Market Square => Arms and Armor => Topic started by: Poldugarian Warrior on February 02, 2009, 04:58:19 PM

Title: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: Poldugarian Warrior on February 02, 2009, 04:58:19 PM
I was reading a book on the history of England and I come across an article in which, it mentions all the fine products they were producuing and how an economic boom was happening in the year 1696. It tells of how some people invested their money in companies that produced gunpowder,smelted copper, and produced these blades. Now the idea I can figure is that yes a hollow blade is lighter, but wouldn't it be weaker. Just wondering if anyone else had heard of such a thing, and from that year on were all swords produced in England as hollow blades. Or was it just ceremonial blades. Any info. woudl be appreciated.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: ALS on February 02, 2009, 05:25:16 PM
The blades aren't hollow this refers to a hollow grinding of the blades, to produce the purely thrusting blade that would become common on small swords by the second quarter of the 18th century but were pretty new at the in the article. Being descendent from rapiers ( or perhaps more accurately the inheritors of) smallswords of the 17th century were either single edged or double edged and of either broad triangular or more often diamond or hexagonal cross section. A hallow ground blade has no real edges and is very stiff for use in thrusting. The blade here shows the deep grinds of hallow grinding used to create the stiff triangular form of the blade.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: Poldugarian Warrior on February 09, 2009, 05:41:28 AM
Thanks for the info. Now I know what they were talking about. So hollow in this text refers to the hollowing out sides of the blades.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: ALS on February 09, 2009, 09:44:51 AM
Correct, the technique goes back to at least the middles ages, i've handled several original swords from the 14th and 15th centuries that incorperate this particular method. The idea is that it stiffens the blade by incorperating more geometry into the blade shape, in the case of the small sword while a simple triangle has a great deal of strength as a geometric shape, hallowing out each side introducing a curve on each side and a ridge just bellow each edge of the triangle radically increases it strength and stiffness while fullfilling its second purpose to reduce the weight of the blade. On medieval examples the blade begins a diamond shapped in cross section and each of the four " faces" of the diamon shape is scooped out using hallow grinding, introducing greater strenght and stiffness through the curve in between edges of the diamond shape and creating a new ridge just before each edge and lightening the blade through the removal of stock at the same time.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: Poldugarian Warrior on February 09, 2009, 05:08:51 PM
Cool, I've seen a few in the museum replicas catalog and thought they looked pretty cool, but not so practical as a war sword, but maybe self defense. When I first looked at them I just thought it was for style.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: ALS on February 10, 2009, 07:32:09 AM
Nope, in medieval blades it was done as plate armour became progressively more 1) prevalent on the battle field, and 2) as the armourers ability to completely cover the body in it progressed. Basically a sword makesa lousey club, so as the 14th century progresses, as did plate armour, the sword and how it was used against armoured opponent was geared much more twords the thrust at vulnerable points like arm pits, and the crux of the arm where maille might be broken with a stiff thrusting blade, much of this was done from the half sword ala Fiore. The shape of the blade also changed in terms of distal taper, blades tapering down thier length to a fine point making them better for thrusting, rather than the parallel edged blades with more spatulated points of earlier swords geared more tword cutting. These medieval hallow ground blades could also cut against soft targets. The hallow ground blade of the small sword was geared twords thusting only to suit the highly developed style fo fence developed in France in the later 17th century ( where it is believed the small sword originated) which was all the fashion and mainstay in Europe for all of the 18th century. Originally small swords started out sometime in the second half of the 17th century having either slightly shortened rapier blade on the new hilt type that came to be synonymous with the small sword or a single edges blade ( this was more commonly found on military blades and would remain thus through out the 18th century, hallow ground thrusting only blades for civilian use, single or double edged blades for military swords). By the end of the century what had developed was both a sword and style of using it that were very different from the school of rapier fence that had dominated at mid century and was still common in Italy and Spain well into the 18th century.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: Poldugarian Warrior on February 12, 2009, 01:30:16 AM
Thank you for that info. So it was all practical. Sort of like the Falchion which I like, being a cutting blade, with a curved point, and having the point for thrusting and just short enough for close in fitting, but long enough to be swung for greater cutting effect. What's truly amazing is that without much research in the sciences, medieval and renaissance swordsmiths new a great deal about how angles and points utilized properly can make a better weapon.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: ALS on February 12, 2009, 03:05:28 PM
Practicallity was thier watchword and practicallity can foster alot knowledge in things which we today go to school for ( math, science, physics ect.) but were an essential element to various trades just as part of the knowledge base necessary to do the job and were aquired along the way through practical expirience. The leve of deliberateness and thought that went into how to make a blade for a particular purpose is awe inspiering. We've created terms like " distal taper " , point of balance, point of percussion and vibration nodes, to describe some of the characteristics that these folks incorperated with full intent into a particular blade, thier fundamental grasp without any training in math or physics of how to create thier wares is astounding.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: Poldugarian Warrior on February 13, 2009, 12:27:54 AM
It goes to show how far advanced these people were even without fancy words and hight tech tools, in fact some of the tools they used were the high technology of their age. Thanks again for the info. I'll definitely direct more questions about weaponry to you in the future, it seems you have an encyclopedic memory of this subject.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: ALS on February 13, 2009, 10:05:49 AM
In certain circumstances the tools haven't changed all that much. In the field I work in, armouring, many of my tools for shaping steel, hammers and stakes, are virtually identicle to a set preserved in The Tower Armouries now at Leeds in England from the Royal Armoury at Greenwich founded by Henry VIII. The additon of electricity has improved things like the grinding wheel, once pedle or hand powered but is effectively doing the same job it did 400 years ago just faster.

I have a pretty large collection of original arms and armour that I use to study from and still end up learning something from each new piece that comes in, there is a practicallity that the old masters had borne of the reality that if you didn't do you job well your client could end up dead and that was bad for you and business, that continues to reveal itself in the work they did hundereds of years ago.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: Poldugarian Warrior on February 15, 2009, 01:42:33 AM
That last part makes sense I think to all craftsmen. I'm a mechanic myself, though I work for a large rental car agency. If I don't do a good job my clients could end up dead. And your right tools depending on eras don't really change that much. I mean the socket set was invented some time in the 1920's by Snap-On because mechanics got tired of carryign a wrench to fit evry bolt. And electricity and air compressors run grinders, and impacts which replaced older steam operated systems. But your right all the tools do the same job. And you know what it seems that the hammer is maybe the most universal of tools in that almost all occupations use it, yours (armorer),auto mechanic,carpenter, I mean the list goes on and on. The oldest tool, yet there are many different uses, not just for bashign about but finess work can be done with the right size and the temperament of the operator.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: ALS on February 15, 2009, 09:14:50 AM
Most all of my hammers and stakes are antiques because simply put nobody shapes metal by hand this way anymore so antiques are the only tools avaliable. A fair number are smith made, that is to say that a smith made them to use for a certain job he was doing at some point in the past. The resemblance some of these hammers have to the Greenwich armoury hammers is almost spooky, epecially when considering that whoever made the hammers I have most likely had never heard of the Greenwich armoury or ever seen the tools from it, he simply arrived at these tool shaped to accomplish a task he was working on.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: Poldugarian Warrior on February 17, 2009, 10:28:01 PM
Tools and weapons that look alike across cultural and locational boundaries, I think aren't all that uncommon or spooky because we as humans all possess the same skills, it's just to what degree, and the same task in one part of the world is the same in another so the way to accomplish that task or solve a problem is quite similiar. But, sometimes all together different dependent on what materials are at hand in order to get that problem or task solved. I've thought about that many times. I mean a sword is a sword evry where on the planet, but how it's used or looks around the world is different, but some how similiar.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: ALS on February 18, 2009, 09:11:49 AM
Swords oddly enough is one field where depending on the maker tools may have changed alot. There are still plenty of folks using forge, gas or coal, and anvil, but there is anew twist in the last 10 years the introdutcion of the CNC machine by some makers to produce what amounts to a virually finished blade. Armourers still tend to shape mostely by hand, even folks working in the wood trades are using more or less the same tools just with inproved cylcle times via making them electrically powered, but the introduction of the CNC machine to sword making is really a " new tool" for that field of manufacture.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: Poldugarian Warrior on February 27, 2009, 01:14:46 AM
I think though machines have made life easier, some things that are produced today to look and feel like the originals of days long gone, should be produced the same way, so that not only does the manufacturer know they have put out a truly period produced piece, the customers also knows this and the piece has more value in that aspect. Yet, if this was the way of it, then all period weapons, and tools, or equipmement would cost a fortune and many wouldn't be able to own these pieces. So I guess if your a purist then by all means this is the way to go, but if your just an average collector whom just wants cool stuff to hang in a room, than machine produced replicas are fine.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: ALS on March 02, 2009, 11:13:39 AM
It depends on how far you want to go into " pure " today. It out there, i've been invited to go out to Paul Champagnes this summer to hang out and forge, Paul can and does smelt his own iron for blades. Dan Maragni is holding a hammer in/smelt in next year I think we'll probably go to that will smelt the iron, create steel from it and forge blades from. You can go that far if you choose to. The quality of what is avaliable to the collector today has risen head and shoulders about what was avaliable even ten years ago. Sure theres all the " made in India ", " made in Pakistan " and " made in China " wall banger crap out there, but there now the likes of Guss Trim, Albion Swords, Arms and Armor and a variety of talented custom makers both in the states and comming out of Eastern Europe to choose from if theres something you want that production maker don't offer. The only limit today really is how far your wallet can get you to the pure/realistic your after.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: Carl Heinz on March 02, 2009, 11:51:22 AM
I'd add Jim Hrisoulas at Salamander Armory ( to the list.  As an aside, he's now working on his fourth book on blade smithing.
Title: Re: Hollow Swordblades?
Post by: ALS on March 02, 2009, 05:11:50 PM
I wasn't making a list persae, just examples, a list of custom domestic makers alone is quite long which Jim would certainly be on. Domestically off the top of my head theres John Gage, Howard Clark ( a super nice dude), Tinker, John Ludenmo at Odin Blades, Old Dominion Forge, Rick Barrett ( fabulous patter welded blades,favors Japanese but will do whatever you want and is a great guy), Vince Evans ( this guy may be the king) and a couple i'm forgeting, Jim of course, Jason Dingeldine at Tiger Claw Forge, has closed up shoppe and gone into the Airborne. Paul Champagne to. If you looking at just knife makers, rather than swords, that list is huge, the art knife world is huge here in the states and there are literally hundereds of really talented knife makers out there. Theres a bunch of really talented guys in the UK doing custom work as well.