Testing modern swords and more...
Some insights about: testing swords, buying second hand swords and reviews.
Some points about swords testing
Testing a sword is not only a great fun, but also an examination of both its quality and our skills.
First of all, we should know the dynamics of the sword, the distribution of stresses, the weight distribution, feel its balance and behavior, learn how to cut, how to arrange the hands, how our body works with the sword. Each sword is different and works differently.
Personally, I do not recommend cutting objects such as plastic bottles filled with water (better drink it). Yes, it is the cheapest and easiest test, quite spectacular, but it really tells us absolutely nothing about the quality of the sword.
There is a high pressure inside the closed plastic bottle which makes the it very hard, resilient and durable. Plastic has also a slippery, smooth surface. All of this can create conditions that can cause a dangerous stresses inside the blade and a whole construction of the sword, especially during unsuccessful cuts. We should avoid this.
Also, you cannot use a sword like an ax, e.g. to strike against hard, stable objects such as a tree trunk. The sword was not designed and intended for such things. Use the right tools, take an ax.
I recommend testing sword cuts on pumpkins, watermelons, reed mats (tatami), soaked ropes. In a way, they reflect the structure of the body, limbs, also in clothes or armor. That is, what the sword was designed for: cutting, thrusting, hitting, piercing armor, as well as defense against other weapons, fencing. This also includes a collision with a shield, other blade or an armor parts during combat.
Cutting a paper with a sword also makes no sense. For this we have scissors, and the sharpness level does not mean whether the sword is better or worse (you can sharpen any piece of steel and cut paper, same as a razor blade or a wallpaper knife...)
Slightly different matter is for testing thrusts with sword. Here we can use steel sheets of different thicknesses, although I recommend even thinner than armor plates, for safety. For the simple reason that it is supposed to be a test, not a fight for life and death. The metal sheet should cover something, adhere to something that has a movable and soft structure: like armor protecting the body beneath it. Such tests will be safe and reliable. Use gloves and face protection.
Remember that we do not test the sword only, but also our own abilities, knowledge of techniques and the effects of using old weapons. We are learning all of this, not trying to destroy the sword that has always been precious. Take care of your sword. In fact, unfortunately, in most cases, the result of damaging a good sword is our own inability.
I am also not a fan of testing a sword on animal carcasses. It is simply a waste of food, and a disgusting spectacle... However, I believe it can be done sometimes for research purposes to scientifically document and test how sword cutting works. But not for fun, not for sports, not for show.
Some points about second hand swords.
I have noticed that in some places you can buy my swords (and other makers too, of course), second hand, used. Sometimes a person willing to buy a second-hand sword comes to me and asks about the condition of the sword. It seems quite strange. I would just like to say that I cannot take responsibility of how the previous owner used it. Many times I read that certain people do very strange things with swords and then unsold them as if they were new.
The sword should be very durable, but it should also be used as intended, for what it was designed for. Of course, today it is not used strictly as a weapon against another person, but we use it to train fencing, cutting objects, for practice or as collectors' items.
Please, remember that the current condition of such a sword can only be accounted for by its current owner-reseller.
I am always happy to chat with people and you can write to me in such cases, but please don't ask me: 'Was that sword bent before? Where did it get these scratches from?' My swords come out of my workshop straight, checked and tested about the quality. I have no idea if later someone tried to chop wood for the fireplace with it or run over them with a tank...
Please, resellers, write down what you've done with the sword: cutting, grinding, patinating, hitting, polishing, storing, etc, everything matters. Only in this way will the potential buyer find out about the actual condition of the sword. Because a worn or damaged sword cannot be a proof of the manufacturer's quality.
I suppose a similar situation would be for various other items for sale: car, chair, toaster or jacket... We've been using it for 2 or 3 years so maybe it's not like new anymore. When buying such an item, I will not call the producer saying: Where did these scratches come from on my used, 3-year-old toaster?
About swords reviews and reviewers.
When it comes to checking the sword for the quality of workmanship, I am very surprised that all the reviewers do not perform basic tests: axial symmetry of the structure elements, stability of the structure connection, distribution of vibrations and mass, etc. Not to mention typological compliance based on historical sources: historical correctness. These are the basics that are often overlooked by contemporary reviewers. Well, practically everyone can compare a product with other products, including those of mass production, you don't need much knowledge.
Personally, I think product reviews are a great idea, it allows potential buyers to get acquainted with what they would like to buy. However, reviewing swords requires a great deal of knowledge in both the technology and history of weapons. It can't be like a vacuum cleaner review, comparing it with other models.
To be absolutely honest: I think we need to review, but mass-produced and repetitive things are best for it, improved all the time, in similar categories as other products of the same kind, then we can compare them fairly. The question remains: is it possible to take just one sword made by a craftsman for review and judge all his work and other products on that basis? Everyone can answer for themselves.
So forgive me, but I don't really seek reviews because I know very well what I'm doing and I can`t know what reviewers know about medieval swords.
Besides I am the most demanding reviewer of my own products, I respect all reviewers who spend their time introducing many different products to the customers. They are doing a great job and I really hope they also find time to deepen their knowledge about the things being reviewed.