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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Tod Cutler Rondel DaggerProduct Review Reply to topic
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Dec, 2018 5:36 pm    Post subject: Tod Cutler Rondel Dagger         Reply with quote

Here is the Tod Cutler 15th century Rondel. I received this a few days ago. It is one the pieces in Tod’s less expensive line, simple (certainly in comparison with some other rondels, which can be rather ornate) but very well made with interesting design choices. The rondels are hollow, convex shaped, each two pieces brazed together. This was done to keep the hilt lighter. The grip is wood with a hexagonal shape.

Specs – in inches
Overall Length – 17.25
Blade Length – 12.25
Blade Width – 1.00 at guard
Grip Length – 4.00
POB – 1.25
Weight – 12.9 oz.

The blade shape is interesting. The dorsal side is wider and blunt. For most of its length it has an inverted V shape (to cut down on weight?) Near the tip it flattens to help reinforce that tip. The blade has almost a concave shape as it narrows down to the sharpened ventral edge. And of course, it has a very formidable point. This dagger type was made to fight an opponent in plate armor, to pierce its vulnerable areas (armpit, groin, visor, etc.) with a point strong enough to go through the mail and padding underneath. Wearing one at your side was a mark of high status. You will find rondel daggers as part of the armament on many 15th century effigies and brasses. Like I said at the top, this is a fairly inexpensive piece of high quality.



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James Rogers





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PostPosted: Thu 13 Dec, 2018 6:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I bought one of these as well. Feels great, I like the rondels and blade. Mine has an issue where the forward rondel isn't properly aligned with the blade, so the triangular slot for the blade to fit through is twisted and exposed below the tang. I'm going to try and cover it up with a piece of brass or leather or something.
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Leo Todeschini
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Location: Oxford, UK
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2018 12:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the review Roger - its very appreciated

In regards to James; I am sorry that yours has a slight misalignment between the slot in the rondel and the blade; structurall it is fine, though aesthetically it is obviously not desired, so please get back in touch and we will make sure you end happy.

I have tried to do a very simple thing with the Tod Cutler pieces, and of course discovered that nothing is ever simple....

If I have a mission statement it is also simple; make historically accurate pieces and sell them at a fixed and low margin to get them to market at the lowest cost I can. I try to produce them to historical patterns, sizes, detailing and decoration, construction methods and materials where I can. There will be no quillon daggers with 6" handles here. Some dimensions I have to change slightly as I will never convince the average guy that a 75mm long grip is fine, so it is either sell none or make the grip bigger, so there has to be bit of reality in this area, however I try to get as much right as I can for as low a price as I can.

What this means in reality is that there are quite a lot of areas that need close attention to hit these goals and sometimes one aspect slips through. I am continuing to improve these pieces in all areas, but I am sorry for this one.

Tod

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2018 9:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tod, the Tod Cutler pieces look very good and really attractive at their prices.

I do have a general question that you may have answered before here or on your site, but I'm curious about the steel used in your bespoke line and in the Tod Cutler line, also what hardness do you aim for in your heat treat(s) ?

Now, period hardness might have varied a great deal and probably at or below 50rc with swords ?
Would knives have been hardened to closer to 55/60 rc, at least on the edges if differentially hardened ?

Razors in any period would benefit from harder edges.


On the philosophy of being as close as possible to period pieces would you want to have a low hardness if low hardness was more historically correct, or would you just optimize hardness to modern standards as this is basically an invisible upgrade that doesn't change the appearance of the knife or sword ?

Personally I don't mind if my period looking piece performs better in it's material qualities than a period piece, except if the objective of recreating a period piece was some sort of experimental archeology and one used only materials and methods of the period as well as reproducing as exactly as possible everything one could imagine: But that is for very very special project that would be extremely specialized work and probably very very expensive.

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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2018 10:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, I hope everyone appreciates that Tod is charging Eastern European prices but paying a British cost of living.

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Now, period hardness might have varied a great deal and probably at or below 50rc with swords ?
Would knives have been hardened to closer to 55/60 rc, at least on the edges if differentially hardened ?

Razors in any period would benefit from harder edges.

Jean, the majority of medieval knives I have seen analyzed would not respond to heat treatment very much. There were probably a few knives which were medium-carbon steel all the way through, because there were some swords like that, but mostly they were a mix of steel and iron with as much of the steel in the edge as possible. R.F. Tylecote and Jane Cowgill et al. "Knives and Scabbards" are good on this, Helmut Föll has a table of how the composition of sword blades changes over time.

In 1408, the bladesmiths of London agreed that "that every person of the said trade, who is a worker and maker of lance-heads, swords, daggers, or knives, must make the points and egges thereof hard throughout; and also, the egges and heads of axes so as to stand the assay; on pain of forfeiture thereof, in manner and form as before stated." They did not say anything about the rest of the iron, just the points and edges, and 'hard' might include good hammer-hardened iron or low-carbon steel.

www.bookandsword.com
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Dec, 2018 2:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, a hard part is that almost all of the tens of thousands of surviving medieval knives and daggers are from muddy contexts, and the rust attacks surfaces and thin areas first, so the parts which may once have had the most carbon and turned to martensite are the least intact ... but very few would have responded to quenching and tempering as well as the modern medium-carbon steels which most knife grinders and knife forgers use. In any given period before the 20th century, you can find edge tools which are almost pure iron next to ones with a medium-carbon cutting edge, it all depended on what iron the bladesmith had available and what price point he was aiming for on this batch and which techniques gave him and his apprentices a good feeling and whether the powers that govern fire and water and and iron felt like cooperating that day.

I don't know of any studies of the metallurgy of the blades of big fighting knives specifically, swords and everyday knives tend to get most of the attention.

www.bookandsword.com
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Sat 15 Jun, 2019 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean, this table from Ottaway and Rogers' book on finds from medieval York might help:



Almost all the 22 knives were assembled from several pieces of metal with as much of the harder, carbon-rich metal in the edge as possible.

Vickers hardness ranged from HV 93 to 755, and there is usually great variation along the edge of a single knife. I am not an engineer, and I don't think the different hardness scales can be converted, but Wikipedia gives Vickers HV 93 as too low to have a place on the Rockwell scale, and Vickers HV 750 as about Rockwell HRC 60. So the hardest edge is about as hard as you guessed would be typical.

A bit more than half showed tempered martensite (TM), so there had been a quench and temper which had changed the crystal structure of the steel ... but there were at least two which had later been overheated and annealed and lost most of the gain in hardness. Some of the very soft knives may be missing their steel edges, you can check the report if you want the details. Low-tech iron and steel are very 'organic' materials, each batch from a given smelter is a bit different and smiths had to adapt their techniques to the materials and the price their customers were willing to pay.

www.bookandsword.com
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Jun, 2019 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Jean, this table from Ottaway and Rogers' book on finds from medieval York might help:


Almost all the 22 knives were assembled from several pieces of metal with as much of the harder, carbon-rich metal in the edge as possible.

Vickers hardness ranged from HV 93 to 755, and there is usually great variation along the edge of a single knife. I am not an engineer, and I don't think the different hardness scales can be converted, but Wikipedia gives Vickers HV 93 as too low to have a place on the Rockwell scale, and Vickers HV 750 as about Rockwell HRC 60. So the hardest edge is about as hard as you guessed would be typical.

A bit more than half showed tempered martensite (TM), so there had been a quench and temper which had changed the crystal structure of the steel ... but there were at least two which had later been overheated and annealed and lost most of the gain in hardness. Some of the very soft knives may be missing their steel edges, you can check the report if you want the details. Low-tech iron and steel are very 'organic' materials, each batch from a given smelter is a bit different and smiths had to adapt their techniques to the materials and the price their customers were willing to pay.


Thanks for the reply and the information, I assume that the quality control of the material composition in level of carbon plus the heat treat would be more an art in period and somewhat of a hit or miss thing.

A good heat treat might have been judged by how much a hardened file would skate on the hardened edges and a poor performing blade might be recycled for the iron or put into the bargain bin ?

A blade proven to be of excellent quality being tested and sold for a higher price and sent the cutlers to make higher end and expensive weapons.

Heat treat can also be botched and/or the estimate level of carbon over estimated.

An edge quench is one way to get a harder edge on mono steel to get the hardest practical edge and a strong body of the blade, or one uses hight carbon steel only on the edges and one quenches the whole blade uniformly: The second makes sense if high carbon steel is more expensive and for lower status weapons ? For an expensive sword meant for a noble one might use the best materials available for the whole blade.

But bottom line heat treating was a matter of experience and judgement on steels of only estimated carbon content that could vary considerably in uniformity and in period they had no way to control the exact temperatures of quenching and tempering except by eyeballing it plus experience rather than scientific knowledge and measurements?

All the above just an opinion of what seems plausible.

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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Jun, 2019 6:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And for even more fun: often, the element which hardened the iron was phosphorus not carbon. You can see that as Ph in the table, it was common in European edgetools from the Iron Age to the early middle ages. Traditional smiths could try the same kinds of practical test which smiths today still use, but they didn't have a collection of files with the Rockwell Hardness printed on the handle.

Crowfoot's "Knives and Scabbards" has a section on how the lower-grade knives were sold, and how towns and guilds tried to impose quality standards and workers and vendors evaded them.

I think that one reason why medieval knives tend to have thick spines, like 2-3 mm thick for a typical blade 15 mm wide, is that the basic forms of swords, axes, and knives had to work with soft or brittle metal.

www.bookandsword.com
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