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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Nov, 2017 3:03 pm    Post subject: Why cant cheaper swords better fit the guard to the blade?         Reply with quote

I've owned swords from Del Tin, DSA and Valiant Armoury, all of which have had a sizeable gap between the guard and the blade. I've heard this is just what to expect from anything in the sub-Albion price range however

The Hanwei/Tinker swords have the guard well fitted which seems somewhat out of place for a range of swords where the peen looks like it was done with a sledehammer.

Most surprisingly, the best fit guard I've ever seen was on a Legacy Arms sword. Literally no gap, even better fit than an Albion. Everthing else about the sword was very, very poorly done and I ended up basically giving it away.

So, if Hanwei and Legacy Arms can get this right why can't more expensive brands like Valiant and Del Tin??
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Johannes Zenker





Joined: 15 Sep 2014

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PostPosted: Mon 27 Nov, 2017 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why should they?

It's neither historically relevant for a good bit of the middle ages nor does it necessarily have an impact on performance and mounting strength.

The main reason why Albions are so well fitted lies with the CNC machined blades and cast crossguards. Every blade is virtually identical, every guard is virtually identical. They produce with very low tolerances, so they can afford to leave the gaps small without ever running into an issue. It looks neat and perfect, that's the main "advantage".

If you think a noteworthy gap between blade and crossguard is a sign of low quality in a reproduction, then why do high-end swordsmiths like Peter Johnsson (http://myArmoury.com/review_pj_bj.html) or Maciej K. (whose website seems to be not responding right now) or Mateusz Sulowski (http://sulowskiswords.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/DSC_4883.jpg) at times leave rather large gaps?

This video also touches on this aspect (EDIT: I had linked the wrong video, I meant this one): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yUOlM56Vi0
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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Nov, 2017 7:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johannes Zenker wrote:
Why should they?

It's neither historically relevant for a good bit of the middle ages nor does it necessarily have an impact on performance and mounting strength.

The main reason why Albions are so well fitted lies with the CNC machined blades and cast crossguards. Every blade is virtually identical, every guard is virtually identical. They produce with very low tolerances, so they can afford to leave the gaps small without ever running into an issue. It looks neat and perfect, that's the main "advantage".

If you think a noteworthy gap between blade and crossguard is a sign of low quality in a reproduction, then why do high-end swordsmiths like Peter Johnsson (http://myArmoury.com/review_pj_bj.html) or Maciej K. (whose website seems to be not responding right now) or Mateusz Sulowski (http://sulowskiswords.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/DSC_4883.jpg) at times leave rather large gaps?

This video also touches on this aspect (EDIT: I had linked the wrong video, I meant this one): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yUOlM56Vi0
I'll allow Mr. Easton to explain

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9SGedROG36E
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Johannes Zenker





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Posts: 76

PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 1:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am familiar with that video, and it's not wrong. I think you misinterpreted it.

Quote:
Guards are often hammered onto the tang.

Quote:
The hole in the guard should be ever so slightly too small to go all the way down and seat onto the blade's shoulders.


The largest part of the friction between "blade" and guard is on the tang, not on the blade itself and the guard. You cannot see that contact point without dismantling the hilt, as the it is hidden by the grip. How tight the slot on the "lower" side of the guard fits around the blade is mostly irrelevant if it already sits solidly on the tang.

This photograph provided my IPostSwords in the comments of that video shows a possible way of very tightly fitting the guard to the tang after first mouting it in place (probably hammered down as well): https://imgur.com/WhH9sEk
Note that there might still be a noticeable gap between blade and guard on the other side.
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Sam Arwas




Location: Australia
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Posts: 79

PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 5:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johannes Zenker wrote:
I am familiar with that video, and it's not wrong. I think you misinterpreted it.

Quote:
Guards are often hammered onto the tang.

Quote:
The hole in the guard should be ever so slightly too small to go all the way down and seat onto the blade's shoulders.


The largest part of the friction between "blade" and guard is on the tang, not on the blade itself and the guard. You cannot see that contact point without dismantling the hilt, as the it is hidden by the grip. How tight the slot on the "lower" side of the guard fits around the blade is mostly irrelevant if it already sits solidly on the tang.

This photograph provided my IPostSwords in the comments of that video shows a possible way of very tightly fitting the guard to the tang after first mouting it in place (probably hammered down as well): https://imgur.com/WhH9sEk
Note that there might still be a noticeable gap between blade and guard on the other side.
Are you seriously suggesting that not having the entire guard hug the blade and only fixed at a small contact point is just as secure and sturdy?
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Johannes Zenker





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PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am not even sure if you're being sarcastic right now or not.

Virtually no sword has more than two or three actual contact points (points being the important word here) between the flats of the blade and the crossguard, with the exception of blades with a rectangular cross sections and flat ricassos. This is also true for Albions. (cf. http://kultofathena.com/images/ANS21B_3_l.jpg http://kultofathena.com/images/ANH15_3_l.jpg http://kultofathena.com/images/AM1_3_l.jpg http://kultofathena.com/images/AM2_5_l.jpg )

They have much narrower gaps, true, but the blade is not wedged in the guard, the tang is. It does not matter if the gap is 0.2mm or 2mm wide. If there is a gap, it does not hold anything. Even within tight tolerances manufacturing the slot in the guard so precisely that it will hug the entire flat of the blade is probably not feasible to do. It can have a few extra points of contact where the blade has ridges, and if at those points pressure is applied to the blade from both sides it may give a little more retention, but it's not critical.

The tang is usually rectangular and flat (or flat with a fuller), so it is relatively easy to make the hole in the guard just tight enough that it can be hammered on (hot or cold). This provides a nice and secure fit. It does not really matter how much area it grips, otherwise I doubt we'd see the fuller running onto the tang so often.

The idea that "on a properly made sword the guard perfectly matches the blade's shoulders and grips in there" is a myth. A myth for which I chiefly hold Albion swords and collectors that use them (CNC milled blades, cast crossguards) as the benchmark for "done right" responsible.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's reasonable for a modern consumer to expect closer tolerances, both because of technological advances and the price of the best reconstructions. Probably not many historical examples would meet that standard, but were considered appropriate for actual fighting. So there are two minds to consider here--the modern one and the medieval one.

In some historical examples the lower end of the grip core fits down between blade and guard. Wedges were used as well, apparently. I would guess that it's less common, historically, for a loose guard to be secured only by the pressure of the grip as with many modern swords, but one can see antiques with missing grips and dislodged guards and pommels, so it's not out of the question.

Bear in mind that bladesmiths, hiltsmiths, millmen, sheathers and cutlers were different craft specialists whose work was sometimes defended by guilds. It would not have been common for a medieval craftsman to do all that work himself, and that has implications for fit and finish.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 11:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bad fit? The Hanwei Cawood Viking.....as far as I'm concerned....the best sword...EVER.


 Attachment: 34.71 KB
WIN_20170908_10_46_53_Pro.jpg


''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Nov, 2017 6:23 am    Post subject: Some historical examples of guard fit         Reply with quote

Hi Sam

I wanted to add some info, for you, to the good points made by Johannes and Sean. These are from an article I have been working on. I think many of Matt’s videos have good information. On this point, I would disagree with Matt, as far as the norm for medieval swords being the guard is driven on. While this is the case in some examples, I would suggest it is far less than the norm he indicates. There where several ways to put a sword together at any given point in history and to say one is the only way or the best is to limit ones understanding of the sword.

Here are a couple of images that illustrate some of the variable fits one sees in period swords as well as some links that have additional examples.





The tightness of the guards fit to the surface of the blade can bee seen in these examples to be far less an issue for these period makers than your comments would suggest. It is important to allow the examples of the past in object and description to show us the important aspects of the sword for those that knew them best. It can become easy to be clouded in our understanding of these great objects by letting our modern preconceptions of fit, finish and ideal to get into the way of what they did and how that impacted their design, use and function.

Here is a 3D models with good detail, I will post another very soon :-)

Italian Arming Sword


Here are some additional examples from Dimicators great FB page.

11-12th C Sword

13th C Sword

Another 13th C Sword

Sempach Sword

Hope this illustrates some of the diversity that there is in the population of surviving examples of period swords.

Best
Craig

Side note: In writing this and looking at the images, it strikes me what great times we live in. To gather this style of content for a post even 15 years ago could have taken an exceptional amount of effort. To have sources with images like myArmoury, The Oakeshott Institute, Dimicator and Peter Johnson"s website stretches the believable in how much good information is out there for people to use.
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Johannes Zenker





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PostPosted: Thu 30 Nov, 2017 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Those are some interesting pictures, thank you Craig. The ones you posted are a nice mix: the second and third (Moonbrand?) look 13th or 14th C. to me and feature some noticeable gaps, although Moonbrand seems to be rather tightly fitted compared to many of the swords documented by Roland Warzecha/Dimicator.

The first, fourth and last swords look like late 15th or even 16th C., as does the Italian arming sword. My impression is that not only did the gaps get narrower with the centuries, but also that the advent of the ricasso (or "leftover" rectangular section in the guard as seen on the last one) allowed for much tighter fits. The penultimate sword you posted, with the triple-fullered ricasso, almost looks like the shoulders of the ricasso are not seated in the guard at all, merely resting against it.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Nov, 2017 7:35 am    Post subject: Fit details         Reply with quote

Hi Johannes

Yes the dates and ids are correct. The fourth Sword is the Italian Arming Sword. The fifth sword is relatively tight but there is a gap behind the blade shoulders which look to rest against the face of the guard.

The tendency to tighter fits over time maybe us applying perception as this sample would be to small to indicate anything and I would say I have seen a wide variety from most time periods. The one element I can say I see more in later guards especially as guard complexity increases right into rapiers and baskethilts is the shoulders of the blade resting on the face of the guard with no indent or being set in a shallow grove ground into the face but this can be very shallow in some cases. Many of these blades resting on the guard will allow one to see daylight between parts of the shoulders and the guard, wether through wear or their opinion it was not a big deal, it would be hard to sell such today :-)

Best
Craig
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Nov, 2017 11:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

for my tuppence worth I believe there are two things going on.

The first is what the modern market wants and expects.

The second is what was acceptable historically

For both aspects performance and structural integrity are part of the story.

What the modern (mass) market usually wants is perfection, this includes blade fit to guard, blade grind quality, evenness of polish and so forth. It becomes a matter of taste on many levels, but 'perfection' is rarely seen, if ever, in museums and as Craig points out, many historical swords have 'defects' that would be utterly unacceptable now. However we own these things for basically cosmetic reasons, they owned them because they needed them to work.

Historically the cutler assembled pieces often bought in bulk from different suppliers and they would fit to a greater or lesser extent and wedging out guards and grips in a way that surely must have rattled within 10 minutes of ownership was not abnormal. They worked well enough for them.

As Johannes eloquently points out, a well fitting guard actually still only has 3 points of contact and whether these alter during the flexing of the blade and so create more local support may be the case. A perfectly fitted guard may contact over wider areas if it is hammered down and so support the tang more, but again this was not generally the case. So if the guard is hammered down to fit snug all round is it better? - probably but marginal. Was it done? - not really. So by extension, was it necessary? - no.

Going back to modern production and the OP, it will depend on how the task is approached, quality of castings or forgings and many other aspects. For example as a purchaser you may have two viable companies that can supply your castings. consider this scenario. Company 1 is run by an arse with no ability to deliver on time but manages to get a really tight tolerance cast; but the guy is hell to deal with. Company two uses different methods, because we all have our own way, and delivers a good product and a good price, in good time. One of the compromises that has to be made is that the guard fit is not so great. Ultimately neither is great, but you have to concentrate on the next products in your line to meet the bills. so looking for company 3 has to go on hold until you have the time. If you are good, you know and will sort it, but can't right now. If you are bad, you either don't know or don't care and won't sort it.

This sort of decision is daily bread for a manufacturer.

Perhaps the manufacturer doesn't mind or likes it this way or doesn't know, or wants better, but can't get it right now or compromise to get his margins and hit his price point or or or.......we simply don't know the choices that have been made or why. Could it be that Valiants blades cost 3 times as much? You can't see it because a shiny blade, is a shiny blade, but as we well know, that does not make them as good as each other, so maybe Sonny has put his money into blades not guards. (casting no aspersions, just making a point)

Nearly finally, don't forget maybe blade fit is your 'thing'. As customers we all look at different aspects and maybe another guy would look at your sword, not care or notice about the blade fit but hate the grip.

Which leaves only one point to make. On balance of all the factors, do you like the sword?

This post was was not meant to be patronising or trivialising your OP, I have just got a free half hour and have had a couple of beers. You have an opinion as valid as mine or anyones as to what you like, but just don't forget manufacturing a sword is a complicated thing and what you want and what you get are not going to be necessarily the same thing, but we simply cannot know the choices or reasons.

Quote:
So, if Hanwei and Legacy Arms can get this right why can't more expensive brands like Valiant and Del Tin??


They can, but for their own reasons they have chosen not to.

Apologies for the easy.

Tod

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