yue fei dao project

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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omni
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Post by omni » Mon Nov 05, 2007 11:56 pm

We've been to see our smith, and it looks like the cheapest/best option is for him to make us the blade, and leave us to do the hard work of grinding/polishing.

Thanks to Peter and Scott for the information you've given us.

A few points we need to know for the later stages:

Would the guard be welded or somehow attached to the blade, so that it does not come loose if struck?
How might we best attach a point/spike to the pommel?

We noticed on Thomas Chen's site that the Song dynasty pole arms (as drawn in the "wu jing zong yao") have spikes on their ends. That's the kind of thing we'd like to have, so any thoughts about how to do it would be greatly appreciated.
http://thomaschen.freewebspace.com/catalog.html

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:23 am

omni wrote:... Would the guard be welded or somehow attached to the blade, so that it does not come loose if struck?
The guards are usually held on in the same manner other dao guards are, by the tight fit of the hilt against the forte end of the blade.
omni wrote:...How might we best attach a point/spike to the pommel?
Yuefei Dao do not have spikes at the pommel end. Spikes on long polearms are attached by a socket that fits over the end of the pole.

BTW, you might want to have a look at a Dadao under production by a new Sword Company, Qing-Zhong, at:
http://www.qing-zhong.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3

Qing-Zhong has told me they will send several swords for review, watch for them over the next few weeks...

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Post by omni » Tue Nov 06, 2007 4:31 pm

Wow! That Dadao blade is completely out of my league.
Yuefei Dao do not have spikes at the pommel end.
Do you know of an alternative to the ring pommel?
I'm concerned that a ring pommel won't be as sturdy for striking, and also given Peter's advice that other Song weapons do not appear to have ring pommels.

But if that's the way they are, i'll go with that. Perhaps it could be a smaller or thicker ring than in the picture?

Thanks.

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Post by Peter Dekker » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:15 am

Many polearms in the Song era wujing zongyao appear to have spikes on their ends but these do not have the near 1:1 blade / handle ratio of the Yue Fei dao.

The variety of two handed falchions depicted in the Qing era Huangchao Liqi Tushi, to which perhaps Yue Fei dao would relate to more closely, are invariably depicted with simple oval "pill-box" shaped pommels, probably iron. One of these, the luying huyadao has a 1:1 handle blade / handle ratio. Luying means "Green Standard Army", the all Han native Chinese army that existed next to the Manchu Banners. Their weapons and tactics drew largely from older native Chinese traditions as well so their huyadao, literally "Tiger tooth knife" might really be a more official term for the Yue Fei dao.

Practically, I don't think the Yue Fei dao's handle end would be intentionally designed for hitting people. This would ask for a longer shaft length like that found on yanyuedao, better known as "Guan Dao" after the famous 3 kingdoms era general that in reality never saw one because it wasn't invented yet.

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Post by omni » Fri Nov 09, 2007 9:54 pm

Cool. Thanks Peter, that sounds like a good alternative to the ring pommel.

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Post by north star » Wed Nov 21, 2007 10:02 am

omni wrote:
... pommel is part of the tang, how can the guard be slid on?


I believe the ring pommel is put on last & then the wood grip is attached. The sword would not be taken part once assembled.
I know that some modern swords have a full tang extending all the way into the ring. The hand guard would be fitted on and the tang inserted into the handle while it is still hot and then the 'remaining' tang is shaped into a ring.

Regards

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Post by Peter Dekker » Wed Nov 21, 2007 10:48 am

I think at least for the old ones, full tang long weapons with ring pommels were usually a one piece construstion from the tip all the way up to the ring but the ring wasn't shaped before the guard slipped on, after which the handle was put on either side of the tang while the weapon was cold.

I've also had an old yanyuedao ("guandao") blade that indeed had a welded on tang but it wasn't a full tang construction so a guard could be slipped on any time after it's construction. According to Philip Tom this was probably meant to save the best steel for the blade itself.

-Peter
Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
Willing is not enough, we must do.


-Bruce Lee

http://www.mandarinmansion.com
Antique Chinese Arms & Functional reproductions

http://www.manchuarchery.org
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Post by omni » Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:51 am

Well, that took an embarrassingly long time!
I humbly present some low-quality images of my Yue Fei Dao for your enjoyment:
full.jpg
full.jpg (65.4 KiB) Viewed 5706 times
guard.jpg
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tip.jpg
tip.jpg (85.35 KiB) Viewed 5706 times
Though the blade requires a final polish, this is pretty much the finished product.

The guard is mild steel with a nice pattern on top that I'll post a picture of later.
The handle is made from two pieces of Jarrah (an Australian hardwood). I originally wanted to pin the wood on either side with the tang exposed in between; but my uncle - a cabinet-maker - offered to glue the wood on with the tang fully encased. The end result is very strong, and looks great. It feels and looks like a solid wood handle. I also decided not to add any kind of pommel to the end, since it seemed unnecessary and wood in fact push the balance more toward the handle. Obviously there are a few unconventional/non-historical elements here already, but by this stage I was happy just to get the thing finished! :)

I'm not completely happy with the tip (which I tried to model on the original pic in Scott's two-handed swordsmanship video) but I couldn't really see how to improve it.

Overall, it's a very impressive object in the flesh. It's quite heavy and intimidating, and wielding it will take a great deal of practice.

Though I've not stayed true to the historic construction, the sword still raises lots of questions in my mind about it's historical use.
I've attempted (very tentatively) some cuts on soft targets (plastic milk bottles) and found it difficult to use. I wonder if the targets are too light for this weapon? I imagine an axe or a guan dao would raise similar issues. Has anyone practiced test cutting with such weapons?

The tip cuts quite well, with a very short strike. It also crushes as it cuts, and I suspect that the momentum of the weapon must factor into its application.
As predicted in an early thread, the flattened tip precludes stabbing as an effective technique - the target was knocked back where a dao or jian would easily pierce.

I'm not yet sure how to cut further down the blade - away from the tip. It could be a matter of the angle (as I've found when switching from niuweidao to jian); it could also be that the milk bottle is too light a target for this weapon, or that the lower parts of the blade would not be the focal point of technique (ie. why not use the tip, to take full advantage of the weapon length?).

If anyone has thoughts about the applications of this or similar weapons, please share.

P.S. this is my first time posting photos - let me know if they're too big etc.

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by omni » Sat Oct 10, 2009 12:58 am

Nice pattern on guard, thanks to my friendly neighbourhood smith, who has been very patient for the past....gosh, two years.
pattern.jpg
pattern.jpg (125.22 KiB) Viewed 5706 times
One of the bigger setbacks: the blade was too big for my smith to harden it. We had to get a third party heat treater involved, but unfortunately, the blade came back to us badly warped. In the end, the smith straightened it out under temper, but had to stop when it started 'pinging'!!! It was pretty much our last resort, but we were both pretty relieved it didn't snap there and then....

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by Peter Dekker » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:44 am

Hi,

Thanks for posting! I like the touch of the iron pommel. Luckily the blade didn't snap. How hard is the blade, were you able to test it?
Could you present an overall picture? I'd be interested to see what it looks like now.

-Peter
Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
Willing is not enough, we must do.


-Bruce Lee

http://www.mandarinmansion.com
Antique Chinese Arms & Functional reproductions

http://www.manchuarchery.org
Fe Doro - Manchu Archery

omni
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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by omni » Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:59 am

Hi Peter, thanks for replying.

According to the heat-treaters, it was originally quenched at 840C and tests results at that point were 62-63HRC.
Then they tempered it at 200C, which brought it down to 60HRC.
It was warped somewhere along the way, so they tempered it again and 'put something on it' to try to straighten it out.
From memory the second temper was at about 250C and brought it down to about 56-58HRC

After that, my smith had a go at further softening the spine of the blade by heating it up (oxy-torch) to what he called a 'light straw' colour, while trying not to heat the edge.
The 'pinging' sound as he bent it back turned out to be a few tiny chips of steel that flew off the edge, leaving it with some small notches. On the plus side, this suggests that the edge retained its hardness :lol:

I've done a bit of cutting with it (plastic bottles, cartons, etc). It's easy enough using the tip to slice down, but I've only managed to do a couple of proper cuts worthy of a regular sword. Not sure how I did it, but it all just fell into place and was as clean a cut as I've done with my Huanuo niuweidao. More practice required!

Is this photo okay?
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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by Nik » Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:35 pm

That chipping off on the edges from straightening is also a major problem for my blades, since they are made from a steel that gets very hard on hardening. I don't want to sell them in that condition, so I am working on better straightening procedures, without going too much into modern production. There are a couple of modern methods, but most of them require large or expensive (or both) machinery, like laserheads for thermic straightening. I'll tell you when I find something that is "history compatible", or at least reasonable. For the moment, I "suggest" to the smith to just forget about the 40% drop outs and just throw them away. Steel isn't that expensive really, just the work was in vain.

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by omni » Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:39 pm

If you do find something, I'll be glad to hear it.
Most of what I read at the time was just saying to try bending it back in a vice or clamp during temper.

More interesting was the suggestion that warping may be caused by uneven hammering or grinding on the blade, (or by stress from forging, whatever that means in practice). I didn't know this when I did the grinding, and it's quite possible I ground some parts more than others.

I want to make a guan dao next, once I find a design I like. Hopefully it won't take me so long this time, and a shorter blade might be less inclined to warp, maybe...

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by Nik » Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:28 am

There is a good chance that the mechanical hammers HUGE impact, compared to the one of a hammer slammed by hand, causes this structural tension that makes chips fly off later. If the tempering doesn't get all those tensions out of the edge, the chance it happens is there. That also doesn't happen on all blades, it's like 30-40%. It seems to be less of a problem up to not occuring at all on the thinner army and mensur saber and sport fencing blades that are the normal portfolio here. But finally, I have an arsenal of experts of age 80+ at hands here, who were in that job all their life, and have a family tradition of being smiths and polishers 500 years back in the same place. So I am confident that asking the elders will lead to a solution, they made lots of medieval museum replicas back in the day, albeit for "connoisseurs" that don't have the very best name in the world (guess who, in the 1930s).

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Re: yue fei dao project

Post by omni » Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:26 pm

Aha, I was thinking "1930's.....?" for a minute or two before I got it. :|

I read somewhere that it's possible to relieve such stress by heating the blade up and letting it cool very slowly...

The thickness issue could be true in my case also - it is quite thick a blade.

Good luck with yours, sounds like you have some great people to draw on.

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