Making a cutting stand

This Forum is a place for students of swordsmanship to ask advice from moderators Paul Champagne & Scott M. Rodell on how to practice test cutting in a manner consistent with how swords were historically used in combat. Readers use this Forum at their own risk.

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Linda Heenan
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Making a cutting stand

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Mar 19, 2006 2:02 am

Despite a certain embarrassing incident, I've decided not to give up, and have recently sharpened a sword ready to work on some soft target cutting. Now I would like to make a proper cutting stand - preferably moveable, rather than planted in the ground. I've found a piece of timber about the size and shape of the one in the picture of Greg decapitating a plastic bottle. What is next? How can I make a secure stand for it? What height should it be? Would it work to fix a flat square of timber onto the post with shelf brackets, for example?



Also, has anyone tried the method of suspending the cutting material from a branch with a string or wire? Is this a good method? What other ways have people found useful?



One more thing - how do you take care of the sword after a cutting session? Would you clean it off with meths and then reoil it? Should it be sharpened after each cutting session? What else should we be thinking about?

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Tashi James
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target stand

Post by Tashi James » Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:06 am

Hi Linda,



It is possible to cut a hanging target however it does require a great deal more skill to execute. The same can be said for free standing targets. In the beginning it is easier to have the target "mounted" to some kind of support.



Tashi
"There is nothing that does not become easier through familiarity" (Santideva).

"We become what we do repeatedly. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit" (Aristotle).

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Linda Heenan
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Post by Linda Heenan » Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:23 am

I'm hoping for some detailed information by people who have made cutting stands before. If no one comes up with a better idea, I'm going to construct something similar to the one in the link below. It is made for inserting a dowel and holding rolled mats or pool noodles, but I think I could adapt it for resting plastic bottles on as well. If I screw a piece of dowel onto a wider square base, I could have an easily removable platform for bottles, while retaining the structure for other targets. Who has made these things? What is your experience? Has anybody thought of a way to construct a stand with adjustable height?



http://www.tameshigiri.com/make_a_stand_2.html

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Mar 24, 2006 10:11 am

Linda Heenan wrote:...going to construct something similar to the one in the link below...


This the type of stand I made for cutting soft targets (i.e. plastic water bottles). Such stands are easy to make out of scrap wood, so I just made 2, one tall, one short, to practice cutting at different heights & for practicing mulitple cuts.

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Post by PaulC » Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:43 am

Using a simple stand like the one you linked to is perfectly fine. The fancier stands normally just give you more portability or some special adaptors for different target types. As for hanging targets from string I?m not really for it. One reason is it does not keep the target stationary, which can lead to chasing the target around like it?s a pi?ata.. Not safe. Also it will tend to make you cut with a more vertical angle, which in the long run is not the angle you may be going for. The reason you will tend to cut more vertically is to minimize post?cut target motion and to tug down on the string to give you a more stabilized cut.. This happens with hanging rope cutting. When cutting some targets ( pork shoulder etc) hanging from a cord is one of the only ways to do it, but having another cord on the bottom that is tied off or weighted is a good way to go.



Sword care: you should always clean and inspect the sword after each session, during hard cutting it should be after each cutting sequence. Clean off the residue with your chosen method.. I use warm water and soap ? don?t worry it wont rust; you will be drying it and oiling it. Be very mindfull of where the other edge is when cleaning a double edged blade, they are always hungry for a stray finger or palm.

Now that it is clean inspect every millimeter for damage. Once you know everything is OK then put the sword to rest. Remember cleaning is as much for inspection as for rust/ stain prevention.



Resharpening: you should not have to worry about resharpening a decent blade for a looong time when just doing soft target cutting. If you find a nick or ding then repair that area before cutting again.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Mar 30, 2006 9:02 am

PaulC wrote:...Resharpening: you should not have to worry about resharpening a decent blade for a looong time...


Paul, what are your thoughts about cutting with a blade that is less sharp than right from the polisher sharp? I'm think that in the course of a battle, in earlier days, one's sword would be slowly being dulled from combat.



How dull is too dull for a sword to practice cutting with?

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Post by PaulC » Tue May 23, 2006 8:56 am

Well ? there are a couple ways to look at cutting with a ? not so sharp? sword.



Combat perspective:

A blade that is not razor sharp, a blade that will not even cut your thumb when you slide it down the edge will still perform very well in a combat situation. Historically, against any type of armor, the cut would be diminished quite a bit to the point of not even cutting through cloth armor. However the concussive effect on the tissue and bone beneath the cloth can be quite severe. Also too thin/ sharp of an edge on hardened leather, mail etc can cause the edge to ding or chip, causing a focal point for stresses. ) i.e. a place where the sword is just waiting to break under hard usage





Test cutting perspective:



The ?not so sharp? blade will still cut pretty well on most soft test materials ? but the problem is it wont have any ? bite? what I mean by this is that it wont want to stay on its cut line once it impacts the surface of the target. This causes sloppy cuts, poor penetration and frustration. In a competitive situation, where maximizing cut length, speed, accurate tracking through the cut etc etc is most important your sword will have to be quite sharp to stand a chance of doing well.



In summary if we look at sharpness on a scale from 1-10, 10 being hair popping and scary sharp, 1 being basically a blunt theatrical sword, anything in the 3-10 range will work. 3-8 range for combat and everyday work, and 9-10 for competition. So you see there is quite a range of ?sharp? that will cut/work in combat. It depends upon your situation.



One last caveat: dull means not sharp it does not mean chipped or damaged. Cutting with a sword that has a damaged edge can lead to breaking. You will need the edge redone before you can cut again.

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KyleyHarris
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Re: Making a cutting stand

Post by KyleyHarris » Sun Jun 27, 2010 12:56 am

Just wanted to add a short video and photo of the stand I made today, which is essentially a lighter more portable stand thats easy to move and carry.

I also used to have a stand made similar to the Tamishigiri stand, and the heavier wood is much more important when doing hard cutting on bamboo.. but for striking soft targets a light weight mobile stand that wont break your back is good.

Total cost of this stand was $7NZD ($4USD) and thats buying new wood and screws, not scrap.

its a 42mm Square beam for the trunk and approx 22mmx100mm plank for the base. I used an off cut of 2"x4" for the bottle holder to be a bit more impact resistant on a bad hit.

I set the height of this one so that the Stand itself is at the bottom of my ribcage. Thats a good medium strike height.

Youtube cutting stand
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These next photos are a stand In-Progress I did 4 years ago. More Robust for Mat and Bamboo Cutting, but with a removable base for transporting in a car.
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