blade attempt, 16.5" yanmaodao

Sword typology and Edge Weapons forms of the Chinese Empire and related cultures with an emphasis on their relationship to Swordsmanship.

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kevin (the prof)
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blade attempt, 16.5" yanmaodao

Post by kevin (the prof) » Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:51 pm

Hello everyone,
I am working on a short yanmaodao. This blade has 300 or 400 layers of 15n20 and 1080. It is just a random pattern, which is my favorite.
16.5" blade working length
1.125" wide at forte, swells to 1.25, then curving to tip.
just under .25" thick, with a full convex grind. There is a significant amount of "meat" to the blade bevel. I was going for traditional shape rather than optimal cutter for soft targets. I was imagining this to be something good for indoor use, or on a boat, or other places with somewhat limited movement. It is a stout blade, but will still cut well. It is not fully sharp right now, but it is very close.

It has a little more curve in the point than it probably should, but this is only my second try at this geometry. The first was a good blade, but not accurate.

Making accurate fittings for a blade like this is beyond me. I am busy enough learning to be a bladesmith. So, I am looking to collaborate with someone. If anyone wants to make a set of simple fittings to go with this blade, or can suggest someone, please let me know.

I make very good blades. I do not make the other parts of a sword nearly as well. I need a source to get pommel caps, bolsters and guards (I know, they are usually brazed together in the Chinese tradition). Brass, copper, or iron are fine.

thanks for looking. Comments are welcomed.

Kevin
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Nik
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Re: blade attempt, 16.5" yanmaodao

Post by Nik » Wed Nov 23, 2011 11:53 am

For an "attempt", it looks pretty good. Out of my belly, I'd think the arc on the front side is too strong and too long, I seem to remember a lesser curve on such blades. Yanmadao by definition are almost straight up to close to the tip, where the arc begins.

See: http://www.derech.net/taichi_sword_09.htm (and click around on the links to also get to Thomas Chen's website, and browse it entirely)

There is one saber that looks stunning, but has an entirely different blade geometry, which be definition makes it something other than a yanmadao.


Did you insert a cutting layer (qianggang), or is it entirely made of one folded ingot ? Afaik, you would always find a cutting edge embedded into the body of the sword on chinese antiques. Shortcutting this seems a modern invention to save time and work (?).

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Graham Cave
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Re: blade attempt, 16.5" yanmaodao

Post by Graham Cave » Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:19 pm

kevin (the prof) wrote: If anyone wants to make a set of simple fittings to go with this blade, or can suggest someone, please let me know.

For custom fittings, I can't think of a better maker than Charles Wu

Nik
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Re: blade attempt, 16.5" yanmaodao

Post by Nik » Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:52 pm

You have three choices:

- custom made ones (Charles)
- chinese imports (may be difficult to get and can cost anywhere between $5 and $100)
- get a sample and have them replicated with the lost wax, rubber model or sand method as a small series

I don't know Charles prices, but if they're in reach, that of course is the most sophisticated and artistic choice. :D

kevin (the prof)
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Re: blade attempt, 16.5" yanmaodao

Post by kevin (the prof) » Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:16 pm

Thanks guys,

Yes - I realize this blade is too curved. I made the blade months ago, and have learned more about geometry since then. However, it is a pretty blade and structurally sound, so I wanted to finish it. It would not meet Imperial regulations, but given the large population of China and the long history of iron and steel work, this is not outside the bounds of possibility/probability. It isn't like I made a rapier and said it was a take on a chinese design. (of course, now that I say that, someone will unearth a chinese rapier made of iron, in fact, there probably is something very similar made of bronze... but that is sort of the point, there is a ton of variability within this network of cultures and within each specific design). Still, I fully admit that this is not "standard" or "approrpriate." It is just a step in my learning the represents where I was several months ago. It was too good as a general blade not to finish it.

You were kind enough not to mention it, but the vivid pattern and lack of heat treatment effects are not traditionally-appropriate either. My current work is designed to have a subtle grain and a pretty vivid set of heat treatment effects (what the Japanese would call hamon, I don't know the Chinese term for it).

Yes - this is just pattern welded. The blades I make now are all typically sanmai or inserted edge. This one was actually forged about 9 months ago.

Once I get over this cold, I have a stack of steel in my shop waiting to become another dao. This attempt will be sanmai, with pweld outer plates and a monosteel edge plate. The pweld plates are done, with 540 layers of w2 and 1075 and a bit of 1095, and I am going to use w2 for the center plate. W2 is high carbon and has a bit of vanadium so it will be harder and more wear resistant than other carbon steels. Thank you for reminding me to follow a multi-part composite approach, though. It is better that you tell me now than to let me continue doing things in a mistaken manner. The next one will be more accurate in structure, subtle pattern, and I seriously hope to get the overall geometry closer, too. It will take me years of continual progression to reach what I hope to reach... but it is a lot of fun at every step along the way. Probably a lot like studying Taijiquan in that respect. Lot of dedication, lot of patience, lot of focus, and a lot of things to master, but the process is rewarding in itself.

Wu has agreed to make fittings for this one, which will make it an interesting art piece when done despite its limitations as a historical replica.

thanks for looking and for your comments.

kc

Nik
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Re: blade attempt, 16.5" yanmaodao

Post by Nik » Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:50 am

The dark pattern is a question of steels used. I remember to have seen old, very dark blades on jian, but I don't know what exactly they have been.

Image
From: http://www.chinesearms.com/

The white lines are in this case martensit, from hardening / quick cooling down. You have to play around a bit with the number of folds (3-7 afaik), and the exact mechanical way of doing it, as even just bending the inner structure creates patterns. You may have to contact experienced pattern welders how to achieve certain historical pattern styles, me personally, I dislike modern, primitive "art" patterns like roses etc.

kevin (the prof)
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Re: blade attempt, 16.5" yanmaodao

Post by kevin (the prof) » Thu Nov 24, 2011 7:55 pm

Thanks Nik. Beautiful blade you showed.

Yeah, I get the relationship between type of steel and contrast of pattern (or iron, for that matter), or at least I understand it in general. I have specifically tested a lot of different combo's to get the pattern and degree of contrast that I want. In this one, the light color is due to the nickel in the 15n20, and the dark is due to the manganese of the 1080.

I agree fully that mosaic damascus is just too contrived. I like the sorts of patterns that were traditional in Chinese and Celtic blades (and in the kris). Multi-layer laminates and small bars, composed of between 5 and 20 layers, twisted and welded together. Some kindjals show this, too.

If you care, you can go here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set= ... 1407177569
that is where I post pictures of a lot of different test blades I have made comparing different combinations and different heat treatments. They are not traditional Chinese in many cases, though. Just simple designs I banged out so I could test materials and methods. The overall process has been to first learn to be a competent smith and then learn to make historically-accurate or inspired Chinese blades (esp. sabers).

thank you very much for your comments and the beautiful blade pic. Some day ...

kc

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Re: blade attempt, 16.5" yanmaodao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:42 am

Very nice work Kevin, I'd love to see some of you work in person some day, maybe even do some cutting...

The only thing I can add to the above conversation is to keep in mind that the whole idea behind the yanmaodao is that it straight enough that one can employ techniques from jianfa as well as daofa. So the blade doesn't just have to be less curved, but straight enough that one could trust without hurting the wrist. If you have to lover the tip too much to bring it on line with the target, where the wrist is deeply bent, one will essentially sprain his or her own wrist upon trusting.

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