic dream might become the greatest obstacle in achieving it.

I agree with John McCullan, that it would be a very good thing if definitions were more strictly adhered to.
IŽd like to see things marketed for what it is, and not what it hope to allure to. Sword adds would look very different then.
That, I am pretty sure, will never happen.
The most effective tool here is for customers to become educated enough to perceive the reality behind the claims. The fact that a maker/smith/manufacturer makes claims that are obviously tall tales, might be cause to doubt the quality of the product in the first place.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Russ Ellis
Industry Professional




Joined: 20 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Posts: 2,607

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 6:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As always a thoughtful (and thought provoking post Peter). A couple of your points I thought in particular were quite interesting.

Peter Johnsson wrote:
To drop a contemporary sword smith back into an earlier era is an interesting thought. There is certainly a benefit for those who have skill with their hands and tools. On the other hand, there are going to be differences in how the work was organized that might seem unimportant to us, but were of central importance to the people of that time. Things you did, and things you were forbidden to do. Methods of working that had elements that make sense and others that were more about magic than anything else. The organization of work with levels of access and abilities between masters, journeymen and apprentices is central to the production during long periods and in many areas. You also see this system with a lot of variation. The lone sword smith in his hut would be something pretty rare. Just the fact that contemporary craftsmen generally work alone is a big difference between now and then. It will make a difference in how you work and plan the production.
If I had to adapt to that world of concepts and methods, I am not sure I could be of much of use. If I could base my work on the ideas methods I use in my work on today, I *might* have done decent business. But then again, am I really comparing myself to a medieval craftsman at all?


As I've done more reading lately I've been fumbling towards this same realization, that in fact in "ye olden tymes" that the production methods in place were just as far removed from today's independent craftsman as today's modern production methods were, they were simply less mechanized and often more labor intensive. The romanticized view of the master smith in his forge creating superior weaponry from start to finish is just that, a romanticized view with little foundation in reality. In that regard I wonder if some of our modern craftsman are technically "less" then their medieval counterparts or "more?" Are they less in that they are jacks of all trades and masters of none? Are they more because they CAN produce a complete sword from blade to pommel to grip which their medieval counterpart almost certainly never did? Or are they niether "less" nor "more" but merely "different?" I don't know the answer.

Peter Johnsson wrote:

IŽd like to see things marketed for what it is, and not what it hope to allure to. Sword adds would look very different then.
That, I am pretty sure, will never happen.
The most effective tool here is for customers to become educated enough to perceive the reality behind the claims. The fact that a maker/smith/manufacturer makes claims that are obviously tall tales, might be cause to doubt the quality of the product in the first place.


I wonder if we really would. Not that I think you are making stuff up by any means! Happy What I'm suggesting though is that if swords were marketed for what they are i.e. "sharpened pieces of steel with handle sometimes with a decorative motif, to be used for making people assume room temperature." Or perhaps as "obsolete weapons not nearly as effective as a gun" where would we be? Without that "allure" whether historical, romantic or a combination of both what would the market for swords be like? I'm guessing probably not too good... and I'm guessing you REALLY wouldn't want to spend all your time making decorative iron work, and I'd rather not be building cabinentry in my spare time... Happy There's a certain hint of mystery, history, romance and even magic that HAS to be there in order for people to be interested in this particular venue. Does that excuse the use of marketing hype to paper over poor workmanship? Of course not. It has to be there though.

TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
View user's profile Send private message
Addison C. de Lisle




Location: South Carolina
Joined: 05 Nov 2005
Likes: 27 pages

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:

A swordmaker is a person who makes swords. There are many ways to make a sword. "Swordmaker" is about as generic of a term as there is.


I think this pretty much sums up my opinion. I don't really see a need for a specific terminology for a stock removal sword maker or a forging sword maker. The ends are more important to the means, when it really comes down to it. The point is that they are making swords.

www.addisondelisle.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
John McCullan




Location: Scotland / south England
Joined: 28 Nov 2008

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My main point is for the clear labelling of production methods,, which is not instantly recognizable with the general term. sword maker, I do not question the skill of some of the people using stock removal as production process, or the quality of some of the Cutler's fixtures and fittings. Surely material usage, edge geometry, etc ,etc is down to personal choice and skill level,. Yes it is possible to have a badly produced hand forged sword, as well as one made by any other method.
I am pleased to see Peter Johnsson's reply,and we all know Albions open attitude to their production methods,,allowing their skill to speak for their work.
I would not say that my swordsmiths view is defensive , he is keen to not let past arts die, and due to current changes in UK sword regulations, at this moment covering only swords with a curved blade (given our governments need for control, this could soon include straight blades) it is vitally important that clear labelling of production methods becomes more of the norm, especially in the UK.
There is no set training programme to learn the art of "sword making", in the Western world, : and most people are self taught,. This is not a bad thing,allowing for a great melting pot of many ideas and views,, but it does lead to a general haziness of titles and descriptions,,which sometimes can be either innocently or deliberately mis -represented.
Use of power hammers and angle grinder in a forge for rough work,? surely this is only taking the place the more manual labourers that were normally employed for this sort of work . They did have waterpowered trip hammers I believe?
I still believe the term"sword maker", should be enlarged with a description of the production process used in the swords construction and manufacture. This does not necessarily become a badge of authenticity and quality for some above others.. This is down to the reputation of the person or company producing the sword.
It is merely a point to stop hints, and ambiguous marketing,and to enlighten the customer, who is after all, what is the end result is made for.
View user's profile Send private message
Herbert Schmidt




Location: Austria / Europe
Joined: 21 Mar 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 161

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am a collector as well as one who uses swords on a regular basis - sharps and blunts.

I needed about 15 years to be able to judge a sword with some level of accuracy. I still learn every year more about swords from various sources. And I don't consider myself a swordmaker (although I did dip into this at some time).

I think the question for us users is simply: how good is the sword - how close does it come to what I want. We don't live in the middle ages, thank god. Personally I care more about the performance of the sword than about its production.

What I need to have is trust in the maker - and the foundation for this is honesty. Of course I know how a maker makes the swords, I know it from talking to him. But there is more to it than just pounding hot steel. Much more. And this can't be labeled.

There are many smiths out there feeling superior just because at one step in the making they forge a bit. But still their swords are mediocre at the best.

The whole discussion is a bit pointless for me. You want a sword? Talk to the makers you fancy. Where's the problem?
People who don't inform themselves beforehand will not be helped by such a labeling.

just my thoughts...

Herbert

www.arsgladii.at
Historical European Martial Arts
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Peter Johnsson
Industry Professional



Location: Storvreta, Sweden
Joined: 27 Aug 2003
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,757

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 2:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

With respect of the legislation situation in Great Britain, these questions regarding quality, authenticity and tradition become even more important. They are of great importance.
I think there is some specification that only swords made with traditional techniques are going to be legal to make and own. I might have mis-understood this or jumped to conclusions. If so, I might be making too much out of this. Non the less, this is something that might still become an un-welcome complication. It might even make it Illegal to be a contemporary sword smith using a propane forge. Questions of skill, awareness, artistic value, functional quality become moot if the only qualifying conditions is wether coal or charcoal was used as heat source, or wether the smith hammered his steel alone by hand or used a power hammer. And I would say these distinctions would be based completely on conjecture.

-Who is to say what traditional techniques consist of? Where is the line to be drawn? AD 650? Mid 17th C? Late 19th C?
Who can explain the complexities of the traditions of the sword smith and cutlers art to those in power to decide?
As a rule, I would say a single smith hammering on his blade blank would have been a rare exception, in all time periods. Forging blades normally was a group effort, I would guess: a master with one or several sledge helpers. Later on the sledge hands were replaced or combined with power hammers of various kinds. The raw material changed character drastically through the development of the craft. Indeed the craft changed as a result of the kind of steel one had to work with. One could argue that a traditional approach would be to use the best method suited to the available material.

Please note that I am not arguing against hand work with a simple hammer. In fact I think skill with the hammer is central to the craft. I only want to point out that there is more to the craft than this single aspect. There is more to understand, learn and appreciate.To limit our notion of what is traditional by what can be conceived being the equipment of a "historical" smithy (whatever that might be) is harmful for the craft. It is like saying that actors today should only use make-up based on natural compounds and ideally those used in the 17th C. Or that musicians using anything than authentic 16th C instruments are breaking the law.

As a smith I have seen many times there is a pride among colleagues of skill with simple hand tools: traditionally seen as the core of the craft of the smith. This is a good thing: one should strive to excel with these techniques. It is the base one builds on. It is like nude drawing studies for the artist. These tools are central to the craft, but also rather basic. There are also tools and methods that are exclusive for the blade smith and the sword cutler. They are not represented by the tool kit you see in any typical black smith shop. In fact, surviving and intact historical sword smith shops are exceedingly rare.

At an early stage in the tradition of the craft of the sword, power sources were harnessed to facilitate a greater productivity. Water wheels were used to power grinding wheels, hammers and bellows. Helpers lent their strength rewarded by food and lodging or cheap pay.
I question the validity of argument that only water power should be allowed as a source for the mechanical hammer or the grinding wheel. I do not think it is reasonable that sword smiths must build their workshop at plentiful streams. Personally, I do not want to use natural stones when I grind as I do not like the idea of catching silicosis.
When the steel hits the carborundum, what matters is the awareness and skill of hand, and much less the grinding media and power source. The craft is more the skill and awareness and less the binding medium of the emery compound.
Forging has always only been a small part in the making of the sword. Invisible aspects such as heat treating and visible ones (but often overlooked) such as grinding and polishing has been demanding most time and attention of the craftsmen involved.
I am a sword smith, since I do forge the parts of the swords I make, but I also do heat treat, filing and polishing, wood work, leather work, scabbards and belts and embellishing. This is much more than simply forging. I am therefore a sword maker. I do it all, including first hand study of surviving original swords. I do not think grinding demands any less skill than forging, that a precise carving of the scabbard core is any less tricky than pattern welding, or that my skill with my hammer matters more than my understanding of the sword as represented through the ages. My hammer (and I do use a hand held hammer and an anvil as a natural part of the process) is only one of the tools in my tool box.

To simplify the craft of the sword to a matter of old style forging is making the art smaller. It is making aspects of artistic value and uniqueness of expression invisible and robbed of value.
Today I can expand and explore any of the aspects involved in the making of a sword. I can explore possibilities of materials that were unavailable to the craftsmen of old. I can seek expressions that are contemporary rather than bound to a specific time period.
It is a possibility to make the sword as a valid expression of contemporary art and craft. It can still build on the tradition in aspects of dynamic and function. It can still be a *real sword*. But it does not have to be limited shapes and styles of past centuries. I say this as someone who cares very much for the traditional style, and stress the importance of studying the historical sword. We cannot expand the craft without an understanding of the tradition.

I think it is very important to work for a wider recognition of the craft of the sword. We need less "tactical katanas" and more swords that stand alone as object of accomplished artistic craft. We need to attract those who might not first think they are interested in swords. The sword need to reach outside digital role playing and popular media. We need to create a place for the sword as something that can be respected as a valid mode of expression and study.
If potters or cabinet makers were breaking the law if they used electrically powered tools, weŽd see this as something absurd. Yet, it is perhaps only a few bad decisions away that this could become a reality for sword smiths.

To try to strengthen the identity of the craft by imposing erratic and haphazard rules as to what is the "correct" and "traditional" way to go about things is to completely miss the idea of the craft in this day and age. Especially since the understanding of the traditions of the sword is so pathetically low.

I would feel very worried about who that person was to draw the line between right and illegal.
Who is to say what fuel might be the best in 15 years time? Perhaps coal will be deemed completely unacceptable and perhaps charcoal will be deemed inappropriate? Perhaps we will have to look for other sources of heating? Perhaps smiths will have to rely on completely new mixes of old and new techniques to continue their craft.
The craft has evolved always.
I am not saying hand tools do not have any value or that a knowledge and appreciation of ancient techniques should take second place. I am merely saying that it is only too easy to make distinctions that might seem clear but in reality are based on ignorance and narrow mindedness. Simple solutions are often very bad ones.

We need to expand the awareness of the craft. We need to see swords exhibited as works of art. We need to see a growing following of of the craft as an expression of contemporary artisanship. We cannot do this by limiting the work methods to the equipment found in a 18th C village blacksmith shop. Surely we need to learn more about how to apply ancient techniques and harness those potentials of expression. There is more to explore however. The sword is still developing, and along with it, the craft.

And finally, all the above is written as a reaction to the dangers of an all too simplistic division of the craft into "traditional" and "non-traditional". I agree with the idea that there is a value both for customers but also for makers, to be clear in expressing the origin, methods and ideas behind the sword. If there was more awareness of these values, perhaps we could start to look beyond "hand forged" and "battle ready".
I do not intend this post to be a flaming attack on the original post of this thread. It does however have implications that I think are dangerous to overlook.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Likes: 110 pages
Reading list: 18 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,147

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As always very taught provoking Peter. This thread seems to be touching on some very interesting topics, keep it coming you guys.
Éirinn go Brách
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Herbert Schmidt




Location: Austria / Europe
Joined: 21 Mar 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 161

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 12:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As usual Peter brings a few points that can't be talked away. I agree totally to what he posted so I just want to add an afterthought.

In reaction to this I always used to ask people: take a famous and excellent swordsmith from the high middle ages and drop him into modern society (via time machine) to make some swords. After he learned about all the possibilities what do you think he would do? Take up some iron ignots and start pounding away on an anvil, using helpers and so on? Or would he rather use modern equipment, modern tools and only rely on his traditional way where it seems to be vital for him?

That is exactly what a good swordmaker does today. He uses what he has got at hand - he chooses the best steel for the blade, the best tools available and so on and only relys on the "old way" where it brings benefit. This way he takes the best of various centuries to produce the best sword he is capable of at the moment. I wouldn't have it another way. The moment i.e. Peter would start doing swords exactly "the old way" (whatever it may be) I would think twice about buing swords from him. Why? Because he would willingly ignore positive aspects of the craft. And this would show - either in quality, in price or both.

Personally I still don't see the point. Customers should talk to the smith and try to learn how he produces swords and understanding his attitude.

About the legal situation in the UK I can't comment.

Herbert

www.arsgladii.at
Historical European Martial Arts
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
John McCullan




Location: Scotland / south England
Joined: 28 Nov 2008

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 12:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I must write that in the UK that we are getting quite used to the governments" knee jerk"
reactions to problems, real and imagined. Acts are past here with very little thought and detail. These are quite often, then resolved in a test case at someone's expense!
I earn my living in the" hunting shooting and fishing" trade, most un P.C. in the UK,, and I'm afraid to say, I have quite got used to the governments rushed /politically motivated legislation, with little regard to its effect on people's livelihoods.

Peter Johnsson says he is quite happy with the title " Sword maker", he makes swords with a combination of "traditional "and new techniques and machines, heat treats in house, and makes all the fixtures and fittings in their various materials himself.
This sort of proves my point,, if somebody else buys in both blade and fixtures and fittings,and then in very little time, assembles them into a sword. He is also entitled to call himself a sword maker. This is not to say that his sword is in any way inferior, if he has purchased both blade and fittings of quality, and his skill in assembly. up to the mark.
It can lead the customer to be very confused, on who has done what, especially with some marketing and advertising being a little poetic in their descriptions.
Many people do not have the knowledge that most people on this forum possess, and for the more less expensive swords,it is quite often not possible to talk to the" Sword maker" for clarification. So this is just a plead for clearer labelling. And not the generic term SWORD MAKER -unless you are like Peter Johnson, and can produce all from scratch,using techniques, both ancient and modern, using many different materials needed to complete". The whole package".
As I have said before,. this is not a swipe at modern production methods,, just clearer labelling please!
We in the UK, could soon find ourselves in a situation similar to Japan, with tough legislation on swords,
but unlike Japan, probably not as clearly thought out, and no"sword maker/smith" body to help fight the swords corner.
View user's profile Send private message
Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Fri 19 Dec, 2008 3:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:

I would feel very worried about who that person was to draw the line between right and illegal.
Who is to say what fuel might be the best in 15 years time? Perhaps coal will be deemed completely unacceptable and perhaps charcoal will be deemed inappropriate? Perhaps we will have to look for other sources of heating? Perhaps smiths will have to rely on completely new mixes of old and new techniques to continue their craft.
The craft has evolved always.

Hi Peter,
So, would you agree that in some ways the arrangement you have with Albion is actually more historically typical than your custom sword work is?
View user's profile Send private message
Leo Todeschini
Industry Professional



Location: Oxford, UK
Joined: 12 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,524

PostPosted: Fri 19 Dec, 2008 4:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a truly fascinating discussion, and one I can add little to that has not been said more knowledgeably and more articulately than I could do, but broadly I stand in the camp of 'is the maker a good maker or not', by whatever means.

I have really just posted to add a bit about the UK law as it stands, to the level I understand it.

Yes certain 'traditional' methods of manufacture are allowable for curved blades in excess of 50cm, however members of recognised martial arts groups and reenactors are exempt from the restrictions, so I suspect it will make very little difference to me or people like me. However and this is a very big however.

British law is based on case law and until a case is taken to court and fought, the true meaning of the law is not clarified. For example I understand that the definition of sword is not clear, even to the extent of sharp or blunt or what is sharp? Nor is curve defined and I challenge anyone to find more than a handful of historical swords that have a straight edge line from guard to tip. My conclusion is that with a broad stroke all swords are now restricted in the UK, even though this was not intended, but of course this will not be decided until cases go to trial.

Sorry for the sideline

Tod

www.todsworkshop.com
www.todcutler.com
www.instagram.com/todsworkshop
www.facebook.com/TodTodeschini
www.youtube.com/user/todsstuff1
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
John McCullan




Location: Scotland / south England
Joined: 28 Nov 2008

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2008 1:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You're right there,, talking to my swordsmith acquaintance,. The definition of curved is not
explained,, or even which way the curved runs,. Also the material with a sword(whatever that is) is made from-so this could include plastic toy swords,. If a officer of the law so interpreted!!? Not likely , but still legally possible.
Back to the original thread,, Angus Trim, has no problem with the word fabricator, he has used it to explain his work on several other threads. Many other people do not have a problem with the word Cutler, I still feel,, unless you can make everything from beginning to end, In ALL techniques the word sword maker, is still too vague for most people who do not have the skill or the knowledge, or the ability(sometimes well hidden) to dive deeper.
As to moving, a mediaeval Swordsmith forward in time- he would go from(pardon the pun). Being at the front of cutting edge technology, to vastly out of date.
Yes, he may retrain to use modern materials and techniques, but he would be far more likely to find more lucrative work with universities etc , or on realising that his craft has no military value outside parades, concentrate on still producing them the way he knows, and marketing them as such- marketing them as works of art
Hay -how many people/collectors/museums, etc would pay for a brand spanking new mediaeval sword, produced by a Real mediaeval Swordsmith, in his traditional way.
The whole point is, he would realise his trade,as he understood it, is now dead. He made swords to kill people with, or at the least something to stop them killing you. This time has now gone,, and he would either retrain, move to another form of employment, OR make use of what knowledge he has, and sell that.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Sword maker ? Clearer labelling, please!
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