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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
Joined: 27 Dec 2005

Posts: 309

PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 4:09 pm    Post subject: NG knight edge durability - what are realistic expectations?         Reply with quote

Hi all,

I've recently started learning to cut with my NG knight, just water bottles so far, but I built an adjustable cutting stand (I'll write up plans if people want) on the weekend and I'm saving up newspapers to try out soaked newspaper rolls.

What I'm curious about is what to expect from the edge of this sword, and how to tell when it needs attention. I know quite a lot about building and maintaining scary sharp edges on knives but nothing bar what I've read on this forum about sword edges. There is some great information on here but being the only person I know in my area who is cutting with a sharp sword, I have zero practical experience to relate it to.

From what I've read the edges on the knight should sail through the kind of targets I've been cutting without any issues, but I have noticed some 'shiny spots' on the edge when looking down it. Now on a knife this would be a sign I need to touch the edge up but is it something I need to worry about on a sword?

Part of my problem is that my cutting form is awful. I'm trying to learn but there's nobody around with cutting experience either so we're all learning together experimentally (with just the one sword Eek! ). Because I don't yet really know what I'm doing when it comes to cutting and my form sucks I don't have that as a way of knowing when the edge on the sword is needing work.

So what are the signs, barring really obvious damage which I obviously hope to avoid, that the edge on my sword needs to be touched up, and what expectations of edge durability against these kinds of target are realistic?

Thanks.

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Al.
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Travis Canaday




Location: Overland Park, Kansas
Joined: 24 Oct 2005

Posts: 144

PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 6:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few light swipes with a smoother stone should keep up the bite of the edge.If your only cutting soft targets this would probably be enough. One thing to keep in mind is that the sharper the edge, the easier to damage it. The blade geometry of most sword types never has the acute angle of a chef knife. Of course this becuase it is meant to cleave through bodies, not slice vegetables.

There is a chapter on how to sharpen a sword in Sigmund Ringeck's Knightly Art of the Longsword by David Lindholm and Peter Svard. The chapter is written by Peter Johnsson and Lindholm. They say while a cutting sword has an edge angle of 10 to 30 degrees, the "sharpening of the edge is shaped to an angle of some 30 to 50 degrees. The transition between these angles is, as a rule, a gently curving line." I hope that helps.

As far as cutting forms go, try to hit the target at about a 35 degree angle, this is easiest to cut through things with. Also... never cut in the direction of your lead leg. I've seen a picture of some guy with a split knee cap becuase he didn't realize this.

Travis
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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
Joined: 27 Dec 2005

Posts: 309

PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Travis,

Travis Canaday wrote:

As far as cutting forms go, try to hit the target at about a 35 degree angle, this is easiest to cut through things with. Also... never cut in the direction of your lead leg. I've seen a picture of some guy with a split knee cap becuase he didn't realize this.


Thanks Happy I have all sorts of terrible habits from doing SCA fighting, one of which is swinging things with my offside (sheild) foot forwards. Not such a cunning plan with this kind of cutting.

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Al.
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,454

PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 8:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you have the funds and want to keep the Knight nice, get something else to learn with. Then when you are comfortable and know general limits, break out the Knight. Alternately accept that your toys are going to take some wear and learn to appreciate that "used" look. Wink

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Last edited by Joe Fults on Tue 22 Aug, 2006 8:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
Joined: 27 Dec 2005

Posts: 309

PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 8:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Joe,

Joe Fults wrote:
If you have the funds and want to keep the Knight nice, get something else to learn with. Then when you are comfortable and know general limits, break out the Knight. alternately accept that your toys are going to take some wear and learn to appreciate that "used" look. Wink


Thanks for the suggestions. I'm looking at getting something from Angus Trim as a dedicated cutter, but living in NZ the exchange rate, combined with shipping, and taxes are absolute murder.

I don't know the exact numbers because it was a 30th birthday gift from my wife, but landed at my door the knight cost over $1200NZD. To put that in perspective, $1 in New Zealand buys a little *less* than $1USD does in the US. The exchange rate is getting worse too Cry Other people get to use it on a strict "you break it, you bought it" understanding.

I'm not too worried about the knight getting minor marks from use, I can polish those out easily enough and I accept that any tool which is used won't look the same as a pristine one. Mostly my concern is with maintaining the edge well enough so that I can guage advances in my technique.

I guess my question is really how much cutting I can reasonably expect to get out of the knight before its edge needs attention, and what should I check the edge for, appearance wise to get an idea for what condition it is in.

Thanks.

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Al.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 9:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't worry too much about the appearance of the edge. I'd just keep cutting with it until you notice a difference in actual performance. If you obsess over the appearance of the edge you may wear the blade out long before you have to. As long as it's cutting it's obviously sharp enough. From what you've said about your exchange rate it sounds like you need to make that sword last as long as possible. A sword doesn't have to have a razor edge to cut, in fact, it doesn't really need an extremely sharp edge to be effective, as long as your technique is good. A couple of my swords have been used in several cutting sessions over the last couple of months with no maintenance to the edge. They're still working fine.

You also need to get a better cutting medium than water filled bottles. I know cost is a factor as it is with all of us. However, if you really want to learn you need to use something that will better indicate how the sword's performing and how you're doing. Rolled up newspaper that's been soaked in water would be a better alternative and not much more expensive.

Also, no offense meant as I played the game too but you need to forget about anything you learned in the SCA. Most of the principles of beating on opponents with a stick run contrary to the type of technique and control you'll need for actual cutting. I'd suggest getting a few of the books and videos that are available on the historic techniques, if you haven't done so already.

Good luck!
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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
Joined: 27 Dec 2005

Posts: 309

PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 3:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick, thanks for sharing your experience.

Patrick Kelly wrote:
I wouldn't worry too much about the appearance of the edge. I'd just keep cutting with it until you notice a difference in actual performance. If you obsess over the appearance of the edge you may wear the blade out long before you have to. As long as it's cutting it's obviously sharp enough. From what you've said about your exchange rate it sounds like you need to make that sword last as long as possible. A sword doesn't have to have a razor edge to cut, in fact, it doesn't really need an extremely sharp edge to be effective, as long as your technique is good. A couple of my swords have been used in several cutting sessions over the last couple of months with no maintenance to the edge. They're still working fine.


Fair enough, I don't plan on rushing off to sharpen it any time soon.

Quote:

You also need to get a better cutting medium than water filled bottles. I know cost is a factor as it is with all of us. However, if you really want to learn you need to use something that will better indicate how the sword's performing and how you're doing. Rolled up newspaper that's been soaked in water would be a better alternative and not much more expensive.


Agreed. I've been reading up on that by searching through this forum. I have stack of newsprint sitting around and will pick up some poly pipe which seems like it would make a good core next weekend. When I built the cutting stand I deliberately built it so it would go low enough to sit tatami-like rolls on as well as high enough to sit milk bottles on, because they're fun Happy

Milk bottles seem to just kind of fall apart when you hit them without giving much feedback on whether you got it right, but I'm bouncing PET bottles one in 3 and have only got a really clean cut once in the 10 or so I've tried, all the rest have cut partway and torn.

I am curious about the difference in technique required to cut PET bottles and rolled up newspapers etc. I don't have the experience to tell by myself, and I've read that they are different to cut, but not how one should approach cutting them if that makes sense.

Quote:

Also, no offense meant as I played the game too but you need to forget about anything you learned in the SCA. Most of the principles of beating on opponents with a stick run contrary to the type of technique and control you'll need for actual cutting. I'd suggest getting a few of the books and videos that are available on the historic techniques, if you haven't done so already.


None taken. I'm not one who ever thought SCA combat bore any resemblance to actual medieval combat. It's a hell of a lot of fun, but it's still stick fighting in armour Big Grin I've just done enough of it to have the "I'm swinging something so I should do *this* with the rest of my body" muscle memory, which of course is all wrong for using a cutting weapon. That's one of the reasons I want to learn how to use an actual sword. I'm lucky enough to have a friend who is quite actively studying historical techniques, he's just never done any cutting either so it's a bit of an experimental process for all of us.

Quote:
Good luck!


Thanks Happy

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Al.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,685

PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Al wrote:
I have stack of newsprint sitting around and will pick up some poly pipe which seems like it would make a good core next weekend.


At first you might want to try just the newsprint without any kind of a core. That would be easier on the sword until you perfect your technique.
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Nate C.




Location: Palo Alto, CA
Joined: 13 Jun 2004

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Posts: 301

PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 8:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What is the accepted method for using wet newspaper? I've tried using it once before and didn't have much luck. Granted I was using a more thrust dedicated sword (NG Mercenary) but it cut okay on plastic bottles when I did those. One thing I noticed when I've cut is that my perception of distance needs to change from my sport fencing training. If I don't move in, those 2 liters go flying Eek! .

Cheers,

Nate C.

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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,831

PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 9:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm one to obsess about my edges but once sharp, you don't need to remove much metal to keep them that way.

A fine edge may start to show small ripples and folds and as a buthcher or chef does, you can realign these with a steel or other burnisher, even a piece of drill rod.

Fine ceramics can work for this as well (if you lean into them a bit) but you are starting to remove a little metal. They are good for minor tune ups, even on a katana.

It is easier to maintain an edge than starting over and really having to go to town. I let an ATrim go for a season without touching it and I had been pounding that sword on heavy and abrasive stuff. It was more of a chore to bring back than I want to repeat.

My worry about ripples and small dents is that they can turn into nicks, then on to possible stress risers. I tend to do an inspection after cutting and dress small stuff out, if it won't push back.

Some of my swords I would call scary sharp and I keep them that way. Most will at least cut paper cleanly, without snags.

I'll be long gone before I remove enough metal to seriously alter the geometry and dimensions.

When one gets tired of water bottles, try them empty. Not enough feedback on a milk jug of water? See how many full rings you can get off one. A lot of it turns into parlor tricks but it can help your form. I recycled some carboard today but it is something I had not done for a long time. I usually wait for mats, or go cut some cane in the back yard.

I also tend to practice the art of cutting, without cutting. I do not practice iaido but any sword can cut air and give you a sense of control. Some European type swords are more natural than othres. A lot is in tactile feedback from the grip. Round, tubular grips are the pits on cutting swords. When you can't index naturally off the grip, a thumb to the flat of the blade helps (I tend to grip that way anyway when cutting).

Plastic pipe is ok if it is soft. Our PVC tends to chip out in larger dimensions. We do manage to occasionally slice right through the pvc peg sleeves my buddy makes. This is small id pvc with a dowel in it (bad on us to cut the pegs though).

Black abs pipe is softer and I believe it was Peter who said they cut this stuff (or similar) over in his country.

We did bundle lengths of garden hose one time and that was a good target. Just make sure it doesn't have a metal weave in there.

Dumpster diving for cardboard tubes is inexpensive but will mar you finish. Lighter tubes and boxes can get stuffed with other things.

If you have to cut pool noodles, don't do it when young kids are walking by with theirs.

I honestly have become quite fond of mats and my backyard cane at odd times. Air cutting in between (good for practicing stops and changing direction).

Cheers

GC
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