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Aleksei Sosnovski





Joined: 04 Mar 2008

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Tue 07 Jul, 2009 11:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My tests show that a chop-slice (combination of both movements) is far more effective against softer media like cloth armor than simply chop. And simply slice is pretty much useless against even light cloth armor. And, of course, totally useless against steel and leather armor. I have a relatively light cut-and-thrust sword which is 1/4'' thick (no distal taper) and has a rather narrow blade. Its point is like that of an early rapier. The edge geometry is something more suited for an axe and it is not very sharp, but it has no problems chopping rather thick cardboard tubes and is even capable of chop-slicing through light cloth armor like a thin gambeson. I am pretty sure that it would easily cut a human arm right to the bone, or maybe even entirely cut it off. But the most effective way to cut through a gambeson with that sword is to do it with the point (a chopping move where sword passes across the target tearing it with its point). However it will not cut even through ordinary thick clothing with simple slice. I am a reenactor and have fought with different swords, both in armor and without it, and I use slices very rarely. One usually cannot rely on a slice to immediately incapacitate the opponent so it is rather dangerous. I usually use slicing cuts when I return my weapon after an unsuccessful attack or at a very close range when I simply cannot swing it. However I do use fast chop-slices to the hands because these body parts have very thin bones and are extremely vulnerable.

The conclusion to the above-written is that a relatively dull sword (well, dull is not the right word because my sword is almost as sharp as it can be made. It is better to say a sword with big angle of sharpening, with axe-like edge geometry.) is still a decent weapon and can cope with its tasks. But if I had a sword that can be sharpened better (and I have one such saber) I would, and do, sharpen it better, but I would not make the edge too thin (here I speak about edge geometry, not the sharpness).

Quote:

Several "historically based" reproductions of diamond cross sections, migration era cutters, etc., that I have seen have blade edge included angles fairly close to 15 degrees.


I do not know if anyone has ever tried to actually battle-damage his swords. Well, I have tried it twice. And the results are following: a sword with diamond cross-section cannot be easily restored after being deflected by another sword (I of course mean deflecting/stopping a sword with a flat of the blade, not edge-on edge blocks). By "restored" I mean restoring the perfect diamond cross-section. One would require a lot of skill, time and a good sharpening stone to do so. Oh, and he will remove quite a lot of metal and thus make his sword less durable. If one needs to restore an edge on such a sword he will probably end up making a secondary bevel or convex surfaces. This is much, much easier and faster. So even if a sword has let's say 20 degrees angle between faces of the diamond, the actual sharpening angle will be about 30-40 degrees. Of course if one has a servant to sharpen his sword or is obsessed with sharpness he can restore the original edge. A new sword can have a very fine edge. But if an ordinary soldier maintains his weapon that is actually used in battles I expect the edge to have a bigger sharpening angle even if originally this angle was much smaller. There are several problems with museum swords. First, many of them belonged to the noble ones and therefore were most likely maintained much better than ordinary soldiers' weapons. Second, some of them were resharpened by collectors or museum curators. Third, many of them were never used.

What I think is that swords can and sometimes were made as sharp as their design allows, but usually a compromise between sharpness, durability and ease of maintenance was used. Swords were by no means dull. They were probably as sharp as their edge geometry and available sharpening stones allowed. But the usual edge geometry probably did not allow a sword to be made as "sharp" as a chef's knife. And I do not know what stones were used to sharpen swords. In order to easily restore the edge after battle one needs a coarse stone, but to make a sword as sharp as it can be one needs a finer one. If one cannot afford two stones, he would probably choose the coarse one.

P.S. Does anybody have pictures of swords and/or other weapons that actually have signs of being used? I was always disappointed by lack of pictures of battle-damaged and heavily worn weapons and armor. Why don't we gather these pictures, along with extracts from historical documents and research materials concerning this matter? I know that there are many threads that discuss these problems, but what I suggest here is to collect all this info in one place so that others do not need to scan through tens of pages to get this information.
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Bill Sahigan





Joined: 06 Jun 2008

Posts: 56

PostPosted: Tue 07 Jul, 2009 11:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And this is why Swords are for suckers.

I'm gonna stick with my pollax and my warhammer. Thanks very much. Happy
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aleksei Sosnovski wrote:

I do not know if anyone has ever tried to actually battle-damage his swords. Well, I have tried it twice. And the results are following: a sword with diamond cross-section cannot be easily restored after being deflected by another sword (I of course mean deflecting/stopping a sword with a flat of the blade, not edge-on edge blocks). By "restored" I mean restoring the perfect diamond cross-section.


Actually, David Kite damaged his Solingen on purpose to demonstrate perpendicular edge damage against another steel blade edge in the Albion reviews. http://www.myArmoury.com/view.html?reviews/alb_sol2.jpg

This demonstrates what happens to any edge against an excessively hard target. The entire blade would not have to have it's angle changed to repair this. Actually, historical pieces some times just have several nicks in them where this has happened (described as looking like "saw blades" after tough battles) and the curled portions have been ground off leaving noticeable gaps in the edges. We use terms like "tired" to express what happens when the whole blade angle is reground so as to cause an overall reduction in size / cross section so many times consistent with the original angle that the overall structure becomes weak and flexes to easily.

Similar loss of material happens to my chisels and wood working tools when inappropriate hardness wood or cutting volume is attempted. (Multiple resharpenings ultimately reduce tip volume such that the tool becomes too small to apply the original sized cut.) As such, both tools and swords have limited life if actually used and resharpened. Admittedly, many of these tools have edges that are moved diagonally (both chopping and slicing motions combined) when used appropriately. That said, the angle is still key to material toughness versus other material toughness, fully independant of slice/ chop combinations. Period armourers knew the correct angle for a graver (to engrave ornamental steel armour for example) versus a wood cutting type tool. Bladesmiths chose a medium sharpness/toughness blade angle for their swords indicating that they did not expect it to perform as either a graver to cut iron, or a razor for removing facial hair.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Aleksei Sosnovski





Joined: 04 Mar 2008

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 12:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:

Actually, David Kite damaged his Solingen on purpose to demonstrate perpendicular edge damage against another steel blade edge in the Albion reviews. http://www.myArmoury.com/view.html?reviews/alb_sol2.jpg


This is a good picture of what happen to almost the best blade possible. But will anybody argue against the fact that most medieval swords were of poorer quality? My sharp swords (all self-made) are softer and therefore receive more damage. Also a lot depends on the hardness of the other sword (soft against soft sword vs. soft against hard sword). And the strength of the impact (arming sword vs. longsword).

When I was speaking about perfect diamond section vs. secondary bevel or diamond with convex surfaces in terms of ease of maintenance is that in the latter case it is much easier to restore the edge. It is like sharpening a wood working chisel with deep nicks (wood working chisels usually do not have secondary bevels, at least mine do not) or a planer blade (one without secondary bevel) vs. sharpening a nicked axe (most axes I have seen have "apple seed" edge). Of course these tools have different hardness, but still what I mean should be pretty clear. So if I had a sword with perfect diamond cross-section and damaged its edge I would restore it by creating a secondary bevel or, more likely, "apple seed" edge. Something you cannot do to a wood working tool (it will be very difficult to use after this) but can do to a knife (well, most knives anyway have secondary bevels to allow easier sharpening). After such sharpening the sword will not be as "sharp" as it originally was, but will still cut pretty decently.
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