Step 1: Getting Started and Practice Weapons, & How to Make Boffer Swords
Fencing: Is the art of armed combat involving cutting, stabbing, or bludgeoning weapons directly manipulated by hand, rather than shot or thrown. Example weapons include swords,knives, pikes, bayonets, batons, clubs, and similar. It also refers to the modern sport fencing, which is the most developed of western swordsmanship to be seen. For the purpose of this Instructable, unless otherwise noted, it will refer to the first explanation.
Sword: Good grief, if you don't know that one, go find something else to do.
Swordsman: One who wields a sword.
Practice Weapons (or waster): A weapon that has been modified, or made outright, to be safe enough for
use for practicing.
Many people seem to believe that they can buy a sword online for $50 bucks, go beat up some cardboard boxes, and boom, there a swordsmen. That is a good way to get started fast, and experience the sound of ringing steel and massive, bleeding wounds.We don't want to do that.
The best place to start is with either with wood swords, or my preference boffer weapons. A boffer weapon is a combat arts practice weapon, which consists of a core (usually pvc pipe) covered in foam (pvc pipe insulation), with some sort of coating (duct tape,fiberglass tape, latex, etc). They are extremely safe, for example, whack someone in the head with a real sword, they'd be dead, with a wood sword, there unconcious, with a boffer sword,they get really mad, but there still alive and healthy. Boffer weapons are versatile (fight with them anytime,anywhere), durable, safe (you're hitting people with foam, whats safer than that?), fun, cheap and easy to make. For these reasons they are great for
all swordsmen, regardless of skill level.
Wood swords are also a good starting point, but as mentioned, they can still inflict some damage. There are many good Instructables on making wooden swords (go to the group Soul of the Sword, it has the best sword Instructables, we made it) so I'll just show you some pictures of mine (with notations on how to make them).
Notes on the pictures describe how to make them.
Step 2: Introduction
But what exactly is a sword? Simply a long, sharp piece of metal, a tool, to be used like any other?
We believe not.
Bushido, the Way of the Warrior (feudal japan) taught that the Katana was as important to the samurai as his very soul, and that it should be treasured. As such, the swords were given names and passed down from generation to generation. Though this is a rather extreme example, this is typical of the respect paid to swords all over the world.
What of other swords?
Scimitars, synonymous with the middle east have permeated popular culture, making appearances in a number of Games
Broadswords are common at historical re-enactments, any viking worth his weight in pillage would never be seen without his sword. The better viking broadswords were often pattern-welded, with twisted steel rods in the core, to provide flexibility, with a solid steel strip on the cutting edge.
But what exactly is a sword? Is it simply, as before, a tool? or is there more to the matter?
It could be argued that a sword is the culmination of all the effort it has taken to create: from mining the ore to smelting it, to forging it to shape to the final process of testing, but that leaves out the user's input.
Personally, I believe a sword is a record, a tangible record of all the input it has recieved.
A well-made sword is a pleasure to look at and to use. When used correctly and cared for well, it can continue to be functional and beautiful for centuries.
by Vendigroth, and the first 2 sentences by Rocketscientist2015
Step 3: How to Tell a Good Sword From a Bad One, Or, How Not to Buy a Bad Sword
Recently, when mooching about Ebay, I've noticed seriously LOADS of swords (i only searched for Katana, i didn't look for anything else) that look like seriously cheap, nasty, DANGEROUS stuff.
So, on to the instruction-bit.
The first thing you need to look out for is price. In this matter, money is everything.
If a site (or person) is offering you a "REAL Japanese samurai sword" for $20 or something, i can guarantee, it's probably never SEEN a samurai. I can guarantee, it's not been hand made, the steel's probably stainless (no good for swords, it's too brittle)
So if someone's trying to sell you a sword you KNOW is too cheap for what it claims to be, it's almost certainly worthless.
If someone's trying to sell you an "Authentic samurai sword, captured in WW2" or similar, it's probably crap. Samurai did not fight in WW2. Japanese officers DID use swords, but they were mass-produced and through-hardened, not really a samurai's sword.
If the seller has an address in mainland china, the sword is probably of....dubious quality.
"Authentic Old Samurai Swords" roughly translates from internet-ripoff-speak to normal English as "acid-etched and buried in the ground for 2 weeks". Anything that goes out of its way to convince you of its authenticity is probably fake.
So basically, if someone's claiming the sword's authentic, chances are: it isn't.
On to more physical matters: If the sword looks wrong, like if the Hamon (the wavy line down the blade edge) is too regular, or is made of regular scratches from a buffing machine, or has been etched, the sword's no good.
If the bevels in the sword are wavy, washed-out or taper incorrectly, this is a sign that the sword's been ground in a hurry, and hasn't had any care or attention paid while it's been made.
There's a video on youtube, wherein some guy bangs a katana on the table
"they're so durable!"
He was an idiot.
(Actually, it wasn't a Katana he banged on the table. They're curved.)
Note also, the use of "probably" in this article. i really can't say for certain what's good and what's not without seeing it, and it'd be wrong to make generalisations, but 9 times out of 10, if you see a sword for sale that matches what i've said in this article, it's to be avoided.
Step 4: NEVER FEAR!
Not to Worry, there are.
Some are made in a single steel, selectively hardened and then polished to bring out the Hamon, others are forge-welded.
The one thing these swords have in common is the fact that they were made by hand, by a skilled craftsman.
These swords don't claim to be real, anyone can see that. They are real, and anyone with a tiny bit of sense can see that.
On that site, there are pictures of real swords, made by mister Sorrells himself, and a guide to how to spot bad swords that was the inspiration for this.