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Size of Guards

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Posted · Report post

Hello all,

Any rule of thumb on length of guards? Short sword Vs long sword? 6'', 8'' or longer. Any ideas?

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Posted · Report post

It might help if you're more specific about what kind of sword you're asking about. Geographic region? Time period? Style?

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Posted · Report post

It depends very much on the type of sword and type of guard---a cup hilted rapier is quite different from a viking sword from a katzbalger from a parang from a katana from....

There is some things to think about: a sword designed for edge work is usually blade heavy while one for point work is often balanced at the guard. The size and weight of the hilting can be what shifts the POB for it's use.

So what timeperiod and what place? (and if it's a fantasy piece you still may want to model how it handles off a real historical blade)

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Posted · Report post

Looking at more medieval style of blades. I have been banging away on some leaf springs. Was just looking for some general info about basic guard design.

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Posted · Report post

well that IS a time period, for what country? you really have not thought much about this have you?

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Posted · Report post

"More medieval style" doesn't narrow it down much! Early medieval with simple cross guards, high medieval with more options, late medieval beginning the massive growth in types of hilts.

A good book is probably the way to start "Cut and Thrust Weapons" Eduard Wagner has some good examples and you should be able to ILL it at your local public library.

The guard definitely plays into how the sword is used too. Unfortunately a lot of sword books do not list the specs on the guards; but they often do list the width of the blade at the hilt transition and so by accurately measuring that in a drawing or picture you can do a simple ratio to find out how long/thick the guard is from that same picture.

As an example lets say that the early medieval sword is 2" broad at the hilt according to the description: when we measure the picture is shows up as 1/2" so we know we need to multiply any measurement we take from that photo by 4 and so can measure the guard, multiply by 4 and Bob's your Uncle! Good clean photos or accurate scale drawings really help this.

If you were out here I would let you use my research library; but those books don't leave my possession!
The Wallace Collection Catalog has a lot of information on the blades in it; but is not a typical book to find. ILL may help; but they tend toward the ornate in the later blades.

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Posted · Report post

Yes, I did think about it. Not going for a true historical repro. Just making blades from leaf springs and was looking for some general guidance. Once I finish one I will post pics.

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Posted · Report post

Best guidance I can offer is to keep the weight of the total sword down to medieval examples!

Taper everything! Helps a lot.

If you have the blade pre-made you can rough out wood guards fast and easily to see what "looks good" and seems effective. And then duplicate in steel.

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Posted · Report post

My comment about not thinking about this relates to the fact that you still have not told us anything about what style you want to make, yet you think we should know what size guard to make. If you think about this even a little while you would understand size is dependant on style. If it isnt any "style" or "type" why ask us at all just do what you want? Like Thomas suggested, use a wood scrap to get a nice looking guard for your project and have at it with the metal.

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Posted · Report post

Why ask people that have done it before? Always good to ask people with more experience for tips! I actually expected you, Steve, to say something. And I do not expect anyone to be able read my mind. The tips I have gotten so far have been good. I will use wood for a mock up, thanks Thomas! I guess all of us new people will have to wait and gain lots of experience before posting a question or Steve will flame.

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Posted · Report post

not flaming, I am asking for details so I can give a real answer. I still have no idea if this is a single or double edge, thick and wide or thin and narrow, straight or curved, you have not told us.

We have asked and you seem to not want to answer. Why does asking for information make me a flamer, when so far you are the one that does not seem to understand what we are asking you is relevant to the answer?

If you still can not understand this and are offended by me, I am sorry, and I will not post reply's to your questions any longer.

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Posted · Report post

Some of us started this craft pre-internet days. I started with *one* book---I still have it with big black fingerprints all over it inside as I would hold it with one sooty hand while looking at my piece in the tongs in the other hand. Not a lot of blacksmithing groups back then either.

So some of us learned the *hard* ways of either having done our own research; (piles of sketches from museums that didn't allow flash photography---before digital cameras came out---things measured by how many fingers wide it was, etc) or by trial and error---a long slow process!

However this did teach you to think out your questions---if every post you make *was* a post---sent off by mail with probably a 2 week to 6 month turn around time to get an answer from someone kind enough to spend the time and money answering your mail---you #$%& well had better think out what questions you needed answered and how to state them as clearly as possible so you got the information you needed! (I well remember stopping at the "Information Desk" at a large public library and stumping the reference librarian by asking where I would find a statistical breakdown of dimensions of northern European swords of the migration period... probably hard to find that even on the net! Though I have since found a copy of a work on "The Double Edged Swords of the German Migration Period"---written in 1939 in German of course and now in my personal library Would you like the cite?)

So as people are actually spending their time trying to help it would be polite for you to spend some of your time thinking out your questions so we don't spend a week playing 20 questions.

Things like length and width of the proposed blade, fighting style (have you seen the renaissance sword manuals? We have more information on how European Sword Arts actually were taught in the renaissance than they do in Japan for Japanese Sword Arts!)

Seeing how the sword will be used makes the difference between straight short guards, straight long guards, curved guards, sword trapping guards, schiavona sword guards, full basket hilts, d guards, shell guards cup hilts, ...

So something based off a 14th century european bastard sword will look quite different than one based off of a cinquedea of the 15th and early 16th centuries Italy (I still don't see how they fought effectively with the Cinqueda!)

So visit your local public library and ILL a sword book or two and start looking and mixing and matching designs till you get a starting place.

BTW have you read the best modern books on swordmaking---James Hrisoulas' "The Complete Bladesmith, the Master Bladesmith and the Pattern Welded Blade" ILL them---in order *FIRST*!

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Posted · Report post

I am sorry. Yes I have Jim's books. I have other books as well. I was asking a general question about guards, nothing historical. When I forge I have a general idea of what I am going to make but what the final project looks like is sometimes different. I am making knifes now and am working on my skills to finish a sword. Right now I am shaping some old leaf springs into sword like objects. I will not be selling these or trying to pass them off as some kind of reproduction. They will be double edged and heavy. Until I get my distal tapering skills in line. I tend to put out ideas without fully explaining them. Just ask my wife it drives her crazy. Next time I ask a question, I will slow down and include more details. I did not intend to insult anyone. My apologies.

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Posted · Report post

Well I would contend that since we have several thousand years of examples of what worked when people lives were on the line as well as what they wore when it was the peak of fashion that pretty much every blade that works is "historical" in some way---of course there are lots of blades that *don't* *work* sold by places like BudK these days: bad tangs, stress concentrators all over the place, bad weights and balance, bad harmonics, slippery grips, guards and pommels that damage the user!---May I earnestly suggest you don't use these as your models and instead use ones that were proven in by historical use!

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Thanks Thomas! I have gathered some general ideas and will post pictures of the wood mockups I make for feedback. I am not looking to do anything fancy. Just didn't want my guards to look funny/weird on my blades. I contacted a local sword manufacture and they stay around 6'' for shorter blades and 8'' for their longer ones. I know some of the 2 handers had guards 12'' or so. Looks like I will be trying several different sized mockups to see what looks right for the blade. Maybe use the golden ratio? Blade width x ratio? Gonna have to try that out and see how it looks.

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Posted · Report post

Were those local swordmakers the Stagmers?

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Posted · Report post

Might make a couple of total wooden mockups and do a bit of slow work with them to see if the guards work

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Posted · Report post

Yes, they were the Stagmers. Been out to visit the shop a couple of times and I have bought some blades from them. I was able to get a experimental leaf blade from them for a great price (they were trying something new and the harmon did not come put). I just have to finish it. Hence, the question about guards.

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Posted · Report post

Leaf Blade: so Roman/Celtic---historically short rectangular guards; fighting style not based on "sword on sword interaction. Sword and Shield predominantly used on Roman side. Sword or sword and shield on the Celtic side.

For a good book on the metallurgy of celtic swords: "The Celtic Sword" by Radomir Pleiner
Another for the era is the Metallography of Early Ferrous Edge Tools and Edged Weapons, Tylecote and Gilmour, BAR 155

For fantasy use I would look into incorporation of celtic forms of decoration: knotwork, etc.

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Posted · Report post

Thanks. I will look the books up.

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Posted · Report post

Both books are out of print. Have to do some more searching. Can't check ebay at work.

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Posted · Report post

I use abebooks.com and avoid ebay like the plague and of course the books are out of print! Almost all the good ones are which is why public library ILL is so important especially if you live in the middle of nowhere! You do use ILL right?

I have a copy of the Celtic Sword and have been drooling over a copy of tMoEFETandEW; but have held off buying it as I'm visiting Hay on Wye this spring. (used book nirvana in the UK)

For real fun look at some of the armour books that are up near US$1000 and even "The Knight and the Blastfurnace" is getting pricy these days (foremost contemporary work on the metallurgy of renaissance armour! and my Birthday/Christmas/Valentines Day gift one year from my wife.)

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Posted · Report post

Thanks! Went to Abebooks and got a copy of Celtic Sword.

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