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peter johnsson

Sword Dynamics Calculator

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Dear fellow Keepers of the Flame,

My activity on this forum has been pretty nonexistent lately. I am sorry for that since I value this place and the exchange we cultivate here.
My work has been as much (or more) on the theoretical end of things as it has been about making dust in the smithy. 
A part of the work with the exhibition at the Deutcsches Klingenmuseum back in 2015 was the development of a tool for visualising sword dynamics based on the ideas of Vincent Le Chevalier. He has a website where he publish his theories of the mechanics of swords and presents methods to calculate them. I have always been intrigued by his work but because of my own lack of understanding of the mechanical theories, I found it a bit challenging to find a practical application of this. 
What I really wanted to see was a simple graph that could provide a visual representation of important aspects of things that make up a sword´s balance.
Vincent and I had discussed these matters before and he generously agreed to dedicate his time to develop calculations and an online tool that could generate the graphs I needed for the catalogue of the Solingen exhibition. My contribution in this was to provide a body of data of documented original swords that he could work with as well as the limits of my engineering challenged brain that demanded simple explanations. Vincent did all the hard work and I simply helped with saying: -Sorry, but I don´t get this... 
The goal was to have graphs that showed important aspects of sword balance that were close to what we appreciate intuitively when we examine a sword. It was also important that the graphs did not favour one type of balance or dynamics over another, so that one type of sword came out looking "better" than another.

In the end we wanted to make this tool public so that others can benefit from it. Vincent has now set up a page on his website that is open for anyone to use. It includes an introduction and a walk through of the practicalities of the tool. Once you familiarise yourself with the various elements of this graph, you will hopefully find powerful and enlightening. I hope you will find it as fun to use and as useful in designing swords as I have. 
With this tool you can see the effect of changing mass, mass distribution, the placing of point of balance and adjusting the proportion between blade and hilt length. This way you can try out different values before you dedicate time in actual making. You can also generate a graph that can go with each sword you are making for the benefit of your customer. It is a great way to visualise the dynamic properties of your sword.

I used this tool to generate the images that are the basis for the graphs in the catalogue, such as this:

Mass-Nodes-Pivots.png

 

Here is the link to Vincent´s page:
Sword Dynamic Calculator

If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. If you have observations or critique you would like to share, I would be very grateful to hear what you think.

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Wow, Peter! This is so cool!

What a great tool to provide for free to everyone. 

Thanks, brother.

Dave

 

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Fascinating really. I'm going to have to go through that when I am a little less tired and more apt to fully grasp the benefit.

I have a question though, and I realize that there really is no answer..... How much of this do you think was fully understood by the medieval smiths?  I wonder if they thought about design with the same ideas (vibration nodes, pivot points, etc) or did they just understand that making the blade thinner here and thicker there made it react and perform in different ways? Were different distributions used for different styles, different battle situations, or just different cultural dispositions? So much to understand and so little time to do so......

Thanks Peter. This is the kind of information that stirs the mind.

Edited by Joshua States

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On 4/14/2017 at 6:33 AM, Joshua States said:

Fascinating really. I'm going to have to go through that when I am a little less tired and more apt to fully grasp the benefit.

I have a question though, and I realize that there really is no answer..... How much of this do you think was fully understood by the medieval smiths?  I wonder if they thought about design with the same ideas (vibration nodes, pivot points, etc) or did they just understand that making the blade thinner here and thicker there made it react and perform in different ways? Were different distributions used for different styles, different battle situations, or just different cultural dispositions? So much to understand and so little time to do so......

Thanks Peter. This is the kind of information that stirs the mind.

Joshua,

It is naturally the case that these concepts of vibration nodes, pivot points, effective mass and so on are modern. The smiths back in the day would not describe swords with these words. The craft tradition of the European sword is at best a resurrected tradition. We have no unbroken link to the ancient masters and most all of their learning and thoughts died with them. We can only learn from what they left behind: the swords they made.

When we study historical swords it is noteworthy that we find dynamic and functional properties that are similar or even constant within groups or families of swords. These things goes beyond what is immediately obvious from just looking. It is about how the swords behave in motion, react to impacts and distribute stress. From this it is clear that the ancient smiths worked according to "design concepts" that evolved together with sword types and manufacturing techniques overtime. 
The skill of these makers were not just in shaping and treating materials with their tools. Their skill involved also knowledge of design and function formulated in ways that are now lost to us. It is impossible to say how much of this knowledge was verbalised and what was an awareness expressed in different ways.

Today we must use these modern concepts when we try to pin point and define even the most basic aspects of the function of the sword.

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Pinned for fear this might slip beneath the first page and therefore easy reference.

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