Sparring and Pads

     This particular post may not be about smithing or blades and armor, but it is indeed 100% related. Today I will discuss equipment for sword training with a partner. I spar with my best friend rather frequently and we use boffers which are oak dowels with pool noodles slid onto them. These actually offer rather good protection from even rather hard blows to arms and torso. Fingers and head are still not safe though for many reasons. The main reason for my friend and myself is that after blocking many hard blows we deal at one another, the pool noodle can be torn or crushed into the oak core. Many people use PVC cores but we worried we would break them and this lead to our choice to use oak.

     Due to these issues, I have come to realize that I must eventually purchase, at minimum, some sort of padded gloves and a helmet.

I found a hockey helmet for about $50, gloves for $30-$50, and shoulder/chest protection for $60! These are good examples:

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     My only issue is that the helmet cage may still allow a wooden sword through to the eyes. To remedy this, I have considered using stainless steel jump rings to cover the gaps. For visibility, perhaps use a Japanese style weave:

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     Hope you all enjoy! I will continue this topic another time!

Project Inspirations

     I first realized that I wanted to make swords when I was only ten years old. I discussed this briefly in my last post, I admit that I first found I wanted to make swords after playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when I was seven. At the age of ten, I started doing slight research and at seventeen and eighteen I stepped up my research. I must say that I always wanted to make the Master Sword.

Master Sword, Copyright Nintendo.

Master Sword, Copyright Nintendo.

There are a few hand forged Master Sword replicas, but few are more beautiful than this one:

The Legend of Zelda was by far my first inspiration, but it has only been one of many inspirations. My next inspiration is the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I love his elves as portrayed in his literary works. I also love the way elven artwork was interpreted in the film series by Peter Jackson, though I dislike his many errors to the story.

2nd Age Elven Sword for the LotR movies

2nd Age Elven Sword for the LotR movies

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     Not only is the artistry of the blade sweeping and beautiful, but there is also much aesthetic value in the armor as well, which has long caught my attention:

3rd Age Elven Armor

3rd Age Elven Armor

I have an acquaintance who is a swordsmith. Much of his work is inspired by Tolkien as well and he is a brilliant smith and artist!  David DelaGardelle has served as a strong inspiration for my designs as well, even if he focuses more towards the Dwarven aesthetic. Check him out at http://cedarloreforge.com/

Here is a most beautiful example of his work:

Fine Artwork by Dave DelaGardelle

Fine Artwork by Dave DelaGardelle

Sword by David DelaGardelle

     My swords from my last post were inspired by elven design, but I won’t be able to fully execute my designs until I have gained much more experience. I intend to begin again as soon as possible.

Beginning Experience

When it comes to smithing and armor, I have little experience with the crafts. However, I have quite a passion for making things with my hands and also for weapons and armor, so I intend to continue and eventually take some blacksmithing classes.

In high school, I completed a project on swordsmithing and I spent sixty hours in total working at a forge where I made a long knife, a short sword, and a pendant.

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This was the first time I had ever worked in a forge and I had only my research and one person who could offer me some very basic smithing advice. The lady who helped me had had some experience in artist blacksmithing, but had never forged a blade.  I set to work at my first available chance because this was something I had wanted to do since I was ten years old.

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Smithing is some of the most difficult work I have ever done, but I enjoyed every moment I spent at the forge. The blades I made were never intended to be functional. Since these were my very first projects, I used low carbon or mild carbon scrap steel in order to eliminate cost for the project. I knew it would turn out crude, so I didn’t want to waste any good materials.

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I began with small square stock and took twelve hours to make a long knife just as practice before I began on my sword, which was originally intended to be a longsword (pictured above).  I failed to have any pictures taken of the forging process for the knife, but I took photos after the completion.

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After forging the blade, I heated the square stock area that would be the handle with an oxy-acetylene torch and used two pairs of vice grips with ground off teeth in order to twist the handle. I then ground and sanded the blade. It didn’t turn out well, but I didn’t expect it to. I just did my best with the full intention of perfecting my art through practice.

My next project, as said before, was intended to be a longsword with a swept single edge, but I later found stress fractures at the midpoint from where I attempted to flatten out the arch created by working one side too much, but I allowed the steel to get too cool, so it fractured.  I ended up having to cut it off and make a short sword.

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The short sword project was never completed, but I still intend to finish it someday though this project is now four years past. Despite my many mistakes, I am pleased with my accomplishments using only research and hard work.  I intend to learn from a real smith someday and continue to improve!

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