Sinosword Viking Age Sword Blade Jul 7, 2019 16:52:00 GMT
Post by lebleuchevalier on Jul 7, 2019 16:52:00 GMT
In mid-April, I commissioned a Viking Age sword blade from Sinosword. I took the advice of a forumite and provided clear and specific dimensions for what I wanted. I explained that I wanted a double-edged folded steel or pattern welded sword blade with the following measurements:
Blade length: 30 inches
Blade width: 2 inches
Blade thickness: 4mm thick with a gentle distal taper, around 2.5mm at the tip
Length of tang: 7 inches
To be more succinct, I provided all the measurements in metric as well. In addition to measurements, I attached several photos to help illustrate what I wanted. I even provided an image of a cross section because I wanted a blade with a lenticular profile. I also stated that I wanted the blade to have a gentle profile taper. If you like Geibig's typology, this would be a type 2; blades of this type date from the mid-8th century through the 10th century. I also asked for a spatulate tip with no visible ridge line, a high polish, an etched blade to reveal the pattern, a fairly deep fuller and a sharp edge.
After a few emails shared between myself and Mr. Kane, Sinosword's representative and a very helpful fellow, I placed my order on April 27th. I paid about $300 for the blade and an additional $50 for shipping, a more than reasonable price tag for a custom pattern welded blade!
I checked in with Mr. Kane on May 31st for an update and received a reply the same day (they are fairly prompt in my experience). He explained they required an additional four days. I checked back more than two weeks later on June 17th and received photos of the finished blade. I was satisfied with the work to date, but felt the fuller could be broader. I think this got lost in translation as Mr. Kane thought I meant the fuller could be deeper. In any case, I decided not to press the matter as the fuller looked good. Mr. Kane did ask me if I wanted the tip rounder. I elected to keep it as is even though it was not entirely to specifications. The sword shipped on June 22nd. My tracking number was fairly reliable this time, there were regular updates. The sword arrived on July 5th, my 35th birthday!
Here is what I received:
My review, though brief, is as follows:
My initial impression is highly positive. The blade itself is almost to specifications.
The blade is of the correct length and width, the tang is hefty (more is always better), the profile is lenticular (YES!), the tip is spatulate (it has the slightest ridge line, but it's barely noticeable), the fuller is narrow but well done, and there are no visible flaws with the pattern welding whatsoever. All in all, I am very impressed.
The blade was etched to reveal the pattern AND has a high polish. I wanted a sort of Valyrian steel look, so to speak, and they delivered to the letter. The sharpness I would rank as very good, which is a cut above (no pun intended) from most forges these days. The first third of the blade is not particularly sharp (that's ok), the middle section is fair, but the last third is almost razor sharp, it just needs a little honing to get it right. So the sharpness is not perfect, but it's well done. There is also NO visible secondary edge bevel, none whatsoever. It is nearly flawless. Whoever is sharpening and polishing these blades should be commended.
Now, that is my review of the sword in terms of its two dimensional qualities. What about it's three dimensional qualities? This is where I get nitpicky:
I am happy to report that the blade has a distal taper. Many Viking Age sword blades had little to no distal taper. Some were essentially a flat iron bar with a sharp edge, and that is definitely not the case here. Most Viking Age blades were, however, on the thin side. I asked for a 4mm thick blade that gently tapers to 2.5mm thick; this is what most reproduction blades average. What I received, however, is a far more meaty blade. The tang is nearly 5mm thick, which is almost what I asked for, but the base of the blade swells to almost 7mm thick! The first third of the blade is about 6mm throughout, it tapers to 5mm in the middle, and reduces to 3.5mm in the last third with 2.5mm measuring at the tip. I took these measurements with properly calibrated digital calipers.
Obviously, this is not what I asked for. The extra thickness and the narrow fuller produced a much heavier blade than what I wanted. I was hoping for a 2 pound blade at the max. What I received is 2 pounds 7 ounces. The point of balance, not that it matters without any hilt components, is about 10 inches from the tang. Granted, some finished swords from this period have a POB around 12 inches from the hilt. I am confident that once I install hilt components, the POB should improve significantly. Also, if the finished sword weighs 3 pounds, it won't be unusual for a sword of that period, just not average, or even ideal. Furthermore, if this was a finished sword I would have something to say about it's handling characteristics, but without any hilt components I don't have anything to say at this time. The blade does have a little flex, but not as much as I was hoping for. I am sure this is due to the increased mass, but so far I cannot foresee any issues with the tempering of the blade, i.e. it all seems in order.
In conclusion, am I disappointed about these minor details? Not really. I would categorize my feelings as slightly miffed. I would prefer a broader fuller and a thinner blade, but I am not going to register a single complaint. Why not? It's a gorgeous blade! Despite not being to specifications, Sinosword's craftsmen did a really solid job throughout. I am also pleased with their customer service, Mr. Kane in particular. Finally, I am looking forward to finishing this blade by fabricating my own hilt components. Look to the following post in the Sword Customization thread in the near future. I am almost ready to begin.