Ground vs Forged Fullers in Swords

The central grove, or groves, in a sword is usually referred to as a “fuller”. The reason for this is that they are normally made with a blacksmith’s fuller, a type of stamping tool, rather than by grinding away material.

There are many reasons to make the fuller in this fashion, many of which you probably know.

  • When using historic tools and techniques, forging is faster than removing metal.
  • Less metal overall is used in the process.
  • It helps to form taller I-beam like ridges on either side of the fuller, as the metal in the center is pushed up.

There is another that you may not be aware of. Before the invention of mass produced steel, swords were made primarily out of wrought iron. Steel, if available, would only be used on the edges where the extra hardness justified the expense.

Wrought iron has an interesting property not found in steel: it is fibrous. I can’t find a good photo, but if you see a piece of heavily corroded metal that looks like wood or bundles of straight wire laid on top of each other, you’re looking at wrought iron.

When working with wrought iron, the blacksmith needed to avoid cutting the fibers. Holes were punched, rather than drilled, so that the fibers would be bent around the hole rather than stopping abruptly, causing a weak spot.

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Reading a blacksmith’s manual published in the early 1900’s, I learned that the same rule applies to fullers. Had they ground away the central grove, either end of it would have left cut fibers that would significantly weaken the sword at those points.

What about folding?

Yep, that’s a real thing. Even in the early 1900’s, they advise hot working wrought iron with hammers to mitigate the problem of impurities, also known as slag.

If I’m reading this correctly, the fibers are actually caused by slag. Folding metal not only helps remove some slag, it also aligns the rest into long fibers, which is much better than having a lot of short, broken fibers running in every direction. Fibers can also be straightened by “rolling”, which forces the iron through heavy rollers that use pressure to form the metal into bars or rods.

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Fabris Plates 18 and 19 – The Girata or Turn

The Girata will most likely prove to be essential in Fabris, as he places an emphasis on voiding the opponent’s sword over parrying it (though it is best to do both).

Here are the preliminary videos.

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L’Ange Chapters 4, 5, and 6, Constraints

A short video on performing the constraints as explained in L’Ange.

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Buckler Handles from the Wallace Collection

Italy, Round, c. 1600, 21”

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Italy or France, Round, c. 1550 – c. 1560, 15.5”

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Italy, Rectangular, c. 1540, 14” x 13” (top) 9” (bottom)

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Italy, Rectangular, c. 1540, 10” x 10” (top) 8” (bottom)

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Click on the images for more details and copyright information.

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L`Ange Chapter 7 Video

A video on the three thrusts from chapter 7.

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Rapier Pell, Mark 1

The height is adjustable by loosening the two bolt. The angle is set using a pin.

Eventually I want to add a metal plate for the angle pin. This will work for now, but it’s clear that will be the first thing to fail.

The blade is a 15 year old Darkwood rapier that I couldn’t bring myself to throw away when the tang snapped off.

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Meyer Longsword – This is not a Kurtzhauw (Short cut)

It was recently pointed out to me that this illustration does not depict a Kurtzhauw (Short cut).

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To understand my mistake, consider this passage:

This is a stealthy action that goes through against your opponent, and is done thus: When your opponent cuts at you from above, then act as if you intended to bind on his sword with the Crooked Cut, that is with the short edge; but forego this, and quickly go through under his sword; strike with the short edge and crossed arms over his right arm at his head; thus you have caught his sword with the long edge and executed the Short Cut, and you stand at the end of it as shown by the figure on the right in the small scene on the upper left in Image B.

It sure sounds like the Kurtzhauw is what’s being shown, but also consider this passage from the beginning of chapter 5:

The other cuts with which one neither parries nor hits, such as the Short Cut and Failer, etc. are nor a core component of combat but only allowed per accidens or circumstantially, to deceive the opponent, provoke him, make him angry, and to drive him out of his advantage, which generally does not happen without risk, since they do not incorporate any parrying.

If the Kurtzhauw “neither parries nor hits”, then the Kurtzhauw is actually when you perform this part of the passage: “act as if you intended to bind on his sword with the Crooked Cut, that is with the short edge; but forego this, and quickly go through under his sword”. Which means the illustration shows the next step after the Kurtzhauw.

This brings us back to one of the fundamental problems with interpreting Meyer’s text. It often appears as if it is giving us definitions when in fact he is giving us examples.

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