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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Was my Albion not sharpened properly? Reply to topic
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Tormod Engvig




PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 2:22 pm    Post subject: Was my Albion not sharpened properly?         Reply with quote

Hello all,

I have owned an Albion NextGen Mercenary for several years now, and I absolutely love it. A beautiful bastard sword. However, I have always wondered if the sword I received (bought direct from Albion) was properly sharpened. I ask this because I have never used it for any test cutting whatsoever, only as a wall hanger (and an awesome one at that), but have always noticed that the edges of the blade, though not dull per se, are not particularly sharp. By that I mean that I can (while applying a modest amount of pressure) run my finger or even whole hand up and down the blade without cutting myself.

What I'm trying to say is that my Mercenary doesn't seem to have that "biting" sharpness I've come to expect from swords of this quality. I know the Merc is a type XVa, primarily a thrusting sword. But as has been clearly illustrated in numerous reviews, it is quite the cutter as well. Am I merely imagining things, or has anyone else here on the forum had any similar experiences with their Albion type XVs (Agincourt, Talhoffer, Constable, Poitiers, etc.)? I mean no disrespect toward Albion; their swords are works of art. But do anyone know if they have a tendency to go "extra easy" on the edges of their "sharp" blades, particularly their type XVs?

Thanks for any input anyone may have!

Tormod

"Skal til kamp på bølgen top, Dannebrog i stavnen op, gid der bag dets røde fold, står en helt som Tordenskjold."
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A. Spanjer




Location: USA
Joined: 26 Apr 2009

Posts: 242

PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My Hanwei Scottish Basket-Hilt Broadsword has a similar level of sharpness.

I think most swords shouldn't have "biting sharpness." Biting sharpness is good for knives, or swords that are like big knives (Messers, Katanas), but I don't think most swords need to be that sharp to do their job. If they were that sharp, they would constantly be getting edge damage from accidental striking of shields, armour, or even other swords.

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Brian K.
Industry Professional



Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Joined: 01 Jan 2008

Posts: 721

PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 2:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had the privelage of handling numerous Albion's, and I have noticed a variance in sharpness. The majority are what I call 'sword' sharp, which is sharp enough to do some 'fleshly' damage but not sharp enough to be a bottle slayer persay. Or in other word's, dull in comparison to say a kitchen knife. A small percentage of Albion's I've had in my shop are extra sharp compared to what I'm used to, and have that "biting sharpness".

I wouldn't say your sword wasn't sharpened properly necessarily, as the 'how sharp should a sword be' is a question of preference and usage.

Brian Kunz
www.dbkcustomswords.com
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Dan Mackison





Joined: 18 Jan 2008

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 3:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How sharp does it have to be?

Blunt Cutting Video

http://www.thearma.org/photos/Gathering03/G03vids.htm
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Tormod Engvig




PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 5:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the information fellas! It is certainly true that a sword like the Mercenary doesn't have to be biting sharp to be deadly. For me, historical accuracy is the key, and having a razor sharp sword with a brittle edge on a 15th C. battlefield full of plate armor and shields does strike me as being more of a liability than a blessing.

I'm wondering if any other members here with Albion type XVs have any observations to make in this regard.

Cheers,
Tormod

"Skal til kamp på bølgen top, Dannebrog i stavnen op, gid der bag dets røde fold, står en helt som Tordenskjold."
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Paul Watson




Location: Upper Hutt, New Zealand
Joined: 08 Feb 2006

Posts: 391

PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 5:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not XV but an XVIII so it is similar, my ex Regent had an edge that one could easily run a finger or palm down from the time I bought it (new). The edge dulled a little more with use but I never had any problem cutting with it.
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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Rusty Thomas




Location: San Antonio, Texas
Joined: 30 Oct 2007

Posts: 31

PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 7:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a Castellan and I would say my blade is similar to yours. I can run my fingers and my hand over the edge and have no fear of cutting myself. I wouldn't press in hard or anything but I can use moderate pressure. I have no complaints about the edge however. I feel it is the way it should be! The edges are smoothly polished and come to a nice bevel. I can cut paper with it but I have to really pay attention to my technique. All in all a perfect edge for a sword. There is a "Spot Light" topic called "Sword Sharp" by Angus Trim that has some good info in it. Look under "Spot Light" Then "Dynamics, Properties, and Performance" and i think you will find it enjoyable and enlightening reading. Chad Arnow just posted a link to it a few days ago and I enjoyed the read! Thanks Chad! I will try and post the link also.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=1980
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David McElrea




Location: Canada
Joined: 26 Nov 2003

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 438

PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 8:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As Rusty points out, blade dynamics vary greatly from type to type-- and they are meant to. While I do not own a Mercenary or Castellan, I am guessing they would be great for half-swording. If, on the other hand I tried to half-sword my Baron, I would probably lose four fingers and a thumb. Form follows function.

I haven't seen your sword, so I can't speak as to its sharpness; but I am not surprised that there is a discernible difference.
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Brandt Giese




Location: Everett. Wa
Joined: 06 Apr 2010
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Posts: 111

PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 9:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

I have two of Albion's cutting swords the Baron and Knight and they are very sharp. Not sharp enough to cut paper but sharp none the less. I would guess that your assumption would be correct that being mainly a thrusting sword it would be sharpened differently. Have you asked Mike at Albion?

Brandt
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JE Sarge
Industry Professional



PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2010 11:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've owned two Mercenaries. Both were very, very sharp to a proper appleseed geometry. I'd not have half-sworded with either one of them. True, the are Type XVa swords, but they are still quite apt in the cut once you get used to the CoP.

I'd do as others have suggested and write Albion about this. Perhaps you can send it back for a tune up...

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Tormod Engvig




PostPosted: Tue 20 Apr, 2010 1:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks once again for all the input. I really enjoyed reading A. Trim's post on sword sharpness. Very illuminating. It essentially answered questions that have been burning in my mind for years!

As far as my sword is concerned, using Gus' nomenclature on sword sharpness, I will venture to state that my Merc is "sword" sharp. It doesn't cut paper well, it won't split my palm open if I run it accross the blade with light to moderate pressure, but I now know that this isn't unusual amongst repro (or original?) swords of this type.

Halfswording with a "paper" sharp (or sharper) sword also can't be all that good for the hand even when heavily calloused (as warrior hands would have been back then) or gloved.

Cheers,
Tormod

"Skal til kamp på bølgen top, Dannebrog i stavnen op, gid der bag dets røde fold, står en helt som Tordenskjold."
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Toke Krebs Niclasen




Location: Copenhagen
Joined: 31 Jan 2010

Posts: 55

PostPosted: Tue 20 Apr, 2010 2:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I got a Viceroy and a Vassal, the edges are not so sharp that I cannot press my fingers against them.

That is fine for the Viceroy, a combination of cut and trust blade. The Vassal should most likely be significantly sharper as it is a lighter and faster cutting blade.

I might sharpen it during the summer when I can get to do some more test cutting, or maybe not, it is not a project I am too confident in.
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Matthew Fedele




Location: Auburn, NY USA
Joined: 21 Jul 2005

Posts: 64

PostPosted: Wed 21 Apr, 2010 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are there no recordings of the angles historical swords were ground at during various periods or are the typologies limited to pommel shapes? The angle of the grind would tell you what something about what the expected opponent would be wearing through the ages. A razor is ground at 20 degrees, a cold chisel at 45 degrees. You don't cut metal with a razor and you can't shave with a cold chisel. The swords would have been designed accordingly.

Cheers,
Matt
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Ben Smith




Location: Washington State
Joined: 08 May 2007
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Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat 24 Apr, 2010 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I own an Albion Mercenary. Odds are 1,000,000:1 it's blade is exactly the same as yours. I've done a lot of cutting with it. I once used it for a workshop I taught in which it did over 230 cuts on tatami mats in four hours. I can assure you, this thing can take your arm clean off without any serious strain or effort on your part. The lower quarter of the blade is a little less effective because of its nearly square cross-section which was optimized to reinforce a point for armored fighting, and in the hands of the inexperienced it won't perform as well, but the other 3/4 of the blade consistently perform nice clean cuts through very thick targets. Trust me, your Mercenary will do the job if you ever need it to.

I actually prefer the sword exactly as it is, because I do my solo half-sword training historically according to the precedents of many manuals, without gloves. It is, I think, exactly as sharp as it should be. Any sharper and it would be dangerous to half-sword, any duller and it might have trouble cutting well.

Albion has never said so, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't check the edge geometry of historical swords when they designed their pieces.

Respectfully,

Ben
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Tormod Engvig




PostPosted: Sat 24 Apr, 2010 11:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Smith wrote:
I own an Albion Mercenary. Odds are 1,000,000:1 it's blade is exactly the same as yours. I've done a lot of cutting with it. I once used it for a workshop I taught in which it did over 230 cuts on tatami mats in four hours. I can assure you, this thing can take your arm clean off without any serious strain or effort on your part. The lower quarter of the blade is a little less effective because of its nearly square cross-section which was optimized to reinforce a point for armored fighting, and in the hands of the inexperienced it won't perform as well, but the other 3/4 of the blade consistently perform nice clean cuts through very thick targets. Trust me, your Mercenary will do the job if you ever need it to.

I actually prefer the sword exactly as it is, because I do my solo half-sword training historically according to the precedents of many manuals, without gloves. It is, I think, exactly as sharp as it should be. Any sharper and it would be dangerous to half-sword, any duller and it might have trouble cutting well.

Albion has never said so, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't check the edge geometry of historical swords when they designed their pieces.

Respectfully,

Ben


Nice!

I'm glad to see you're getting plenty of good use out of your Mercenary.

I recall reading several posts recently stating without hesitation that the Merc would be their choice of any repro sword today if ever faced with the need to defend oneself. Not that i envision ever needing to, and of course recognizing that every defense situation is different, it is nevertheless a creditable testament to Albion artisanship.

Cheers,
Tormod

"Skal til kamp på bølgen top, Dannebrog i stavnen op, gid der bag dets røde fold, står en helt som Tordenskjold."
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C.M. Lewis





Joined: 12 Dec 2009

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun 02 May, 2010 1:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I got my first Albion not long ago, a Sempach which I bought second hand from a member of this forum who in turn got it from another member who bought it new in 2004. While I'm sure the edge is historically accurate for a design which was primarily for thrusting, I would prefer that it be as sharp as my old WW2 Naval katana which will cut me if I look at it wrong. I sent it back to Albion for sharpening and expect to get it back shortly. I'm curious to see how much of a difference there is.
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Jeff A. Arbogast





Joined: 16 Oct 2008

Posts: 180

PostPosted: Sun 02 May, 2010 5:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tormod Engvig wrote:
Thanks for the information fellas! It is certainly true that a sword like the Mercenary doesn't have to be biting sharp to be deadly. For me, historical accuracy is the key, and having a razor sharp sword with a brittle edge on a 15th C. battlefield full of plate armor and shields does strike me as being more of a liability than a blessing.

I'm wondering if any other members here with Albion type XVs have any observations to make in this regard.

Cheers,
Tormod


It may depend a lot on the individual cutler too. For instance, my Albion Norman arrived RAZOR sharp, which I personally prefer, since a sword is meant to slice flesh anyway, not chop through armor. Any sword, super sharp or less so, would be dulled and dinged after combat anyway, chopping through flesh and banging against shields and armor as well as other weapons. And no matter how careful they would try to be to protect the edge, parrying with the flat or whatever, when you are trying to protect yourself as well as slay your enemies, that fine point was likely forgotten pretty often. I would have preferred my sword to be as sharp as I could get it, as least initially. Afterwards, if you survived, you could hand it over to someone to restore the edges for you if you had servants or a squire.
But the Knight I got from Albion was slightly less sharp. I oiled up a honing stone and carefully worked the edge to get the razor sharpness I like. I did the same thing with my A& A Henry V which was not as sharp as either of my Albions but was still sharp enough to split my toe in half when I kicked the edge when I fell asleep on the couch with it propped against my leg. I won't do that again. Now it splits milk jugs like they aren't even there.
So it's a matter of personal preference as far as I am concerned. If you want your sword sharper, I'll bet Albion would sharpen it up for you some more if you returned it to them after asking. They always struck me as being eager to please their customers.

A man's nose is his castle-and his finger is a mighty sword that he may wield UNHINDERED!
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C.M. Lewis





Joined: 12 Dec 2009

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Mon 03 May, 2010 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I got my Sempach back from Albion today and I'm not entirely sure they did anything to it aside from polishing out a preexisting scuff mark which is no longer there. As far as the edges are concerned, they feel exactly the same as they did originally - and I do have a feel for such things since I actually work for a company that sharpens kitchen cutlery for restaurants. While I don't do the sharpening myself, four years of delivering knives has given me the ability to instantly tell a dull blade from a somewhat sharp one from a scary sharp one with a quick feel. For my $55 I was looking to receive back a sword I would be afraid to pick up by the blade and that didn't happen. Sad
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Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Mon 03 May, 2010 4:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think you understand what proper edge geometry for that type of sword is supposed to be.

A European medieval-styled sword is not a knife. It's not a katana. It's intended to face very different types of targets and is used in a different manner. As such, the edge geometry and other dynamic properties are quite different.

If you have the expectation that a European medieval-styled sword is supposed to be sharp like a knife or a katana, you are going to be disappointed or surprised.

This subject is covered in detail in many topics on this site.

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Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

Posts: 552

PostPosted: Mon 03 May, 2010 5:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

C.M. Lewis wrote:
Well, I got my Sempach back from Albion today and I'm not entirely sure they did anything to it aside from polishing out a preexisting scuff mark which is no longer there. As far as the edges are concerned, they feel exactly the same as they did originally - and I do have a feel for such things since I actually work for a company that sharpens kitchen cutlery for restaurants. While I don't do the sharpening myself, four years of delivering knives has given me the ability to instantly tell a dull blade from a somewhat sharp one from a scary sharp one with a quick feel. For my $55 I was looking to receive back a sword I would be afraid to pick up by the blade and that didn't happen. Sad


No offense, but I have to ask the question...what are you using the sharp sword for? If you're doing cutting exercises or uses for it then you obviously have the skill, from your above description, to sharpen it however you want it be for its use. If you're just displaying it, want to own a piece of history but just keep it around or show it off to friends, then why do you need it super-sharp in the first place?

I have one longsword that I sharpened myself to a scary sharp edge and cut with on tatami mats. I haven't sharpened it since. It also came with a non-historical edge anyway so I didn't really care if it was sharpened beyond what a sword of its type would be historical or not. My other longsword, an Albion Earl, came plenty sharp enough when I bought it and I don't ever really intend to sharpen it any sharper. I know from firsthand experience (a cutting injury) that you really don't need a sword to be as sharp as a Cutco (TM) knife, they can be plenty dangerous without being scary sharp. The mass of the weapon and skill in using it is what makes it dangerous, not the edge. The geometry of a Katana and a longsword are very different, but in the end they will both do the job of cutting well. Unless you want to show off to friends how sharp your sword is, you don't need to sharpen it. I personally see no need to sharpen up my Albion, even for that purpose.

Best of luck and safety,

Bryce
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