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Author Topic: Blade Lore  (Read 2467 times)

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Offline Liam Dale

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2018, 10:25:05 PM »
These naval blades are all really nice, and I love how much I'm learning from each of your posts. Looking forward to the next one!

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2018, 04:35:58 AM »
One more naval blade before we move on. The naval dagger is different from the cutlass, boarding pike and boarding axe in several ways. For one thing it has less practical value in a fight; it can be thrust but has little reach and is basically just for thrusting. For another it was a personal weapon, carried primarily by midshipmen and lower officers. For a third, it is still in use today as a part of ceremonial and parade uniforms.



The shape of such daggers varies somewhat, but all I have seen have a basic daggerlike blade and a straight grip with a small crossguard. The one above is a British navy dagger from about 1800. Notice the metal sheath.



How many navies in the age of sail utilized the dagger (aka dirk) as a practical weapon is impossible to say. Of the 20th century the most known version on the market is the Kriegsmarine dagger of WW1 and WW2, which is highly ornate and probably better at opening letters than at fighting. See above. While anything can happen in war I have yet to hear of such a blade being wielding in a fight this side of the 19th century. Which is not strange, considering that it was not meant to be carried on a combat uniform.

On a side not, a number of airforces also carry naval daggers as ceremonial blades. I have no certain facts as to why, but there are some possible reasons. One is that the airforce in some countries - like Norway - started out as part of the navy rather than the army before becoming a service of their own. Another possibility is that a pilot with a cavalry sword looks rather silly...

Being officer weapons the daggers are generally more decorative, takes less room and is more keenly collected than their more utilitarian brethren. Copies, especially of the German ones, are overflowing the market. But they certainly makes for a nice display.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 05:09:22 AM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #27 on: May 09, 2018, 04:45:23 PM »
Moving on to proper swords. But before we get down to cases, let's look at swords in general. Among all the non-firearms I can think of, all but the sword started out as farm tool or hunting weapons. The axe, the spear, the whip, the nunchako, the slingshot, the bow and arrow, the knife, the bayonet - they were all eventually turned into weapons of war, but their roots were humble. Not so the sword. Be it in their shortest versions or the longest, this was a tool for killing humans from the day the first sword was carried into combat until the last - a span of at least 3000 years. It developed many times, partly influenced by local culture and partly as specific tasks benefited from specific shapes, but most of all the developing science of metallurgy decided what was possible. While the shape of a blade was information that could spread like wildfire, the best way to shape iron ore into metal was often a secret guarded by both the state and the smiths. Even the lowliest village smith was held in high esteem, but the army's swords were cranked out by the army arsenals to maintain their quality. Officer swords too, but the officers had the option of purchasing privately. A little too mild steel, and the sword would bend at the first hard whack. A little too hard steel, and the blade might shatter. Both problems could be lethal to the wielder.



While metalwork and swordmaking was known to the known world early enough, and the skill of making them spread, there was another factor as well. Making iron is one thing. Making high quality steel requires not just skill but also a carbon content that the metal makers had difficulties controlling. But some geographical areas were rich with well suited ore, and became large scale exporters. Far away Persia were chief among them, and some of the best swords of the 7-9th century and the pre-medieval period were made with it. The export eventually dried up as the world got too busy with the wars.

One thing to be aware of is that a sword, at least up to the era of mass production and proper armies, was as a rule not the common foot soldier's weapon but rather a mark of wealth and power. While both Roman and Greek armies placed a rather short sword in their soldier's belts the main weapon was the spear. The viking armies, a thousand years later, were armed with spears and axes and so were the defensive forces in the homelands. Their captains and the wealthy sons had swords and many if not most of the swords dug up in Norway were found in wealthy graves.

A sword is loosely defined by 'being longer than a dagger', having at least one sharp edge and a point, and by having a crossguard. By comparison a machete, lacking a crossguard, is not technically a sword, because while it can parry a blow and certainly deal a lethal one, a parried strike can still slide down along the blade and dismember the wielder. Then again the machete is the one 'sword' that indeed did develop from being a farming tool.

« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 04:50:37 PM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2018, 05:03:58 PM »
It's been a long day so I'm throwing in something of an anachronism among folding knives. Just as many go for the modern, 'tactical' look - in case they are ever chased by a Blade Runner? - there are many who go in the opposite direction and prefer the clean, classic and minimalistic designs. This goes double for the history buffs and reenactment fans who want something that blends in, even if the steel quality still has to deliver.



One such folder is French, the Opinel. What started out as a single model at the end of the 19th century, has developed into a number of fairly similar variations plus a few other models, but as the picture shows this is a very basic knife with a few odd characteristics. One of these is the wraparound wooden grip. Another is the locking mechanism which is held in some awe for being harder and tighter than most folders. It is said that Opinel users routinely knock the folder on something hard to open it. I Have not touched one of these in decades so I can't confirm this to be fact rather than myth.

The redeeming factor of the Opinel knives is that they are fairly cheap. And then there is of course its genuine rustic French style, which has become a cultural classic. And clearly since Opinel sells 15 million of them each year they can't be just cheap...

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #29 on: May 14, 2018, 03:30:45 PM »
3000 years of making steel blades. Besides shape, has there really been any major changes? One of the biggest are also one of the most recent: stainless steel. While smiths have been doing many arcane and experimental things with steel to make blades stronger and better, the adding of chrome and molybdenum has been a real game changer. Blades used to be susceptible to all sorts of damage; not just the wear and tear of use, but also rust and other chemical weaknesses - iron is a metal that reacts to many chemicals. We usually refer to the more traditional steel as carbon steel. Nowadays most knives and bayonets and most sword reproductions are made in stainless steel. Carbon steel is still used in some cases, where the customers prefer it, or for traditional reasons - straight shaving razors for instance. Since carbon steel can be polished to a shine you might not instantly be able to tell the difference, but the weight difference will be noticeable.

Stainless steel pros: Hard, lighter of weight, impervious to salt water and some other chemicals, holds an edge well, hard to bend and scratch, can be made very thin. Obviously, also does not get stained.
Stainless steel cons: Brittler than carbon steel. Requires more work to sharpen into a really fine edge.
Typical blades: Especially kitchen knives, and all multitool blades like Swiss army knives.

Carbon steel pros: Gets VERY sharp if the job is done right
Carbon steel cons: Gets dull with use quicker. Gets easily stained, rusted and pitted if not kept clean, and the edge is more easily badly damaged
Typical blades: Perhaps the most common user of a carbon steel blade will be a carpenter and other craftsmen who benefit from heavy and very sharp blades and consider resharpening of their tools just another part of their job.

I should also add that some knife makers build their blades like a sandwich, putting one type of metal into the edge area and another into the main body, then putting an outer layer of a third metal around it like a coat. This usually makes for an expensive product.

There are many nuances of steel, with varying amounts of the basic elements and also varying amounts of heat and other types of treatment. Some manufacturers will readily inform the customers specifically of what steel their knife models are made from, and some blade nerds will be ready to argue all day about which steel is the better. I am not quite a big enough knife nerd to go there.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 03:36:15 PM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #30 on: May 15, 2018, 06:47:37 AM »
Civilian swords were status symbols, expensive, and often crafted to the specifications of the customer. Military swords and bayonets were also handcrafted, but mass produced by the thousands according to rigid specifications. They were given model numbers and serial numbers, after being tested by arsenal inspectors who also left their personal inspection marks on each sample. On top of that there might be a national symbol, the arsenal's symbol, and the year of production. A veritable treasure chest of information of a blade's origin.



But military blades differ from civilian ones in another aspect too. An astounding number of them are Frankensteins.

By the inherent nature of militarism, every armed force needs to possess more weapons than they need at the moment. A peacetime army is extremely expensive and is normally kept at the minimum size needed to function, but even they will have wear and tear on their weapons and gear making it necessary to have a percentage of spares on store. Once war looms this force will have to balloon up and the new soldiers will have to be equipped instantly. There might not be any time whatsoever to purchase or manufacture new weapons, even if they could be imported safely - which is rarely the case. So all those mobilization force weapons will have to be on store too.

Except keeping a large store of modern weapons in stock is very expensive too. And spending on such things during peace is something all civilian politicians and accountants hate... so this is where things get shady. Doesn't matter if we are talking about assault rifles or muskets or lances; the reality is that these mobilization arms tend to be old stock. At best they are the previous model. At worst they are badly outdated. But quite often it does not matter much because either the soldier is not a combat one or the weapon is unlikely to see much use. For instance, British and American tankers were until recently armed with submachineguns as old as WW2 issue (Early postwar Sterling and M3 greaseguns). In Iraq!



Or to go back to a more relevant period; the Napoleonic War. A period soldier, depending on his function, could be burdened down with a musket, a long bayonet and on top of that a sword. If it was a high status unit all his gear might be brand new, latest model and privately procured. Low status units would be issued whatever was in the store room; worn uniforms, old muskets and Frankenstein blades.

A Frankenstein weapon (my choice of word) is essentially something designed from several other weapons. This didn't happen with civilian-made weapon but an arsenal would often find itself with thousands, even tens of thousands of identical, quite obsolete weapons. In times of need such museum pieces could be taken apart, then combined with other obsolete weapons to produce something that fulfilled an entirely other need. Take the blade from one sword, the grip from another and the scabbard from a third. Thus a retired cavalry saber could end up as an infantry soldier's weapon.

Often the changes were even more radical than reassembly. Bayonets, who were an important part of the battlefield long after the last sword had been sheathed, could have a long and tortured journey. They were usually made to fit one specific rifle. But the technological progress of rifle design just went faster and faster, and since bayonets seemed - to the generals - to have little practical use, a vast number of older bayonets were altered to fit the newer model rifles. The socket ring could be remade or simply removed, the blade itself shortened to half its original length and completely reprofiled, markings removed and new ones put on. And even stranger, enemy bayonets captured on the battlefield were similarly reworked - or sold to a third country which then would put it to use. Which was then captured and put into use by the enemy AGAIN....



Turkey in particular has a history with reworking bayonets. After World War 1 the old Ottoman empire of which Turkey was the center had been at the Allied forces' mercy and Turkey was in great need to rearm but with limited funds to achieve it. What they had were some spoils from the last war, and Germany was helping out a bit with leftovers, and they bought 'second hand' weaponry left and right. At this point the Turks were inventoring rifles and bayonets covering a 40+ year long timespan while all their remaining borders were in turmoil and the next war could start at any minute. What you see above are just the official Turkish models at the time!



This is an 'ersatz' (substitute production) all metal German WW1 bayonet of low quality, reworked further by a Turkish arsenal. Still capable of killing but miles and miles away from the at-the-time manufacture standards of most of Europe.

« Last Edit: May 15, 2018, 06:54:35 AM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #31 on: May 16, 2018, 05:17:39 AM »
Some knives have a slightly more personal history than others. The Bowie knife is an icon in America and known as one of the weapons that 'won the West'. Myth and fact can overlap, though. Especially when original Bowie knives are hard to come by. I have not been able to find a photo of an original Bowie for this post.



The Bowie knife is named after Jim Bowie, the famous frontiersman who died in the defence of the nation in the historic defense of Alamo. Who actually invented it remains clouded in time; his brother Rezin may have designed it but the actual smithwork may or may not have been done by James Black, a renowned smith at the time. There were a number of early designs, and they may not all have had the same designer or smiths.

Basically the whole blade is a design with roots in South America and Spain, as a large tool and weapon. The clip point is more unique though, and the crossguard belongs on a parrying weapon rather than on a hunter's tool. But the blade was marketed as a weapon from the start, and leaning on Jim Bowie's reputation as a knife fighter. There were however other contemporary blades of similar designs and the Bowie may not have been the first, even in USA, with this particular shape.



The Bowie has been copied by many manufacturers, with a lot variations, and can be be found in the crudest as well as the most exquisite versions. However it always remains something of a crowbar with its length and weight and brute strength.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #32 on: May 17, 2018, 05:57:09 AM »
Here is another oddball. Folding knives have come a long way since the simplest hinged and unlocked versions, but still someone occasionally manages to come up with something new. But not necessarily an improvement.



What you see is a swingblade. Instead of conventionally having two blades on a single hinge, the swingblade requires one of the two blades to stick out at all times while the other, rigidly opposed to the first, is stuck inside the handle. Which gives considerable more strength to the knife while wielded compared to a normal folder, but still leaves you with a sheath knife.



Call me a traditionalist, but personally I think this is novelty crap. I doubt these knives habitually fall apart in the hands of the users, and I can see the point in having the option of two very different blades, but ask any toolsman what the ideal number of moving parts on a tool should be and they will answer: "ZERO". If I know I am going on a trip that requires two very different blade types (like cleaning up game during a hunt) I will damn well be carrying two knives each with their own handle. 

However, this type of blade is now offered by a number of manufacturers. Unless the product had a potential customer base, this oddball would already be gone.

Offline Liam Dale

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #33 on: May 17, 2018, 08:11:55 AM »
Maybe this particular folding knife is made for someone like me, a total noob who's simply fascinated with blades and love to use them on his stories, but in reality has no idea of how to wield them... I say this because when I first saw this post I was like 'Oh, so cool!' And then I read what you wrote and was like 'Okay... But they're still pretty~'

I still have to read about the last blades you posted as I didn't have time yet, but I'm eager to learn more! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #34 on: May 17, 2018, 08:38:29 AM »
Maybe this particular folding knife is made for someone like me, a total noob who's simply fascinated with blades and love to use them on his stories, but in reality has no idea of how to wield them... I say this because when I first saw this post I was like 'Oh, so cool!' And then I read what you wrote and was like 'Okay... But they're still pretty~'

I still have to read about the last blades you posted as I didn't have time yet, but I'm eager to learn more! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

Heh. The pictures show blades of different function. On the first picture, the first blade is a drop point which is a good general shape. The other is a specialty blade for skinning game. Because a sharp tip can easily cut into the gut of the carcass, which is a disaster. A proper butcher kit will include four different blades, but that gets impractical to carry in a backpack in the field when you already need the space and weight for other things. The second picture shows a narrow filleting blade plus a gut knife; great for cutting clean fine meat or fish but useless for chopping wood and ropework. What I have seen of swingblades so far involves useful blades and good enough handles. What really nags me is how to keep them meticulously clean after you have used them and gotten them soaked in blood.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #35 on: May 18, 2018, 01:26:11 PM »
Today's post is in the direction of 'Don't Do This At Home'. Or anywhere else.



One of the ways people some times use knives, is batoning. This is the practice of cleaving planks and firewood by placing the knife where the cut is desired, then hammer down on the blade with a rock, piece of wood or a tool. This is fucking stupid. You may argue that you have done this lots of times, but the fact is that you are exerting considerable kinetic force down on an inch long segment of narrow piece of metal that has not in any way been designed to resist it. The edge, honed to the best of the manufacturer's ability, is also absolutely not created to be hammered into anything - in fact a wood chopping axe which actually is made for such a task, is not sharp at all and it certainly is not made of knife steel.

Oh, and if you think this advice is too obvious to be worth the time - this is how I broke my dad's best knife during a camping trip, at the age of 12... it was a nice knife too.



Similarly you should think two, four and eight times before deciding to hammer your knife tip into anything. Even if what you have is a proper dagger with epic steel there is no such thing as a knife meant for penetration into hard material. Stabbing through a brief layer of light armor and past heavy clothing into a soft belly yes indeed, but try using a machine to force a knife blade into a tree trunk and in all probability you will need a machine to get it out again. The narrow tip is made to penetrate not cleave, and the narrow edge will cut its way into material and slide itself into an envelope it can't be ripped out of again.

if you SHOULD find yourself with a knife buried an inch deep and mysteriously stuck into something pretty solid, then remember that the tip is the weakest and most easily broken part of the blade. Do NOT try to crowbar sideways. Careful small up and down movement along the blade's axis is slightly better but remember that you don't know exactly what your knife is stuck in, right beneath the surface. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BATTER YOUR WAY OUT OF THIS ONE. What you could do is lodging the piece of wood it is probably stuck in between two trees or rocks, so you can apply your feet muscles' strength to do like King Arthur and pull the knife out clean. Just remember that just because Arthur didn't manage to stab himself in his groin in the process, you might not have the same luck to live in a legend - because if you yank it out like that, it will be coming at some speed. The PROPER way to get a stuck blade out is to use a bigger tool to widen out the crack your knife is stuck in because then no force will be exerted at your knife, but I realize that if you have proper tools present you'd need a big excuse to not using them instead of the knife in the first place...
« Last Edit: May 18, 2018, 03:48:02 PM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2018, 05:04:58 AM »
One of the most misunderstood blade features are sawbacks (other than on actual saws). This is something you can find on old bayonets, combat knives, 'survival knives' and even folding knives. But are they more than bonus features?











From top to bottom: a German M98/5 bayonet from primarily WW1, a British artillery sword, the iconic Rambo survival knife, the Russian ubiqutuous AK74 bayonet and a typical Swiss folding knife.

One myth from World War One was that Allied soldiers, when they came across German soldiers with sawback bayonets, would kill them rather than take them prisoners because the sawback was such a gruesome and sadistic weapon, so eventually the Germans filed away the sawbacks. This is absurd, because the Allied forces had sawbacked blades too - but I am not discounting the tale. Because war is absurd by definition and the victorious side killing prisoners of war for any excuse has always been common.

What is fact is that sawbacks are inherently bad on a killing tool. Sure they are capable of cutting into meat, but what they really are capable of is subsequently getting firmly stuck. A soldier standing still tugging madly for a minute to get the bayonet out of the corpse he stabbed to the hilt while running is the perfect target for the slain enemy's buddy.

Sawbacks were never made for fighting. Their origin is chiefly with artillerists and engineers who had a continuous need to clear away underbrush for their cannons, and whose unit equipment horses might not make it anywhere near them in the hour of need. Since artillery usually were in the rear of any battle, these bayonets as killing tools were low priority anyway.

It is however true that many sawback bayonets eventually had the sawback removed. Artillery forces had less need for them as increased range and heavier cannons changed the battlefield situation, equipment trains with all the heavy shovels and proper saws became more reliable, and so these bayonets were filed down and given to other types of soldiers.

On a smaller blade like a survival knife or a modern bayonet or a folding knife, the idea of clearing away swathes of underbrush with 2-4 inches of hand saw is a bit foolish. Nor is it the purpose it was placed there for. A knife is created to cut through fairly soft things and as soon as something hard is placed before it, a fine edge is in trouble - even if it cuts through, the blade edge is diminishing pretty quick. What the saw edge offers is a way to deal with a little bit of hard material; a corded rope, a bone, even a plastic pipe.

A saw edge on a knife's blade will always be a compromise though, adding options at a cost. It make the blade more likely to snag on stuff, the blade gets thinner and thereby weaker. On top of that the more fanciful manufacturers tend to make saw teeth that are too big, and only allows sawing in one direction. As if the job wasn't going to take long enough in the first place. I am willing to bet that 90% of all knife sawbacks have never been used - not even once. Any fantasy artist that place a sawbacked sword in his hero's hand needs a good smacking because with non modern metallurgy that's a recipe for discarding saw teeth like confetti at the first parried blow. Not to mention that it will get the blade firmly stuck in the pissed off dragon....



Online Oniya

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #37 on: May 19, 2018, 01:09:09 PM »
I will confess that I've used the saw blade on my Swiss Army Knife to cut through a three-inch grapevine root.  It was the only blade that I could manipulate in the space I had under the rhododendron it was strangling.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #38 on: May 20, 2018, 07:48:25 AM »
How small can a knife blade be and still have a purpose? If you have ever come across a folding knifes whose blade are the size of tooth picks, it could be a novelty item but it could also be what was once a frequently seen smoker's tool - a pipe knife, also referred to as a pipe tool. They are basically meant for unclogging a pipe.



The above version is decorative and I have seen them almost impossibly dainty and brittle yet prettily made. Not all are in the same configuration.



You will notice that there are two main blades; the wide blade with a discrete tip, and the nail-like spike. Keep in mind that on many pipes, the head and the mouthpiece can both be unscrewed for easier access and replacements.

A regular folding knife with numerous blades could incorporate such tools too but they are seldom encountered today; the tobacco pipe smoker may not be an entirely dying breed but it is a small flock.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #39 on: May 21, 2018, 05:48:08 AM »
Today's case is another sample of exotic India. The katar is a push dagger, a rare type of weapon elsewhere in the world. It was first heard of in 14th century India and became as much a symbol of wealth and power as a killing tool.



The defining features are the cross grip and the triangular blade. It is best used in a boxing-like direct punch, which lands terrifying force on the enemy with the wielder's full weight added to the blade's weight, allowing the blade tip to cut straight through clothes, chainmail and other light armor. You will notice the thick reinforced blade tip; this was preferred for weapons carried into war. The rich man's toys were daintier and had a lot more decorations. This military blade also have arm reinforcements.



This is definitely a rich man's toy, with less of a blade but with no less than two flintlock guns installed, and exquisite handwork.

The katar as a weapon has pluses and minuses. In the hands of a spoiled merchantman it would be a mere decoration. A fast. nimble, mean and lean fighter would be able to land that fatal blow - but he would need all that nimbleness just to stay alive, because this is not a weapon well suited for parrying at all. It can indeed thrust, and it can slash - but the reach is barely any longer than the wielder's fist. That would however do nicely in a crowded inn or a dark narrow back street.

Online Oniya

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #40 on: May 21, 2018, 10:35:57 AM »
Gotta say, those teeny flintlocks - gives a new meaning to the term 'finger gun'.  I can't see those things firing anything more than a single 00 buckshot pellet.  Maaaybe 000, if the walls of the barrel are thin enough.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #41 on: May 21, 2018, 11:01:30 AM »
Gotta say, those teeny flintlocks - gives a new meaning to the term 'finger gun'.  I can't see those things firing anything more than a single 00 buckshot pellet.  Maaaybe 000, if the walls of the barrel are thin enough.

Well, the bigger hand you imagine holding that weapon the bigger those guns get :) But small caliber firearms have a long history too. I own a couple of percussion boot guns from maybe the 1840s whose barrels are so small bored I might not get a pencil down them. I suppose looking at them from the front end would still be an incentive to back off.

Online Oniya

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #42 on: May 21, 2018, 12:18:24 PM »
Well, the bigger hand you imagine holding that weapon the bigger those guns get :) But small caliber firearms have a long history too. I own a couple of percussion boot guns from maybe the 1840s whose barrels are so small bored I might not get a pencil down them. I suppose looking at them from the front end would still be an incentive to back off.

I was going proportionately, assuming that the grip was two fingers wide (based on the shaping), and assuming that the flintlock was about the same size as a man's finger.  My finger is about 15 mm wide, scaling that up to more masculine proportions - probably still not going to crack 25 mm for an outer diameter.  (Checked - Mr. Oniya's index finger is about 20 mm, and he says he has small hands.)

I'd be far more intimidated by the blade than the bang.   

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #43 on: May 21, 2018, 01:14:11 PM »
I had some problems finding adequate illustration. Perhaps if I had been able to google in hindu, haha. But I believe the below illustration is correct. If only two fingers had been on the crosshilt it would have been hard to deliver a full punching movement. Or so I think; this is one weapon I have not seen firsthand. Literally.



Online Oniya

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #44 on: May 21, 2018, 01:21:17 PM »
Ah, okay.  I was thinking it was held more like brass knuckles, with the side pieces coming up between the index and middle, and the ring and pinky.  That would certainly allow for a larger flintlock.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #45 on: May 22, 2018, 09:49:08 AM »
Ah, Scotland. Home of the brave and the bloodyminded. I know of few other countries of that size which has spent so much time fighting external enemies and each other with the same enthusiasm. No wonder that they have come up with a good handful of impressive weapons and corresponding combat techniques. You have the claymore - claidheamh-mòr in Gaelic - and the spiked buckler, the dirk, and this post's topic: the Sgian Dubh. Also know as the hose knife to foreigners, as its traditional place is more or less hidden in the knee-high hose worn with the kilt. In the rest of Europe this would be considered a boot knife and have the same function.



Every formal Scottish attire includes such a dagger, and they can be real pieces of art. But they are traditional knives and can be found in many shapes from dagger to everyday tool and cutlery.



All Sgian Dubhs I have seen are fairly short but with broad blades with dagger tips. I have heard of them being used as throwing knives but I remain reserved as the grips are traditional made of heavy wood, which means the point of balance will be unduly rearward - and this is a small blade in the first place. But it is certainly capable delivering a killing blow in the right hand.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 09:51:22 AM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #46 on: May 23, 2018, 06:29:59 AM »
This one is a home run of sorts. Scandinavia has long blade traditions, going back at least 5000 years judging by some of the oldest discovered iron ore extraction facilities. Some of those traditions are still honored, with a variety of established sheath knife styles. (And axes, but all things in time.) Scandinavia's total land mass is big but the total population isn't, so trade routes used to crisscross the whole place. Another handy thing to understand for this post is that Scandinavia (and the most western upper part of Russia) shares one indigenous people, the Lapps as they are known in English, who shares a distant heritage and still often makes a living from their flocks of rein deer. In modern times, most of them are integrated well enough to be found in any type of modern living and even the herdsmen are still only nomadic for a few weeks a year, and in the most modern sense.



One of these cross-cultural items are a traditional knife which in my language is called a "samekniv", a Lapp knife. But you can also find the same knife in Sweden, and in Finland - and the curious thing is that the Finns call it a Finn Knife. So which is the true origin? Does it really matter?



The Lapp knife is made in different sizes, but around here it is best known in its biggest version which is almost the size of a small machete. The blade is completely straight but for that curved tip and a story goes that the lapps were simply filing a curve and edge on a bar then mounting a grip on it. Master smiths like Isak Strømeng would probably like to differ.



The blade is heavy and versatile and fulfills multiple roles in the field. It makes a handy axe for underbrush and branches, it is well suited for butchering - as you could expect would be a vital job for rein deer cowboys - and you can still use it for rope cutting and bread slicing and finer tasks. You might manage to dull the blade but in general the knife is near indestructible. I doubt I'll ever manage to wear out mine, and I have had it 30 years so far.

The sheath is interesting in that it goes straight up to the pommel, which flares out just enough to be gripped and pulled on. This is one of the safest sheaths I know about.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #47 on: May 24, 2018, 06:17:56 AM »
The least visible part of swords and rigid blade knives is the tang. This is the part of the blade that extends into the grip and ties the whole set of parts together. But while all tangs have the same function, they vary in shape and strength. Some are downright dangerous.



The basic tang shapes are full tang, part tang and rat tail tang. There's also other variations, like tapering tangs. Some times they are just a stub. How they are made differ; often the tangs are welded on. A full tang refers to a tang going the entire length of the grip; it can be as wide as the entire grip or narrow to the point where it looks like a rat tail - but a rat tail is often round rather than rectangular. This is often found in narrow swords where the grip is slender and the blade designed for stabs rather than hacks.



We all feel the same urge when we stand before a table where a sword have been placed for sale and/or display. We just have to grip it and swing it about a bit. Don't do that. Low quality swords tend to have the cheapest possible tang they can get away with and an old worn sword, even one of good quality, could have gotten more than a few hard knocks in its lifetime. When you hack and slash and whip that blade about like a musketeer - we all do it - the single point of the entire blade that gets more stress than anything else on it is the tang. Be too vigorous and you risk that the whole thing breaks apart in your hand with spectacular ballistic results. When something is being sold as a 'wall hanger' the hint should be taken.



On a knife with a relatively short blade much less force is focused on the tang. On folding knives the tang is absolutely minimal and part of a mechanism which might be relatively strong but will always be weaker than a rigid blade knife.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #48 on: May 25, 2018, 07:25:17 AM »
Where does the line go between knife - and toy? And for that matter, where does the line go between tool and weapons?



The Balisong, also called a batangas, a fan knife or a butterfly knife, have somehow become a challenge for authorities. Its origin is a simple Filipino variation of folding knife in the general shape of a dagger. It makes sense in that it is very simple in construction, perfectly safe when folded and reasonably rigid in use. But somehow the double hinged grips became a selling point to those who wanted a toy as well as a tool.



The Balisong is completely illegal in my country, you can't even OWN one, and I believe they are banned to carry in parts of USA and Canada as well. (And the UK, but that goes without saying.) Personally I think these laws are rubbish; they are no more dangerous than any other knife of the same blade length. They have probably caused more damage to owners trying to play tricks with them than any opponents.

Online Oniya

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #49 on: May 25, 2018, 12:32:10 PM »
They actually call it a 'bite handle'?  That's amusing.  I knew someone in college who had one of those (and a couple of shuriken) on campus - not that any weapons were supposed to be on campus, but there's always someone who has to act like a bad-ass.