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Nathan M Wuorio




Location: Maine.
Joined: 17 Mar 2008
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 151

PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2008 11:51 pm    Post subject: Alchem Blades         Reply with quote

I recently found a site called Alchem Blades, and I was amazed by their selection and prices. I'm thinking of ordering several pieces, namely the cutlass, turkic saber, and the scarf sword, all with flat tangs. I was wondering what the quality of their products is, it seems to be pretty good, from what I can tell. Do you any of you have one or two products from them? If so, I would love to hear some feedback.
Nathan.
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Bill Tsafa




Location: Brooklyn, NY
Joined: 20 May 2004

Posts: 599

PostPosted: Fri 26 Dec, 2008 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a few Alchems that I use for drilling and sparring. Take a look at my review page for details:

http://mysite.verizon.net/tsafa1/rapier/alchemlongsword.html


Consider these semi-custom made sword blunts. The guy there makes the swords to order. Length, stiffness, blade taper, weight, balance, furniture are all adjustable variables


The only complaint I have heard from some people is that they think my particular longsword blade flexes too much. I ordered a medium flex blade because I prefer it to have some give when I thrust. You can order it with a stiffer blade if you wish but you sparring partner may not appreciate it. I am very happy with the Alchem Longsword. I recommend the Fiore rather then the Meyer sword. The only difference is that the Meyer has a schilt that adds weight near the crossgruard. $250

The main gauche dagger is the most common I have seen in SCA rapier. Personally I prefer a dagger with just a cross guard. $100

If you look at the bottom of the webpage I posted you will see my rapier. I have three of those. Two in with 40" blades and one with a 36". Word of caution on this style of rapier because it leaves your hands exposed. I am fast enough not to get hit on the hands, but other people may require hand guards. $180

My favorite is my Reaver basket hilt. I used it to duel Adam this summer. I gave very exact specifications on how how I wanted that sword built with regard to length, taper and balance. I just ordered a second one for some two-sword fighting. When it comes to fighting with single handed swords I really hate bulky gauntlets and the basket hilt allows me full hand dexterity and full protection. I have been meaning to have a half-guantlet custom made to cover the back of the hand and thumb joint. $200

Alchem usually takes 3 to 6 weeks to unless they have the sword already assembled. I have heard of cases that took longer. You do have to try pin them to a delivery date and nag a bit with follow up emails and calls if you want to get it on time.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
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Alex Hutchins




Location: Narnia
Joined: 18 Sep 2013
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 18 Sep, 2013 10:38 am    Post subject: SCA         Reply with quote

The reason that the Alchem blades flex so much is to allow them to be legal for SCA combat. As a schlager fencer, they are actually a lot stiffer than most of the blades we use.
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Steven Janus




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 12 Mar 2008

Posts: 185

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2013 11:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Darkwoods do not flex excessively and are designed for SCA use. Just playing devil's advocate. I've contemplated Alchem multiple times but the long wait times keep making me stay away. Kult of Athena now stocks Alchem btw. Some guys in our group have them and there are one or two dedicated Alchem fanboys in my group. Most are Hanwei fanatics with some leaning towards Zen Warrior. Then there is me, the lone Darkwood guy Worried
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Alex Hutchins




Location: Narnia
Joined: 18 Sep 2013
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 25 Sep, 2013 5:41 am    Post subject: Alchem         Reply with quote

I have looked at darkwood over alchem, but because I am still paying for college, darkwoods prices all ways turn me off to them. I know that they are worth the price in their durability, but I feel like I practially have to take out a bank loan to get one of their modest weapons. For someone starting out, I think zen warrior is one of the best sites.
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Steven Janus




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 12 Mar 2008

Posts: 185

PostPosted: Wed 25 Sep, 2013 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes I can be that one 'rich kid' sometimes. I started with Zen warrior only to sell both my zen warrior weapons to a freind of mine in my group. I think Alchem might be better build quality wise but Zen has superb customer service. if you have a problem, they will take care of you. I traded a three sided musketeer blade of theirs for a schalger and it was no issue. I have had issues with Zen though. Their hilt components are a bit soft and on some of their blades the quillons can esaily be bent. Also their blades are prone to taking sets and have little to no taper. Lastly, because they are rod tang, the hilts tend to spin around and become loose during combat. Not every Darkwood is unreachable. I have their two ring economy hilt and it cost me $310 plus shipping because I ordered mine with their type II blade. Their other under $300 options are their 19th century training sabres which should be legal for rapier use depending on whether or not your group allows for the use of curved blades. Like I wrote, I have considered Alchem but I have read too many horror stories of waiting months on end for them to deliver.
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Isaac H.




Location: Northern California
Joined: 06 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 12:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Having been a student in a historical salle for eight years that has used Achem weapons ,as well as Darksword and Zen Warrior, allow me to interject on this subject with nearly a decade of personal experience with all three of these companies.

Regarding Alchem.

This company, foremost, builds weapons that can take an extreme amount of abuse. My fellow instructor has been using his Alchem pappenhemier rapier for 14 years now. It's still going strong. One fact to consider is that the hilts are riveted together , not welded. Occasionally after hard service, these rivets come loose and must be sent in for repair. When they say "flat tang", it's really a full tang that continues the same widthe as the ricasso all the way up into the pommel. Grips are thus of slab construction, and the design is extremely sturdy. There is an issue with their blade geometry, it is certainly not ideal. As I said ,these are beater swords and tend to run on the heavy side. The blades are entirely flat in profile ,and have virtually no distal taper. Thus, the handlling is sometimes less than lively. The large spherical pommels found on nearly all their swords balance out the blades well,but can get in the way in some wrist-oriented manuevers with single handed swords. Mr . Koch, the proprietor, is very knowledgeable and pleasant to do business with. It is true that the wait time can be long, up to three months. But it's worth the wait.
Bottom line: Excellent quality swords, very heavy duty. It might tire out your arm,but it will never fail you. And as a last resort, that pommel doubles as a mace. Wink


Zen Warrior Armoury ( ZWA)

As Steven mentioned, Zen Warrior shines in their customer service. Walter is a wonderful man to deal with. What most people don't understand about this company is that they are very willing to get specific with your personal needs for a specific weapon. For example,I often order blades to mount on hitls that I build. I'll call to make my order and explain the blade in detail... width of forte, stiffness, amount of taper, etc. And Zen Warrior WILL send me a blade that matches my preferences. That is why I recommend them highly .

Quote:
Their hilt components are a bit soft and on some of their blades the quillons can esaily be bent. Also their blades are prone to taking sets and have little to no taper. Lastly, because they are rod tang, the hilts tend to spin around and become loose during combat.


Steven, I am unsure what hilt (s) specifically that you've seen get their quillons bent, but historically this has never been a problem with any of the Zen Warrior swords in my salle. The quillon stock is very sturdy. My ZWA schalger hilt has literally hundreds of marks on the quillons from parrying (including some very heavy sabre blows) but has never moved a millimeter from it's original postion.Fencing blades are supposed to take a slight set. In fact, Zen Warrior recomends you bend the blade in such a fashion to encoruage a set. This is historical in practice,and extends the life of the blade. In regards to the tang, the rod shape is an option when ordering. They also have an option for a far more sturdy rectangular tang,which I always get. Never had a problem . The blades themselves do indeed have distal and profile taper, but how much really depends on how specific you are when ordering. However, for blades longer than 35" I do find to be rather too "whippy" for my taste.

Bottom line : Sturdy blades that handle quite nicely , and are an excellent value for the price. Just know what you want.


Darkwood....

I won't say much because everyone already knows the quality of Darkwood Armoury products. Search the forum ,and the web. You can't really compare them to training weapons, because they handle like the real thing. If you have the resources and are looking to stay with historical fencing for the long run, you will not ever regret ordering a Darkwood sword.

Wounds of flesh a surgeons skill may heal...

But wounded honor is only cured with steel.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good ,to build him up.
Romans 15:1-2
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Steven Janus




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 12 Mar 2008

Posts: 185

PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had a Dennis Graves Spanish Rapier. The quillons on it bent from use and the cup was easily dented. I also had a court sword, that had no issues with its hilt. One had a rapier blade, and the other a schalger. The blades were good but took mild sets of about 20 degrees or so. Yes it is true, especially with Rapier blades, they will take sets. Though my two Darkwood blades which are the Bated type II have not taken any beyond 5 degrees. One in particular has seen a good number of fights and has been in use for a few months now. Though I did manage to s-curve one of their type I sport rapier blades which they replaced with a type II. Both type II blades are 39 inches fyi.
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Isaac H.




Location: Northern California
Joined: 06 Jun 2010
Likes: 32 pages
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I had a Dennis Graves Spanish Rapier


You bring up an interesting dilemma in the historical fencing practice. Historically, rapiers in the Spanish style have collectively been known to have very long,slender quillons. ( for example : http://www.andrewbottomley.com/a-very-fine-sp...-106-p.asp

I am not a practioner of it, but the true Spanish style of rapier play is very elegant . It relies heavily on the skill of controling the distance (measure) of the fight , with minimal blade engagement. There is little,if any, agressive exchanges and blade contact such as seen in the Italian or German styles. If what we see being taught as the Spanish style in today's western martial arts is indeed accurate, one can see why heavy ,agressive quillons were not neccesary .The elegance of the Spanish cup hilt reflects the fighting style in which it was used.

The dilemma I mentioned before is as follows: Most companies that produce a Spanish style weapon stay true the vast majority of originals ,and manufacture the sword with those same,slender quillons. Then students purchase these weapons who do not fight the Spanish style . The result is bent quillons.


Quote:
The blades were good but took mild sets of about 20 degrees or so.


This concerns me. Twenty degrees is not a "mild" set. That is an extreme angle. Either the tempering on the blade (s) was slightly soft , or you are hitting far,far harder with the sword than you should be. I hope it's the former.

Wounds of flesh a surgeons skill may heal...

But wounded honor is only cured with steel.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good ,to build him up.
Romans 15:1-2
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Steven Janus




Location: Florida, USA
Joined: 12 Mar 2008

Posts: 185

PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 3:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the problem why those blades took sets were I was young in Rapier and still learning. Also a few guys in my group have a tendency to walk into my thrust causing my blades to bend far more than they should. I also bent a Del Tin Spanish Cup hilt that now has a 20 degree set it in it WTF?! I trust at my sparing partner with a lunge and he kept walking into my thrust so he could lunge at me. The blade bent almost 90 degrees and I was kind of annoyed Mad Still it works and fences well. Even if it does have a set of 20 degrees. I suppose that's why I stick to shorter blades now with my 39 Darkwoods. The Del Tin is a 41 I believe. When I first started I did over power with my strikes but have learned to stop doing that and haven't had any issues with over powering.
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