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#328566 - 03/14/07 03:45 AM How do you tell sword quality?
18lohans Offline
Member

Registered: 01/16/05
Posts: 321
So, I'm looking forward to buy some new swords for my collection. More specifically a Dao (broadsword) and a Jian (straight sword).

Question is, how does one tell the quality of the sword?

I mean, I honestly can't really tell the difference between good metal and bad metal. I used to think it was about flexibility, as I am more interested in combat quality weapons more so than the flexible light-weight wushu weapons. However, it turns out that jians can be combat quality while maintaining a certain degree of flexibility? Help!
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"Now use head for something other than target!" Still never attacked by trees, 18lohans

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#328567 - 03/14/07 05:19 PM Re: How do you tell sword quality? [Re: 18lohans]
iaibear Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 1304
Loc: upstate New York
Do I understand correctly that you are looking for a quality sword that you can use in a sparring or "combat" situation?

It sound like you would enter a Lamborghini in a bumper car rally.

Sorry. I do not think you will get much information on these boards.

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#328568 - 03/14/07 05:44 PM Re: How do you tell sword quality? [Re: iaibear]
18lohans Offline
Member

Registered: 01/16/05
Posts: 321
well, I probably won't spar with a sword anytime soon, and definitely not going into combat with it. But I do practice with my swords instead of just hanging them on the wall or something.

I'm just looking to learn and understand more about swords, and what it "quality" means when it comes to a sword. I've seen swords range from $50-400... and honestly, sometimes I can't really tell the difference between them (as I doubt a nice design is worth the difference)

Again, I used to think weight and hardness used to imply quality swords, but it turns out quality swords can be light and flexible as well...

Thanks for responding anyways
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"Now use head for something other than target!" Still never attacked by trees, 18lohans

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#328569 - 03/14/07 11:07 PM Re: How do you tell sword quality? [Re: 18lohans]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I don't know much about chinese swords, but $400 sounds awfully cheap for an upper end. That's close to the lower end for Japanese swords that are suitable for training purposes.
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Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#328570 - 03/17/07 06:58 PM Re: How do you tell sword quality? [Re: 18lohans]
Benjamin1986 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 611
Loc: Republic of Texas
Main points on sword quality.

Hardness: It should be able to cut while holding its edge, and hold its shape.

Toughness: It should be able to take a hit without breaking.

Well shaped, polished, gripped and/or wrapped: It shouldn't catch in the scabbard or slip out of your hand. The blade should not fly out of the grip, nor should it rattle or shake. The wrap should be tight, holding together after months of daily usage. If there is no wrap, it should feel smooth, and you should be able to grip it without sliding.

That's just about it. Everything else comes under those three categories.

Hardness and toughness are what are focused on the most as they require good quality steel (stainless = shattering steel shards flying in all directions), good craftsmanship (inconsistent hardening creates snapping or bending points), and a lot of time.

The shape and balance is another important point. It should feel light and weildy, not sluggish.

The fittings are what everyone forgets, but in many respects, the quality of the fittings are the most important part of the sword. You won't need the sword's edge these days, but you need a good grip that won't budge.

All of these parts require master craftsmanship to get right. Expert craftsmen don't work for cheap, even in China. Don't expect a usable sword for under $1000 American.
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#328571 - 03/29/07 01:15 PM Re: How do you tell sword quality? [Re: Benjamin1986]
Naomasa Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 21
Loc: Youngstown, Ohio
A: Tour sword should NEVER be hit.
B: The sharper most blades the more fragile they are.
C: How are you learning your MA? are you just buying the swords and playing with them? Do you intent to take a class? if so ask your instructors to help you pick one out.
D: Good luck and try not to hurt your self or anyone else.
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I hope that one day I will earn the right to breath a heavy breath of enlightenment.

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#328572 - 03/29/07 02:58 PM Re: How do you tell sword quality? [Re: Naomasa]
ChangLab Offline
Sleepy-ninja

Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 312
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio
I've heard reference to "folded" swords as in the steel has been folded 200 times....But I can't really say I know anything about the practice.
I would guess that it is when the sword is forged that in it's heated state the metal is actually folded then shaped then heated, folded shaped etc....

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#328573 - 03/29/07 05:20 PM Re: How do you tell sword quality? [Re: ChangLab]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I think the upper end on folds is something like 12, with 7 or 8 being more common. What you are thinking of is layers. 8 folds yields 256 layers.

According to my handy dandy windows calculator, 2 to the power of 200 yields a number which looks like 1.6069380442589902755419620923412e+60

I'm reasonably certain that would make the layers thinner than the width of the atoms that make up the steel. In other words, that many folds creates slag.
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Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#328574 - 03/29/07 11:03 PM Re: How do you tell sword quality? [Re: Charles Mahan]
Naomasa Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 21
Loc: Youngstown, Ohio
Creepy o.o;
_________________________
I hope that one day I will earn the right to breath a heavy breath of enlightenment.

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#328575 - 03/30/07 10:17 PM Re: How do you tell sword quality? [Re: ChangLab]
Benjamin1986 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 611
Loc: Republic of Texas
"200 Folds" refers to the number of layers of steel in the blade. That's 8 folds (2^8 = 256 layers).

However, don't buy into the folded steel propoganda. With a master smith, yes, folded steel gains a slight damascus effect increasing blade hardness/toughness. However, if you want damascus steel, buy from Pendray or Angelsword or one of the companies that actually makes damascus steel.

Folding steel was done for one purpose, purifying the poor quality iron that can be mined in Japan. Folding the steel works out sulfur and other impurities. However, it is very labor intensive (read: EXPENSIVE) and leaves you with a piece of steel which is essentially folded carbon and iron. Folding modern, quality steel is really a waste of time. Indeed, it can remove impurities that you want (like vandium, which improves toughness or tungsten, which improves hardness). In short, it isn't necessary and should be used only for historical and/or aesthetic reasons.
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