Sword Sharpening

Discussion in 'Sword Arts Talk' started by Lisa, May 20, 2006.

  1. Lisa

    Lisa Don't get Chewed!

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    I am curious as to how one sharpens a sword. I am presuming that it would be quite different from the sharpening of a knife. Although I am sure keeping it razor sharp may not be completely necessary, I presume that with time and training it does dull the blade. What is the proper way to sharpen a sword?
     
  2. mantis

    mantis Master Black Belt

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    you know I have your same questions today as to how to clean/sharpen the sword. i have no answer unfortunately, but i am interested in knowing the answer.
    my question for you is what kind of sword to you have?
    got pic's of it?
    I still owe you pictures of my horse cutter that things is totally AMAZING!!!
     
  3. Lisa

    Lisa Don't get Chewed!

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    Alas mantis, my question comes from pure curiousity. Unfortunately my sword ownership is a big fat zero. :(...but I have rifles :D, lol.

    I have stickied this thread in hopes to get some good answers for sword practitioners and a good exchange of ideas and that sticky will help keep it on the top for quick reference.
     
  4. Swordlady

    Swordlady Senior Master

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    A sword's edge does not need to be as sharp as a razor's. In fact, if a sword edge is too sharp, it would lose its edge faster. The way a sword is heat treated gives its ability to retain an edge. A well-made sword with good heat treat will keep its edge for a long time, without the need for resharpening. That is, if you don't do something stupid like trying to cut down a tree or something. ;)

    I've never tried resharpening any of my swords before; I generally send the sword back to its maker for a "tuneup". From what I understand, sharpening a sword isn't all that difficult, but you have to be careful to keep the edge line even. Otherwise, you'll have an unevenly sharpened sword.
     
  5. Lisa

    Lisa Don't get Chewed!

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    I see where you are coming from. We never change seals on our airguns or anything like that either. Quite capable of doing it, but would rather a professional do it and make sure nothing happens.

    So, even with the cutting you do in training, it stays pretty sharp? Didn't you say you cut plastic bottles? Doesn't that significantly dull the blade?
     
  6. Swordlady

    Swordlady Senior Master

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    Actually, bottle cutting hasn't really dulled my swords' edges that much. The swordmaker (Gus Trim) does a really good job heat treating the blades, which enables them to retain their edge longer. Water bottles and the like are considered to be "soft" targets anyway. What would wear down a sword's edge after a period of time is tameshigiri (Japanese mat cutting).
     
  7. BlackCatBonz

    BlackCatBonz Master Black Belt

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    The way I've seen it explained is, the sword polisher doesnt worry about getting the edge on the sword, as the sword is polished the edge is revealed.
     
  8. howard

    howard Brown Belt

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    The typical procedure for handmade katana in Japan is that the swordsmith gives the blade a rough edge, using a combination of steel drawknives and files. The swordsmith may also use a rough stone or two before passing the blade off to the polisher.

    The polisher uses a large number of successively finer polishing stones to finish the edge of the blade, and to polish the rest of the blade.
     
  9. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    Hi Lisa,
    For the Japanese style sword, sharpening is not too difficult to learn. It is somewhat expensive though, and takes much practice. Here is information courtesy of Mike Femal, a Toyama ryu instructor down in Florida who has been sharpening swords for tameshigiri for quite a number of years. A full how-to guide is in there I think ... http://toyamaryu.org/UsefullData.htm
     
  10. Captain Harlock

    Captain Harlock Orange Belt

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  11. North Star

    North Star White Belt

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    If you are sharpening a Chinese sword, take note that the traditional and practical way to sharpen such a sword is to divide it into three sections;

    the third closest to the hilt would edged, but not be sharp. This is because (like swordlady said) sharpening a blade can weaken it and this was the section used defensively (blocking, parrying etc) and also 'leverage' when you were 'sticking on' to your opponent's weapon.

    The second section would be sharp but not razor sharp.

    The third section would be razor sharp, as it is considered the 'business' end of the weapon. There is a verse, 'three foot long, but one inch kills'.

    When sharpened properly, you cannot tell the difference in the edge, may sound unbelievable, but I've got and seen swords sharpened this way.

    Hope this was of interest to someone !
     
  12. Ahriman

    Ahriman Green Belt

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    Just adding a few things which may be of interest.
    First of all, decide what the sword's intended use is. I don't mean practice vs "combat use", I mean the balance of cutting-thrusting-slicing. I don't care for the users intents with the sharpened sword here.
    Second, decide what materials it'll face. Clothes and flesh? Leather? Thick cotton? Thick and hardened leather? Mail? Plate armour? A combination of these?
    Third, keep the used material and heat-treat in mind.
    ...
    Thrusting needs a stiff, narrow blade regardless of material faced. The opposing material has effects on the required heat treatment, basically the softer the material gets, the more rigidity can be allowed. Edges here should be kept as sharp as possible to aid deepest possible penetration, but the acuteness of the edge is less needed as we progress towards the quillons. This helps achieving a blade safer to grab while halfswording.
    Slicing needs a very acute edge, the lower the edge degree is, the better. Blade rigidity is good to have, but not as much of a must as with thrusting. Best way to make a good slicing blade is hollow-grinding. This gives good stiffness and a possibility of a very acute edge. Trivially slicing can only be done against non-metal materials, and here as well, the softer the material gets, the harder the blade should be.
    Cutting is the most varied. As basic cutting uses the concept of big force on a very small surface, even an almost blunt edge would do. Basically. :D More acute edges will bite more easily, but will damage just as easy. Cutters need a thin cross-section at the part used for cutting for less resistance while travelling in a material. Edges may vary from 60 degrees (for hewing against mail) to 20 degrees. (clearly these are for cleaving through unarmoured opponents)
    ...
    As you all might know, a sword was used for more than one role, so these must be balanced well for the task. For example, if your sword would face maximally mail armour, it should have a wide, thin blade with a relatively high edge degree. If you might encounter plate-armoured opponents but still having the chance of encountering unarmoured opponents, you'd need a stiff but wide blade with considerable profile taper, preferably with a medial ridge or a hollow-ground blade, thus you can thrust against the gaps of the plate armour while being able to amputate limbs.
    This is just a very basic amount of samples. The variations change with the swordsman's needs and abilities, actual fashion, and so on.
     
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  13. Ron Kosakowski

    Ron Kosakowski Orange Belt

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    If you have a nice custom made sword or a quality made sword, i recommend going to a professional to have it sharpened. You don't wanna loose the hardness of the steel by over heating it trying to sharpen it your self. it not all that much to have done. A pro may sharpen it for $25-$35 for you. Then again, if you are not cutting stuff up with it, you may not have to sharpen it at all.
     

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