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Vincent Le Chevalier

Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Oct, 2013 2:40 pm    Post subject: A sidesword by Marco Danelli         Reply with quote

Hello all,

Three weeks ago I received a training sidesword from Marco Danelli. I'm very pleased with this order and I wanted to share my impressions...

I've approached Marco after having seen and handled some of his works in the Dijon HEMAC gathering last May. I had long been looking for a good training sidesword, and these left me with such a positive impression that I quickly ended up ordering mine.

Marco has standard offerings for rapiers and medieval swords, but also does custom work, leaving you free to specify blade and hilt dimensions, hilt style and ornamentation. The custom work comes at a very reasonable price, at least for now, and depending on the specifics of the piece of course. I gave him relatively loose specs, as I'm of the opinion that the maker is in the best place to know what's possible to achieve and what feels and looks best. In the end, my order could be summarized like this: I wanted the guard structure and style of this sword but with the overall proportions and balance of this other.

The ordering process was completely straightforward, and Marco was always responsive by e-mail. He managed to keep true to the cost originally announced and has always been clear about any delays occurring compared to the predicted time of delivery. He even shared some in-progress shots of the guard! In total, from first contact to reception, the order took nearly four and a half months, but this includes me refining my command. This is actually quite short for a custom hand-made sword. On this count alone the buying experience was very enjoyable...

Receiving the sword took the enjoyment to a whole new level Happy

Visual aspect, fit and finish

Marco publishes very nice photographs of his own work and I don't think I have the talent to do better, so here is the full view:

And links to some detailed shots of the guard:
outer guard
inner guard
perspective 1
perspective 2
In person the visual effect is even nicer. I'm particularly fond of the proportion of the hilt. Some training rapiers and sideswords tend to have slightly oversized guards and finger rings and a longer handle than needed for me. This one looks perfectly in line with period examples and fits my hand perfectly. The maker also captured very well the core aesthetic effect present on the Wallace hilt with the grooves and scrolled quillons. I don't doubt he could have made it even more detailed, he actually asked me if I wanted him to. But this would have raised the cost a bit and I do not consider that such a high level of detail is necessary on a training sword...

The blade is also very beautiful. It is actually hollow ground over the whole length. The lines are crisp and clean, and as perfect as can reasonably be expected on a hand-made object (well, barring somptuous costs, that is Wink ). The finish on the hilt is equally nice, the welds are very well made and no rough angles dig into the fingers anywhere.

The assembly is tight, with no sign of any part moving even after some sparring. Should anything get loose, the sword can be disassembled and retightened.

Overall, to give the reader a better idea, I'd put the fit and finish a notch up from Darkwood standard offering, about on par with the Arms&Armor examples I have.

Handling and function

Some essential stats:
hilt length = 141mm
blade length = 945mm (from the junction cross-handle to the tip)
total mass = 1218g
Center of Gravity = 112mm (from the junction cross-handle)
Radius of Gyration = 260mm

Make from them what you want Happy I can add that the sword has a node of vibration just at the cross. The other one is pretty much where it should at the other end of the blade... The stats are close enough to some original swords, including the one I originally had in mind.

The subjective feel is that the sword is very well balanced for what it's meant to be: a well-rounded blade, capable of accurate and quickly redirected thrusts but with enough mass in the blade to cut with efficiency. Being shorter than a rapier, it also swings more readily in cutting motions. The mass of the sword is pretty concentrated at the cross, which means that the blade is actually quite agile.

The blade is flexible enough to be safe for thrusts, but not so much that it's a bother when you manipulate the sword quickly. The edges are about 1.5mm thick, not rounded but without sharp 90 degrees angles either. The tip is made to be thicker at around 6mm and is safely rounded. I consider it a safe sword for sparring, at least as safe as it can be with the realistic handling. I might add a leather button at some point but it's really not that dangerous as it is.

Now, all of this comes at a cost. Marco had to make the edge quite thin, and the hollow grinding quite deep in order to keep the weight down. During my first sparring session, I did a hard block with the true edge on the strong (I know, this would not leave a sharp undamaged, but it's called for in some contemporary sources and you don't always have a chance), and the blade took a visible nick (around 1mm deep). I don't think it will weaken the blade, and I'm sure Marco could do a stouter edge if asked... I'm not planning to enter tournaments or heavy sparring with this, so I can live with a few nicks in exchange for the handling. But that's not necessarily a compromise for everyone. The following sparring sessions left nothing notable on the blade, although I've been perhaps a bit more careful in my parries, which is good training anyway Happy

I'm very happy with the hilt, which adequately protects the hand in most situation, and makes it possible to use a light glove most of the time. One of my training partner took a painful hit to the hand (not from me, and not a heavy swing either) that this hilt would have prevented. I much prefer that historical solution to a bulky modern glove... With the rings of the appropriate size, it does not feel cumbersome at all. The only correction I would make (which I couldn't anticipate) is to make the quillons a little bit shorter to ease wheeling cuts, but on the other hand they protect better this way.


If you are looking for a training weapon but would like some customization I highly recommend looking up Marco Danelli, especially if you're in Europe! Visit his website or his Facebook page...


Ensis Sub Caelo
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Mark Moore

Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Oct, 2013 3:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've never heard of this maker, but I just went through the entire picture slideshow.....WOW.........Beautiful work! Thank you for the heads-up on these killer blades!.............McM
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Gottfried P. Doerler

Location: Tyrol, Austria
Joined: 11 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Oct, 2013 4:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

afaik mr danelli is quite new to the scene, but he has already established a good reputation in european hemac circles.
one guy of my capoferro group, who was at the workshop in Ljubljana this year, said that some experienced rapierists (e.g. rob runacres) recommend his swords for their excellent handling charakteristics (and their very reasonable price).
i think i will buy one for myself some day.
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Mark Moore

Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 2,294

PostPosted: Mon 21 Oct, 2013 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

He really needs to target a USA market.........He'd be a millionaire off of this website alone. I know I would give blood to own a piece of his work!..............McM
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Roger Hooper

Location: Northern California
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Oct, 2013 2:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like the one he calls the Sidesword Schiavona
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Marco Danelli
Industry Professional

Location: Bracciano - Italy
Joined: 29 Nov 2011

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon 21 Oct, 2013 4:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well I really have to thank Vincent for the nice review and for the time to write it.
Mark, I already ship to the states but I haven't really pushed for that market yet. I moved to the UK at the beginning of the year and took a long time to set up properly.
Anyway, thanks all for the nice words.
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P. Frank

Location: Germany
Joined: 03 Jan 2010
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 73

PostPosted: Tue 22 Oct, 2013 1:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Beautiful piece, really. As a sabre fencer I am of course also impressed by the looks of the Radaelli Sabre.
My budget is pretty much spend, but maybe I can coax one of my fellow fencers into getting one of these Wink.
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