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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 322

PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2015 8:49 am    Post subject: Anybody Cut With An Albion XVa?         Reply with quote

What kind of results do you get? Especially against tatami and especially with a zwerchau.

I've used a Talhoffer on cardboard boxes and it didn't do very well which turned me off to the type but I've heard people are getting better results on tatami which is mostly what I cut these days.

Also have you noticed a difference in performance between the Mercenary/Castellan/Constable family and the Agincourt/Talhoffer/Ringeck/Fiore family?
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Hector A.





Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 137

PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2015 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you didn't get good results its just that your sword isn't sharp enough.

Give me some feedback on your sword, can you slice paper with it? ( cut paper while pulling back or forth)
If so, can it push threw paper? ( Penetrate and cut it without any pulling motion, just pushing with force )
Alternatively if you can't push threw paper, will it shave arm hair off your arm?

If the answer to the last 2 above is no, then that sword is not sharp enough and certainly not in its intended state, you will be able to cut certain things with skill and varying degree's of effort but it will never be truly effective.

Also with type XVa swords cutting with the COP is recommended, the point wont cut anything properly other than soft tissue (meat) and it will never be very deep.

These swords where intended for use against mail primarily, and for stabbing threw it. If they where to be used against padded defenses the point would be wider to deal more damage while stabbing and increasing its cutting power at the tip, if it was intended for thin articulations of the 16th century armor's it would have a re-enforced point to pierce threw it.

Every sword has its use.

As for my personal use with XVa swords i own a Cluny, that i think all will agree is far slimmer than other Albion XVa's and i can cut threw bottles, meat, tatami and rolled up news paper rolls well with it, its definitely not my best cutter, but sharp and hitting at the COP with force makes it good enough to amputate an arm.
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Greyson Brown




Location: Windsor, Colorado
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PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2015 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike,

I am going to disagree with Hector a little bit. Sharpness can make a difference, but I am not convinced that the XVa type swords should necessarily be able to push through paper or shave hair. Every sword design has its purpose, and the XV and XVa are designed primary for thrusting. That doesn't mean that they can't cut (and in some cases do so quite well), but they were designed around other criteria which makes a thin edge less desirable. Oakshott likened this type to a sharpened crowbar; they are surprisingly stout and pack a good wallop when swung, but they are still intended for thrusting.

What I have found with my Agincourt, and this corroborates the other part of what Hector said, is that hitting at the center of percussion (CoP) makes a significant difference in the ease of cutting. I feel that the XV and XVa swords are less forgiving in this regard. I think their stiffness leads to a narrower CoP so hitting correctly is a bit harder. That said, I only have experience with my Agincourt and an older Windlass sword of similar profile; I have never used the wider XVa's like the Mercenary. I could see the wider blade making cuts easier, but I could also see the more drastic taper making the blade that much stiffer, and actually making cuts more difficult. I really just don't know.

It should also be noted that almost all of my cutting has been against water-filed plastic bottles, so the medium could make a difference as you suggested. I did find that pulling the blade back ever so slightly at the moment of contact (basically a draw-cut) improved my cutting results with my Agincourt. I don't know if that is really advisable, but it worked for me.

- Greyson

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Hector A.





Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 137

PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2015 12:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Every sword should and can push threw paper, it is a test like many others that mean the edge is honed enough to cut correctly threw textile, noticeably linen. ( you can get away with cutting cotton with a less polished edge ). Its a honed edge that pushes threw paper, not geometry...My svante can push threw paper all day, as can my cluny and all my others swords despite there obvious differences, none have a particularly thin edges either, geometry however varies, yet they all pass the test.
As for XVa being thrusters your correct but they are primarily mail thrusters, thin needle points that can get many inches threw mail without being so easily trapped by it, they are not crowbars however, they are not stout or stiff enough for that, XVII are crowbars, XVIIIe are crowbars.

As for a mercenary it is wider, making it a better cutter, not worse... -_-


Greyson Brown wrote:
Mike,

I am going to disagree with Hector a little bit. Sharpness can make a difference, but I am not convinced that the XVa type swords should necessarily be able to push through paper or shave hair. Every sword design has its purpose, and the XV and XVa are designed primary for thrusting. That doesn't mean that they can't cut (and in some cases do so quite well), but they were designed around other criteria which makes a thin edge less desirable. Oakshott likened this type to a sharpened crowbar; they are surprisingly stout and pack a good wallop when swung, but they are still intended for thrusting.

What I have found with my Agincourt, and this corroborates the other part of what Hector said, is that hitting at the center of percussion (CoP) makes a significant difference in the ease of cutting. I feel that the XV and XVa swords are less forgiving in this regard. I think their stiffness leads to a narrower CoP so hitting correctly is a bit harder. That said, I only have experience with my Agincourt and an older Windlass sword of similar profile; I have never used the wider XVa's like the Mercenary. I could see the wider blade making cuts easier, but I could also see the more drastic taper making the blade that much stiffer, and actually making cuts more difficult. I really just don't know.

It should also be noted that almost all of my cutting has been against water-filed plastic bottles, so the medium could make a difference as you suggested. I did find that pulling the blade back ever so slightly at the moment of contact (basically a draw-cut) improved my cutting results with my Agincourt. I don't know if that is really advisable, but it worked for me.

- Greyson
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Mark T




PostPosted: Mon 05 Jan, 2015 8:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike -

Some years back, Mike E had a thread here where he documented cutting with Albion's Talhoffer ... my main recollection is that it cut better than he was expecting.

But that might have been before his 'Spadona enlightenment' ... and whatever other experience he's gained since.

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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 322

PostPosted: Mon 05 Jan, 2015 9:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not so much trying to select a sword for cutting practice, I'm curious about what the XVa type can do.

As far as a cutter goes I like the Baron, I've cut three tatami omote mats rolled together with it on a zornhauw and of course it'll cut all the masters and primaries on a single mat no problem. I love the handling too, it's my favorite sword in their lineup.
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
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PostPosted: Mon 05 Jan, 2015 11:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I have an Agincourt and my wife has a Constable and we do a fair amount of cutting, so here are my observations.

Obviously, most of my cutting is with the Agincourt as my wife barely lets me hold her sword, but I've been doing it once a week for three years so I've wracked up a fair amount of experience. Most on milk jugs, but also on carpet tubes, tatami, and firm gourds.

Cutting on the COP is nearly a must, particularly with milk jugs. I think the angle of the last 1/5 is just too wide to cut through the initial resistance jugs present. Same goes for tubes. Gourds are rarely effected, so I am guess that cuts to fleshy, unarmored parts would also be pretty devastating. However, the tip does come into its own pretty quickly in that it seems to pierce things with hard stares. So while you have to really focus your cutting to get those impressive all the way through with the sword singing cuts, overall I doubt anyone would do well with a cut even in the tip portion.

The Constable is a very different sword, even within the same typology. Obviously, its shorter than the Agincourt and that changes things, for me, dramatically. It's somewhat more forgiving on cuts, but not that much. You're better off on the COP. The shorter grip changes the mechanics too. Its much harder to power through a cut with a bit less leverage. (The scent stopper pommel is harder for me to get good alignment too, but that's as much less practice with them than anything). Its got another "think and its run through" point, but it widens out much faster than the Agincourt so maybe getting deep into mail might be harder, but I have no practice at this so I can't say.

As is, I have found they are good cutters, in their own right. My more Type XVIII H/T is a easier cutter, as are the two Windlass XIV's we have (and of course the katana...), but I have an easier time cutting with the XVa's than the Type XII (ish?) European Sword (for whatever reason, I think I just don't like it as much so I don't put in the time as I should...).

As for the sharpness, I don't find that a paper cutter is all that necessary. It helps to get those aforementioned singing cuts, but technique is far more important.
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Hector A.





Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 137

PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 3:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Coomer wrote:
Well, I have an Agincourt and my wife has a Constable and we do a fair amount of cutting, so here are my observations.

Obviously, most of my cutting is with the Agincourt as my wife barely lets me hold her sword, but I've been doing it once a week for three years so I've wracked up a fair amount of experience. Most on milk jugs, but also on carpet tubes, tatami, and firm gourds.

Cutting on the COP is nearly a must, particularly with milk jugs. I think the angle of the last 1/5 is just too wide to cut through the initial resistance jugs present. Same goes for tubes. Gourds are rarely effected, so I am guess that cuts to fleshy, unarmored parts would also be pretty devastating. However, the tip does come into its own pretty quickly in that it seems to pierce things with hard stares. So while you have to really focus your cutting to get those impressive all the way through with the sword singing cuts, overall I doubt anyone would do well with a cut even in the tip portion.

The Constable is a very different sword, even within the same typology. Obviously, its shorter than the Agincourt and that changes things, for me, dramatically. It's somewhat more forgiving on cuts, but not that much. You're better off on the COP. The shorter grip changes the mechanics too. Its much harder to power through a cut with a bit less leverage. (The scent stopper pommel is harder for me to get good alignment too, but that's as much less practice with them than anything). Its got another "think and its run through" point, but it widens out much faster than the Agincourt so maybe getting deep into mail might be harder, but I have no practice at this so I can't say.

As for the sharpness, I don't find that a paper cutter is all that necessary. It helps to get those aforementioned singing cuts, but technique is far more important.


Like everything its about sharpness, you can cut into flesh with the tip of a XVa but it has to be sharp, my Cluny cuts some 1-7 cm's deep into meat depending on what part of the tip is used, and this is all far far away from the COP area.
Most people can't get the tip sharp because they don't sharpen at the right angle, i can't blame them... tips tend to have the bevel at some 60+ ( varies depending on the sword of course ) and its very confusing and hard to do by hand or machine (even with a guide) as the bevel progressively widens, you need a keen eye and experience to do it right, also help that you don't drink a few beers before Wink.

Despite its shorter length the Constable does indeed cut better than the Agincourt as it is wider.
Also its COP relative to its length is 2 cm's closer to the tip than the Agincourt, making it as you observed more "forgiving" ( it really just cuts perfect a little closer to the tip ^^ ).
The Agincourt in all its short comings as a cutter compared to the Constable is in a league of its own vs mail, the thinner point gets deeper past mail rings and has less chances of getting stuck, the Constable's point being wider inflicts more damage when its goes in the same deepness as the Agincourt, creating a wider wound per inch.

Swords are a balance, you can only really compare them to each other. When one is better than the other at something, its also compromising on something the other excels at.

Oh and Oakshotts typology is BS Big Grin (yea i said it come at me forum), it was a poor attempt at trying to put things into nice little labeled drawers which is what modern man craves for, but unfortunately its way to restrictive and i know for a fact that men from the time of swords did not view swords even remotely in such a way.
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 4:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess this thread is not the best place to discuss Oakeshott typology, but since we are talking about type XVa and Hector went there, I will go there too. Wink Oakeshott typology is great for putting swords into families we know existed in a certain periods and areas, according to swords shape, fittings and cross section. What Oakeshott typology doesn't and can't tell you is how that sword cuts, how does it handles, where is its PoB, what are it's dimensions etc... Some swords of type XVa may well cut better than some XI swords although that is not what you would say on a first look. But if that XVa is made with good harmonic balance, good mass distribution, geometry is well executed, it will cut better than a XI which is to wobbly, with no distal taper, bad mass distribution and badly executed edges. Oakeshott typology doesn't bother with that so it's not the tool to use for measuring swords performance. But if someone tells you he found a sword with a type XI blade, type B pommel and type 3 crossguard, you'll know what he is talking about without seeing the sword and you'll know it's an late 11th to early 13th century sword, not a 15th or 16th century sword...
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Hector A.





Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 137

PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 5:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
I guess this thread is not the best place to discuss Oakeshott typology, but since we are talking about type XVa and Hector went there, I will go there too. Wink Oakeshott typology is great for putting swords into families we know existed in a certain periods and areas, according to swords shape, fittings and cross section. What Oakeshott typology doesn't and can't tell you is how that sword cuts, how does it handles, where is its PoB, what are it's dimensions etc... Some swords of type XVa may well cut better than some XI swords although that is not what you would say on a first look. But if that XVa is made with good harmonic balance, good mass distribution, geometry is well executed, it will cut better than a XI which is to wobbly, with no distal taper, bad mass distribution and badly executed edges. Oakeshott typology doesn't bother with that so it's not the tool to use for measuring swords performance. But if someone tells you he found a sword with a type XI blade, type B pommel and type 3 crossguard, you'll know what he is talking about without seeing the sword and you'll know it's an late 11th to early 13th century sword, not a 15th or 16th century sword...


Well said, i lost myself for a moment in a far to pragmatic mentality Big Grin, still don't like it, but it is useful within what you said.
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 6:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To be fair, the Agincourt was recently sharpened by Albion itself and its tip is noticeably less sharp than the rest even fresh, so I am not sure that even experts think that "paper cutting" is necessary to the entire length of a sword.
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Hector A.





Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 137

PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Coomer wrote:
To be fair, the Agincourt was recently sharpened by Albion itself and its tip is noticeably less sharp than the rest even fresh, so I am not sure that even experts think that "paper cutting" is necessary to the entire length of a sword.


Albion are far from expert at sharpening, its there absolute weakest point and admit to it themselves. People to often keep referring to "its sharp enough", since when do we settle for enough? Not to mention those same people have never tested the sword against mediums the sword would have faced historically: meat, linen, mail, plate.

So we are left with expert gardeners cutting tatami, delivery men slicing up cardboard boxes and eco-warriors recycling plastic bottles ...

Your "sharp enough" is only enough vs those! Try cutting some linen and be surprised your sword is rendered obsolete by just 1 layer if your sporting a 600 grit sword.

Treatises are also on my side, referring that the absolute sharpest part of the sword is the tip portion, and with good reason, its the weakest! it needs all the help it can get to cut effectively.

As for PJ, he keeps contradicting himself in past posts on this forum referring to sharpness, saying that as low as 600 grit is more than enough and that getting a sword "all the way up" to 800 grit is not necessary, followed by saying sharpness is easy to maintain with just a strop before or after use. So why not go all the way up to 2000 grit and just quick strop the sword to paper pushing sharpness again? He seems to be bothered by a 1 time thing???

I have had my Alexandria for a year now, and i cut various times a week, all matter of different things, strop before use and that's all it takes, i lazer threw everything with ease, including various layers of linen(what i have found is hardest to cut without proper sharpness). And all the while i only sharpened it ONCE to 2000 grit the very first time i received it, that's ONCE IN ONE YEAR.

PJ is indeed right, its not hard to maintain sharpness, its ridiculously easy, i can't help but smile every time i strop my precious for a whopping... wait for it.... 2 full minutes before each session! ( massive time waster ).

Honestly take what you want out of this but remember your the ones that are missing out, not to mention your just using your beautiful swords ahistorically ( which i know is a big deal to many ).

As Mickael E. once put it : i doubt they used swords who couldn't even cut threw basic medieval underwear...

Think about it Wink.
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 4:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't consider a blade to be fully sharp unless it can shave.
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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 5:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask for such things, but it sounds like there are some very knowledgeable people chiming in, so thought I would ask. I am very new to test cutting, and although I have found plenty of discussions about what level to sharpen to, I can't find many good "how to" sources on sharpening a European style blade that doesn't use a slack belt machine. If you guys know of a good guide, it would be great to share.
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John Young




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 5:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am with nat on this. I would love to see a good how to...including a tool list.
Just here to learn.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 7:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hector A. wrote:
Treatises are also on my side, referring that the absolute sharpest part of the sword is the tip portion, and with good reason, its the weakest! it needs all the help it can get to cut effectively.


Differential sharpening with the tip (typically the distal 1/3 of the blade, but sometimes a smaller portion of the blade) being sharpest is very common. I don't recall ever seeing your reason given for this; the usual explanation is that it's the part of the blade you will usually cut with, because it the part of the blade closest to the opponent. With uniform sharpening, the tip is usually the best-cutting part of the sword (moves fastest, and is the thinnest portion of the blade). Sometimes, the transition to better cutting geometry in the distal 1/3 or so of the blade is very prominent. In these cases, I don't think that the tip needs any extra help to cut effectively - it's sharpened more simply because this is the part of the sword intended for cutting.

The exception is swords with tip optimised for thrusting, at the expense of cutting ability. E.g., needle-pointed swords. But even here, you want the tip to be sharpest, since you want fibres in cloth etc. that you are thrusting through to be cut by the edge of the tip, instead of being pushed aside.

Where there is variation among different types of swords is how much less sharp the rest of the blade was/is.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.


Last edited by Timo Nieminen on Tue 06 Jan, 2015 8:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 8:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have cut cloth and I'll stand by "paper cutter is unnecessary" from that.

Please note that I am not advocating anything most people would consider dull, but I find that paper cutting is a bit of a theatrical trick than useful standard. My standard is edge should be a black line under light.

And a finer blade is harder to maintain than less fine. Its thinner by definitions and therefore more likely to chip, which means more time polishing. My standards cut just fine and take little time to maintain. By contrast the katana I keep ultra sharp takes considerably more time to get back into shape.

It does sound like you enjoy the process of sharpening. More power to you. But that doesn't mean that your standard is a default or necessary.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 9:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have an Albion Constable and it cuts very well, (surprisingly well and even when it's not that well sharpened), but it's got a fairly wide blade and a sharp profile taper. The newer, longer Albion XVa's, beautiful as they are, are much narrower. I think that might make a difference.

The reason I bought the Constable was that I went to an event where I had a chance to cut with about 20 swords, mostly Albions but also some Gus Trim's and some others, (I seem to remember "Angelfire" or "Angel" or something?) and a couple of Arms and Armor, back around 2005. We were cutting pool noodles, cardboard tubes, a few tatami, some plywood and I think some meat and bones toward the end. I remember expecting that all the XIIa, XIIIa, type XX etc. would be the best cutters (which was the conventional wisdom then) and was surprised that they weren't. The Constable was one of the best performers on all media after the Brescia Spadona and I couldn't afford that.

I still have the Constable and I love it, for the last 10 years it's always been the best cutter in our fencing group with all media when we do cutting days, and partly out of luck it's never gotten a ding in spite of years of abuse (especially during my extreme reckless ignorance in the first year I had it*). I've gotten rid of most of my other cheaper swords and I keep that one and a few antiques I'm slowly collecting.

More recently at HEMA events it seems like all the swords (mostly Albion but also some European) cut well but they tend to be extremely well sharpened. I cut tatami in a contest in Boston in 2012 or 2013 and I think it was an XVa we were cutting with though I'm not sure, anyway it cut well though I do remember I failed a zwerchau about half way through the contest (due to poor technique). The other guys who made it to the final had no problem carroting those tatami all different kinds of ways.

My $.02 is that XVa can cut really well, I do agree with others comments that cutting at the COP is a good idea, tip cutting doesn't work so well. If you used to cutting with the sword I think you'll tend to cut that way instinctively - I did before I even realized that was how it worked (only when I was trying to teach other people in my club to cut). I would love to get a longer sword, Albions are high on my list and I like the XVa type, but I've been hesitating to get one of the Talhoffer / Agincourt etc. family due to being unsure how they would cut. Cutting is what I mainly do with my swords other than just look at them so I want a pretty good cutter.


By the way speaking of pointy swords, has anyone here cut with the Principe or the Alexandria? Those look like beasts.

J

* just to cite one particularly egregious example of stupidity on my part, it survived cutting a two by four which instantly ruined my crappy Cold Steel messer

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Hector A.





Joined: 22 Dec 2013

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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Hector A. wrote:
Treatises are also on my side, referring that the absolute sharpest part of the sword is the tip portion, and with good reason, its the weakest! it needs all the help it can get to cut effectively.


Differential sharpening with the tip (typically the distal 1/3 of the blade, but sometimes a smaller portion of the blade) being sharpest is very common. I don't recall ever seeing your reason given for this; the usual explanation is that it's the part of the blade you will usually cut with, because it the part of the blade closest to the opponent. With uniform sharpening, the tip is usually the best-cutting part of the sword (moves fastest, and is the thinnest portion of the blade). Sometimes, the transition to better cutting geometry in the distal 1/3 or so of the blade is very prominent. In these cases, I don't think that the tip needs any extra help to cut effectively - it's sharpened more simply because this is the part of the sword intended for cutting.

The exception is swords with tip optimised for thrusting, at the expense of cutting ability. E.g., needle-pointed swords. But even here, you want the tip to be sharpest, since you want fibres in cloth etc. that you are thrusting through to be cut by the edge of the tip, instead of being pushed aside.

Where there is variation among different types of swords is how much less sharp the rest of the blade was/is.


Moving fast and being thin is over rated, the reason tips don't cut as well as people think ( especially medium to hard targets ) is because its not stiff, it vibrates into a cut, losings most of its efficiency. So to sum it up tips are great vs flesh and start to become far less effective starting at bone and onwards.

Ben Coomer: I think you should go learn about edge angle ( how thick it is ) and edge polish ( how fine the scratches are ), two different things.
My edge are ultra polished, yet very beefy to the point they simply don't chip ever, rather if something happens its folding.

John: Not using a slack belt grinder is madness, by hand sharpening takes ages, it becomes tedious to say the least. Even medieval men used water or man powered wheel's to grind and polish.
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Mark T




PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 1:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
By the way speaking of pointy swords, has anyone here cut with the Principe or the Alexandria? Those look like beasts.


Jeanri: Good to see you back! There's a video floating around of someone cutting with one of these ... the thread/link might be over at SBG. Beasts indeed.

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Schallern sind sehr sexy!
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