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David V.





Joined: 27 Nov 2005

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PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec, 2005 10:09 pm    Post subject: Modern crafted swords?         Reply with quote

I was wondering, has anybody ever designed a sword with the idea of taking advantage of modern advancements in metallurgy and technology? Not simply use modern techniques to fabricate an historical piece at a reduced price, but a weapon specifically designed to take advantage of our technology in order to improve their intended original function as if those weapons were still being used today for the same practical reasons?
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 01 Dec, 2005 10:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd say that nearly all modern-made swords do this already. The choice of steel stock alone is fundamental to this end.
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 6:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Perhaps a little more definition of "but a weapon specifically designed to take advantage of our technology in order to improve their intended original function " I assume you are actually talking about a change in the dimensions/geometry/furniture/something of the sword itself? What would those changes possibly consist of?

Most modern swords make use of modern metallurgy and fabrication techniques in their construction as Nathan has already noted. For example several modern sword companies use CNC machines to rough out their blades.

Historically swords changed to meet the changing demands placed upon them by the contemporary battlefield, defensive armor etc. Today without that half of the equation in play I find it somewhat difficult to imagine what "improvements" can be made to "improve their intended original function." Having said that I'm always willing to listen to new ideas... Happy

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John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 10:51 am    Post subject: Re: Modern crafted swords?         Reply with quote

David V. wrote:
I was wondering, has anybody ever designed a sword with the idea of taking advantage of modern advancements in metallurgy and technology? Not simply use modern techniques to fabricate an historical piece at a reduced price, but a weapon specifically designed to take advantage of our technology in order to improve their intended original function as if those weapons were still being used today for the same practical reasons?


You mean like vibro-blades and blades with mono-molecular edges? Weapons made out of extremely high tensile strength materials with super-hard, super-sharp edges for the ultimate combination of durability and cutting power?
Those are classics in "hard" science fiction . . . . . .

If you like, I know Dr. Jim will make you a sword out of Vasco-wear.
He loves experimenting with new and improved steels.

There are actually quite a few "tactical" swords out there on the market right now, with lots of variations in construction technique and materials (and quality).
Check out some of the stuff available on Bladeart.com . . . . . .

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Edward Hitchens




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 5:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
For example several modern sword companies use CNC machines to rough out their blades.


Is this the so-called 'stock-removal' method? (I apologize if the question is too off-topic).

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 5:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Edward Hitchens wrote:
Russ Ellis wrote:
For example several modern sword companies use CNC machines to rough out their blades.


Is this the so-called 'stock-removal' method? (I apologize if the question is too off-topic).


Stock removal has been around forever. Basically, it's just a term used to mean "grinding". Please read our article, Ground or Pound? Forging vs. Stock Removal for more information.

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Modern crafted swords?         Reply with quote

David V. wrote:
I was wondering, has anybody ever designed a sword with the idea of taking advantage of modern advancements in metallurgy and technology? Not simply use modern techniques to fabricate an historical piece at a reduced price, but a weapon specifically designed to take advantage of our technology in order to improve their intended original function as if those weapons were still being used today for the same practical reasons?


Killing tool?

Status symbol?

Stuff opener?

Some of this depends on what you think the oringinal function was. Also whether that function is even remotely still valid and acceptable. Finally it all rests on the assumption that modern is better, something which is intemittantly debated to death on its own.

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 6:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's no reason to spend time and money on further improving a weapon that's been obsolete for hundreds of years.

Now if one wants to do this for the sake of curiosity that's another matter.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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David V.





Joined: 27 Nov 2005

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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 6:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
What would those changes possibly consist of?


I don't know, that would be up to the designer, but just to make my point clearer, simply pick a weapon of choice and imagine it's function, what it was meant to achieve, what it was meant to go up against, and see if you can picture ways to improve upon the intended design with our current knowledge of things. In short, be more of an active weapon smith rather then a mere re-enacter.

Surely, our superior understanding of metals and their inherent structure could yield to a more efficient blade. One could subject the weapon to various advanced calculations to determine it's dynamics and see if change in taper could produce a more suitable tool for what the weapon was meant to do and so on and so forth.

In short, what i'm asking for is a truly 'modern' re-enactment as opposed to modern for merely being produced today...


Last edited by David V. on Fri 02 Dec, 2005 6:40 pm; edited 2 times in total
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David V.





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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 6:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
There's no reason to spend time and money on further improving a weapon that's been obsolete for hundreds of years.

Now if one wants to do this for the sake of curiosity that's another matter.


Indeed, this is why i'm asking. Happy
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David V.





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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 6:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Modern crafted swords?         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:

You mean like vibro-blades and blades with mono-molecular edges? Weapons made out of extremely high tensile strength materials with super-hard, super-sharp edges for the ultimate combination of durability and cutting power?
Those are classics in "hard" science fiction . . . . . .

If you like, I know Dr. Jim will make you a sword out of Vasco-wear.
He loves experimenting with new and improved steels.

There are actually quite a few "tactical" swords out there on the market right now, with lots of variations in construction technique and materials (and quality).
Check out some of the stuff available on Bladeart.com . . . . . .


Ha, something along those lines, yes, bar the science fiction part (unless it wouldn't be 'fiction' anymore)

Mind you, i'm not asking for a such a weapon for myself, i'm just curious.

Of course, i see some of those weapons are meant to be functional today, which is an interest concept also.
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John Cooksey




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 9:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Modern crafted swords?         Reply with quote

David V. wrote:


Ha, something along those lines, yes, bar the science fiction part (unless it wouldn't be 'fiction' anymore)

Mind you, i'm not asking for a such a weapon for myself, i'm just curious.

Of course, i see some of those weapons are meant to be functional today, which is an interest concept also.


Hey, I am just waiting around for "science fiction" to become "science fact".
:-)
I have a whole long list of things I want to see before I purchase the proverbial agricultural real estate, and as far as I am concerned people just need to get to working faster. :-)

Most of the "tactical" swords you see nowadays are more like "tactical big knives" or "tactical shortswords". Basically, something you carry (theoretically) as a back-up piece for other weapons or as a very specialized weapon for a very special purpose.
Sometimes they are also just concept, or what-if, pieces, as well.

I kind of like the idea of a very sturdy big knife or shortsword as a back-up piece, for those occasions when the unfossilized coprolites hit the rotary airfoil gas impeller. I.e. the ammo runs out, the darned AR cruds up again, or those zombies just aren't going down!!!
:-)

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2005 7:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David V. wrote:
Russ Ellis wrote:
What would those changes possibly consist of?


I don't know, that would be up to the designer, but just to make my point clearer, simply pick a weapon of choice and imagine it's function, what it was meant to achieve, what it was meant to go up against, and see if you can picture ways to improve upon the intended design with our current knowledge of things. In short, be more of an active weapon smith rather then a mere re-enacter.

Surely, our superior understanding of metals and their inherent structure could yield to a more efficient blade. One could subject the weapon to various advanced calculations to determine it's dynamics and see if change in taper could produce a more suitable tool for what the weapon was meant to do and so on and so forth.

In short, what i'm asking for is a truly 'modern' re-enactment as opposed to modern for merely being produced today...


Spend the time talking with some modern smiths, real smiths not hucksters at a faire, and there is a good chance you'll be told they are only begining to learn what yesterdays masters knew. While some of us may have a superior understanding of metals, many of us (perhaps most of us), especially those not trying to make a living from sword arts, have a vastly inferior knowledge of the form, function, and application of the sword.

Eventually, as we explore this hobby, many hobiest/collectors come to understand that fact. At that point, intererest seems to shift from a desire to build a better mousetrap, to a desire to better understand the mousetraps we have.

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-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Shane Allee
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Location: South Bend, IN
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PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2005 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As it has been stated, the vast majority of swordmakers out there today are to some degree taking advantage of modern technology to make better swords. With the vast array of steels we have now and precision salt rigs and such, some of these guys are getting so much more out of their steel than ever before. Guys like Kevin Cashen, Randal Graham, and Howard Clark just to name a few. Kevin I know has and still is I imagine, really studying the properties you can get when folding different mixes of steel together. Not only just how it affects the way it heat treats, but also things like the types of edges and edge retention. I believe that it was micrographs he had showing different structures and all, plus he is one of the few guys that has a full blown impact tester. This was a few years ago, who knows what he is doing now.

Every maker is different too, each one has their own interest and really brings that into their work. For some it is getting everything and then some out of their steel, for others it is more about the blades designs, for some it is simply about doing something that hasn't really been seen in hundreds of years, and for some it is about doing something no one else really can or has done today. There are a large number of theses guys that are really going to a level with their craft that the majority of their customers never really are able to appreciate everything that went into that sword.

Shane
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C. Stackhouse




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Dec, 2005 1:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually for months now I have been designing unique sword and weapon designs which have a more modern application and design. Now...if i only had a metal shop Sad


Here's an idea. Run an electrical current through a sword blade. Or a spear that fires off it's head and then explodes Razz
I mean come on. Who doesn't like explosions?

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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Dec, 2005 6:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
There's no reason to spend time and money on further improving a weapon that's been obsolete for hundreds of years.

Now if one wants to do this for the sake of curiosity that's another matter.


Well, maybe I'm interpreting your comment in the wrong way, but it sort of surprised me and I can't say I agree (probably the first time I can say that of one of your posts Happy). If you'll forgive me for using a rather well-beaten horse as an example, the whole point of Howard Clark's oft-touted L6 Bainite swords was to provide a tangible benefit to the user, not out of some hardheaded attempt to reinvent the wheel. It's possible that Mr. Clark might, in another world, have gone so far out of his way to develop the technique just for curiosity's sake, or to improve his understanding of the medium as a smith; but the truth of the matter is that he was specifically seeking to develop a practice tool that would *never* bend, break, or chip within the confines of traditional practice. Traditional blades do bend, chip, and sometimes even break.

I guess the question is what you mean by "obsolete." It's certainly obsolete from a martial standpoint. But as myArmoury's own existence proves, there is still a demand for swords, and for high-performing swords as well; with that in mind, any and all technological improvements should be seen as welcome from the practicioner's perspective. Especially given how safety-conscious we are in modern society.

-------
Re: the original question:

This has already been pretty much answered, I think, but I'll chime in and say that there are already many smiths using a large number of technological innovations that actually increase performance (and not just ease of manufacture). Modern mounting materials, steel blade alloys, heat treatment tools and tecniques, and even the fundamentally different kinds of heat treatment have been used to create swords that are stronger than anything ever made in antiquity.

Of course, technological prowess isn't the only facet of sword smithing (I should hope not! Big Grin), and there are aspects in the craftsmanship, artistry, and intangible "feel" of period originals that cannot be matched through mere technology. In fact, usually the only way to replicate such results is the exact opposite, to return to the methods used throughout history.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Dec, 2005 8:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriel,

When was the last time you saw an army deployed on the evening news using swords? When was the last time you saw a combat in the street, or a judicial duel with swords? Other than as an object of admiration and study the sword is obsolete. We admire it's artistry and it's engineering and we collect them as curios, but how many of us intend to use the things in combat? I've been in life and death contests due to my profession and a sword would never have been my preferred thing to have. Do those of us who study the sword's martial application fully intend to engage in actual combat? I hope not.

I've spent time with Howard Clark and am aware of his philosophy. Yes, his work is based on improving his product but to what end? Is he providing a superior weapon for 21st century warriors or is he providing a superior product for use in modern martial arts studies? In terms of it's original purpose as a real life weapon the sword is long obsolete here at the dawn of the 21st century. That's why you see defense contractors spending billions of dollars on new fighter design instead of new sword design.

In regards to myArmoury, have we ever touted the sword as a weapon suited for the modern battlefield or have we focused on the sword as an object of historical study? You certainly can't judge the sword's existence and it's applicability in the modern world by the existence of this Web site or the extremely small fringe community that supports it. On a global scale we don't matter. As a mover and shaker in world affairs the sword is long obsolete.

Does that mean that a maker has no justification in trying to improve his product and stretch his abilities? Of course not. If you think I'm saying that than yes, you're totally off base in interpreting my comments. Big Grin A maker can do whatever he wishes and we can admire his efforts, and these things are perfectly justifiable simply from the standpoint of our mutual satisfaction. However, in the broad context of real world applicability there's really no significant reason to take the sword any farther than our ancestors did.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Dec, 2005 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:

Does that mean that a maker has no justification in trying to improve his product and stretch his abilities? Of course not. If you think I'm saying that than yes, you're totally off base in interpreting my comments. Big Grin A maker can do whatever he wishes and we can admire his efforts, and these things are perfectly justifiable simply from the standpoint of our mutual satisfaction. However, in the broad context of real world applicability there's really no significant reason to take the sword any farther than our ancestors did.


Ok, I think that clears it up Happy. My own confusion was centered around the idea of there being no reason at all to incorporate technological improvements in swords intended purely for MA practice, even when doing so offers a clear safety benefit for practicioners. Specifically I was remembering the Japanese student who died when another person's traditional katana snapped and flew across the room. But now that I understand you meant your comment in a purely general context (as opposed to the rather specific context of the relatively negligible sword community), I'm substantially less confused and surprised. Wink So yes, "totally off base" would be accurate. Happy

-GLL
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