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Carl Goff




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Mar, 2007 5:44 pm    Post subject: Windlass Steelcrafts Falcata: A Laymanís Short Review         Reply with quote

Windlass Steelcrafts Falcata: A Laymanís Short Review

The falcata was a short sword used by the Spanish Celts, and is probably a distant descendant of the Greek kopis/machiara.

I picked this replica up secondhand from Dan Dickinson ($140, the falcata costs $175 from MRL), who was scrupulously honest in our dealings, and dealt fairly well with my paranoia over possibly getting cheated. As it turns out, my worries were completely misplaced, since Dan is a man of high moral character.

I received the sword back in early January, but this is the first time Iíve had a chance to take pictures, since Iíve been at school almost all of the intervening two months or so.

Hereís the full-length photo:
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b65/Seawolf9/P1000778.jpg

Windlass did some very pretty work on the hilt, with a degree of detail I wouldnít have expected in a medium-grade budget sword like this. The hilt is in the shape of an eagleís head and wings, and is made of cast brass.

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b65/Seawolf9/P1000767.jpg
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b65/Seawolf9/P1000786.jpg

Edit: Apparently, the steel blur in this photo is actually the end of the tang, not a case of Windlass trying to pass off brass-coated steel as solid brass. Nice wide tang, then, a rarity with Windlass products.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b65/Seawolf9/P1000791.jpg

The blade is set solidly into the hilt, and the total length clocks in at 25 inches, with the blade being 20Ē of that. I took measurements, and judging by the way it feels to my admittedly untrained hand, the point of balance is at a whopping 8.5 inches from the hilt, maybe even 9. Thatís a consequence of the designís wide point just before the tip (about 2-2.5 inches), but I suspect making the curve shallower would have brought the POB closer to the hilt. If Iím wrong, tell me so. I can't speak for the center of percussion, as I have no cutting targets to test it on (I'm in my dad's condo right now, and he has ordered "no cutting tests.")

Tip: http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b65/Seawolf9/P1000781.jpg
Curve: http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b65/Seawolf9/P1000782.jpg

The tip itself is nice, sharp and very narrow at the end, and while the falcata is obviously designed for slashing, I suspect you could deliver a nasty stab with it as well.

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b65/Seawolf9/P1000775.jpg

At a guess (since I donít have a scale and MRLís site doesnít list a weight), the falcata weighs about 2.5 pounds.

Overall, the sword is fairly good for the price I got it at, although Iím not sure itís worth the extra $35 youíd pay getting it straight from MRL. The scabbard, on the other handÖ.

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b65/Seawolf9/P1000796.jpg

ÖWhat does one say about that scabbard without violating the profanity rules? Wink

Ah, yes. ďDisplay only.Ē The way they designed it, it makes a quick straight draw impossible. The scabbard hugs the blade extremely closely, and the last quarter is stitched shut while the rest is open, so that one can only pull the blade fully out after already bringing it to this point:

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b65/Seawolf9/P1000801.jpg

A better design would have been a scabbard as wide as the widest point of the blade just before the tip. Looks like Iíll have to put that together myself. A summer project, mayhaps.

Oh, East of sands and sunlit gulf, your blood is thin, your gods are few;
You could not break the Northern wolf and now the wolf has turned on you.
The fires that light the coasts of Spain fling shadows on the Eastern strand.
Master, your slave has come again with torch and axe in his right hand!
-Robert E. Howard


Last edited by Carl Goff on Thu 15 Mar, 2007 10:04 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Max von Bargen




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Mar, 2007 6:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Windlass Steelcrafts Falcata: A Laymanís Short Review         Reply with quote

Nice review, Carl. Very interesting, and thanks for posting.

Carl Goff wrote:
I can't speak for the center of percussion, as I have no cutting targets to test it on (I'm in my dad's condo right now, and he has ordered "no cutting tests.")


The nice thing is, you don't need to do cutting tests to measure centre of percussion! I'm sure other people more knowledgeable about these things can correct me on this if I'm wrong, but I believe you can determine it by holding the sword vertically with the blade facing down (with your hand on the grip, like normal) and deliver a blow with your other hand to the pommel. The blade should vibrate, but there should be a node where it's actually standing still. That's the centre of percussion.

Max
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Mar, 2007 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The gilding is coming off in one spot, though. MRL claims the hilt is solid brass, but thatís incorrect at best, blatant misrepresentation at worst. That or this one had molten steel spilled on it at the foundry.


Are you sure that isn't the peened end of the tang? The photo's too out of focus to tell on this end.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 15 Mar, 2007 7:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Windlass Steelcrafts Falcata: A Laymanís Short Review         Reply with quote

Carl Goff wrote:
The gilding is coming off in one spot, though. MRL claims the hilt is solid brass, but thatís incorrect at best, blatant misrepresentation at worst. That or this one had molten steel spilled on it at the foundry.


Having seen pictures of other ones, I'm almost positive that that is the end of the tang, peened into a recess and ground flush. Also, I'd think it would be more expensive and difficult to plate brass onto something than just to cast it in brass.

Happy

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Mar, 2007 7:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Quote:
The gilding is coming off in one spot, though. MRL claims the hilt is solid brass, but thatís incorrect at best, blatant misrepresentation at worst. That or this one had molten steel spilled on it at the foundry.


Are you sure that isn't the peened end of the tang? The photo's too out of focus to tell on this end.


Yes, it looks as if it is the peened tang on mine I just got today from Kult of Athena.

I pretty much agree with everything in the review except that the hilt on mine has a bit of play: Assuming that the tang is solid I can fix this easily with some epoxy glue or putty that i can force into the crack.

The size of the peening gives some indication that the tang is at least 3/8" to 1/4" in diameter at the end where it is is visible at the end of the brass casting. I used a small magnet over the handle before I noticed the peening and this told me that there was more than just a stubby tang: This made me look at the end where I saw that the handle was peened.

The steel seems fairly hard as a file will only bite into the edge with some pressure and hand sharpening may take some time ! On the other hand the more difficult to sharpen more it's worth taking the time to do it. ( Very soft would be faster to sharpen but hardly worth it as it wouldn't hold much of an edge ).

Oh, I completely forgot to ask Kult of Athena to sharpen it for me. ( Anyway, I can sharpen it myself ).

The current edge is half there at about 2mm thick I think.

I will probably do a bit of aging of the blade and dull down the brass hilt: I should find out soon if there is a coat of lacquer on the blade when I do a moderate aging job. ( Not old relic aging just campaign patina and some simulated damascus steel etching ).

I agree the scabbard is pretty lame and impractical for serious use not to mention un-historic ( Although I don't really know what a period scabbard would look like ) The scabbard is at least going to be useful as a safety device after I get the falcata sharp.

Oh, a lot of forward balance blade presence but since the weight of the piece isn't excessive handling is reasonable: Very much like my Coldsteel Kukri but bigger. Wink Laughing Out Loud

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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Mar, 2007 4:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean,

I bought a windlass falcata from KOA not too long ago. I returned it because of the play on the hilt. I wonder if they never sent it back to windlass and just resold it to you? Or if this is a flaw many of the windlass falcatas have?

Mike J Arledge

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Mar, 2007 9:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Arledge wrote:
Jean,

I bought a windlass falcata from KOA not too long ago. I returned it because of the play on the hilt. I wonder if they never sent it back to windlass and just resold it to you? Or if this is a flaw many of the windlass falcatas have?


Maybe the same one or a hit or miss problem? But I think I can fix it and sending stuff back and forth over borders: Customs clearances i.e. making sure to not have to pay taxes twice and stuff is not worth the trouble unless the problem is serious and the piece is expensive enough to make it worth while.

A few wooden shims and epoxy cement should be a reasonable cure: Not a biggy as I consider this purchase sort of a minor one, and it is going to turn into a DIY project anyway.

Oh, I have always considered most fixes using epoxy as structurally sound ...... so far in my experience. Big Grin

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Mar, 2007 10:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just e-mailed Ryan at Kult of Athena about the question: And no it wasn't the same falcata! I'm impressed about how fast I got a reply and I'm completely sastisfied with his answer.

Here is a copy of his e-mail with his permission to post it, I would have asked him about permission to post it anyway, but he gave me permission to do so at the end of the e-mail.

QUOTE from Ryan:

" Jean,
Thanks for letting me know. I have not noticed many problems with these hilts being loose in the past. The one we did have sent back for this issue was sold off in our blow out section at a discount, so the one you received was not the same. We did check your sword before it was shipped, however the packers do not usually shake the swords by the grips. Frankly, it has not been much of an issue (loose grips that is), to warrant that as part of the standard check. Though I will have them check for this specific issue, now that I am aware of it. I'm glad it is something you can fix, but am sorry you have to. To my knowledge loose hilts do not seem to be an ongoing problem with this item, but I will certainly keep an eye on it. Windlass makes a nice product, but their quality control can be a bit lacking. This is part of the reason we started checking items before shipping in the first place. Our quality checks pull out many items from most manufacturers that we feel are not up to what they should be, but occasionally something is bound to slip through. Either way I know it is better than the "blind" shipping policy followed by most suppliers, and in the end we will always make it right for you. Feel free to post this email to the myArmoury board if you feel they would be interested.
Thanks
Ryan Whittlinger "

Oh, by the way the shipment was very well packed and everything about the buying process was quick and efficient and I'm sure that if I wanted an refund or a replacement falcata it wouldn't have been a problem.

Too late by the way as I'm 80% finisher sharpening the blade. I'm using something called the " SPEEDY SHARP " that uses a small bar of carbide that cuts the steel like butter ! By the way as I use my diamond hone it feels like the steel is reasonably hard: My guess a high 40 r.c. or a low 50 r.c. hardness.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Mar, 2007 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Update on my falcata: Now paper cutting sharp and the handle is now solid using modelling epoxy putty that I pushed as deep as I could into the cracks on each side of the blade. ( Probably no more than 1/8" to 1/4": Hard to tell as some putty being pushed in at the end might push the earlier putty deeper into the handle hollows ).

This putty is water soluble before it sets so just a little wetting made it easier to get some of the putty deeper into the crack. I also used a very flat steel ruler to push it down: The sequence being fill the crack, push in the putty, clear the excess of with a wet wipe, redo many times and do a final cleaning.

Feels rock solid and this putty really sticks to surfaces and neither expands or shrinks with time.

How well this would hold up to repeated stress I don't know for sure ? Alternatively wooden wedges and 5 minute epoxy might also work.

Now, to age the blade with lemon juice ( Do a search as I explained this techniques a few time already in previous topics threads: Just a teaser for the curious. Razz Laughing Out Loud )

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