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Blaz Berlec




Location: Podgorje, Kamnik, Slovenia, Europe
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2004 2:44 am    Post subject: Guard fixing on Albion swords         Reply with quote

I'm sorry if this has been answered before. I’m curious about hilt construction of Albion’s Next Generation or Museum Line swords.

I have seen claims of “wedging” the guard to the tang of blade, and I would like to know how this is done and how strong is this assembly.

I’ve handled many swords (mostly rebated stage combat Czech swords), and most of them had a problem with the cross fixing. On most swords it was pressed by the grip and the screw-on (or peened) pommel on the blade’s shoulders. In all of the cases crosses became loose in a very short time – the wooden grip contracted by the pressure. A manufacturer in Slovenia made grip of bronze (or copper) tube, filled with some sort of plastic material, but this too proved inadequate. Some Czech swords had their crosses soldered (or even welded) onto the tangs, but this also failed in time, and some of these swords also broke at the cross – I guess their heat treatment was affected by soldering.

So, how do you at Albion wedge the cross to the tang? There are no visible signs of that on photos of Gaddhjalt. How strong is this connection – would it survive the accidental blow of a sword on a cross? Or repeated shocks of stage combat edge on edge bashing?

Thank you for your answer, and I apologize for stealing your valuable time from sword making.



 Attachment: 26.32 KB
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An assembled Next Gen Gaddhjalt - where are the signs of wedging the guard to the tang?


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Howard Waddell
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2004 3:05 am    Post subject: Re: Guard fixing on Albion swords         Reply with quote

[quote="Blaz Berlec"]I'm sorry if this has been answered before. I’m curious about hilt construction of Albion’s Next Generation or Museum Line swords.

So, how do you at Albion wedge the cross to the tang? There are no visible signs of that on photos of Gaddhjalt. How strong is this connection – would it survive the accidental blow of a sword on a cross? Or repeated shocks of stage combat edge on edge bashing?quote]

Hey Blaz!

We approach it two ways -- first, the slots in the guards are slightly undersized, such that the guard must be hammered into place, seating it on the shoulders. Second, the guard is "peened" (our term for it), by carefully spreading the guard material toward the tang at the base once it is seated, in key stress points, This feature was left out of the photos,as you have observed (we have to have some trade secrets). This assures us as solid a join as we can get.

Whether it will stand up to the abuse of live steel training or stage combat, I don't know. We are in the process of designing practice weapons for historical combat training and stage work that specifically address that issue.

I can guarantee that it is as good or better fit than you will find on any period original (but judging by the loose fit of many original guards, this must have been a common problem back then as well.)

Peter or Eric could expound more I am sure, but that is the quick answer.

Best,

Howy


Last edited by Howard Waddell on Tue 27 Jan, 2004 2:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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Eric McHugh
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2004 8:52 am    Post subject: Re: Guard fixing on Albion swords         Reply with quote

Blaz Berlec wrote:

How strong is this connection – would it survive the accidental blow of a sword on a cross? Or repeated shocks of stage combat edge on edge bashing?


The connection is very strong. When I assemble a sword (specifically the cross), I use a great deal of strength to rock the cross back and forth to see if it moves. If it moves a fraction of a millimeter, I redo the process. I do this till the cross will not move. So, the guards on our swords are very secure - probably more secure than most originals. Happy

As to whether or not it will take the "repeated shocks of stage combat edge on edge bashing," very unlikely. There is an incredible amount of force transmitted to the guard of a sword used in stage combat. Historic pieces were not intended to be used in such a manner. Our swords are designed to mirror historic pieces. I can promise you that they will perform like a historic piece if not better, but stage combat is another issue. Most folks who regularly practice stage combat, have custom swords made for that purpose. The edges on a stage sword need to be reinforced and fittings need to be welded or brazed into place. In addition, the fittings need to be more substantial. Happy

I have a great deal of respect for my competitors (and maybe this is putting words in their mouths) but Gus and Craig would agree that their stock swords would not hold up to that type of abuse either. It doesn't mean they are faulty, it just means that they are not meant to be used in such a manner. I think Craig has had experience making swords for stage combat, so maybe he can chime in here. Happy

My suggestion is this: if you want a recreation of a historic sword, then by all mean purchase an Albion, but if you are looking for a sword that will stand up to stage combat...well, your best bet is to contact a custom smith who specialized in this. Like Howy said, we intend to make a line of swords that can be used in this type of combat, but I don't know when the will happen.

I hope this helps. Happy

Oh yes, almost forgot, you asked about the wedges...we use small iron wedges on "some" of our swords. The Gaddjhalt (pictured in your post) is not one of them.

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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2004 6:20 pm    Post subject: Stage<-->Historical         Reply with quote

Hello Blaz and the rest of yea :-)

It is a very subjective area we are plunging in here. One that is probably best discussed over good food and spirits and any conclusions saved for the second or third glass of port after all has been cleared away. Though this is true for most sword discussions if not all matters.

I have an answer that I think is probably one of the most important aspects to this issue, but it is one that is often less appreciated by the stage combatants. A decent stage sword being a base line the most dramatic difference is the user not the construction. I have had experience with all items and constructions mentioned above. The basic constructions of period swords are the best, wether compression or wedging. The sword makers of old had a couple thousand years to refine their process and they did a d@#* fine job of it. I have had a sword I made for myself that was used by several different people for extensive stage combat over ten years and it remained as tight as the day I made it throughout its life. ( It is actually still going at this point). In the same breath I must mention I have had swords used by several different groups as a rental and it has had little problem then one job and it has come back broken and so abused it went in the trash can. The difference? The users.

A sword made to tight tolerances and constructed of quality materials should take a good amount of abuse. The edges do need to have the thickness to survive if the parries are done on edge and the stage combat technique should be safe and sound. I would also make a large distinction between stage combat and free sparring. They are not the same thing and are done for very different objectives. You will sometimes run into those who declare that free sparring is the only way to represent combat on stage, I pesonally feel this is only said by those who have yet to realize the potential of either practice. It may well indicate a saftey problem in the context as well that should be avoided.

But I get off track, sorry. The quality of materials and craftsmenship will be the thing to put your hard earned cash behind in purchasing a stage combat weapon. The reputation of a maker for stage weapons is a good avenue to check as well. As in replica swords, you get what you pay for. If items continually have problems you will probably need to upgrade your tools. The cheap, good, longlasting, high quality, accurate sword does not exist. As an old guy I used to work with says. "You can have it cheap, good, or fast, but you only get to pick two". The typical stage sword probably takes lifetimes of wear compared to what the items where designed to take in days of old and this is something that many stage combatants do not realize.

I personally think sticking with a good harwood grip is best and make sure the maker understands it is a stage weapon and will need to have a takedown capability for maintenance and tightening. If you take good care of your weapon and keep your stage combat skills high you should get the best life out of your wepons.

The last issue which is tough is there are differences in stage combat systems. If everyone around you is having the same problems with different makers swords and the same issue seems to reppear. It may well be the way you are doing it as apposed to the items.

Let me know if I covered what you are concerned with and if I said something that did not make sence.


Best Regards

Craig

"its only fun untill someone loses an eye, then its hilarious" one of my favorite stage combat sayings
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Blaz Berlec




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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jan, 2004 4:46 am    Post subject: Historical Stage         Reply with quote

Thanks Craig, Eric and Howard for your comprehensive answers!

I think I’m now satisfied ( Wink ), although the conversation swayed a bit off course. I have to be more careful with my questions next time – I included “repeated shocks of stage combat edge on edge bashing” only as an example of severe shock to the blade and the hilt area. I guess there are some things that spell checking software can’t correct. At least not until they install some thought reading capability Laughing Out Loud .

I made a reference to edge on edge bashing because I think this is one of worst situations sword can face, and also because I think that such stresses appear also at “normal” sword usage (proper parrying), only not so frequently – at least at the hilt area. And I guess your swords are designed to be used for recreation (WMA), not only for cutting pool noodles. Blunt versions of course.

Although I must say this matter of “stage combat” is really interesting for me. I’m a member of a small and relatively new group of reenactors called “the Knights of Wildenlack” (named after a ruined castle in Slovenia), and I’m learning (not as much as I would like) free sparing. I must say that we have problems with equipment from time to time. Usually the threaded part of tang fails (most of the low to mid-priced swords use this method of construction), but we had almost all possible failures you can imagine. Even the heavy Czech K+K Art 6 pound hand and half swords eventually become tired and fail after two or three years of use in practice and on performances. But I guess it’s just their time to go…

I’m a machinist by profession and I agree with you that the original construction methods are way better than all the modern “inventions” – most of them are of course just means to lower the cost of construction. Properly made medieval sword shows that there is some heavy designing behind it’s shape, and you can compare it to a supercomputer designed part of Formula 1 (or Indycar / Nascar) suspension. That’s why I’m so excited about new Albions swords – I can really tell that a lot of care went into recreation of construction methods, not only on overall looks of the swords.

Thank you again for your effort! I really appreciate it. And sorry for my quite poor English – I’m learning German now and it shows…

Blaz



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ZuzemberkGroup.jpg
Knights of Wildenlack on castle Zuzemberk

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Wildenlackers at Ljubljana castle


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Eric McHugh
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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jan, 2004 7:54 am    Post subject: Cool pictures...         Reply with quote

Hi Blaz,

Those look like a fun bunch of people! I'm sure you have great times getting together. Happy

Well, I apologize for the misunderstanding myself. I should have asked more questions to discern what information you were after. Happy

So, I now I understand what you are asking. Our goal is that our swords will perform like (or better than) the originals. We are striving to use traditional methods in a modern context. We believe that these methods are the only way to achieve our goals. Notice I said "our goals." These methods are not the only way to do it.

With that said, I am confident in our swords. We are sword nuts ourselves, and we play with them everyday. But like any man made item, it can and will fail. If a guard was to take a full force strike from another sword, chances are that is will come lose at some point. If a sword was used to strike an object (say a log) repeatedly, eventually it is going to fail. But I don't say this with reservation because our goal is to have our swords function like the originals, and these failures certainly would have happened to the originals too.

So if you use our swords the way originals were used, and if you avoid situations where the sword is taking punishing amount of force, it will serve you well for a lifetime. Happy

I hope this helps.

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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jan, 2004 11:27 am    Post subject: Hello Blaz         Reply with quote

Mornin Blaz

No need to worry about the language you are doing quite well. You are in a position many reinactors have gone through. The line between learning the methodology of combat in a historical context (what is probably most commonly known as Western Martial Arts WMA) and how to demonstrate such to none informed audiences in a historical recreation to a theatrical event. This is a question of degree and objective not what is right or wrong. The free sparring is something I feel is a tool for training in WMA and observational demonstration for audiences primed for such. The point one crosses into striving to tell a story in the fight, wether R&D in Shakespearian theatre or to demonstrate a concept from a fight manual to a class you are doing a form of communication as apposed to combat. This is something many WMA practitioners miss in the early development.

The type of sparring you are doing may be best done with the training tools of the period as apposed to the weapons of the period. This was a distinction that has been made from the very earliest evidence we have of martial practice in the european context.

I hope I did not infer that you were practicing any particular inappropriately. I was speaking in only the most general terms as I have found that there are many paths to studying this material and any one who declares they have the only true method/answer/way is always the least helpful in the learning and teaching process.

The detail you mentioned about the six pound sword is interesting as I came to the conclusion, long ago, that good stage weapons are a design issue not a weight issue. The heavier an item is the more prone it is to problems in my opinion as the weight adds stress to the points were breakage is possible. I have seen some real tanks as stage weapons and they are almost always problematic in maintenance and safety. this also carries over into trying to make the items to light. I know of a couple of productions that chose other materials than steel for the blades to make them lighter and often due to a fear of steel as being to dangerous. The result is often more problems than they would have had with steel. I my opinion a good steel stage weapon is the safest choice one can make for productions at almost every level.

Let us know if there are other issues you are interested in discussing or specific issues you are dealing with.

Best
Craig
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Gordon Clark




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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jan, 2004 12:25 pm    Post subject: Somewhat on point ...         Reply with quote

Speaking of "training tools of the period" here is an excerpt from a translation of King Rene's Tournament Book I was looking at online earlier today.

"Of the size and fashion of the swords and maces, there is nothing much to say except about the length and width of the blade. It should be four fingers wide, so that it cannot pass through the eyeslot of the helm, and the two edges ought to be as wide as a finger's thickness. And so that it will not be too heavy, it should be hollowed out in the middle and rebated in front and all in one piece from the crosspiece to the end, and the crosspiece should be so short that it can just block any blow that by chance descends or comes sliding down the length of the sword to the fingers. And it ought to be as long as the arm with the hand of the man who carries it, and the mace similarly. The mace ought to have a little rondel well riveted in front of the hand to protect it. And you may, if you wish, attach a light chain, braid or cord to your sword or mace around the arm, or to your belt, so that if it escapes your hand you can recover it before it falls to the ground.

As to the fashion of the pommel of the sword, this is at your pleasure. And the weight of the maces and the weight of the swords ought to be checked by the judges on the vigil of the day of the tourney. And those maces that are not of unreasonable weight or length should be stamped with a hot iron by the judges."

From http://www.princeton.edu/~ezb/rene/renebook.html

Gordon
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jan, 2004 1:50 pm    Post subject: Excellent         Reply with quote

Great quote Gordon. I had fogotten about his comments.

Best
Craig
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Björn Hellqvist
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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jan, 2004 4:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doesn't that text refer to the whalebone "wasters" and leather maces employed in the tournaments, and not to rebated steel weapons?
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Mon 26 Jan, 2004 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Björn Hellqvist wrote:
Doesn't that text refer to the whalebone "wasters" and leather maces employed in the tournaments, and not to rebated steel weapons?


Would make sense that it is something organic, otherwise the stamping with hot iron won't have much effect.
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Chris Holzman





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PostPosted: Mon 26 Jan, 2004 8:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Guard fixing on Albion swords         Reply with quote

Howard Waddell wrote:


Whether it will stand up to the abuse of live steel training or stage combat, I don't know. We are in the process of designing practice weapons for historical combat training and stage work that specifically address that issue.

Best,

Howy



Hmm... historical combat training weapons? I wouldn't know anything about that.. :P speaking of which, have you had a chance to play with my baby and form any initial impressions what it feels/handles like?

Big Grin

Chris

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Howard Waddell
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2004 4:48 am    Post subject: Re: Guard fixing on Albion swords         Reply with quote

Chris Holzman wrote:
Hmm... historical combat training weapons? I wouldn't know anything about that.. :P speaking of which, have you had a chance to play with my baby and form any initial impressions what it feels/handles like?


Hey Chris!

I am saving it for when Peter is back here in February to do a thorough documentation -- but I have handled it a bit (as has Jason) and it is a thrill -- makes me feel like I am right out of Rondelle's "Foil and Sabre"...

Best,

Howy

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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Tue 27 Jan, 2004 4:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If Albion would make a stage combat sword that doesn't feel. look, and handle like a crowbar, that would be wonderful.
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Jan, 2004 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
If Albion would make a stage combat sword that doesn't feel. look, and handle like a crowbar, that would be wonderful.



Many of us are hoping for the same thing, a tough, well balanced and inexpensive training weapon.

I'm sure it will happen but for now I think these next gen's are enough for Albions staff to handle. Besides, the less destractions the sooner we get our new swords Big Grin

Gary Grzybek
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2004 4:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
If Albion would make a stage combat sword that doesn't feel. look, and handle like a crowbar, that would be wonderful.



Hehe... get in line - it forms over there, round the corner, at the kwik shop counter, I know it seems weird, but its true Wink Besides, with what I sent Howy, we're gonna have something real cool on tap... Big Grin

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PostPosted: Thu 01 Apr, 2004 4:07 pm    Post subject: So you wanted a sharp crowbar...         Reply with quote

You can check this out!

Made entierly for stagecombat and all that awful edgeblocking.
The site's in swedish but I think you can figure it out.

Here is the link:
http://www.allebergsklingan.se

Use the menu to the left and click "Produkter"

Hope it can be of some use!
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PostPosted: Thu 01 Apr, 2004 4:13 pm    Post subject: Re: So you wanted a sharp crowbar...         Reply with quote

Mojje Andersson wrote:
You can check this out!

Made entierly for stagecombat and all that awful edgeblocking.
The site's in swedish but I think you can figure it out.

Here is the link:
http://www.allebergsklingan.se

Use the menu to the left and click "Produkter"

Hope it can be of some use!



Is there any information on weights or point of balance?

I wish I could translate Sad

Gary Grzybek
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Zach Stambaugh





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PostPosted: Thu 01 Apr, 2004 10:46 pm    Post subject: I have seen pix of a historical training sword         Reply with quote

i saw the picture in a gradeschool type anthology of antique weaponry in the sword section.it was as described in the post several up . kind of like an I-beam with round edges. I beleive it was 1500's and german.[/i]
It is better to be over careful a hundred times than dead once. --- Mark Twain (give or take a slight misquote)
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Apr, 2004 6:34 am    Post subject: Is this an oxymoron?         Reply with quote

I have been following this thread for some time. There have been others like it on other forums and it set me to wondering. I think some people are looking for something that does not exist. A well-balanced, weight-accurate sparring weapon that is nearly indestructable. I don't think that such a think exists and perhaps some are expecting too much from a maker. If you engage in stage combat and are into theatrical presentations where heavy edge-to-edge parrying and blows are dealt on a consistent basis, I think any sword will eventually fail. Historically accurate swords would fail sooner because they were not made to take such abuses. One need only to look at historical fencing manuals and see examples of practice swords that were used. The medieval masters knew that actual fighting weapons would not stand up to such daily pounding. So asking someone like Albion to make a heavy-duty , weight accurate training weapon that holds up to daily or weekly sparring is probably an oxymoron. Remember that swords, like many other things in life, are a give-and-take. Balance sometimes require that the tang nor be welded to the cross; weight considerations and correct distal taper will mean that you cannot make the blade 1/4" thick along it's entire length; heat treating will mean that consideration for edgeholding may not make it as hard as some may like and you'll get knicks and dents along the edge. I think we need to step back and remember that swords were meant to do certain things and not meant to do other things. To make a good sword a maker has to work in a narrow constraint depending on what teh sword is used for or what the sword was meant to be (i.e. historically accurate ). Just some thoughts
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