- A sword tang that passes the entire length of the grip, and is attached directly to the sword’s pommel.
- A type of grip where the tang of the sword has two ‘’scales’’ or halves of some material (usually wood) which is riveted to the tang to create a layered grip.
The shape of a sword’s blade, both in the profile, and distal views. It is largely responsible for the blade’s specific use, and potential as a weapon.
A metal tip piece on a scabbard. It can also reference a leather tab / flap at the top of some scabbards which overlaps the guard when sheathed.
Center of balance – the point on a sword where it can balance on its own. It is the point where the sword has equal mass distribution and thus can balance on its own. This is also referred to as the “Point of Balance”
This term is sometimes used in regards to Japanese swords and when used in this context it will refer to a blade being folded with more than one type of steel.
In contrast to Through-Tempered, this is the traditional method for tempering the Japanese sword. Before quenching the blade the swordsmith will coat it with clay and the varying thickness of the clay will determine how quickly the blade will cool when quenching. The thin layer along the edge will flash cool the edge and the thicker clay on the body and spine will slow its cooling. This results in the blade having two separate levels of hardness; the edge will be harder steel which will better hold a sharp edge and the body will be softer and have some shock-absorbing properties. In addition to this the polishing of the blade will reveal a wave-like hamon line that denotes the border between the differentially-hardened regions of the blade. While this traditional method does make a blade with a fine and hard edge the drawbacks are that this edge is more brittle than a softer through-hardened edge and make it more likely to chip or take damage when struck against a hard or dense target. The softer spine of the blade also has a tendency to take a bend if a poor cut is made against a target, requiring it to be straightened again by a professional.
This is the relation of how thick a blade is at its base and how thick it is at the tip. A sword with good distal taper will be thicker in the base and thinner at the tip. A sword with little distal taper will be more uniformly thick from base to tip.
The shape and angle of the edge of the blade of a sharpened sword.
A thinned portion of the tip opposite the main cutting edge of a single-edged blade. This can sometimes be a shorter and sharpened edge, but it can also be simply a thinned, but unsharpened portion. This is a feature typically seen on sabers, but can also be seen on some other single-edged swords.
A metal band at either end of the grip used to secure the leather or wire wraps. Also used as a decoration.
The steel used to make a Japanese sword may be folded. Traditionally this was done to aid in purifying the steel, but the availability of pure modern steels makes this step unnecessary for achieving excellent results. This technique may be used on replica Japanese blades with the intent to construct them according to more traditional methods and to impart a traditional visual aesthetic to the blade. More than one different type of steel may be melded and folded together to create a blade with composite properties from several types of steel, but it is also common for a single steel to simply be folded on itself.
A traditional way of crafting a sword and its steel components. Metal is heated and hammered into the desired shape by the craftsman. (See: Stock-Removal, Hardening, Tempering)
There are two general definitions used in association with this term. You may need to ask the customer which type of definition they are referring to:
A groove down the center of a blade, used to both lighten a sword, and conserve sword steel (making a wider blade possible with less material). Often mistakenly called a “Blood Groove.”
The thickness of sheet metal used specifically to construct armor and helmets. The higher the number = the thinner the metal.
The section of the sword hilt whose purpose is to protect the wielder’s hand. It may take of the shape of a simple bar, a steel basket, a flat disc, or several other forms.
The wooden pole / grip on an axe, spear or polearm.
Once the forging or stock removal process is completed, a blade is heated to critical temperature and then cooled quickly in a quench bath, commonly brine or oil. This process hardens the blade, so that it may retain a cutting edge without wearing quickly. (See: Forging, Stock Removal, Tempering)
All of a sword, except for the blade proper. The crossguard, grip, and pommel.
A curved bar which extends from the guard to pommel, designed to prevent the user’s hand from being cut by a sliding blow from an opponent’s weapon.
This construction method was common to traditional katanas but is rarely utilized in replicas due to the complexity involved. A laminated blade will be a composite of several different steels and these are used to create different sectional partitions of the blade. There are several different lamination types of varying complexity; some are simpler and involve a softer core of steel being pointed into a harder steel ‘’jacket’’ whereas others can utilize as many as seven or more different partitions of steel of varying qualities. The individual partitions of the blade may be folded before being used as a component for the overall blade composite depending on preference. Once constructed the sword can then be differentially-hardened when tempering.
For axes and polearms this is strips of metal riveted onto the wooden grip / haft to strengthen the weapon and to make its wooden grip / pole more resistant to breakage.
A generic term for any steel that is not hardenable or hardened. This is often modern steel with lower carbon content. It is often used for the hilt components for swords as it is sufficiently strong for this purpose.
Penter of balance – the point on a sword where it can balance on its own. It is the point where the sword has equal mass distribution and thus can balance on its own. This is also referred to as the “Center of Balance.”
The component at the end of a sword’s hilt. Can be used as a striking implement and can aid in balancing the sword.
Profile taper refers to the changes in the outline of the blade or edge, from the base of the blade to the tip. (Imagine lying a sword flat on a piece of paper and tracing the outline.)
Renaissance term for the crossguard. Used almost exclusively when referring to rapiers.
A low-cost and low quality way to mount a blade into a hilt – usually seen on low quality swords and swords meant to be decorative and non-functional. Its name derives from welding a thin cylindrical rod onto the blade to create the tang. The end of the rod is usually threaded so that the pommel can be screwed into place to construct the sword hilt. This design is structurally weak and will often break at the weld if the sword is used.
This is similar to most other types of swords which are made from a single piece of steel with a uniform HRc hardness. Though not the traditional method, this type of blade composition can be spring-tempered so that it can flex and return to straight which makes it less likely to be damaged or become asymmetric if the user executes a poorly aligned cut on a target. It is also easier to polish out scuffs and scratches on these blades which do not have a hamon. Altogether this makes this blade type suitable for beginners or tameshigiri enthusiasts who wish to do substantial amounts of test cutting and minimize the level of maintenance their blade will need.