Huanuo's Gold Round Dao

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Scott M. Rodell
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Huanuo's Gold Round Dao

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Dec 05, 2005 9:06 am

Sword Tested: Huanuo's Gold Round Dao

http://www.huanuosword.com/e/asp/englis ... asp?id=463

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List Price: $1100

Company Website: http://www.huanuosword.com/

Available in Europe from: http://www.mandarinmansion.com/

Available in the USA from: http://www.sevenstarstrading.com/index.php



Test Results:

Solo Basic Cuts & Form Practice Test- Huanuo's dao handles well in comparison with antique blades. Its balance & weigh are comparable to both Qing & Ming era examples, & has a solid but lively feeling in the hand.



Structural Integrity Test- Unfortunately, the steel of this dao is not hard enough for serious cutting practice. For this test I employed upward liao cuts, downward short energy pi cuts & heavier downward kan cuts to a standing dead pine tree. After little more than 35 swings, the edge was badly nicked from rolling over (see photo). These few cuts also resulted in loosening the hilt fittings enough that the guard began to rattle while the grip wrap was pulled down the handle away from the ferrule beneath the guard. However, while the grip did loosen, it remained sound enough to move on to the next test & remained stable throughout the entire testing process.



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Hard Cutting Test- For this test I went to my usual bamboo practice grove.* As during the previous cutting test, I used liao, & pi cuts to the bamboo. I also employ hua cuts to bamboo growing on a diagonal. The Gold Round Dao preformed okay when cutting bamboo of one inch in diameter, but just was not quite sharp enough to cut all the way thru bamboo of 1 1/2" or more where a diagonal cut would be about 3" in length. The edge was also damaged during this test, though not as much as during the Structural Integrity Test.



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Historical Design Authenticity- The weight, curvature, & overall form of the blade is within historical norms for the Qing dynasty. During the testing, I had on hand period dao that were both slightly heavier & slightly lighter than this piece. The scabbard's ray skin covering is, likewise, true to form. The general shape of the fittings is also classic cloud motif. The only aspect of the fittings that are not 100% true to historical form is the execution of the Dragon Well style decoration on the fittings. These designs are a traditional form, but Huanuo simply employed them in a slightly more flamboyant fashion than earlier pieces. On the whole though, this sword is certainly much more true to historical form than the majority of Chinese swords being made & marketed today.



Rating- Huanuo's Gold Round Dao is a handsome willow leaf saber of traditional Qing form of good weight & balance for training in traditional Chinese martial arts, any student of Chinese martial arts looking for a good dao for form training should be more than satified with this sword. Those looking for a dao to practice test cutting hard targets will, unfortunately, have to look further, the blade of this dao is too soft to hold an edge when cutting hard targets & as such makes a poor choice for cutting practice.



What I'd Like to See- When this dao arrived I was pleasantly surprised with its look & feel. Personally, I would prefer solid brass fittings instead of the gold over low density metal fittings, as was common in throughout most of the QIng dynasty, but that is a matter of taste. What would really improve this sword is a proper edge hardening. Also, to keep the entire hilt tight, I'd like to see it secured it in the traditional fashion by peening over the tang at the pommel & running a pin through the handle into the tang instead of using a nut at the end of the tang. Securing the hilt in this fashion will prevent the kind of losening that occurred during the testing. The folded steel of this saber's body is nice, but for the serious swordsman, its more about what the tool can do, than how it looks.



Lastly, this dao comes with nice suspension straps. These straps are not 100% traditional in form, but are well designed for displaying the sword on the wall. I'd count that as a plus. What would be nice is to go one step further & include, or provide as an option, a traditional belt hook, so the sword could be slung from the hip.



*For those who don't know me, or haven't seen me cut, I've used various swords to cut cleanly through bamboo in this groove that are as much as 2" in diameter.
Last edited by Scott M. Rodell on Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Scott M. Rodell
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GRD Examination of blade cross section & edge hardness

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Dec 09, 2005 12:16 pm

This AM I recieved an email from Huanuo that another sword is on its way for testing. And I had the oportunity to do examine the blade of the Gold Round Dao further.



I compared the Gold Round Dao's blade cross section with 5 antique dao blades, specifically comparing the curviture of the blade walls. I measured this by laying a steel ruler across the "flat" of the blade at the back edge, perpendicular to the cutting edge, then marking the size of the space between the ruler & cutting edge on a piece of paper. I then measured this distance. The 5 antique dao had a space, or curviture from the straight edge of the ruler, of .8 to 1.1 mm. Marking & measuring such a small space is obviously difficult, but I beleive it is fair to say the adverage is 1 mm. The Gold Round Dao had a differential between the straight of the ruler & the curviture of the blade that was too small to measure. In some places I could slip in one sheet of paper, in other areas, 2 sheets of paper. This is one likely reason why the blade edge was damaged, it is not radiused enough to support the shock of a powerful cut. (Angus Trim, as a sword maker would you like to explain the physics of this? Perhap start another thread on the topic?).



I also tested the blade hardness with Tsubosan Hardness Tester. The file with a Rockwell Hardness of 40 left scatches on the blade. Chinese swords with hardned edges typically have an edge of 60 HRC.

Scott M. Rodell
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SFI Forum Discussion of this GRD Test

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Dec 09, 2005 12:21 pm

There is a very active discussion of this test going on in the Chinese Swords & Swordsmanship board at Sword Forum International, please see: http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread ... post688295



For those who haven't already read that discussion, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to the manner in which Huanuo has responded to this test, which is exemplary. Their emphasis has been on learning from the test so that they can make their products better. I look forward to working with them in the future...

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