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Adam Bohnstengel




Location: Spring, TX
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PostPosted: Sun 11 Sep, 2011 3:43 pm    Post subject: Custom smiths for a type XIIa?         Reply with quote

I'm looking to buy a custom set of swords when I get out of school next year (maybe order sooner and hope they're ready by then?). More than one if things work out good. Anyhow, the first set I will buy will be a pair of XIIa's, a matched blunt and sharp. The custom part really isn't all that much, just a slightly out of period guard, pommel, and grip. Maybe some etching/engraving on the blade as well. I'm thinking a type 6 guard with a little more curve to it, a waisted grip, and a type J pommel with something inset or engraved into it. Or maybe a type T2 pommel. Also, the length. I'm wanting 50-52 inches overall, with a 9 or 10 inch hilt (so.....40-43 inch blade). Kind of like this, but larger, and without the cutouts..

For the scabbards, the sharp can have a nice one, and the blunt can have a plain Jane munitions grade one. I've looked around, and there are lots of custom smith's available:

John Lundemo
Angus Trim/Christian Fletcher
Tinker Pearce
Vince Evans
Jake Powning
Michael Pikula
Pavel Moc
Rob Miller
Paul MacDonald

I'm sure that's just a drop in the bucket though. Any suggestions on who would be best suited for this particular assignment? Are there any custom smiths in or near Texas? I do intend to put these swords through some rough treatment with sparring and test cutting, so toughness will be a factor. I'm thinking I should be in the $1,000-$1500 range (maybe even less!) with this kind of request, but I've never ordered a custom sword before, so I don't know.

I am also planning on ordering a regular size pair of XII arming swords and a pair of daggers (come to think of it, do I even need a blunted dagger?) when I can, and would like to stay with the same smith for all of the commisions.

FYI, currently I only own two wasters and a Hanwei practical bastard sword. I have handled several Albions and a Lutel through my ARMA group though, and they were all very nice. Also, if anyone is wondering why I want a matched pair of sharp and blunt, the answer is, "Why not?"

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Mike Capanelli




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Sep, 2011 5:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well for my 2¢ I can't recommend Michael Pikula enough. He real easy to work with, does extremely high quality work, is currently within or close to your budget, and has a very reasonable turn around time. If I had to compile a list of my top three choices in order I'd say......

Michael Pikula
Christian Fletcher (He can use either a Gus Trim, Albion, Or even a BKS blade if you so desire)
Rob Miller

Jake Powning, while doing stellar work, is way out of the ballpark as far as price is concerned.

Really any of the smiths mentioned could get the job done and deliver a high quality piece, although some of them will go well over budget or turn around times will be wildly long. I should really put Tinker tied with Rob but while I like his blades, I've never really been fond of the mountings. Just my opinion though, and a purely aesthetic one at that.

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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Sep, 2011 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are a couple more possibilities -

Arms and Armor - they have made 2 wonderful custom swords for me at a reasonable price.

Valiant Armory - Sonny Suttles can put together a good combination of ATrim blade, Christian Fletcher furniture, and his own scabbard. Also, he is located in Grapevine, Texas
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Adam Bohnstengel




Location: Spring, TX
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2011 6:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, I should probably narrow it down a bit. That might help the process, especially since the time table has just been bumped up since I can use G.I. Bill BAH in place of the voc rehap subsitance allowance (an extra $600 a month!). Mr. Capanelli reports that Jake Powning is going to be too expensive, so he's out for now. Let's also take out anyone overseas, the conversion rate, shipping, and customs will probably price it out of my reach. That leaves us with:

John Lundemo
Christian Fletcher with whatever blade is available, though I think this might be out of my intended price point as well
Michael "Tinker" Pearce
Vince Evans---sounds like he's not taking much work, and he might also be out of my price, along with shipping from Hawaii
Michael Pikula
Valiant Armoury if they can get custom blades
Arms and Armor

I'll drop Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Evans as well, as I really think they will be more than I want to spend at the moment. That leaves us with:

John Lundemo
Michael "Tinker" Pearce
Michael Pikula
Valiant Armoury-----if they can get custom blades
Arms and Armor

Angus Trim made this blade with double fullers, and I really like it, but I don't know where I could write on the blade. The second one is nice too, I like the ring on the waisted grip. I think the other blade is his (or Valiant Armory's) as well, but I'm not sure. Either way, it's right along with what I'm looking for.





Of course, Mr. Lundemo made this one, and I LOVE the furniture on it (the color more than anything).


Nothing really stands out to me from Mr. Pikula (he's newish though) or Arms and Armor (probably lack of searching on my part). Valiant Armory does nice stuff, and has great prices, but I need to see if they can get custom blades from Gus, or if they just decorate them. Mr. Tinker has a great reputation, and I'm sure I could find something to drool over, but very few pictures on his site show up.

Any more recommendations? Hard to choose between these guys.

EDIT: Valiant gets blades from Lundemo as well? Neat.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2011 7:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My advice: First, decide on a design. Then find a smith who can execute it. Do your homework and look at as many examples of their work as you can find. Do they do the techniques you want and work in the materials you require? Do they specialize more in historical stuff than fantasy stuff? Do they stick to their deadlines? Do they do blunts? Daggers?

The following are only my opinions, which in some cases are not built on firsthand knowledge, just internet pics:

Valiant seems to work most often (exclusively?) with the collection of parts available to them through their various lines. So if there's a part from one sword you like and wants put with parts from other things in their lineup, go for it. For me, I'd have them peen the assembly. The hex nut assembly is ahistoric and, in my opinion, unattractive. They can etch decorations, which isn't accurate for the era you seem to be going for. Great scabbards, which can be very historical. I haven't seen any daggers from them.

John Lundemo's work is always well-crafted and artistic. Based on what I've seen posted, he works most often in the historically inspired but with artistic license vein. His swords have a distinctive, attractive look that is distinct from historical pieces. I'd love to see what he can do with more historical designs, but that's not what people tend to commission from him (again, based on what gets posted online). His customers are avid, loyal, and always seem thrilled with what they get. Great scabbards that are sometimes a tad bulkier than other makers make and they have that same attractive, artistic, but not quite historic look. Works in steel, brass, and bronze for hilt furniture.

Tinker: I've owned two of Tinker's swords and 3 of his Scottish dirks. They're reasonably attractive and quite pleasant to handle. They're also solidly built. In my opinion, he sometimes misses on historical shapes and proportions. His swords can have a 2D quality that misses some 3D aspects of period swords. If I were to commission something from Tinker, I'd require it be peened (not dismountable) for the same reasons I'd want Valiant to do so. Tinker can engrave and do very complex designs. I've not seen a wood-cored, full-blown historical sword scabbard from him. Leather sheaths with reinforced throat and tip seem to be the norm. His current customer base is ardent and enthusiastic.

Michael Pikula is up and coming and could make whatever you want. He tends toward the historical though I'm sure he could make something more in the fantasy vein if he chose to. He works in steel and bronze for hilt furniture (and likely other mediums). He can engrave and inlay. His scabbards are appropriately thin and he could do a historical rig. No one has complained about the quality of his work nor his delivery times.

A&A's custom work is under-appreciated and shouldn't be. They catch the historic shapes and proportions and their prices are reasonable compared to many others. They can also customize their production pieces often for a more economical choice than full custom. They can do historical scabbards. They can engrave, I believe. Their work is always spot on. I saw a custom piece they were working on when I was in the shop last month and it blew me away. They quality of the work, decoration, fit and finish and incised scenes on the leather-covered wood scabbard was incredible. These guys know swords. They own antiques, they knew Ewart Oakeshott (and have part of his collection), they have relationships with major museums, Craig and Chris have jousted, and they and others there study WMA. Their library of arms and armour books has to be one of the best in this country. They know swords. Happy

I'm a historical sword/knife/dagger guy. Looking at your list of smiths and knowing my own preferences/needs, I'd go A&A over Michael Pikula. Nothing against Michael; I'm just comfortable with the service and products I've received from A&A and I love dealing with them. I want to commission something from Michael some day, too.

I love the quality of John's work but would want to see more historical stuff from him before making an order. Valiant makes great scabbards but I wouldn't want a "parts" sword. Tinker's stuff is solid but his aesthetics don't appeal to me.

If you're not as militantly historic as me (Happy), then your choice may be different.

Happy

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T. Arndt




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2011 7:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Bohnstengel wrote:

Nothing really stands out to me from Mr. Pikula (he's newish though) or Arms and Armor (probably lack of searching on my part).

Interesting- these would be my first call on your list. You do realize both of these makers will do completely custom work and A&A can mix custom parts in with their standard models (and thus save you some $$).

I have a A&A Durer and could not be more happy with it. I also was privileged with the opportunity to handle Micheal Pikula's Pattern Welded Migration Sword and Castillion Inspired XVIII and they are some of the best balanced single handed swords I have ever handled.

Many makers offer interesting aesthetics and/or non-historical decorations, but these two have it were it counts, historical accuracy and superb handling. Too me, that is the highest aesthetic.

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Adam Bohnstengel




Location: Spring, TX
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2011 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Arndt wrote:
Adam Bohnstengel wrote:

Nothing really stands out to me from Mr. Pikula (he's newish though) or Arms and Armor (probably lack of searching on my part).

Interesting- these would be my first call on your list. You do realize both of these makers will do completely custom work and A&A can mix custom parts in with their standard models (and thus save you some $$).


Well, I wasn't trying to imply that I was discounting them. I was just going by what I saw posted on their websites. I know with a little bit of searching, I can find a lot more interesting work from them. While I like and can appreciate lots of swords, it's a big XIIa that really tickles me, and those two particular venders didn't have anything of the sort posted on their site (unless I'm just blind). I'll be contacting all of the vendors on the final list to get an idea of price, time, and what they can do for my dreams. Of course, I'm still sorting through those dreams, and as Mr. Arnow suggests, I need an actual design before I go too crazy with trying to place my order. And some more research. I'm just bouncing off the walls in anticipation (yes, that's going to be a lot of bouncing by the time they finally arrive).

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2011 8:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're looking for a custom and historical Type XIIa design, I'd go for Michael Pikula or Arms & Armor. The other makers discussed here are either not fully custom or not fully historical.

If you're looking for more of a contemporary design like the one you've shown, then just about any of the makers listed will be able to make something that will fit your needs. At that point, it's more about preference of aesthetic choice, price, and your level of comfort with their ability to deliver on time, on budget, and to spec.

PS: Chad's breakdown is right on target, in my opinion.

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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2011 9:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's the real question. Is historical accuracy in aesthetics and handling paramount to you? If it is go with Arms and Armor or with Michael Pikula. If you want a historically inspired sword with great performance then choose Tinker or Fletcher.
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Mike Capanelli




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2011 10:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Bohnstengel wrote:


Well, I wasn't trying to imply that I was discounting them. I was just going by what I saw posted on their websites. I know with a little bit of searching, I can find a lot more interesting work from them. While I like and can appreciate lots of swords, it's a big XIIa that really tickles me, and those two particular venders didn't have anything of the sort posted on their site (unless I'm just blind)


You know oddly, I happen to own a type XII made by Michael. It's on the small side but it's a twelve none the less. He should probably post pictures of that one on the site huh? I've owned a few swords of this type and this one happens to be the best so far. I have to admit though I've never been a fan of XII's, and I've owned some very popular ones. I picked her up to preview Michaels work which happens to be flawless on this piece. Everything is just excited perfectly, or as close as you can come to perfect. It's not adorned or flashy, just all business. I like simple clean lines in a sword. Anyway if you have any questions about it or would like to see some very bad pictures taken by myself just PM me.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2011 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
If you're looking for a custom and historical Type XIIa design, I'd go for Michael Pikula or Arms & Armor. The other makers discussed here are either not fully custom or not fully historical.



I second that about Michael Pikula and I would add that his work equals the work of other very VERY much more expensive makers who are this expensive because of high quality and high demand.

Also, his wait times are still reasonable and he is very easy to work with and has very good communications skills so that the design process is much more likely to give you exactly what you are looking for.

I would add that giving Michael general specifications and expectations and letting him deal with the details and aesthetics is probably the best way to go rather than micromanaging the project: Give him a free hand and you will get his design experience and creativity.

Personally I believe that Michael will be one of the handful of top makers in a few years when he will be better known. Wink
( Doing my best to make him known as I have a few of his pieces and am very happy about it. Big Grin Cool ).

Oh, Arms & Armour is also a good choice.

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Scott Kowalski




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Sep, 2011 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of the people you have on your list I own pieces from Christian Fletcher on an ATrim blade, % different pieces from A&A including a custom axe, and two custom pieces from Michael Pikula. All 3 were great to work with and I have no problem telling anyone who asks that any of them would do right by them. Having said that my next custom made sword, which incidentally will be either a XII or XIII, will be made for me by Michael. He really seems to have a great understanding of not only what will work but also how to make what you want work.
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Adam Bohnstengel




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2011 6:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I did some playing around in MS paint, and I discovered that the nice deep bronze-ish color doesn't look so good on a shiny blade, so I think a regular color guard and pommel will have to do. I also painted over the holes in the guard and stole a ring from a different sword's grip and added it to the picture. I darkened up some accents on the guard, and then cut and pasted a cross into the pommel. I know that it is just paint and a borrowed picture, but what does everyone think so far? I like it, and I've even decided (probably) on what I'm going to write on the blade. AD MAIUS BONUM. Hopefully that is a good translation to Latin of the phrase, "for the greater good". It would be nice to do an old form of German instead, but I can't find a translator for that. I've emailed a few smiths/vendors, am waiting to hear back now. I need to email the last one still.


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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2011 7:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You have a modern take on a 15th century scabbard and rig for a blade type most popular in the 13th and 1st half of the 14th century. The ring in the middle of the grip is not a commonly seen feature on historical swords (though a rare small handful have it) and it more seen on LOTR swords.

Given that it's not a terribly historical design, that may influence your choice of smiths.

Happy

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Adam Bohnstengel




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2011 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The scabbard and rig just happen to be in the picture, I wasn't really looking at that side when I was drawing. I'll have to look for something more period correct. What kind of belt and scabbard would be seen in 1350ish? Any good place that I can start looking?

As for the ring on the grip, I just think it's neat.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2011 7:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Bohnstengel wrote:
The scabbard and rig just happen to be in the picture, I wasn't really looking at that side when I was drawing. I'll have to look for something more period correct. What kind of belt and scabbard would be seen in 1350ish? Any good place that I can start looking?


Forum searches are a good start. Scabbards have been discussed many times. Also check period art and monumental brasses and effigies. Our Feature articles are also well-illustrated enough that poking around in those should help you find some things.

My question for you: how historical are you trying to be with your design? It seems you're looking to modern reproductions for inspiration moreso than historical pieces. That's fine if you want something less historical. If you're trying to be accurate, I'd look more to period pieces than modern ones.

Happy

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Adam Bohnstengel




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Sep, 2011 2:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Adam Bohnstengel wrote:
The scabbard and rig just happen to be in the picture, I wasn't really looking at that side when I was drawing. I'll have to look for something more period correct. What kind of belt and scabbard would be seen in 1350ish? Any good place that I can start looking?


Forum searches are a good start. Scabbards have been discussed many times. Also check period art and monumental brasses and effigies. Our Feature articles are also well-illustrated enough that poking around in those should help you find some things.

My question for you: how historical are you trying to be with your design? It seems you're looking to modern reproductions for inspiration moreso than historical pieces. That's fine if you want something less historical. If you're trying to be accurate, I'd look more to period pieces than modern ones.

I looked around a bit, and another member named Blaz(?) in Slovenia had already done a lot of that exact research for a good 14th century suspension. I saved all that on another computer though, so I will post that on Monday. Hopefully it will be more historical.

As far as how historical I'm trying to be with the design, like the armor kit I've been asking about, historical plausible is good enough. I will sacrifice a little bit of accuracy for a better look, but I'll stick to historical for the most part. Basically, a type XIIa blade, a type J pommel, a type 6 guard, and engravings and whatnot all existed in the 1320-1350 period that I'm going for. Were they ever combined like this? Probably not, but it certainly could have happened. I will have to find an alternative to the ballock dagger though, I'm not wearing one of those, not in this lifetime. That's neither here nor there though.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Sep, 2011 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Bohnstengel wrote:
Basically, a type XIIa blade, a type J pommel, a type 6 guard, and engravings and whatnot all existed in the 1320-1350 period that I'm going for. Were they ever combined like this? Probably not, but it certainly could have happened.


It's folly to think that because items/characteristics existed at roughly the same period in history that they existed together at the same place and could be found on the same object. This is almost always untrue. It's best to simply state that such an item is a mix-and-match modern combination of historically-inspired parts and be content with such a description without thinking it's "historically plausible". Factually speaking, such things almost always lack any evidence of historically plausibility.

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William Swiger




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Sep, 2011 12:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a sword John Lundemo made for me recently. He can make about anything you want.







I am sure any of the smiths mentioned could make you what you want.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Sep, 2011 6:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Bohnstengel wrote:
I will have to find an alternative to the ballock dagger though, I'm not wearing one of those, not in this lifetime. That's neither here nor there though.


A ballock dagger is just one choice for the era. Rondel daggers, quillon daggers (perhaps earlier in the 14th c.), and baselards were also common. There was no standard dagger for that era.

What's wrong with a ballock dagger, by the way? I have 2 and have owned and sold 2 more. Some are very phallic, some much less so. If we let modern sensibilities infect our period collecting we can miss out on very interesting things. Happy

Happy

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