Sword Buyers Digest - Issue 138, August 2019
In this edition of the digest, we start off with a new section - 'Swords in the News' where we highlight POSITIVE sword or sword related articles that appeared in the news in the previous month. From serious articles to lighthearted tongue in cheek posts, we hope that this new section will be a useful way to keep tabs on how swords are being discussed and portrayed by the media.

And then of course we have the usual articles - an announcement of a new Tactical Sword line being designed by SBG's official Sword Tester, Jason Woodard, some behind the scenes pics and info from Project X Japanese and more! Hope you enjoy it.

Swords in the News
Positive Sword Related Stories in the News
Naturally taking ANY sword that we typically like at SBG is going to be a big no-no at comic con. So what can you take? The answers may surprise (and in some cases disappoint) you.

Insight into the training and class structure of a traditional Kendo club near Chinatown in Seattle, Kendo Kai with Sensei Takano Haruka.

The Aztecs famous weapon - the Macuahuitl - a cricket bat like implement that could be used a club by hitting with the flat surface (generally to bring back human sacrifices) and was lined with obsidian shards as sharp as glass.. Truly a terrifying weapon.
Generally when we think of Sword Arts, we think of JSA, HEMA and Chinese Swordsmanship. But there is another living sword fighting tradition with an unbroken line in Thailand - Krabi Krabong. Popular with Thai men and women alike, it is a highly technical and dynamic fighting style - fighting with one or two swords at a time and with pre-set forms pitting 4 against 1.
Love her or hate her (or have no clue who she is) - apparently singer Carly Rae Jepsen's fans decided that she should have a sword - and have given her several. And apparently she also inspired a tabletop Role Playing Game - as for some reason many of her fans love swords AND role playing games.. Kudos to her, but still am not a fan of her 'music'..
Well, maybe not EVERYONE missed them. But any discussion of what many enthusiasts consider to be the greatest sword movie of all time is a good discussion..

The 1980s were infamous for sword movies such as Krull, Conan the Barbarian, Beastmaster - and many more, but all had one thing in common - musclebound he-man warriors with no armor and loincloths. Wired takes a trip down memory lane.

Japan is well known for taking its ancient traditions and updating them for the modern era. But these backpacks made the same way as Samurai Armor take the cake.

Being calm in the face of death often gave the Samurai warrior the edge against a more panicked or hyped up opponent. In this article, it describes some of the techniques they used to achieve this presence of mind, and how useful it is even in the 21st century.
You may know him from his extensive sword testing videos spanning over a decade - official SBG Sword tester Jason Woodard.

No stranger to sword design, having designed the iconic sword from the movie 'Sleepy Hollow' as well as the Carpathian Sword for Darksword Armory - Jason has combined his extensive experience with sword testing and destructive testing to create the first in a new series of swords, the Doomsday Line.

The first sword in the series, Sword # 1 - is a thick bladed and heavy two handed cutting sword with the balance point only 1" from the guard, making it surprisingly lively considering its weight.

Video of the Month
Forged in Fire is a must watch TV series for sword enthusiasts. Here they put a couple of Zweihander swords to the test - one heavier and one lighter than the other. So how will they compare against a variety of targets, from bundled sugar cane to a (gory) ballistic dummy test and finally - the test that I found the most interesting - some simulated pikes.. Can it cut them clean in half? Damage them and knock them aside? Or break the blade? Watch this short 5 minute video and find out for yourself..
Best Forum Posts
Special Announcement: New M&V Rules
Before we get to this months best forum posts, I want to bring some new forum rules to the attention of the SBG community.

When the forums first started we were honored to be joined by many esteemed sword makers and vendors who provided direct insight into how the sword industry really works and the open communication between maker and sword buyers resulted in many design improvements, special projects and a general increase in both the quality and variety of swords being offered to the sword community.

Unfortunately, as we grew in size, the civility and respect that we took for granted came to be sorely tested. Members with hidden agendas could and did hijack any thread regarding a manufacturer they had 'beef' with - rumors and baseless speculation became fact - and over time all but a handful of manufacturers were literally driven off the forums - with the community being so much poorer for the loss of this invaluable interaction.

Several new rules and various steps were taken to try and prevent this kind of toxic atmosphere - but in hindsight it was like putting a band-aid on a severed arm..

But recent events, being forced to instantly ban a member who was singlehandedly attempting to poison the well with every post they made and the return of one of the original manufacturers, Clyde Hollis from Generation 2, Legacy Arms and his new project - Kingdom of Arms - was the long needed catalyst to create some rather strict rules with instant bans in effect for anyone who wants to poison the well..

You can find a copy of these rules here and a discussion regarding them here respectively. If you are a member of the forum, please make sure you read and understand these new rules.

And if you are a manufacturer or a vendor who was previously driven away, we would like to welcome you back. The lack of interaction over the last 5-6 years has really hurt the sword industry as a whole, and replaced facts that came direct from the horses mouth with speculation and wild guesses.

Time for a fresh start. In the meantime, we return you to your regular programming:

A great poll and discussion regarding which sword makers members have bought from. No huge surprises to see which makers are ranked as number #1 and #2..

In the early days of Hanwei's move into medieval swords, there were complaints that they were too dull. So how sharp are they now? And perhaps more importantly, how sharp SHOULD they be and why geometry is more important than the final edge.

If it's true, then Albion swords may not be as historically accurate as most think they are - for here is some evidence that crooked pommels and loose handles may have been intentional! Certainly many surviving replicas have fittings so misaligned that if they were a production sword modern collectors would send them back.. Very interesting discussion.

A behind the scenes look at tehe making of a 'Spider' themed sword commissioned by Paul Southren for a lifelong friend. He recently received it and to say he likes it is an understatement..
Behind the Scenes at Project X
As many of you will know, a couple of months ago we re-released the incredibly popular and amazing value for money series of swords by Project X Japanese - now with many different (and interchangeable) custom options.

While they are taking a little longer to make than we originally anticipated (as complex laminated swords that are also folded and differentially hardened have a high failure rate and often need 4-5 attempts to make a perfect sword, with the rejects being snapped up and sold off by Alibaba and eBay sellers) we wanted to share with you a few images the forge sent us of what goes on behind the scenes.
Here is what every sword starts life as - a complex structure of 3 steels (1095/1060 and 1045) that all need to be heated and melded together perfectly, for any error at this stage of the process will soon become apparent as it is hammered into shape but not one but TWO master smiths, working side by side to speed up the process and an extra pair of eyes and experience to catch any mistakes as the blade starts to take shape.
Once a basic blade has been created, it is carefully ground to shape, heat treated and hardened, and checked for any obvious errors in the forging process. If it passes this first QC check, it is then passed on to a Master Polisher, who spends a full day hand polishing it using Japanese whetstones.
The polishing of the blade is not purely for aesthetics, for the smoother the entire surface, the cleaner it will cut through a target. But our QC takes the appearance VERY seriously - even if a sword is on the 4th attempt and there is a grind mark that is too deep to remove, to us - that's a reject and the whole process needs to start again..
Yes, we are super fussy about this line. But the end results, speak for themselves..
Considering how fussy with are with the QC, the amount of highly skilled labor involved in making them and the use of only the very best components and materials, it really is a miracle we can offer them for $1000 (well, actually - it's because we operate on very small profit margins, anywhere else and this sword would easily be $1500-2000 and would still be extremely popular - but that's not the SBG way..)

The next trial release is scheduled around the middle of this month - and in addition to the 6 classic models, we are introducing another 3 designs to the mix, bringing the total number of base designs to 9 swords.

For more information about what has been going on and what is to come, check out the Project X category of posts here at the SBG Sword Store Blog.
Hope you enjoyed this issue of the digest. Next month we will be taking a look at the phenomenon of 3D printing and the sword industry, saying goodbye to a project that we have been running now for over 10 years and am planning a very, very exciting competition that you definitely won't want to miss out on.

But in the meantime, stay safe and Happy Swordening!

  • Paul