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big314mp

And I half expected it to be made of wood...

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I was working on a wood working project, while listening to a pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, when I got a splinter from a piece of birch plywood I was working on. Looking at the edge, I found that I had sanded it quite sharp, although it wasn't anywhere near sharp enough to cut anything beyond cheese.

 

So the idea struck me, how hard would it be to make a wooden sword?

 

I tried birch plywood, and that got a semi decent edge. I just now tried MDF, and that didn't sharpen at all (despite me attempting to fire harden it). The point just disintegrated to sawdust.

 

I think there might be some wood out there that is dense and hard enough to hold a good edge. Any ideas? Preferably available from the local Home Depot/Lowes...

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What about Oak? Or maybe Ebony?

 

 

PS - after a bit of reading, what about Iron Wood? Some Japanease swords (probably ornimental though) have been made from white oak.

 

 

I once whittled a knife from wood when I was fishing - it came out alright, but the wood was still a bit 'green'. I mean it was too wet really and the thing wouldn't sharpen on the blade part very well - although I got a good hard and sharp point on the tip.

Edited by DrP

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I have some oak drying in the garage ATM (for various other projects). I'll try some of that in a few days.

 

That's the thing though...a point is pretty easy to get, but the edge is remarkably resistant to sharpening. I'm wondering if wood just won't develop those micro serrations that metal blades have.

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You have to be very careful when using wood to make a practice sword (I assume you would be using it for practice rather than as a wall hanging). When they break, the flying shards can be dangerous, even if you haven't sharpened the edges.

 

Sword blades can be too sharp. "A razor edge" sounds great in fiction but is neither necessary nor preferable. The thinner the metal (or wood), the less strength it has and the more easily it will be nicked, turned and flattened. An edge that is beveled correctly relies on the force of the stroke rather than the degree of sharpness. You aren't shaving with it, you're striking to cut.

 

Synthetic materials are being used with great success. Here is a bokken (a wooden katana for practice) made of black synthetic material for US$29. I've never used this brand but I thought their video (link in red) showed the strength of the blade, even when cutting with it.

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What about Oak? Or maybe Ebony?

 

 

PS - after a bit of reading, what about Iron Wood? Some Japanease swords (probably ornimental though) have been made from white oak.

 

I've got a japanese white-oak and a red-oak bokken. the red-oak bokken is heavyer, but doesn't maul up (so won't chew your flesh open if you're training and hit someone with it), whereas the white one will chew-up, but is actually harder to break (so is smaller and lighter, and so better for solo-training). I dont think you can get sharp bokken tho?

 

didn't the aztecs have wooden swords?

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didn't the aztecs have wooden swords?
Yes, but they edged them with chips of sharpened obsidian.

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whoa, hold on there guys...I wasn't planning on making a practice sword and using it. This is more of an experiment as to the ability of wood to hold a good cutting edge. At the moment, I'm just taking 1 inch pieces of wood, and trying to sharpen them with an electric sander, and then comparing the characteristics of the edge.

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hmm... what way is the blade aligned with reguards to the grain?

 

Yes, but they edged them with chips of sharpened obsidian.

 

didn't they have some pure wood swords?

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This is more of an experiment as to the ability of wood to hold a good cutting edge.
As I said before, you need to decide what you're going to cut. Swords should not have a razor edge, whereas a knife doesn't have enough leverage to cut well without one.

 

And no, wood will never "hold" a good edge. You could make it razor sharp but it will never stand up to more than a couple of uses.

 

didn't they have some pure wood swords?
They may have, but the ones I heard about had a groove around the edge in which they fixed small shards of obsidian. It's possible they used wood alone to good effect. Musashi supposedly killed many opponents using only a bokken.

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Musashi also killed an opponent with a carved paddle. Unlikely that he put an edge to it.

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Musashi also killed an opponent with a carved paddle. Unlikely that he put an edge to it.
Musashi probably could have cut a person in half with a hunk of rebar.

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Dak: The birch one had the edge going across the grain, whereas MDF doesn't have a grain.

 

Phi: To me, holding a good edge would be staying sharp at all. My terminology was quite off in that respect.

 

And I just tried some oak, and that worked a little better than the birch. I'll have to try Dak's suggestion and go across the grain, to see the effect of that.

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Epe (pronounced Epay) is an extraordinarily hard wood - its like stone - my dad worked on a house where they had to cut it to build a small porch, and he was telling me how he had to replaced the blade on his table saw twice because the stuff is so hard only a fresh blade can cut it -

Only problem is that its really endangered, so its use is kind of frowned upon - however, to make a sword I imagine you would use so little, it wouldn't matter.

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It's possible they used wood alone to good effect. Musashi supposedly killed many opponents using only a bokken.
Yes, but they were head blows that cracked his opponents skull and made 'blood rush out of his nose'. Jotaro, in a fit of anger, also killed a man with a bokken and that too was a head blow.

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I saw a documentary about why no (or at least less) prehistoric stone tools are found in the East than in the West:

People might have used bamboo to make tools. Apparently it's relatively easy to create an edge on bamboo because its fibers are nicely parallel.

 

Disclaimer: I cannot retrieve the name of the documentary, and I never tried this myself. So, I have no source. :D

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I saw a documentary about why no (or at least less) prehistoric stone tools are found in the East than in the West:

People might have used bamboo to make tools. Apparently it's relatively easy to create an edge on bamboo because its fibers are nicely parallel.

 

Disclaimer: I cannot retrieve the name of the documentary, and I never tried this myself. So, I have no source. :D

 

Not at all surprising, if true. Bamboo is ridiculously useful for all sorts of things, including making very hard and sharp tools and weapons (that I'm guessing wouldn't leave much in the way of archeological evidence). Not as hard or sharp as stone or metal, but so easy to work with that it wouldn't surprise me if societies that had figured out how to make use of it wouldn't be motivated to develop, say, metalworking, for a long time.

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