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Thread: Quantifiable sword testing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    Quantifiable sword testing

    I am looking to do some test cutting with a variety of bronze and iron / steel blades to compare effectiveness and edge damage, and was wondering is anyone has info on using instrumentation to record velocity, impact force and so on.

    The testing that I have been doing is typical manual test-cutting as the only quantifiable tests that I have seen to date used a modified Monsanto Tensometer Balanced Impact Machine, and although this was easily quantifiable and comparable between strikes, it was essentially not a proper sword cut. I know that there are devices for measuring linear speeds such as arrows or bullets, but short of robbing a police speed camera, I have't seen anything that could measure sword speed, any suggestions??? For impact force, I think this could be measured ok, but it would be nice to compare blade length, weight, speed of swing AND the related impact force.

    "If your bayonet breaks, strike with the stock; if the stock gives way, hit with your fists; if your fists are hurt, bite with your teeth" (Dragomiroff, c.1890)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    The Netherlands
    For completeness, I'll repost what I posted on the Ancient Weapons Forum earlier:


    Reproducable testing is always just an approximation of reality. Sometimes a reasonably good one, sometimes a rather bad one.

    It comes down to what you want to test.

    Reproducable testing allows a person to change variables and compare the results between tests.

    But how these results translate into the real world is often a bit of a mystery. As far as I know, there are no scientific testing methods developed for the sword world (the knife world has the CATRA machine, but it's not really applicable for us) so we have to start with a clean slate.

    The first step would be to theorise a bit on what we want to test and how to model that. That's easy enough: just start a thread here and/or in the performance forum.

    Ideally, the second step would be to test a wide variety of blades (probably not bronze, but ones of which performance is very well known, like katana's) with the reproducable method, and compare findings to our real world findings. Then we learn how to change our testing method and reiterate over and over, until it's good enough.

    The third step, once we are confident that the model approximates reality close enough for katana's, we can test some unknown (bronze age) blades. And again find some discrepancies between testing and the real world which forces us to reevaluate the model over and over AGAIN.

    Since this is a new field, it's a huge task, IMHO worthy of a PhD in Mechanical Engineering or a related field (or perhaps Archeology).

    All in all I think this falls a bit outside the scope here.

    So we are left with rather crude reproducable testing, like a mechanical impact tester: one blade stationary in a vice, the other attached to a long stick with a pivot, and just let them fall on each other edge to edge. Of course this says little about the real world.

    Or with a "safe simulated swordfight" with sharp weapons between well trained and well armoured opponents, which is completely unreproducable but may say more about practical durability.


    I'll post some more thoughts later.
    HwŠ­ere ■Šr fuse feorran cwoman
    to ■am Š­elinge. - Dream of the Rood

    "Ah, Blackadder. Started talking to yourself, I see."
    "'s the only way I can be assured of intelligent conversation."
    - Lord Melchett and Lord Edmund Blackadder


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