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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Jul, 2014 8:37 pm    Post subject: Tod's Stuff Italian Baselard         Reply with quote

Just received the Italian Baselard made by Tod's Stuff and here is my informal review.

Total length is 19 1/4" ( This is 1/4" longer than what is given by Leo as the total length ? Not a bad thing, just mentioning it for accuracy ).

Blade length: 14 1/4"

Handle length: 4" between the inside " H " guard and pommel bars. ( These handles seem to be often called " i " hilts, but I think it looks a lot more like an " H " when the branches are this wide ).

The whole " H " handle + guard and pommel bars are 5" long, the guard and pommel bars are both 4" wide.

The full tang is 1/4" thick as well as the blade closest to the hilt.

There is some degree of distal taper but it is subtle, but with the triangular blade it does have a lot of profile taper.

The point of balance is 1 1/2" giving the blade some surprising presence, just enough that it makes the blade feel more responsive than if it had a neutral balance at the guard or a negative blade presence with a point of balance behind the guard and in the middle of the hand.

I believe that this slight forward balance is good in helping to make wrist snap cuts that could do some real damage and gives the blade more cutting power than one would assume just looking at the blade profile and type which is optimized for thrusts or stabs.

The steel of the guard bar and pommel bar are at 1/4" at the tang but they taper in thickness toward their ends: This is a lot more work when it comes to fitting the wood slabs that form the handle and that cover the " H " guard and pommel bars.( Not sure what these should be called, so I'm improvising and inventing my own descriptive terminology )

The wood scales are done in 3 pieces with the wood grain logically in line with the length of the handle and at 90 to the handle on the bars and in line with these: If it was made of one piece of wood the wood would be very weak if the grain on the bars ran crosswise.

The diamond section blade has a flat triangular surface on each side for 3" to 3 1/2 inches ( This triangular section seems a little longer on one side, but I'm not concerned about this since historical makers didn't seem to worry too much about perfect symmetry in any case, and Leo always produces weapons which look like someone had a time machine and went into the past to buy them from a period arms merchant Wink Big Grin Cool )

The boxwood handle is a very nice cream colour and is pinned in place with small brass pins, and I also think that the handle and bar scales are epoxied on which is something I like from a structural assembly point of view even if not historical.

The fit of wood to metal is very good overall, but there are a few small gaps or flaws in fit that the epoxy fills. ( Just mentioning these very small flaws for the sake of an accurate review, but they are very small and one has to look for them with a magnifying glass )

The dagger also comes with a very nice double thickness heavy leather sheath with some nice leather tooling detailing and a nice brass chape at the end.

In handling the " H " type handle works very well for me in hammer grip point forward or in ice pic grip, but I also like the way the pommel bar fits at the base of my hand for a handshake grip.

This type of handle does seem to be extremely secure so one can have a relaxed grip in hammer grip and if one extends the hand in a snap cut it fall naturally into a handshake grip when one firms up ones grip just before one's cut makes contact.

I think in boxing or other martial arts it is said that a relaxed hand is faster than one where one's knuckles are white from having the fist closed as tightly as possible: A punch starts with a relaxed hand and tenses up just before impact.

The " H " hilt also sort of reminds me of late bronze age/early iron age antenna hilted/pommel swords in imagined handling: A wide pommel gives a very secure grip and a very comfortable handshake grip ( My pics below will show what I mean )

Customer service from ordering on the " In Stock " page to delivery was fast and efficient: Shipped a couple of days after ordering and received 10 days later, I also got quick and timely e-mail replies to a few questions I had.

I'm very happy with this dagger, that is a great surprise in how well it feels and handles in the hand contrary to the assumptions one might make thinking that this type of grip would be awkward.



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Pic from Tod's web site.

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Dagger in scabbard.

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Very nice tooling on the leather scabbard.

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Close up on chape.

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Back side of scabbard showing stitching.

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Nice boxwood handle.

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Really sharp needle point, but the tip is still thick enough to be robust.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!


Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Sun 06 Jul, 2014 9:07 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 06 Jul, 2014 8:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

More pics from different angles, showing the tapering on the bars towards their ends, and also pics of the dagger in hand showing different grips and useful in showing the scale of the dagger: It's not large or heavy enough to be short sword, but it lis a long dagger with lots of reach.

I guess it could be used to parry, although in it's time period I don't think that daggers where used very much for parrying: The metal in the guard would give protection to the hand, but the wooden scales on the guard would take a beating, but in an emergency one does what one has to do to not get cut or killed and one worries about damage to one's weapons later if one is still alive to worry about it.

Different style of handle than a rondel dagger but the blade is stout enough and the "H " hilt protective as much a rondels would be.

One advantage over a rondel dagger with a very wide pommel disk, is that with the Baselard one can use a handshake grip if one wants to, while with the rondel one can be locked into a hammer grip or an ice pic grip if the handle is typically short.



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Side pic of tang, full 1/4" thick: This is not going to break before the blade does .... LOL.

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You can see the tapering of the guard and pommel bars and the extra work involved compared to the lesser work of keeping them at 1/4" .

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As you can see any fitting flaws are almost impossible to see.

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Hammer ice pic grip.

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Point forward hammer grip.

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Hanshake grip, very comfortable for me.

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Hammer grip close up.

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Handshake grip: Feels great, thrust me !

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Jul, 2014 5:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks really impressive and robust.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Jul, 2014 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's way sweet, Jean. Proud for you, man!..................McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Jul, 2014 2:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

HI Jean,

Thanks for putting your thoughts down and it is great to see you have considered all the assorted ways in which it could be used and how it feels. I concur with your thoughts, and I also feel that this is an incredibly secure feeling knife, perhaps only exceeded by the feel of an ear dagger, which is the king of tightly fitting solid daggers.


What is also clear is what big knife this is. The blade is pretty much 32mm, 1/1/2" wide at the hilt and is very closely based size wise in the RA dagger. The hilt looks very thin and almost too delicate, but as you say at 1/4" thick it is not likely to break!

Thanks for the purchase.


Tod

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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul, 2014 6:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:
HI Jean,

Thanks for putting your thoughts down and it is great to see you have considered all the assorted ways in which it could be used and how it feels. I concur with your thoughts, and I also feel that this is an incredibly secure feeling knife, perhaps only exceeded by the feel of an ear dagger, which is the king of tightly fitting solid daggers.


What is also clear is what big knife this is. The blade is pretty much 32mm, 1/1/2" wide at the hilt and is very closely based size wise in the RA dagger. The hilt looks very thin and almost too delicate, but as you say at 1/4" thick it is not likely to break!

Thanks for the purchase.


Tod


Yes, I forgot to mention the width of the blade at the guard at 1 1/2'

I also forgot to mention that on my food scale it weighs a hair above 1 pound.

It doesn't have the weight and mass to be a chopper, but the wrist snap cut can get a cut down to the bone at least on a limb as well as with a slash or draw cut.

The Eared dagger is the " Ultimate " dedicated ice pic grip dagger, it might be possible to use it point forward if one absolutely had to, but it feels awkward in balance that way, as well as the handle is not favouring point forward use at all.

Oh, the Baselard came with a very good paper cutting sharpness but I could get it a little bit sharper if I wanted to with very little effort.

Doing some more playing with the dagger and I found that if I hold it in a loose handshake grip and suddenly tighten my grip, the grip automatically locks into a hammer grip without my having to even think about it, and I think that this is due in great part to the " H " grip and the pommel bar forcing the hand into the hammer grip and locking it there.

And just as easy at the end of slash one can slip out of the hammer grip into that hand shake grip snap cut: The more I play with it the more I like this grip style and understand why it may have been popular in period

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John Hardy




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Jul, 2014 3:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looking at your various grip styles, it occurs to me that there might be one more that would be doable with a baselard like that but impossible with a rondel dagger or almost any other common knife or dagger - a punch. It looks to me like the pommel is wide enough and the grip thin enough to be usable as a T-handled push dagger. Hold it with the pommel filling your palm like the bar of a knuckleduster and the hilt and blade protuding between your middle fingers, then punch with it as though it were an Indian katar.

With that thin, reinforced point, there's a good chance you could get enough power behind the punch to pierce any textile armour and a lot of mail...
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Jul, 2014 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Hardy wrote:
Looking at your various grip styles, it occurs to me that there might be one more that would be doable with a baselard like that but impossible with a rondel dagger or almost any other common knife or dagger - a punch. It looks to me like the pommel is wide enough and the grip thin enough to be usable as a T-handled push dagger. Hold it with the pommel filling your palm like the bar of a knuckleduster and the hilt and blade protruding between your middle fingers, then punch with it as though it were an Indian katar.

With that thin, reinforced point, there's a good chance you could get enough power behind the punch to pierce any textile armour and a lot of mail...


Tried it and it has " problems ":

A) The bar is too narrow and thin to give a good secure hold, so if it was designed to be used as a push dagger the rear bar would have to be considerably beefier and hand filling.

B) With the very long point and handle in front of your fist there would be a lot of leverage on the point should the point not be perfectly aligned in a thrust and likely to have it twist in one's grip, or if meeting any serious resistance to penetration.

Sure it looks like a possible hold, but much less secure than just holding the dagger with an ice pic grip on the handle.
If one wants the extra force of a punch dagger have the off hand pushing forcefully on the back of the bar and the other hand on the grip, the same way one can use the off hand on the rear rondel to attempt to push through a maille voider under the armpit.

A two handed thrust this way is for very close quarters as it limits reach, but if one has an opponent down and under control this would be the strongest " push thrust " to defeat armour.

Bottom line, in my opinion: Holding the dagger as a punch dagger is neither comfortable or very secure, although it does at first glance seem like a possible way to use the baselard ..... I guess if one made a hasty grab for the baselard and had no time to get a better hold on it, one could use it this way, or if attempting in desperation to get those few extra inches of reach ?

Another possible but impractical hold would be to finger the front bar: Doesn't do anything useful, since it isn't a much heavier weapon like a sword where fingering the guard can add control and strength to one's grip, is also less secure feeling and the edges are sharp near the guard.

Just because something looks marginally possible doesn't mean that it's optimum, or even useful: It does help to have the baselard in hand to test the theory, John I'm glad you suggested the idea as it made me curious to try it out and see how it feels.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Jul, 2014 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some baselards have a curved "pommel" which should aid in the handshake grip.


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John Hardy




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Jul, 2014 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
John Hardy wrote:
Looking at your various grip styles, it occurs to me that there might be one more that would be doable with a baselard like that but impossible with a rondel dagger or almost any other common knife or dagger - a punch. It looks to me like the pommel is wide enough and the grip thin enough to be usable as a T-handled push dagger. Hold it with the pommel filling your palm like the bar of a knuckleduster and the hilt and blade protruding between your middle fingers, then punch with it as though it were an Indian katar.

With that thin, reinforced point, there's a good chance you could get enough power behind the punch to pierce any textile armour and a lot of mail...


Tried it and it has " problems ":

A) The bar is too narrow and thin to give a good secure hold, so if it was designed to be used as a push dagger the rear bar would have to be considerably beefier and hand filling.

B) With the very long point and handle in front of your fist there would be a lot of leverage on the point should the point not be perfectly aligned in a thrust and likely to have it twist in one's grip, or if meeting any serious resistance to penetration.

Sure it looks like a possible hold, but much less secure than just holding the dagger with an ice pic grip on the handle.
If one wants the extra force of a punch dagger have the off hand pushing forcefully on the back of the bar and the other hand on the grip, the same way one can use the off hand on the rear rondel to attempt to push through a maille voider under the armpit.

A two handed thrust this way is for very close quarters as it limits reach, but if one has an opponent down and under control this would be the strongest " push thrust " to defeat armour.

Bottom line, in my opinion: Holding the dagger as a punch dagger is neither comfortable or very secure, although it does at first glance seem like a possible way to use the baselard ..... I guess if one made a hasty grab for the baselard and had no time to get a better hold on it, one could use it this way, or if attempting in desperation to get those few extra inches of reach ?

Another possible but impractical hold would be to finger the front bar: Doesn't do anything useful, since it isn't a much heavier weapon like a sword where fingering the guard can add control and strength to one's grip, is also less secure feeling and the edges are sharp near the guard.

Just because something looks marginally possible doesn't mean that it's optimum, or even useful: It does help to have the baselard in hand to test the theory, John I'm glad you suggested the idea as it made me curious to try it out and see how it feels.


Well, there you go - learn something new every day. Actually, that may explain two things I've always wondered about the Indian katars: the reason they all have such relatively short blades (I think every one I've ever seen has been well under 10" in blade length), and the reason they all also seem to have long bars leading back from the T-grip like langets for the forearm, with the bars being almost as long as the blade.

The short blade is now obvious: it's easier to keep the point directly in line with the arm when thrusting.

I thought that the bars might have been there to act as extra emergency wrist protectors or bracers when using the katar to parry attacks, and that is certainly one use for them. But I wonder if maybe the other purpose for them was that the user clamped them against his forearm with his off-hand when punching to 'lock' the blade with greater leverage against a sideways twist off the target?

Has anybody ever seen any pictures or fighting manuals demonstrating the use of the katar?
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