Archive for the 'Dagger' Category



21
May
08

Fun With Damascus Steel

Today, I have a special treat for you. You may or may not know this, since it does not come up particularly often, but one of my favorite blade materials is Damascus steel. For two reasons. First, barring unfinished or tarnished steels, it is one of the only true “dark” finished steels that I know of.

The next reason is that, even though I have a great love for all dark weapons, (to me they have more character than most) the truth is that, most dark weapons are not inherently dark, and require special finishes, most of which rarely do any more than provide an aesthetic touch to a blade.

Damascus steel on the other hand, has an inherent dark aesthetic beauty that requires no artificial colorings or preservatives. Ok, so maybe there are some forms of Damascus that have artificial colorings. Some shades of Damascus require chemical treatments or the usage of special alloys or metals to achieve the desired effect.

But in the grand scheme of things, these are no worse than the coatings used to enhance the appearance of monosteels. Nonetheless, it is still the only type of steel that I know of, whose aesthetics are also functional, and whose enhanced cutting power does not really require any special finishes / treatments / coatings. Damascus steel has an inherent beauty all it’s own.

But the cool thing is that, in the hands of true metalworking artists, using these various other methods, Damascus can be made into patterns and colors of amazing beauty. I was quite thrilled to find a site that featured such beautifully wrought Damascus blades, each one uniquely and excellently finished to a level of detail that, much like J. A. Harkins work, totally blew me away…

I present to you a taste of the blades of Kevin and Heather Harvey of Heavin Forge. First up:

<_>

The Zulu assegai – In Damascus

Zulu Assegai in Gaboon Viper Damascus

[view full size]

Now obviously, as one of my favorite African weapons, this Damascus Assegai caught my eye. Definitely a thing of beauty. Due in no small part to the very eye catching Gaboon Viper Damascus pattern on the blade:

Zulu Assegai – Close up of Blade

Zulu Assegai Blade Close Up

[view full size]

Now this is a very unique spear, first because of the shaft style, which appears to have been carved to appear like a dark horn grip at the bottom, and smooths out the rest of the way up. Very cool. And the head sports a cool damscus pattern they have appropriately called called “Gaboon Viper”, as it emulates the characteristic diamond pattern found on the back of the aforementioned reptile… I’ve got two words for the head on this spear: Absolutely Awesome…

<^>

Persian Fighting Blade!

Persian Fighting Blade

[view full size]

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, I needn’t explain to you why I like this blade… It’s all about the points and curves… (I’m sure you can figure it out… 🙂 ) And it doesn’t hurt that it has a Damascus blade. Which is actually appropriate since Damascus steel is reputed to have been developed in ye old Persia and was also called watered steel at the time. No surprise, as Damascus does look like Steel with waves in it…

<^>

Next we have a piece i like to think of as from the West. The Wild West. California gold rush and and all that jazz… It should be self explanatory why:

Gold Rush Bowie

Gold Rush Bowie

[view full size]

Yep, we have a bowie knife, perhaps almost the trademark of the wild west, (besides the ever ubiquitous revolver), in an amazing gold and almost cobalt blue Damascus hue… I’ve always like gold accents on black blades, but this just takes it to another level altogether…

Gold Rush Bowie – Close up of ricasso and top of hilt

Gold Rush Bowie - Ricasso and Hilt

[view full size]

There’s gold in that thar bowie!… I seen it with my own two eyes!!

<^>

Finally, but certainly not least, we find a weapon harking from the dark continent of Africa, an interesting little dagger that reminds me of an insect for some reason. A long wasp maybe? I dunno. But here is it, in all it’s insect like glory…

African Dagger

African Dagger

[view full size]

Now this particularly dark brand of Damascus is one of my favorites, perhaps the only true dark steel in existence. And this sample is particularly beautiful, complementing the overall theme of this dagger very well. Between the African styled hilt, and the really very cool horn sheath, it’s perhaps one of the most intriguing implementations of a Damascus dagger I’ve seen to date…

<^>

And that’s all I’ve got for today. You can see more of Kevin and Heathers’ work at Heavin Forge. Perhaps what really impressed me was not only the creative use of color in the steel, but also the overall attention to detail, fit and finish on every weapon. Absolutely beautiful. Make sure you swing by their page.

As much as they were all great works of art, after looking at them all, I discovered I had a favorite. Probably because I tend to gravitate towards more dark colors and organic shapes, I liked that last waspy dagger best. It just spoke to me. We had a grand old chat.

I think I’m gonna give it a name. I’m calling it the Black Stinger… Yeah… In fact I think i’m gonna have to make myself similar blade one of these days. It won’t be nearly as cool as this one, but If it has half the personality, I’ll be looking forward to quite a few great conversations with it…

P.S. I’d like to point out, for the record, that I am not insane. Just a *wee bit* loopy when it comes to certain blades… But I’m totally harmless, I assure you… No really… 😛

Kevin and Heathers Damascus Blades – [Heavin Forge]

15
May
08

A Funky Spider Blade…

I’ve talked about a few weird and wacky blades in the past, but no surprise, there are an endless supply of them. Submitted for your review, yet another wacky blade, from the annals of the wacky knife kingdom:

Fantasy Spider Blade

Fantasy Spider Blade

[view full size]

Now here, we have a blade that makes no pretenses about what it is. This is a Fantasy Spider Knife. Nothing more, nothing less. And while it isn’t really my style of blade, I wish other blades could be as honest…

So basically we have a black knife, with a very curvy blade… almost too curvy. And an almost equally curvy hilt. all thoroughly imbued with a spider theme. The blade actually reminds me of a Klingon weapon, (called the tajtIq) in shape. But I digress…

The blade has a spider and web silkscreen on it, which runs into the guard, a rather… interesting… affair, with what looks like scrollwork on one side and what I can only describe as more Klingon inspired shapes on the other.

Now usually with these kinds of contorted blades, the grip is almost unusable. But Interestingly enough, it actually appears to have a workable grip, with a secondary finger guard. A rather pleasant departure from the norm. The grip itself is all atwist with some black material that I cannot readily identify, and the pommel looks almost like a lyre with a spider web, sans spider, spun between it’s arms.

To be honest this blade is not really my cup of tea. But at least it was upfront about being a nondescript “Fantasy” blade, it wasn’t trying to be something else, it actually had a good grip design, which I would have much preferred to see on some of the other similarly contorted grips I’ve seen in the past, and most importantly, it was black.

What? Hey, it’s black. I Had to at least give it the benefit of the doubt…

Fantasy Spider Blade – [True Swords]

10
Mar
08

Flying dragons with wings of shiny steel…

To paraphrase one of my favorite bloggers: G’day readers! Every now and then I run across a weapon that has me scratching my head. Today is one of those days. Allow me to introduce you to a rather unusual “dagger”:

OOOOKKKKKKK… Interesting. Now I am all about weapon being art. It can be a beautiful thing. What I do not get is how the art can be allowed to completely dictate the form of the weapon, to the extent it it more a danger to the wielder than it is to an opponent. Am I confusing you? Good. let me elaborate. Lets take a look at this “dagger” shall we?

First off, your average dagger is a short, pointed, double or single edged knife with a fairly thick blade. What is this? I dunno really. It looks like… an upside down double Ulu (an Alaskan Eskimo chopping knife)…

Hey, that’s what it looks like… I’m just saying. Ok, so maybe I’m being unfair. It is a dragon themed blade. There are two blades representing the dragons outstretched wings, between which juts the head of the dragon. The dragons body is the grip of the blade. And the pommel is a curved piece with blades that represent spikes on the dragons tail.

Ah yes. The tail. Lets talk about that spikey tail shall we? the bladed spikes that point inwards towards the wielders hands. Yeah. Those spikes. That’s what I was talking about when I pointed out that this “dagger” was a greater danger to it’s wielder. But hey, it’s art right? And art is in the eyes of the beholder. Or so they say. I have no problem with art either way. It’s when they start calling art “Daggers”, and “fantasy axes”, and “ethereal swords” and whatnot that I start getting a little antsy.

What I am trying to say, in my oh, so, subtle manner is this: Dear blade art designers, this is not a dagger. It’s an art piece. In steel. Sharp, artistically rendered steel, yes. But nothing more nor less than an object d’art. And most certainly not a dagger. At least not in any traditional sense. Not trying to belittle the art or anything, but please, for the love of all that is holy, know the difference…

Flying Dragon Dagger – [Realm Collections]

21
Dec
07

A Devilishly Cool Dagger…

With my recent post on serious fighting knives, I thought I’d follow up with a post on a less utilitarian, and more aesthetically interesting blade.

Devils Glare Dagger

Devils Glare Dagger
[view full size]

Now this is an interesting little piece. I find this dagger interesting because of it’s heavy reliance on straight lines, and most predominantly, triangles, in it’s design. I like the angularity of it’s geometry, the cut of it’s jib… well, you get the picture.

This weapon is an interesting study in triangulation. First you have the blade, which is essentially, one big triangle that comes to a really sharp point. I like that. The blade has a large void, (also triangular) leading down to the hilt, which is adorned with what I can only presume is a devils skull, with a set of blue eyes. I don’t really know what they are made of, but they look cool, and set off the rest of the hilt quite well.

The guard consists of a set of triangular spikes emanating perpendicularly outwards from the demons cheekbones, and backed up with yet another smaller set of similar spikes at a 45 degree angle to the guard. The grip extends from the bottom of the skull, and is also a gradually tapering triangle, adorned with small squares (or a collection of triangles) down to the triangularly pointed pommel.

Triangles all around. I’ll bet Pythagoras would have loved this dagger…

Devils Glare Dagger – [Collectors Edge]

13
Dec
07

Phyreblade’s guide to Altairs retractable blade (From Assassins Creed)

I had been considering doing a piece on retractable blades for a while, and was finally motivated to do so by a post I recently got in my suggestion box. A reader, Zach B. commented about his build of an under-hand retractable blade, similar to what the assassin Altair uses in the game Assassins Creed:

Assassins Creed Poster
[view full size]

In general, I love blogging about game weapons with real-life counterparts, but obviously, this game is pretty new out, so there are no official (or unofficially) produced rip offs… err production “replicas” of the Altairs retractable blade to be had for review.

However, since the games release, there have been numerous attempts to duplicate this weapon, and while YouTube is replete with videos of home made “Assassins Creed” blade contraptions, I noticed that, due to a lot of conflicting concept art from the developers, there is actually a lot of confusion about this blades design.

So, in typical blade nerd fashion, I thought I’d try to sort things out. Not necessarily to replicate the game blade, but rather to come up with a practical, real life design for such a weapon. Now let me preface the following by saying that, for your average dweeb, walking around with a spring loaded blade up your sleeve is an incredibly bad idea. There is a reason why these kinds of weapons were not common, even when they were legal. They are highly impractical, not to mention that they are an accident literally waiting to happen.

But, for those of us who like to live on the edge, love the aesthetics and the mechanical challenge of designing wacky weapons, and are insane enough to try, (notwithstanding the very real possibility of self impalement), I’ll go on. Proceed at your own risk. But remember, Altair has no ring finger. Think about it… People, please, do NOT try this at home…

Mounting and Placement.
For any wrist mounted blade to have the stability and strength to be used effectively, it must be properly mounted. This means a solid (inflexible, like steel, very thick/stiff leather or wood) mounting platform, preferably formed to the shape of your forearm, and a minimum of two straps to keep it in place, one at either end of this base. Your best bet would be to use the entire length of your forearm, with a minimum of two straps, one placed at the wrist and the other just before the elbow, to maximize the weapons stability. Altair has this covered quite nicely, as he used full length bracers with three straps:

Altairs Bracer
[view full size]

Now looking at this concept art for the game you’ll notice that the blade seems to come out from the spot where Altairs ring finger ought to be. In the game, this is not the case, and is entirely impractical for any real life assassin, (unless they are a mutant, like Wolverine) so we will disregard this little snafu, and assume the blade is mounted under the forearm, and not actually in his hand. Next stop, blade design.

Blade Support and Design
Now here is another area that has been thoroughly bolloxed on account of multiple conflicting concept art. In the game, Altairs blade uses a nested rail delivery system, where the blade is housed inside of a set of nested sleeves, which run on an internal guide rail. The sleeves extend sequentially, outermost rail first, then inner rail, and finally the actual blade, once both sleeves are fully extended and locked:

Assassins Creed Blade with double nested sleeves

Altairs Nested Sleeve Blade system
[view full size]

Now here is where the confusion begins. Depending on which art you are looking at, Altairs retractable blade either has two sleeves, or one sleeve:

Assassins Creed Blade with single sleeve

Altairs Single Sleeve blade system
[view full size]

Now nested sleeve systems have the advantage of being able to fit in a retracted form factor that is only a fraction as long as the weapon is when fully extended. This means a much more compact housing. However this comes at a cost. The added complexity of automating the extension and retraction of multiple nested sleeves require smaller, more delicate parts, necessarily manufactured to very close tolerances, that would make the whole mechanism more prone to failure.

In fact, in my opinion, the ideal system would actually use no sleeves whatsoever. And given that you have (and should really use) the entire length of your forearm with which to conceal both the blade and the deployment mechanism, I don’t really see the point of implementing such an elaborate system. Not to mention that a single, fixed-length blade would be stronger, faster, more reliable, and infinitely easier to automate than a shorter blade mounted in multiple sleeves. Which brings us to the our deployment system.

Automation
A very important aspect in the operation of any stealth weapon is an equally stealthy activation mechanism. Preferably one that can be activated ‘hands free”, in a manner of speaking. And Altairs got one. In the first concept picture above, we can see that there is a little harness attached to Altairs pinky from the blade housing. This is intended to be his blades activation switch:

Assassins Creed Blade – Ring/Cable Activated

Assassins Creed Blade Mechanism
[view full size]
[video here]

However, in one of the promotional vids for the game we see Altair having to press a button to release a switch that activated his blade:

Assassins Creed Blade – Button Activated

Assassins Creed Blade Switch
[view full size]
[video here]

Now truth be told, this button is probably one of the more complicated ways of doing this. Indeed, you can see that it’s actuation would be counterintuitive, as it would require you to place your fingers in the path of the out going blade in order to activate it. In any case, from the numerous videos of him in action, we can see that Altair simply flexes his hand away from the blade to activate it, so we can assume that a button based activation system is not used. A finger ring cable is a much more flexible way of doing this, and the one I’d go with.

So far as the actual deployment mechanism is concerned, if we stick with the simple, single blade (no sleeve) approach, we can actually use a very compact dual spring double action out-the-front switch blade mechanism. They are simple, reliable and fairly easy to implement. I won’t go into schematic detail here, as it would extend an already excessively long post, however, I can point you in the direction of a buddy, and fellow knife fanatic Sinza, who has a forum with a lot of helpful diagrams, as well as a break down of some common double action OTF mechanisms. Go on over and check his site out if you have the hankering for a more technical look into the topic…

The Blade.
Finally, we come to the point (pun intended) of all this, which is the design of the actual blade itself. As I mentioned earlier, I favor a single blade approach, with no sleeves, housed in a simple, dual spring loaded guide rail, in the style of your regular OTF switchblade. So far as the blade itself is concerned, we would need to meet a few specific criteria. The blade would need to be long enough to penetrate thick clothing and still puncture vital organs, thin enough to be able to slide between a persons ribs, yet thick enough to resist bending. Throw in double edges, and a sharp point, and we have a winner.

Interestingly, these are the same basic design specifications of the contemporary Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife design, which I will talk about in a future post. Nonetheless, this should give our assassins blade all of the required features to be a terminally effective assassination tool… And that’s all I’ve got to say about that…

07
Dec
07

Weapons of The Klingon Empire – Knives.

In a recent post I introduced you to the glorious Klingon Empire, and their illustrious weapons. Today I thought I’d share a few of the funky looking Klingon hand weapons which I thought were cool, courtesy of Kri’stak forge, of the Klingon Imperial Weapons guild (Yes, they’ve had a guild for years… Get with the program. Sheesh.):

The D’k Tahg (or Dktahg)

the D'kTahg

I introduced you to this weapon in a previous post about a similar blade called Kold Fuzhion. It is one of the most popular combat knives of the Klingon empire. It’s wasp like shape, large slotted ricasso and folding twin guard blades are distinctive features that sets it apart from every other Klingon blade. This is one of my favorite Klingon knife designs, even though I consider the folding guard blades a rather frivolous design feature. Nonetheless I like it’s single mindedness of form. You can tell this is intended to be a thrusting weapon, and not much else.

The Qis

Qis

The Qis is, in my humble opinion, the most practical Klingon combat knife designs. Unlike the previous blade, this knife could be effectively used for both cutting and thrusting, which to me at least, would make it a much superior weapon in combat. And added plus would be that it carries several trademark Hibben design cues, sporting graceful curves, as well as the ever ominous reverse teeth along it’s spine. This blade certainly looked and acted the part of a Klingon combat knife, and is my other favorite Klingon blade. Which is not surprising, I guess, because I already am a big fan of Gil Hibbens’ blade work.

The Ma’veq

The Ma'veq

The Ma’veq is a ceremonial Klingon knife, used in the ceremonial killing of disgraced Klingons by a sibling, in order to bring them honor in the afterlife. This ceremony is called Mauk To’Vor. The logic of this escapes me, but then again I’m not Klingon, so eh. The knife is rather interesting. An elaborate decorated design, this does seem more geared to ceremony than Combat or utility.

The Short TajtIq

Pair of short TajtIq

This dueling knife, is a shortened version of a Klingon sword with the same name. While not the most flashy blade of the Klingon arsenal, it is one of the most sensible, from a utility standpoint. It has a good thrusting point, a deep cutting blade, and integrated cut out guards. It appears to be well designed for dueling. And could conceivably make an excellent all around work knife, if the Klingons had such a thing.

The Qut’luch

The Klingon Qut'Luch - The Assasins Blade

The Qut’luch is one of the more funky blade styles I’ve encountered, and is the only truly weird design I really liked enough to talk about. This is supposedly the traditional blade of a Klingon assasin. You can tell by looking at it, this is is another thrust biased weapon, which kind of makes sense, but then you can also tell it is designed to do more damage coming out than going in.

I suppose that the design of a Qut’luch makes sense from a Klingon perspective, but from this bloggers point of view, it seems like an unnecessary design feature that would simply makes it a bit more difficult to use. But what do i know. I’m not exactly a Klingon assassin…

And that’s it for now. To be sure, there are a few more Klingon knife designs floating about, but these are the only ones I liked enough to blog about. Hopefully that’s good enough for you. Until the next edition of “Weapons of the Klingon Empire”, I say *Qapla’*!! 🙂

Kri’stak Forge – [Klingon Imperial Weapons Guild]

07
Nov
07

The Dark Sai…

I am an ever constant lurker in a couple of martial arts and blade forums. It just so happened in one of these forums, that there was an interesting discussion about the origins and use of sai, a unique impact weapon I blogged about earlier. Many opinions were offered, but I think it is fair to say that nobody knows for sure where sai truly originated. However I thought quite a coincidence that I also happened to come across this dark beauty:

Japanese Sai Dagger

Japanese sai dagger.
[view full size]

Now this is a cool looking sai. According to the website I found it on, this sai is an “exact replica of the 16th Century fighting knife.” I dunno about all that. I mean, it’s hard enough to find any reliable documentation about the sai, let alone any documentation that would allow anyone to make an exact replica of anything.

In fact there are quite a few design features that are markedly non traditional about this sai. Like the contoured ridged grip. And very sharp point. Traditional Sai usually had a straight cylindrical grip, and a fairly blunt tip. And then there is the flared pommel. Traditional Sai pommels were either straight, had a thick squarish cylinder, or have a multifaceted ball that was used for striking. Not a flared flattened one.

And lets not forget the weird contour of the side prongs. Traditional sai have simple curved prongs, that narrow at the tip, not the complex talon like prongs that this one does. Probably more telling is the fact that this even has a sheath, while traditional sai practitioners wear their Sai in their belts, unsheathed. So I’d take their claims of exact duplicity with a grain of salt.

Thats not to say that this isn’t a beautiful weapon. I love what they’ve done to it. The scale-like contours of the grip, the complex curves of the side prongs, the rather ominous point to the tip, the black finish and even the kanji on the sai and sheath are excellently done.

Traditional sai were mostly used as truncheons rather than daggers. But as a dagger, this sai truly comes into it’s own. I love it.

Japanese Sai Dagger – [Medieval Weapon Arts]




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