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Tomi Pesonen

Location: Finland
Joined: 04 Aug 2016

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon 15 Aug, 2016 9:01 am    Post subject: Did I get second hand stuff from a well known company?         Reply with quote

Hi guys,

first of all, I do not wish to bad name the company I bought the swords, but the are very highly respected Company to sell swords, so I will not mention them at this time, just want to get your opinions.

Ok, so I ordered a Hanwei Lowlander and a Windlass Ulfbehrt, and just got them on the mail (all the way to Finland) today. I opened up the box and first thing was to hit me was that the Ulfbehrt was only protected by paper rolled around it. Then I found out a couple of more interesting stuff (please bear with me);

Ulfbehrt sword; this thing, even though I paid the sharpening, could not cut anything, even though the edges looked like they were somehow done, but very rough. When I took a look at the tip, it was gone, this thing was totally cut off. and the sharpening was not nearly even. Ok, this is not bad, that can be handled. But the blade itself looked bit of misaligned/dent on the top 1/3 of the blade, as if it had been used and manipulated to almost straight (sorry I cannot get a pic of this good enough, so ou have to count on my word).

Lowlander; now this was more interesting. I noticed the same misaligment/dent type as in the Ulfberht (naturally this was my first reaction to check). I thought ok, I think I can live with these. But when I I started to assemble the guard, and
- when I removed the pummel, I noticed the threads were completely rusted (see pics rusty end 1 and 2)
- when I removed the handle, I noticed a big weld looking section (see pics Hanwei weld and Hanwei weld 2), which has been like sandpapered with a really rough sandpaper, file or something of sorts (you can see the lines from the pics how they go different directions)
- Also the handle’s pummel end is already looking like it has been used and wood falling apart (see pic handle end)

So when I saw these I became a bit agitated. Should I cut something a bit stronger (even a tatami), those are the breaking points. And should the blade's end break from there, it will fly god knows where.

I sent the pics to the company and waiting for their response, so again, I do not wish to muddy their good name, just want opinions from more experienced people.

Thus my question is, what is your opinion on the swords, are they new or did they send me old stuff?

Any and all opinions are much appreciated

with best regards from Finland


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Joe Fults

Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,646

PostPosted: Mon 15 Aug, 2016 9:24 am    Post subject: Random thoughts         Reply with quote

Based on the pictures you've shown, I'd have some questions but I don't think these are second hand. I've always heard that KoA inspects products before they ship and unless something happened to the Windlass in customs (which can happen), I would have thought that might have gotten caught at inspection. That tip is not on par for my experience with Windlass products, but its also not out of the realm of possible for them I suppose.

From what I can recall of my purchases from Kult of Athena packaging was reasonable. Not on par with high end special made boxes, but reasonable.

The Hanwei, I don't know what to think because I don't know the product. Looks like they welded that threaded section to a tang stub. But that's a very non-expert opinion and its not necessarily a problem. There are makers who assemble this way without issue. Ever. There are others that are less successful doing this. Its not what I like and I'd really want to know if Hanwei are all that way. If they all are (they likely all are) you don't have a problem.

Good luck with this. I hope you somehow end up with a happy outcome.

"The goal shouldn’t be to avoid being evil; it should be to actively do good." - Danah Boyd

Last edited by Joe Fults on Mon 15 Aug, 2016 9:34 am; edited 3 times in total
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Tom King

Location: florida
Joined: 11 Sep 2009
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 429

PostPosted: Mon 15 Aug, 2016 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as the lowlander, thats how it's constructed. the two areas in question are where the blade is welded to the tang and where the tang is welded to the rod stock for the screw on pommel. the weld bubble is ground flat . The fraying on the end of the handle is because the grip is made out of a cheap fiberboard; durable enough with the two steel end caps but one of the reasons why you're able to pick up a 70" greatsword for south of $300.

the edge being wavy down the windlass is most likely a windlass thing. they are budget swords. The edge of my Windlass revolutionary war sword also wanders off true despite the spine being straight; to be expected on a $130 blade.
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Raymond Deancona

Joined: 04 Mar 2004

Posts: 430

PostPosted: Mon 15 Aug, 2016 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tomi, you hit a pet peeve of mine. Price point of a sword should not mean reduced quality control or customer service. Condor Tool and Knife is able to produce excellent quality machetes and now swords without misalignment at a very reasonable price. Windlass should be able to do the same. For some mysterious reason sword buyers are willing to overlook basic quality control based on the low cost of a sword. Joins, blade alignment, symmetry, handle and hilt furniture alignment should all be perfect. Using inferior materials in production should not mean an inferior end result in an aesthetic sense. The piece should still look perfect despite being made with poor quality material.

The store that you bought from should have inspected the goods before shipping. Shouldn't matter if the sword was $200 or $2000, it should still be perfect when it goes into the shipping box.

That being said, I expect the $2000 sword to perform flawlessly. The $200 sword is a wall hanger, unless it is advertised to be otherwise.
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Tom King

Location: florida
Joined: 11 Sep 2009
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 429

PostPosted: Mon 15 Aug, 2016 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Raymond Deancona wrote:
Tomi, you hit a pet peeve of mine. Price point of a sword should not mean reduced quality control or customer service. Condor Tool and Knife is able to produce excellent quality machetes and now swords without misalignment at a very reasonable price. Windlass should be able to do the same.

and condor specifically makes 12-18" machetes out of barstock. Condor machetes are "cheap" when compared to swords, but machetes are not swords. Condor products are EXPENSIVE for their market. A el salvador machete has an MSRP of $60-80. You can buy a similarly sized tramontina for as little as $12. Comparing condor and windlass is apples to oranges.

If you want a sword to have "perfect" "blade alignment, symmetry, handle and hilt furniture alignment" then you need to spend more than $100. Literally an order of magnitude higher. Windlass swords are functional. functional does not mean "perfect". You aren't getting "perfect" at $100-200.

It isn't "overlooking" to understand that. Acceptable asymmetry for a $200 sword and a $500 swords are two different things. it's why people are happy with their windlasses but swear off DSA.

Personally the cheapest sword I "use" is a hanwei Tinker, which has $300 spent on making a superb blade with afterthought but functional hilt furniture. It's what I recommend as the bare minimum people should go for cutting swords. That doesn't mean I'll turn my nose up at getting a stirrup hilted sword that handles well enough in drills at the sub ~$150 price point because the edge slowly wanders by half a mm over 20+ inches.
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Sam Barris

Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
Likes: 4 pages

Posts: 630

PostPosted: Mon 15 Aug, 2016 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm with some of the others on this. My expectations for a sword at that price point are extremely low. Are these your first "real" swords? I only ask because your experience mirrors my own from back in the proverbial day when I picked up my first Windlass swords from MRL. I wanted so very much to love them, especially given that they represented a huge investment at that point in my life, but I was underwhelmed, to say the least. I knew just holding them that something was wrong. They felt dead and awkward in my hand in a way I knew couldn't be attributed solely to my lack of experience. I paid extra for the "sharpening" as well. I wouldn't learn for a few more years that sharpening the edge of a sword whose entire blade geometry was off doesn't really get you as far as you'd like. In fairness, I hear that Windlass has improved somewhat since those days, but I never felt particularly compelled to verify this for myself. Once I'd held my first sword at the Albion and A&A level, I never looked back. If I had it to do over, knowing what I do now, I wouldn't have bothered with them. I'd have just made myself a nice waster and focused on building skill until such time as I was financially able to obtain a proper weapon. At most, I'd have bought one knowing that it was for wearing to the Renaissance Faire and very little else, but even that seems unlikely.

There are people on this forum who have started with a Windlass or Hanwei sword and turned it into a project. Some of the results are very impressive. Sadly, from my (admittedly dated) experience with swords at that price point, that's probably the only way you're going to turn them into what you seem to want.

Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Harry Marinakis

PostPosted: Wed 17 Aug, 2016 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not thinks these items are second-hand but I do think that you got what you paid for

With a bit of work you can clean these up nicely
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Sean Flynt

Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Joined: 21 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Aug, 2016 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hooray! Affordable sword kits!
That actually is what I think about many of the bargain swords out there. those welds are probably okay. most grips are no good unless you're at the top of the market, and provide one of the easiest ways to improve a sword. we can talk you through the grip upgrade if you'd like to try it. you'll never wish for the original.

other thoughts:

Waves and other irregularities resulting from actual forging and "good enough" grinding are among the few things I value in Windlass blades. I think their main problem is that all are too thin and few reflect historical shapes and balance. those non-historical problems are difficult or impossible to correct, but that's part of the value calculation. I prefer the more robust Hanwei-Tinker bastard sword blade over any Windlass blade, but that limits me to narrow Type XVIII swords.

I haven't seen many historical swords that would pass inspection if the standard is machine-age perfection. I see odd fit, asymmetry, file marks, inconsistent decoration, wandering center lines, etc. There are exceptions, of course, but it's an eye-opener to stand by the cases in museums and sight down wonderful, well-known, blades, many of which would be returned to Albion by outraged customers.

One of the greatest challenges I encounter as an amateur sword cutler/furbisher is trying to put away my modern mind and standards of quality. The technical stuff can be learned, but the mind of an 15th century craftsman is an alien universe. It isn't about sloppiness or laziness or low expectations. There's just a kind of intuitive overall perfection of the whole created from many technically imperfect parts. In the modern period, I suspect that you arrive at that not with calipers but by immersing yourself in antiques. When I think of the greatest modern makers, I note that they have that in common--extensive, hands-on experience with originals. They're looking over the master's shoulder, essentially, and even getting into his head in ways that others can't.

Reading The Knight and the Blast Furnace recently, I was struck by how poorly many armourers understood heat treating (exceptions in the great production centers, except by informed choice). The author shows many lovely bits of harness that were unsuccessfully treated, either because the maker didn't fully understand the techniques required, or the metal simply was not treatable. And yet, if I were to order a bespoke (and useless) harness from the top modern armourers, I would expect it to be perfectly heat treated steel. Henry VIII's tonlet harness for the Field of the Cloth of Gold has a glaring mistake and general incomplete and somewhat crude decoration, but it's a priceless treasure of the Royal Armouries.

There are different perspectives in this hobby, different reasons for collecting and different expectations of manufacturers, but if historical arms and armour are our common bond, i want to always compare reproductions to those artifacts rather than to other reproductions. Echoing the sentiment above, I think we also have to assume that everything we buy could use some work. I'll happily take any Albion anyone will give me, but if it's a type that usually had a chappe, you know I'm going to make one and rebuild that beautiful Albion grip.

See this thread for more:

and this video:


Author of the Little Hammer novel

Last edited by Sean Flynt on Wed 17 Aug, 2016 6:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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J. Nicolaysen

Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
Likes: 32 pages

Posts: 795

PostPosted: Wed 17 Aug, 2016 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great post Sean, I think you have a great perspective here.
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