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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Fri 16 Oct, 2015 8:42 pm    Post subject: My New A&A Toy         Reply with quote

As I mentioned in another thread, it sucks getting older. Upon entered my 6th decade (that can't be right!) I soon found myself with a cracked vertebrae and then something called frozen shoulder. After a year of physio, it seemed like a good time to get back into some more entertaining physical activities, like practicing with a sword. Problem was that I don't feel inspired practicing with wasters and I realized I'd already sold off nearly all the blunt model swords I used to own.

So I started looking around on the net at production blunts. Problem here was that I wanted something that would match the weight and balance of the sharps in my collection, which tend toward slightly heavy single hand swords with lots of blade presence. It soon became evident that there's not much like that on the Market. Del Tin yes, but I did not want to go there. The better manufacturers of blunts (like Albion for example) tend to market either typical arming swords or longswords.

So ultimately I decided to fork over a little extra money to get what I wanted. I contacted my go-to guy for custom work, Craig Johnson at A&A. The plan was to put something simple together that would both suit my historical preferences -early medieval- and fit the specifications cited above. A bit of discussion led to the classic 13th century combination of type Xa blade (based off their 12th century model) mated to a type 2 cross and a disc pommel. The slight variation from the norm was to have a faceted pommel with a peen block; not super common for that period, but not unknown either. And of course the edge rebated enough to be safe for dry handling, although not so blunt that it couldn't be sharpened in the future. From there the story took a few twists and turns, as custom jobs tend to do, but as of today the sword is done and on its way home.

All I have right now is a slightly distorted phone picture from the shop and a few measurements, but I'll add some more details when it arrives. I thought it might interest some people who have thought of getting a practice sword done to their own specs.

Overall length: 39 5/8"
Blade length: 32 7/5"
CoG: 5 5/8"
Weight: 3 lbs.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Fri 16 Oct, 2015 8:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice. It should make a nice sword to safely play................ I mean train with. Razz
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Fri 16 Oct, 2015 8:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That looks great. Please tell us more when it arrives, and you get acquainted with it. I wonder what kind of distal taper A&A put on the blade.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Sat 17 Oct, 2015 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick; big boys with big toys, we no longer need to pretend. Happy

Roger, I will certainly give you some more details and better pictures when it arrives.

-JD
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Oct, 2015 8:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A very nice sword. Looks like a very well balanced and handsome weapon!

RPM
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Scott Kowalski




Location: Oak Lawn, IL USA
Joined: 24 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Sat 17 Oct, 2015 12:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another great looking piece J.D.! Craig and crew and really an under appreciated source of custom items. I really need to get something else from them. From pieces like this to complex hilted swords they certainly do a great job. I really like the guard and pommel. Please take some closeups of them if you get a chance when you receive it.
Chris Landwehr 10/10/49-1/1/09 My Mom
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Tim Lison




Location: Chicago, Illinois
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Oct, 2015 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, that's a really cool sword! Great stuff from you as always JD. I love that pommel....
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Sun 18 Oct, 2015 7:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tim Lison wrote:
Oh, that's a really cool sword! Great stuff from you as always JD. I love that pommel....


You're too kind Tim - your big new XI would steal any show.

Here are some of the original swords I had in mind when we worked out this design:
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 18 Oct, 2015 11:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug,

That's a nice sword; it's interesting to see elements mated together that aren't commonly seen on reproduction swords- even sharp ones. I'm curious though- what stops you from doing solo practice with your sharps? If you practice slowly enough at first, which you need to do anyways to keep developing and improving your technique, you can easily get to the point of being capable of practicing with sharps.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Oct, 2015 5:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig, I used to practice with sharps, after working my way up from wasters and blunts. But now its been a few years and I don't have the same confidence in my nerves and muscle I used to have. All I really want from this is to stay limber and get in shape.

The other reason is that I now have two quick and curious little kids in the house. I keep my sharps locked up, but this one will have to come out more often to serve its purpose. I don't plan to leave it lying around or practice with them around, but I'm not taking any chances. I wouldn't trade all the swords in the world for one of those little fingers.
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Kuo Xie




Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 29 Feb 2012

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PostPosted: Mon 19 Oct, 2015 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice sword, with lovely lines on the cross guard That style of flared, faceted cross is my personal favorite.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2015 10:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This arrived yesterday.

I haven't had much time to handle it, and I'm rather out of practice, but here are some first impressions:

It's a very sturdy feeling sword, but its deceptive somehow. First, it feels heavier than it looks (3 lbs is fairly heavy for a sword of these dimensions), but then when you swing it it starts and stops faster than expected. I put that down to the mass distribution. It has more profile taper than I expected (it might be more of an XII than the Xa I was expecting). Second, it has a fairly linearly distal taper from about 5mm to about 3.5mm at the end of the fuller, but then flattens dramatically to at least 2mm or less at the lenticular tip. That lightening of the blade near the tip makes a huge difference once it starts moving. [Its worth noting that A&A tends to put in a flattened diamond section toward the tip of such swords by default, but if you request a flat lenticular section (as I did) they have no problems doing this.]

I need to get to know this sword better to say more.

In terms of fit and finish, seeing as this is supposed to be a practice sword (its got an edge of about 0.5 mm) and I wanted to keep costs down, I instructed A&A to not worry too much about this. Its still better than mid-range swords on the market, but I would say it doesn't quite have the attention to detail that A&A gives with their full-on custom jobs. I am fine with this.

Parting words: this reminds me, in proportion and type, of some of the knightly swords depicted in the Maciejowski Bible - it has that classic medieval look. The more I look at it, the more I like the proportions, and I like the way the octagonal pommel matches up with the octagonal tips of the cross. Its not quite on par with the high end of my collection, but its a nice sword and if it helps get me practicing it will have served its purpose.

Otherwise, I'll let the pictures do the talking (sorry, cell phone, but I did my best):
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2015 10:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice pictures, even though thy're from a cellphone It's interesting that A&A went away from their typical diamond cross section near the blade tip, and went with the more correct lenticular shape. If it had been me, I would have asked them to make the blade edges somewhere around 2 mm instead of 0.5 mm, just to make it less likely that I would end up cutting something I hit by mistake.

A beautiful sword that you will get a lot of use from.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2015 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
If it had been me, I would have asked them to make the blade edges somewhere around 2 mm instead of 0.5 mm, just to make it less likely that I would end up cutting something I hit by mistake.


You're right Roger, its a bit sharper than I expected. But I guess it won't be hard to smooth the edge down with some sandpaper to a level of smoothness that fits one's personal taste.
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2015 1:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great sword, I love the pommel and guard. Well done. It seems appropriate to have a high end training weapon for someone who can afford it and use it. Like a very nice mugito or practice jian.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Oct, 2015 6:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J. Nicolaysen wrote:
Great sword, I love the pommel and guard. Well done. It seems appropriate to have a high end training weapon for someone who can afford it and use it. Like a very nice mugito or practice jian.


You raise a point I have been thinking about: why do we pay more for swords that will sit behind glass than for those we would use every day? Pride of possession? Resale value?

When I could only afford entry level swords (mostly blunt) they were always around and I was always handling them, learning different things from different types. When I could afford better swords -all sharps- they went into a glass display case and now a locked room. It might sound silly to someone who is not 'one of us', but I miss that close relationship to my swords. And yet it's hard to go backwards. That was a major motivation for this project.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 29 Oct, 2015 1:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
J. Nicolaysen wrote:
Great sword, I love the pommel and guard. Well done. It seems appropriate to have a high end training weapon for someone who can afford it and use it. Like a very nice mugito or practice jian.


You raise a point I have been thinking about: why do we pay more for swords that will sit behind glass than for those we would use every day? Pride of possession? Resale value?

When I could only afford entry level swords (mostly blunt) they were always around and I was always handling them, learning different things from different types. When I could afford better swords -all sharps- they went into a glass display case and now a locked room. It might sound silly to someone who is not 'one of us', but I miss that close relationship to my swords. And yet it's hard to go backwards. That was a major motivation for this project.


Swords are meant to be used, in my view. You cannot really understand a sword unless you have practiced striking, thrusting, displacing, binding, turning, and every other aspect of the art of the sword with it. Certainly, you cannot understand a sword that you have never used to cut something with. To use a sword is to bring to life the spirit and character within the steel. This can only be unlocked with the sword in dynamic motion, and not simply felt in hand. What's more, when you spend years practicing with a sword, you become intimately aware of its character because you have spent so much time growing and developing with it. It is like any tool you spend a lot of time using- you develop a connection with it that comes from years of use and familiarity. Using is knowing.
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