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Thread: Cheesy Marketing Gimics in the Knife/Sword world.

  1. #1
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    Cheesy Marketing Gimmicks in the Knife/Sword world.

    THIS IS NOT DIRECTED AT ANYONE SPECIFICALLY. I was just reflecting on some of the sales pitches, ads and 'stupid sword-maker's tricks' that I've encountered over the years, and a lot of recurring questions from new-comers about them on the forum. Some catch-phrases first:

    'Battle Ready' springs to mind as the first and most obvious catch-phrase. This is probably the most folded, spindled and mutilated phrase in use when it comes to swords. It gets applied to some things that I would would feel were adequate if I had to bet my life on them. I've seen and heard it applied to others things that I would only take into battle if it was duct-taped to an M-16- and someone made me do it. I have seen this term applied to some truly crap blades on the strength of the fact that they had been used in theatrical productions. If you think about this, what does it really mean? A crow bar is 'battle ready.' It's heavy, it's tough, and you can block with it and put a serious hurt on some one with it. By the same token a baseball bat or even a typewriter is 'battle ready.' OK, you know what you mean when you say it- but do you know what sword-seller X means when they say it? When you see this, bear in mind that it doesn't necessarily mean what you think it means, and ask for more specific information about what makes it 'battle ready.'

    'Spring Steel, High Carbon Steel, High Carbon Spring Steel.' This is not of case of abiguity, this is a case of not enough information. There was a 'sword' company in India that was sending over swords that were the most outragious crap that I have ever seen in my life. They made Depeeka look like Vince Evans by comparison. The blades were advertised as 'High-Carbon Steel,' and they were- but they weren't hardened and tempered. They were dead soft! But the ads were technically not a lie. There are a lot of 'spring steels,' and even some very good spring steels aren't suitable for sword blades. Always ask for specifics- the alloy, the heat treatment etc. If in person, always check the sword out carefully. If the seller won't flex the blade or allow you to, there's a reason. Of course, that reason might be that the setting is innappropriate. With regard to knives, one often sees 'stainless steel, Surgical stainless or things like '440 stainless.' This seems to impart information but again it doesn't tell you enough. There are surgical stainless steels that are chosen for toughness, not edge retention, like 304 stainless. There is a huge difference in performance between 440A and 440C. Here also heat treat is important- cryo-queched 440C noticably out-performs non-cryo 440C. Information is your friend! If the materials or presentation don't impart enough USEFULL information ask for more.

    The point is to always get as much information as possible. You might not understand the answers, but someone here likely will. A sword is usually a substantial investment. Arm yourself with knowledge before hand, and research after your questions are answered if you don't understand.

    Some 'Stupid Sword Makers' Tricks-

    Breaking cinder blocks- This a perenial favorite at ren faires and SCA events. Let's face it, what does this prove? I broke a cinder block with a wooden mallet at an event. Karate Guys and Gals do it with thier bare hands, feet, even fore-heads. I think that there is a bumper-sticker in there some where. What it does demonstrate is that the sword- or wooden mallet, or fore-head, is tough. So's a truck. Looks impressive- but it's sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Flexing the blade- OK, at least this shows that the sword has some sort of heat treat and temper. Bear in mind that some types of sword, notably katanas, don't flex- but all euro swords should. I would expect to see a minimum of 45 degrees of flex in what I would consider a usefull sword. Also, a sword can be superbly flexible and have no edge retention at all. Again, ask questions. I used to keep a soft iron bar on hand that I would cut shavings off of. A blade that will do this without dulling the edge noticably has a good, hard edge. Other makers use a file to demonstrate the edges hardness. Some people will give you specs on the hardness. All to the good.

    Cutting tests- These look good, and can even be as impressive as hell. But- a fellow I know of once took his knife for ABS journeyman testing. He sliced the end off of a free-hanging 1 inch thick sisal rope. He chopped a 2x4 in half twice. Then they did they flex test and his blade bent like it was made of butter- he hadn't heat treated it! Edge geometry and technique will take you far. Recently it has become popular to cut tatami mats. Well and good- but frankly this is more a demonstration of technique than sword quality. It's grass-how hard could it be? This is really not revealing of a swords quality- a good swordsman can cut tatami mats with a stainless Katana of dubious temper if it is properly sharpened. I damn near cut a full mat in half with a five inch serated pocket knife recently. Don't get me wrong- cutting mats is great fun and great for developing technique, but a good swordsman with a bad sword is still likely to result in a severed mat. OK- a truly terrible sword might not cut mats in anyone's hands. But at the recent NW rapier invitational several people were able to slice through full mats with a sharpened rapier- technique is most often the deciding factor here. A related example is thrusting a knife through 55 gallon steel drums, car fenders etc. I can do this with a screw driver- so what does this really tell you? When it comes to cutting tests, think about what you are seeing. Does it really say anything useful about the knife or sword in question?

    Another thing to look out for is "secrets." Frankly, there just aren't that many that are worth anything. Between the knife magazines, friendly makers and forums such as this, most of the time when one encounters 'trade secrets' it's really just someone trying to make thier product seem more special than it is. There are exceptions to this, like the specifics of a production process, but these are not the rule. You are going to hear some pretty outragious claims out there- your best bet is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible in advance.

    Do we see a common thread here? The key is arming yourself with as much knowledge as you reasonably can before you take your hard-earned cash out to buy an expensive item. Car, dishwasher, sword- whatever. Be an intelligent and well-informed consumer, and you are much likelier to get something worthy.
    Tinkerswords.com Fine knives, swords and daggers in the style of the European Middle Ages and Viking Era

    "Then, one night as my car was going backwards through a cornfield an ninety miles per hour, I had an epiphany..."

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

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    you should stick a copy of this up in the beginners forum, I almost bought three swords before i knew anything about them, because i was convinced this sort of crap your are talking about was true, thank god my research took me a bit further.

    Cheers Michael, good effort, hopefully you will spare some people some of the pain (physical financial or mental) of having made a crappy purchase.

    good job
    "Is it really paranoia when everybody is out to get you"

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    I just read an article about a Taiwanese swordsmith who performs these seemingly incredible feats with his blades... kinda puts it in a whole new perspective now that I've read this post...

    Thanks for the info, it'll help out a lot of us n00bs who are just encountering the sword/knife culture!

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    Exclamation Yeah...

    I'm in the same boat as Kris on this one. I almost bought a boatload of crap "sordz" before I started doing my research.
    "Its not what you have, but what you have done".

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    Tinker:

    You're right one. From what I can gather, HYPE has been as basic an ingredient in the cutlery business as steel. The sword business is no different. But then marketing is part of the selling game. Folks should be aware of such and try to be informed buyers.

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by Ken Jay
    Tinker:

    You're right one. From what I can gather, HYPE has been as basic an ingredient in the cutlery business as steel. The sword business is no different. But then marketing is part of the selling game. Folks should be aware of such and try to be informed buyers.
    Indeed- and it seems 'Hype' has always been part of the game- looking at the London Cutlers Guild rules enacted at various times during the middle ages, there are a number of rules that seem to have been enacted to counter the practices of some unscrupulous Cutlers- Like the rule that you weren't allowed to dye and wood but Boxwood (dudgeon) as lesser woods had been dyed by cutlers to disguise thier inferior nature, or another rule that stated that daggers must be hardened at the point and all cutting edges. In some ways it is too bad that such regulatory agencies don't exsist today.

    In the world of the medieval sword we see all levels of quality, and build methods. We also see lots and lots of forged makers marks! The earliest forged makers name on a blade that I am aware of comes from around the tenth century. If you've been to a lot of events, you have doubtless seen a variety of knives marked 'Solingen Steel' on one side and 'Made in Pakistan' on the other. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Manufacturers aren't helpfull in this regard either- with Buck and other companies putting thier label on cheap chinese imports, it's easy to get confused.

    OTOH, we all do engage in marketing and even though we try to remain factual in our sales presentations it can look and sound like empty hype- It's hard to over-emphasize how important it is to be an educated consumer!
    Tinkerswords.com Fine knives, swords and daggers in the style of the European Middle Ages and Viking Era

    "Then, one night as my car was going backwards through a cornfield an ninety miles per hour, I had an epiphany..."

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

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    Thanks alot Micheal, this will help out almost all starters. I agree they should make this a sticky in the beginners forum.

    Phil

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    Looking over some other posts, I find I've got to ad to this one on another subject- katanas, folded steel, forging and damascus. Not to mention 'mystery steels.'

    We all know that there are good and bad swords of all types- a good Katana is a good sword. So is a good Tulwar, or a good viking sword, or a good rapier etc. I don't think that I need to get into this one too much. A traditionally constructed Katana is very much more expensive than a modern one- but it's value comes from the artistry and craftsmanship of the maker, not the manufacturing process or superior qualities of the sword. A lot of serious martial artists actually prefer modern Katanas like Howard Clark's L6 blades, or Phil Hartsfeld's A2 blades for cutting demos. Modern swords with modern alloys can be tougher than all get-out and you don't risk damaging a hyper-expensive piece of functional art. Are these blades better than trad kats? In some respects, yes- in others no. It depends on what you value. In a modern demonstration environment there are often a lot of distractions, and a 'pooched cut' with a modern blade isn't nearly as big a disaster, as the examples mentioned at least are unlikely to bend in the cut. Traditional construction is cool, but necessarily functionally superior. I have to admit though- few other swords inspire in me the level of awe that I feel when examining a well-rendered version of a traditionally constructed Katana.

    Damascus steel- it's been said here many times- damascus steel is steel. It can be good, bad or indifferent in quality. It's value, like the trad kat's, is in the artistry and love invested in the labor. A maker who claims inherent superiority for damascus is talking out his *ss. At it's best, really good damascus is really good steel. Like any other steel, ask questions about it's composition and heat treat. There are a lot more variables with Damascus, but examine it as you would any other steel if you are contemplating using the sword for cutting demos.

    Folded steels- One question I get asked frequently is 'is this folded steel?' Usually because they have read a histroy that talks about this, or seen something on the Discover Channel. Steel was folded to remove impurities from the steel, and it helped to make a better sword by distributing the material's carbon content more evenly. This made a better sword. What were these ancient smiths trying to get as an end result? A homogenous steel. We make really good homogenous steels nowadays- this process is unecessary unless one is doing a hard-core recreation with period-like materials.

    Forged versus machined/stock removal- some smiths still make a big deal about this, saying that forged is better. Forged IS better- if it's better. Unless it isn't. Confused? you should be- so are a lot of makers. I read an article in a reputable knife mgazine about 52100 that proved that forging it was better. The took a bar of steel and measured the size of the crystals in the steel. Big crystals- not good. Then they forged it, carefully 'packing' the steel and measured the crystals again. Much smaller- much better. An impressive test and scientific proof, they claimed. The thing is, all measurements were taken BEFORE heat treat. Heat treat changes the structure of the steel- all those lovely little crystals dissolve into solution and re-form. An ABS Mastersmith that I know with an enquiring mind made a 52100 blade by stock removal, and another very similar blade by forging then heat treated both at the same time, identically. After heat treat the blades were broken and examined scientifically- there was no measurable difference in the crystaline structures. Another great 'Forged is better' article-again from a reputable knife magaizine- had one of the 'grand old men' of knife-making produce two very similar blades by stock removal and forging, then test them against each other in a variety of performance tests. The forged bade noticably out-performed the stock removal blade. Scientific proof? Hardly- the blades were heat treated differently according to the article. The stock removal blade was quenched in oil and then tempered. The other blade was 'marquenched' and then recieved a triple-drawn temper for longer times at lower temperatures. Not at all scientific or fair, yet this article formed the basis for a new 'gospel' among many folks in the blade-smithing world. Good is good, stock removal or forged makes no discernable difference. Whatever I say, though, conrtroversy on this subject continues. The reasons that a forged blade may be more desireable are highly individual- tradition, craftsmanship or what ever you like. These reasons are valid- but one technique does not seem to be superior to another.

    Finally, 'mystery' steels. I am sorry, but when someone claims that thier mystery steel is better, ask the same kind of questions that you would of any other steel. If they can't or won't answer I personally would run, not walk, away. The same goes to makers that claim mystical properties for thier blades- I'll put my faith in science, and lets just leave it at that before some schmuck sues me. I am not the one to say that no such thing exsists, mind you- but still.

    PS- Don't take what I am saying here as the gospel either- I don't possess divinely inspired absolute truth, just some experience and opinions. I could even have my own 'marketing' agenda! Do independant research, ask questions and make sure that you are an ecucated consumer!
    Last edited by Michael Tinker Pearce; 11-09-2003 at 09:05 AM.
    Tinkerswords.com Fine knives, swords and daggers in the style of the European Middle Ages and Viking Era

    "Then, one night as my car was going backwards through a cornfield an ninety miles per hour, I had an epiphany..."

    Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

  9. #9
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    Michael,

    Thanks for the excellent remarks about metallurgy and hype. This is one part of the SLO-equation, but not the whole thing.

    I've got a doctorate in materials science and engineering, and know my mettalurgy quite well, yet I still bought a couple wallhangers*. In may case it was based on not having a through understanding of the proper engineering parameters for a sword, how they were employed, what they were expected to do and not do, and proper/historial weights. Had someone told me that blades had to be quick, have a balence between edge retension and toughtness, that the edges did not have to stand up to a parry, but that the sword had to be flexable to parry with the flat, etc, I would have probably looked at that list of needed properties and said "deep-hardening alloy steel, medium carbon, with a spring temper", but I din't know that much about the swords themselves to be thinking alone those lines.

    I only bought two wallhangers, a "pretty" "barbarian" sword that weighted 8 lbs, which could have been fairly weildable due to a close COG (due to excess brass use in the pommel and cross), except that the handle was three times too thick.

    The next was a kat/wak set that looked good and was very cheep, I was well started on my learning process enough to know they were not great swords, but not enough to fully apreciate the SLO-ness of their nature. Since I mostly bought them for cosmetic reasons, this is OK.

    I know some poeple here who bought a long series of wall hangers before knowing better, I guess I am lucky in that reguard.

    Mike

    *- PS I did buy one additional wall hanger after fully apreciating that it was a SLO. It was a quarter-hilted Spanish side sword, 40.5" overall, well balenced and within the approproate historical weight because I like the type and they way it looks. This is the right reason to buy an SLO, in my opinion.
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    Originally posted by Michael Stora
    I only bought two wallhangers, a "pretty" "barbarian" sword that weighted 8 lbs, which could have been fairly weildable due to a close COG (due to excess brass use in the pommel and cross), except that the handle was three times too thick.
    That sounds like a description of my Kris Cutlery barbarian sword. I hate it. I don't want to touch it anymore. If i pick it up it just tells me to put it back down. When I found this forum the positive rewiews on Kris Cutlery surprised me a lot.

  11. #11
    Yes, Dishonest practices are rampant in the industry. You find it in surprising places.

    THIS IS NOT DIRECTED AT ANYONE SPECIFICALLY...
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    Re: Cheesy Marketing Gimics in the Knife/Sword world.

    Originally posted by Michael Tinker Pearce
    THIS IS NOT DIRECTED AT ANYONE SPECIFICALLY. I was just reflecting on some of the sales pitches, ads and 'stupid sword-maker's tricks' that I've encountered over the years, and a lot of recurring questions from new-comers about them on the forum. Some catch-phrases first:

    'Battle Ready' springs to mind as the first and most obvious catch-phrase. This is probably the most folded, spindled and mutilated phrase in use when it comes to swords. It gets applied to some things that I would would feel were adequate if I had to bet my life on them. I've seen and heard it applied to others things that I would only take into battle if it was duct-taped to an M-16- and someone made me do it. I have seen this term applied to some truly crap blades on the strength of the fact that they had been used in theatrical productions. If you think about this, what does it really mean? A crow bar is 'battle ready.' It's heavy, it's tough, and you can block with it and put a serious hurt on some one with it. By the same token a baseball bat or even a typewriter is 'battle ready.' OK, you know what you mean when you say it- but do you know what sword-seller X means when they say it? When you see this, bear in mind that it doesn't necessarily mean what you think it means, and ask for more specific information about what makes it 'battle ready.'

    'Spring Steel, High Carbon Steel, High Carbon Spring Steel.' This is not of case of abiguity, this is a case of not enough information. There was a 'sword' company in India that was sending over swords that were the most outragious crap that I have ever seen in my life. They made Depeeka look like Vince Evans by comparison. The blades were advertised as 'High-Carbon Steel,' and they were- but they weren't hardened and tempered. They were dead soft! But the ads were technically not a lie. There are a lot of 'spring steels,' and even some very good spring steels aren't suitable for sword blades. Always ask for specifics- the alloy, the heat treatment etc. If in person, always check the sword out carefully. If the seller won't flex the blade or allow you to, there's a reason. Of course, that reason might be that the setting is innappropriate. With regard to knives, one often sees 'stainless steel, Surgical stainless or things like '440 stainless.' This seems to impart information but again it doesn't tell you enough. There are surgical stainless steels that are chosen for toughness, not edge retention, like 304 stainless. There is a huge difference in performance between 440A and 440C. Here also heat treat is important- cryo-queched 440C noticably out-performs non-cryo 440C. Information is your friend! If the materials or presentation don't impart enough USEFULL information ask for more.

    The point is to always get as much information as possible. You might not understand the answers, but someone here likely will. A sword is usually a substantial investment. Arm yourself with knowledge before hand, and research after your questions are answered if you don't understand.

    Some 'Stupid Sword Makers' Tricks-

    Breaking cinder blocks- This a perenial favorite at ren faires and SCA events. Let's face it, what does this prove? I broke a cinder block with a wooden mallet at an event. Karate Guys and Gals do it with thier bare hands, feet, even fore-heads. I think that there is a bumper-sticker in there some where. What it does demonstrate is that the sword- or wooden mallet, or fore-head, is tough. So's a truck. Looks impressive- but it's sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Flexing the blade- OK, at least this shows that the sword has some sort of heat treat and temper. Bear in mind that some types of sword, notably katanas, don't flex- but all euro swords should. I would expect to see a minimum of 45 degrees of flex in what I would consider a usefull sword. Also, a sword can be superbly flexible and have no edge retention at all. Again, ask questions. I used to keep a soft iron bar on hand that I would cut shavings off of. A blade that will do this without dulling the edge noticably has a good, hard edge. Other makers use a file to demonstrate the edges hardness. Some people will give you specs on the hardness. All to the good.

    Cutting tests- These look good, and can even be as impressive as hell. But- a fellow I know of once took his knife for ABS journeyman testing. He sliced the end off of a free-hanging 1 inch thick sisal rope. He chopped a 2x4 in half twice. Then they did they flex test and his blade bent like it was made of butter- he hadn't heat treated it! Edge geometry and technique will take you far. Recently it has become popular to cut tatami mats. Well and good- but frankly this is more a demonstration of technique than sword quality. It's grass-how hard could it be? This is really not revealing of a swords quality- a good swordsman can cut tatami mats with a stainless Katana of dubious temper if it is properly sharpened. I damn near cut a full mat in half with a five inch serated pocket knife recently. Don't get me wrong- cutting mats is great fun and great for developing technique, but a good swordsman with a bad sword is still likely to result in a severed mat. OK- a truly terrible sword might not cut mats in anyone's hands. But at the recent NW rapier invitational several people were able to slice through full mats with a sharpened rapier- technique is most often the deciding factor here. A related example is thrusting a knife through 55 gallon steel drums, car fenders etc. I can do this with a screw driver- so what does this really tell you? When it comes to cutting tests, think about what you are seeing. Does it really say anything useful about the knife or sword in question?

    Another thing to look out for is "secrets." Frankly, there just aren't that many that are worth anything. Between the knife magazines, friendly makers and forums such as this, most of the time when one encounters 'trade secrets' it's really just someone trying to make thier product seem more special than it is. There are exceptions to this, like the specifics of a production process, but these are not the rule. You are going to hear some pretty outragious claims out there- your best bet is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible in advance.

    Do we see a common thread here? The key is arming yourself with as much knowledge as you reasonably can before you take your hard-earned cash out to buy an expensive item. Car, dishwasher, sword- whatever. Be an intelligent and well-informed consumer, and you are much likelier to get something worthy.
    Excellent post! The line of reasoning as presented is undeniably sound . I hope this one stays near the top for awhile...
    Last edited by Shane Smith; 11-09-2003 at 02:14 PM.

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    Hype- a symptom of the Disease

    OF course you find this kind of thing in every kind of product marketing. Exaggerated results, fantastical sounding terminology. Marketing styles that exploit our weaknesses and strongest desires of the consumer. It may not be totally honest, but it is normal. This type of marketing works because we let it. Society is conditioned to respond to it. Gaining real knowledge about a product and seriously making the arduous journey to find out the truth about things is akin to waking up from the "Matrix". When you do Wake up from the fantasy world of marketing where you can see automobile out run a jet fighter on TV, Then you have a rude awakening. You go from walking in the Green park of fantasy to wading in a sewer looking for the distant Man hole cover in an attempt to see the sun once more.

    The thing is that many many people now need hype to believe that a product is good. If your selling the absolute dry truth about your product then it better be a fantastic product or it simply wont compete with the Fantasy super image representing a lesser product. Now many here would say that a SLO provides no competition when compared to a Howard Clark Katana for example, but in truth when competing for business the SLOs out sell every custom maker put together. we don't compete in any significant way numerically. It is normal accepted practice to sell the Fantasy and it is what works the best overall. I don't like it, but it is a cold truth IMO. Sometimes I wish I was morally able to do that type of marketing. I feel my efforts in business will always be handicapped because of honesty and that is a revolting thought.

    Educated customers are Fantastic they generally don't have a fit when they hear the prices and they know what they want to a much greater extent. They develop a delicate taste for what is bland to the masses. They are in the minority and tend to come to the specialized micro business like the lone sword maker. The Sole proprietor or very small groups are free to work to a higher moral standard without bankruptcy. Large companies that rely on vast numbers of product to be moved have to create appeal for the masses. Idea hype and visual hype are how products are sold to the masses. SO the microcosm of Honesty in marketing is only about as prolific as the educated buyer. We rely on each other.

    Educated buyers are good not only for the consumer, but for all of us in the business who put our hearts and souls into the product. Via these forum over the years I have witnessed Dozens of people slowly become "enlightened" on the topic of Swords and basic metallurgy. That is one reason why I appreciate these forums so much.

    Nice post Tinker
    Patrick Hastings
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    While we're talking about it, there are certain of the old "stupid swordmaker's tricks" that really are kind of funny for those in the know.

    One of them is the test of flexibility. How flexible a blade is, has a lot to do with blade geometry, its not just blade temper.

    I just showed off one of my practical rapier blades, "flexing" it 180 degrees. However, that wasn't a fair test, and even pulling the tip around that far, it's not the same as the test Tinker was talking about.

    What Tinker guarantees is a 45 degree flex and return to true. However, he tests it the way it should be done. He traps the blade such that it can't move, then pulls up and out on the blade such that the blade stays straight to the point of bend..... That's right, the blade bends 45 degrees at one point, not an entire arc...... Thus the entire stress of the bend is at one point of the blade.

    What I did was hold the blade by the tang in one hand, and the tip in the other, and pulled the tip around until it was pointing in the direction of the tang. The blade arced from the last third of the blade to the tip..... in other words, the stress of the bend was shared by 1/3 the length of the blade. The stress of any one point of the blade was a fraction of the stress of the blade that Tinker tests.......

    Then we have the blade geometry. Tinker mentioned that kats aren't very flexible, their very rigidity works against them. The more rigid the blade, the less bend it will take to "take a set".

    Tinker tests real swords when he does this, the blade I pulled around like that is a simulator blade, not a "real" blade, and is designed by blade geometry, to flex.......

    So, there is a flex test, and there is a flex test......

    Its important to know what kind of flex test we're discussing. A flex test like Tinker's is the real deal, a test that would arc is ok, but isn't as good or meaningful as Tinker's test. In fact, this borders on a being "stupid swordmaker's trick" when used to prove that said swordmaker's product is superior to everyone else'........*g*

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    Originally posted by Angus Trim

    What Tinker guarantees is a 45 degree flex and return to true. However, he tests it the way it should be done. He traps the blade such that it can't move, then pulls up and out on the blade such that the blade stays straight to the point of bend..... That's right, the blade bends 45 degrees at one point, not an entire arc...... Thus the entire stress of the bend is at one point of the blade.

    The very nature of a Flex makes an arc. you can test the entire length or apply the pressure to a shorter section which is what I get from your description. If that is accurate how short a of a section is Tinks Test?
    Patrick Hastings
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  16. #16
    Angus Trim is offline Moderator
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    Hi Patrick

    Tink is a fairly large gent, and is capable of doing stuff that a lot of us cannot.....

    To try and make this as factual as possible.....

    Tink lays the sword down on the table, and traps the blade, say roughly at 1/3 of the way from the tip to the cross, using his "off hand". Then he pulls the blade both upwards to 45 degrees {visually}, and pulls it outward, to force the blade as straight as humanly possible, so that virtually all of the flex is the straight line that the end of his hand on the table leaves as it crosses the the plane of the blade. Looking at it on a crossection view, you have a point where the blade bends 45 degrees. Looking at the blade while he is holding it, there is very little arc, it looks straight to the naked eye, from the hilt to his hand. I suppose if you lay a straight edge against the spine you might notice a bit of an arc, but I've never noticed it visually..... the bend is all at the spot where the hilt side of the blade sticks out from under his hand.

    So how long is the area of the "arc" then? You're right, it would be impossible to be a true straight line there..... 1/4 inch? 1/2 inch? Certainly less than an inch.............

  17. #17
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    Originally posted by Angus Trim
    Hi Patrick

    Tink is a fairly large gent, and is capable of doing stuff that a lot of us cannot.....

    To try and make this as factual as possible.....

    Tink lays the sword down on the table, and traps the blade, say roughly at 1/3 of the way from the tip to the cross, using his "off hand". Then he pulls the blade both upwards to 45 degrees {visually}, and pulls it outward, to force the blade as straight as humanly possible, so that virtually all of the flex is the straight line that the end of his hand on the table leaves as it crosses the the plane of the blade. Looking at it on a crossection view, you have a point where the blade bends 45 degrees. Looking at the blade while he is holding it, there is very little arc, it looks straight to the naked eye, from the hilt to his hand. I suppose if you lay a straight edge against the spine you might notice a bit of an arc, but I've never noticed it visually..... the bend is all at the spot where the hilt side of the blade sticks out from under his hand.

    So how long is the area of the "arc" then? You're right, it would be impossible to be a true straight line there..... 1/4 inch? 1/2 inch? Certainly less than an inch.............
    Hmm It still sounds abit confusing. So to clarify your saying that all of Tinks blades have to pass a test where they Flex 45 within an arc that spans less than an inch and still come back true?
    Patrick Hastings
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    shiri Tsubome"

  18. #18
    Angus Trim is offline Moderator
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    Hi Patrick

    I think its more accurate to say that he guarantees that it will.

    I don't know that he flexes each sword that way or not. I don't, my flex test is a lot less rigorous {sp?}.

    I have seen him do this on several occassions though, its something that he feels comfortable doing on a new double edged sword....

    New, because if this is done frequently, eventually the blade will fatigue, and take a set. Several years ago, Tink had a "Viking Broadsword" that he took to several events, and used as a demo. I think he had it a year.... anyways, after several of these flexes, it finally took a 5 degree set. If I had to guess how many times he flexed it that way before it took a set, I'd guess over 100, but that's a guess........

  19. #19
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    This is a good thread. But woah.

    Are we talking about Stupid Swordmaker Tricks and Beware the Sword Hype Types or Tinker's own tests?

    Me, I don't care what or how he tests. Makers can stick up for themselves and do their own damn marketing. That ain't my job.

    But if we are talking 'whole-to-the-parts,' then it certainly makes sense that the smallest possible portion of blade flexed would be indicative of that particular batch of steel and heat-treated 'bunch's' characteristics.
    Would also make sense that a new of batch of the same (or other) designation --as well as heat-treated 'bunch'-- would have to go through the same test[s].

    Tests are all about establishing consistency or they are no test at all.

  20. #20
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    Originally posted by Angus Trim
    Hi Patrick

    I think its more accurate to say that he guarantees that it will.

    I don't know that he flexes each sword that way or not. I don't, my flex test is a lot less rigorous {sp?}.

    I have seen him do this on several occassions though, its something that he feels comfortable doing on a new double edged sword....

    New, because if this is done frequently, eventually the blade will fatigue, and take a set. Several years ago, Tink had a "Viking Broadsword" that he took to several events, and used as a demo. I think he had it a year.... anyways, after several of these flexes, it finally took a 5 degree set. If I had to guess how many times he flexed it that way before it took a set, I'd guess over 100, but that's a guess........
    That does sound extreme. It is a testament to the blade, but it may use up some useful life and may even set the the blade up for a premature failure hopefully not while your testing it hehe. Not something you want to do regular to a good user blade. Of course the Results of any flex test are relative to the Blades length or tested length at a given cross-sectional thickness. The info is not much good as a stand alone result. Like Tink mentioned it may flex, but may not hold an edge too well. The thinner and longer a blade the more potential it has to Flex even with no heat-treat or overly hard hard temper. Point being all the information has to put together to paint a picture. Temper, Hardness, Cross-section, length, taper, Flex, nodes, pivots, Balance, they are all just colors on a pallete. The whole picture has to be measured against what is expected of the blade in the end.

    Edited to add,
    that last part is not something I needed to tell you Gus, but Others who may try these tests in isolation might benifet from the perspective. I can envision all the novices taking there SLOs down and bending or snapping their goodies. These tests should be performed by people with expirience, escpecially the flex test. YOu can permanetly damage your blade or even worse injure yourself if you slip or the blade suddenly snaps in your hands.
    Last edited by Patrick Hastings; 11-09-2003 at 08:44 PM.
    Patrick Hastings
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    "He o hitte
    shiri Tsubome"

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    Wow, Tinker, this is somewhere right between a rant and a very informative post
    I agree that this would be right at home in the beginner's forum, 'cos you really did do a great job of laying it all out.

  22. #22
    Angus Trim is offline Moderator
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    Originally posted by Patrick Hastings
    That does sound extreme. It is a testament to the blade, but it may use up some useful life and may even set the the blade up for a premature failure hopefully not while your testing it hehe. Not something you want to do regular to a good user blade. Of course the Results of any flex test are relative to the Blades length or tested length at a given cross-sectional thickness. The info is not much good as a stand alone result. Like Tink mentioned it may flex, but may not hold an edge too well. The thinner and longer a blade the more potential it has to Flex even with no heat-treat or overly hard hard temper. Point being all the information has to put together to paint a picture. Temper, Hardness, Cross-section, length, taper, Flex, nodes, pivots, Balance, they are all just colors on a pallete. The whole picture has to be measured against what is expected of the blade in the end.

    Edited to add,
    that last part is not something I needed to tell you Gus, but Others who may try these tests in isolation might benifet from the perspective. I can envision all the novices taking there SLOs down and bending or snapping their goodies. These tests should be performed by people with expirience, escpecially the flex test. YOu can permanetly damage your blade or even worse injure yourself if you slip or the blade suddenly snaps in your hands.
    Hi Patrick

    Actually, that metal fatigue thing is why I don't do that as a test on my blades. You do it once, and things likely are fine, you do it twice, and I'm betting that fatigue is starting to work its way in.

    I agree Patrick. In a thread like this its a good idea to talk so that the average reader can understand.

    As a note to others, constant flexing of a blade will fatigue it. And a fatigued blade can snap just as easily as it can take a set.

    As a swordmaker that has occassionally done "stupid swordmaker's tricks", I can tell you that we all do something that our blades can do easily, and do it such that it will impress. The thing is, I ussually mention that this is a "stupid swordmaker's trick".........*g*

  23. #23
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    In many cases, high quality smiths don't require heavy advertisement at all; they let their work speak for itself. The same applies to many schools and dojos, I believe, where most rely on word of mouth or invitation from an exclusive circle in order to get new members. It goes without saying that advertising can be a double edged sword. I seem to recall that when a certain tactical knife appeared a while back, the rather dubious advertising behind it claimed that its superior design "made the slashing index go way off the charts." Whatever that means. Slashing index? What charts are they talking about? A "just the facts" approach should be more well received than marketing jargon, but sadly many are still taken in by the latter, otherwise there wouldn't be any need for cheesy marketing gimmicks in the first place.
    Tim Lui

  24. #24
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    Originally posted by Angus Trim

    As a note to others, constant flexing of a blade will fatigue it. And a fatigued blade can snap just as easily as it can take a set.

    This is very true. The most practial testing that has this result is in olympic fencing. The foils used will always eventually break, because of the constant bending back and forth from scoring a hit. I myself broke two foils while training. But it should be noted that all foils are ment to break (or at least take a set) eventually.

    ...so everyone watch out for claims of "unbreakable foils".
    I'm lost---- I've gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait.

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    Outstanding discussion. Patrick, Michael, Angus, Trish: thank-you for your contributions.

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