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Anatomy of a Rapier


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Hello everyone.

My next project is going to be a rapier, a sidesword really, styled after a Spada da lato.

Im not sure about a few things however. 

Firstly, the angle of the bevels. Its primarily a thrusting sword, so i was imagining it would have quite steep bevels, brought to an edge. Not necessarily razor sharp, but sharp nonetheless.

Secondly, the temper. I would imagine that you would want it to be rather flexible, a spring temper is what i had in mind. Too hard of a blade could chip the keen tip rather easily, one would imagine. Or snap the blade, worst case scenario. However, ive read of people holding museum pieces, and say that the blades are quite stiff and rigid, which i find odd for such a narrow, thin blade. 

Any input on either issue would be appreciated. 

Thanks.  

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Stiffness is determined by geometry, not heat treatment.

Jake Cleland - Skye Knives

www.knifemaker.co.uk

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."

 

Albert Einstein

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Good point. Im fairly new to swords, my novice nature shows :wacko: lol.

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@R.W. Deavers made an Elizabethan Rapier not too long ago. He might be able to give you a few pointers. His was absolutely stunning.

Edited by Joshua States
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11 hours ago, Will W. said:

Hello everyone.

My next project is going to be a rapier, a sidesword really, styled after a Spada da lato.

Im not sure about a few things however. 

Firstly, the angle of the bevels. Its primarily a thrusting sword, so i was imagining it would have quite steep bevels, brought to an edge. Not necessarily razor sharp, but sharp nonetheless.

Secondly, the temper. I would imagine that you would want it to be rather flexible, a spring temper is what i had in mind. Too hard of a blade could chip the keen tip rather easily, one would imagine. Or snap the blade, worst case scenario. However, ive read of people holding museum pieces, and say that the blades are quite stiff and rigid, which i find odd for such a narrow, thin blade. 

Any input on either issue would be appreciated. 

Thanks.  

There are a few different variables to take into account about bevel geometry.  One is the thickness of the blade along with the distal taper plus the width.  Another variable is if you plan on having a fuller in the blade.  My suggestion is to make your bevels however you feel makes sense to the blade.  Also, keep in mind about the balance of the rapier.  The closer you have the center of balance near the hilt, the better for control.  While the blade edges don't need to be razor sharp, it is a good idea to have them sharpened.  I think a safe bet would be to have your blade edges sharp for at least 12 inches to maybe a third of the length of the blade starting from the point.  Now, as for the temper, yes, go for a spring temper.  On a blade that long and narrow, you want some flex so the blade will bend upon contact then bend back to true.  Think of a fishing pole, when you have fish hooked, the bend becomes more apparent near the tip.  Once the fish is off, the rod will straighten back.  And also remember that rapiers have some weight to them, they are not feather light.  This is all my own suggestions.  

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You are NEVER too old to learn something new.

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Thank you for the suggestions, they are appreciated. 

This blade will not have a fuller. It will be narrow, and im currently not set up well to clean up narrow fullers, i only have larger contact wheels. 

It will be relatively short as far as swords of this style go, shooting for around a 30 or 32 inch blade, along with the hilt configuration im hoping to do, i believe i can get the balance within a few inches of the guard.

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I believe Kevin Cashen has written some nice stuff about rapier design and construction.  I don't have a link, but if I remember correctly, he got quite smitten with making them a few years ago, and documented his trip down the rabbit hole.  

-Brian

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