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#1 2006-06-07 13:43:01

RHogg
Member
Registered: 2006-04-03

getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Getting swordcutlers these days to make good blades is like getting the proverbial camel to walk through the eye of a needle.  Even when they SAY they're going to do what we want, they go ahead and do something different anyway b/c they know they can sell their crap to SOME yahoo out there.  Even foil blades are ghastly these days, and look at what happened with Paul MacDonald's sabre prototypes at Hanwei...

I have noticed that American Fencer's Supply is starting to realize that there's a market for classical stuff, though -- they've got a "classical" area on their online catalogue now, and they're starting to fill it with a variety of stuff -- none of it probably super, but what's important is that they've shown a willingness to meet the market.  They've always had good customer service, and I think if they hear more from us, the customers, the quality will steadily improve.

Of course, that doesn't fix the blade problem, since they don't have their own forge....

I think we as a community need to start becoming more vocal with equipment suppliers and start offering them numbers; the market is growing quickly, and you'd think that somebody out there would want to get in on it while the getting was good.  Once we can get a dialogue going rather than the "this is what you want" mentality that most vendors/manufacturers have, things'll get better...

Cheers,
Russell


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#2 2006-06-07 14:28:25

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Russell,

Many of the parts currently for sale at AFS are made by Tom Rockwell, a fencer at TCAS.  His work is of high quality and he is available for cutom work - to a degree.

Also, Dennis Graves makes beautiful French and Italian foils and dueling swords. I know he is currently very happy to take orders.

You are correct though, in the end all these parts recquire better blades. Sometimes the local antique pickers find a quality old blade that I can refurbish and use.  They are quite quite different from what is now commercially available.

Blades would be the real *coup*.


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#3 2006-06-07 15:53:02

RHogg
Member
Registered: 2006-04-03

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

I hadn't tried any of the AFS stuff beyond their french epee guards, so it's good to hear that.  It's too bad Italian fencers have to rely on false ricassos, though -- which I guess goes back to the whole blade/forge question...

As for Dennis, he'll never fail to give the highest quality; but that doesn't solve problems of jackets, gloves, etc.  I have this great fear that in twenty years you won't be able to buy a fencing mask that doesn't look like some god-awful space helmet...

As for blades -- I pray regularly to every deity I can think of that Dennis or one of his proteges will decide to start a forge... even he says there's only so much that can be done with the blades people are making nowadays.


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#4 2006-06-07 15:55:39

Linda Wyatt
Prevost d'Armes
From: Danby NY
Registered: 2006-03-26
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

> You are correct though, in the end all these parts recquire better blades.
> Sometimes the local antique pickers find a quality old blade that I can
> refurbish and use.  They are quite quite different from what is now
> commercially available.

My best source of good blades has been ebay, of all places.

Trouble is, you can't see or feel before you buy.

But I've found a couple of "signed" blades that are fabulous, and
quite different from other blades, so if I find any more signed
the same way, I'd take the chance.  They have a thicker than average forte,
and a thinner than average foible, so they are very soft on the touch (great for kids!)
but the blades don't wobble or flex much.

I also have a couple of old Leon Paul foil blades I got on ebay
that are the stiffest foil blades I've ever seen- stiffer than
many epee blades!
Since I prefer a very stiff blade most of the time, I've been looking
for these.  I thought I had found some, but they turned out not to be
nearly as good, so I think there must be a time period during which
Leon Paul made very stiff blades, and I haven't figured out yet exactly
when that was.

Ebay has also been a good source for old naval practice sabres with
blades ranging from 1" to about 1 1/2",  quality variable.  Once in
a while they show up and I haven't been disappointed in any yet.

One of the problems I've had with commercial fencing equipment vendors is that they
all seem to want to "set" the blade some sort of way, and we've had to
be very specific and persistent in order to get them not to do that.

Linda

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#5 2006-06-07 16:28:37

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

RHogg wrote:

I hadn't tried any of the AFS stuff beyond their french epee guards, so it's good to hear that.  It's too bad Italian fencers have to rely on false ricassos, though -- which I guess goes back to the whole blade/forge question...

As for Dennis, he'll never fail to give the highest quality; but that doesn't solve problems of jackets, gloves, etc.  I have this great fear that in twenty years you won't be able to buy a fencing mask that doesn't look like some god-awful space helmet...

As for blades -- I pray regularly to every deity I can think of that Dennis or one of his proteges will decide to start a forge... even he says there's only so much that can be done with the blades people are making nowadays.

Tom struck a deal with them that went into effect just a few weeks ago.  You can buy his pommuls, grips, false ricasso (which are fabulous) and PdAs online from AFS.

Also, Dennis makes french guards that are more affordable than AFS.  He sent me his latest price list and it made me smile.

You have a point - I hadn't thought about masks.  I am hoping that Robert MacPherson has some time soon to make me one of his fencing masks.  They are lovely.

Dave


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#6 2007-08-15 15:49:14

Hentzau
Member
From: Des Moines area, Iowa
Registered: 2007-08-13

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

RHogg wrote:

... look at what happened with Paul MacDonald's sabre prototypes at Hanwei...

What did happen?  And is there another source for Radaelli sabres?  I'd sure like to find some good ones. 

-Darren


"When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite."
- Winston Churchill

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#7 2007-08-16 11:54:08

The Rose Knight
Member
From: Maryland
Registered: 2006-10-12

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Does anyone here have any experience with or opinion of the blades from Triplette Zen Warrior?  Are any of these appropriate to classical fencing or are they simply stage/theatre weapons?

Daniel


Daniel Sullivan
Rockville Fencing Academy
Foil, Epee
Second dan Kumdo/Kum bup

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#8 2007-08-27 14:01:19

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Daniel,

The blades from Triplette or Zen [sic] are ok.  They have a variety of rigidity - from stiff pokers to uber-wacky.  You must be specific when you _call them_ for your order.  You weren't going to do that online or by mail were you?

I think Linda's advice about ebay is an excellent option when you can do it.  The only blades with proper distel temper I have are older blades culled out of estate sales by seasoned pros, or from lucky ebay buys.  My favourite is a 36 inch french blade with shoulder-cap and a perfect distel temper.  I made a french "longsword" foil with it.

On another positive note - we had great success in our purchase from Chevalier - as referenced earlier in other posts in this forum.  Ordering their blades and shipping from France ends up being less expensive than buying from Zen [sic].  The blades are strong, responsive and come with an almost high-polish finish to them.  One caution - they appear to come in a default size of a 34 inch length.  We have a plan to contact them about this in the future.  That said, they are a #1 choice right now over any American supplier.


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#9 2007-08-27 14:36:02

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Hentzau wrote:

RHogg wrote:

... look at what happened with Paul MacDonald's sabre prototypes at Hanwei...

What did happen?  And is there another source for Radaelli sabres?  I'd sure like to find some good ones. 

-Darren

No - sorry.  The original Hanwei mock-ups were perfect.  They sent them out and all were impressed.  Then - oops! - when they went into production they had magically transmorgrified into lesser objects.  Who knows why?  Maybe they decided at the 11th hour to save some cash on production.

I was never impressed by Negrini's first run of Radaellian sabres.  The last run looks a little better, but...

at the risk of repeating myself (and I _swear_ I make no commission from him at all!) if you want a good sabre - or any weapon - take the time to purchase one that 1) has excellent design and function 2) that will last you for years and years, and right now that usually means ordering a custom piece from Dennis Graves.  He makes very handsome sabres.  Yes, you will spend a little more - but, this is what we do isn't it?


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#10 2007-08-27 16:49:59

The Rose Knight
Member
From: Maryland
Registered: 2006-10-12

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Akilles wrote:

Daniel,

The blades from Triplette or Zen [sic] are ok.  They have a variety of rigidity - from stiff pokers to uber-wacky.  You must be specific when you _call them_ for your order.  You weren't going to do that online or by mail were you?

I was going to call.  I deal with Triplette and I always call them, though I do believe that Zen is no longer under the same ownership (I could be wrong but that is what I had heard).  I was interested in the R5 rapier who's original parts they claim were donated by Adam Crown.  They mention a number of blades, and it is the 10x foil blade and the epee blades (both the T90X and the T02 musketeer blade) that interest me.  I prefer a relatively stiff blade; I've never picked up the habit of flicking.  I am also interested in the R3 rapier, epee blades in that case.

It was the R5 rapier and the Adam Crown reference that caught my eye and made me think of something other than just stage and SCA combat, though the site seems very much aimed at both markets.

Thank you very much for the feedback!  I do appreciate!

Daniel


Daniel Sullivan
Rockville Fencing Academy
Foil, Epee
Second dan Kumdo/Kum bup

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#11 2007-08-27 17:18:01

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Oh dear.  Ok, our experience with the X series blades is almost wholly negative.  The foil blades are too stiff, and by that I mean that 90% of them are unusable due to impossible balance issues.  They also hurt people.  The X series epee blade is also extreme -  since its best to use a PdA on your dueling sword this blade is a very poor if not dangerous option.  NOT recommended.

As for the regular musketeer blade - go right ahead.  Not as nice as the older blades circa 1985, but ok and usable.

As for the R5 - or any of their "weapons" - please do not buy.  They are mediocre parts that are inexpertly cobbled together.  We used to buy these only to spend about 8 man hours labor and about $50 in custom parts to fix them.  The text for this item is outlandish: to wit, they have no balance and only perform if you fix all its problems.  This is basically a French smallsword designed 'rapier' with your choice of blade.  The best part shipped with this order is the blade or pommul.  Everything else is crap: crap handle, crap guard, crap knucklebow.  I am sure that Maitre Crown's original input into this piece was quality, but the use of said information is anything but.  The handle is their standard cheap pine wrapped in a substance once thought to cover the hindquarters of a cow.  The "leather" will unravel after its first use and the wood grip will easily split.  The metal work on the knucklebow is laughable and heavy.

Again, the R3 is just an epee/dueling sword.  You're paying for the same crappy parts (see description above) that the standard epees come with only you get your choice of blade to put on it.  And magically its a rapier!  Again, please avoid!

The standard blades that they offer - if you ask for one that is rigid and not whippy - are just fine for CF.  When asking for an epee blade have them pick out a standard series blade that is rigid - again not whippy - and that has the widest shoulders they have.  All these traits are variable in the current market and they can hand select one for you.  If you don't get what you ask for have them refund it immediately.  Again - standard blades, NOT the X series.  Although, I should again reiterate how much better and affordable the Chevalier blades are.  You may have to wait a little longer, but it is worth it.

Good luck!

Last edited by Akilles (2007-08-27 17:39:08)


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#12 2007-08-27 17:20:50

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Oh, and Walter Triplette sold the Sport half of the company to a couple while he made Zen [sic] an new entity.  They still piggyback on some items and it seems half the time they answer each others mail/phone calls.  Very odd.  We used to buy many things from the old setup there, but recent negative changes in quality and customer service mean that we will most likely never use them again for anything.  I say this having been a customer of theirs for about 20 years and having made $1000s worth of purchases over that time.  Not another dime.


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#13 2007-08-28 00:24:45

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

I've used a variety of the so-called "double-wide" epee blades (I cringe at the trailer-park association, I guess). France-lames made a great one. Triplette -- now zen warrior -- makes one that is all right, too. I like them because they behave like sword blades -- very stiff, blunt bending just enough not to break, but if sharp.....

I don't have much use for foil blades except in classes for kids or beginners. The lightest blade I care to work with is an epee blade, but even that's a little silly...


A while back I let Walter use an antique bi-lobate guard of mine to pattern his own bi-lobate guard after, the which he then graciously dubbed "the Crown guard."

Good weapons -- just as in the "old days" -- are expensive. My favorite swordcutler is Denni Graves of Boulder Colorado  (No Quarter Armes). Robt. MacPherson, an armorer by trade, has also made me a couple of pieces that I think are as good as you'll find anywhere.

AAC

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#14 2007-08-28 11:49:06

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

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Last edited by Akilles (2007-08-28 11:50:25)


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#15 2007-08-28 11:49:37

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Adam Adrian Crown wrote:

I don't have much use for foil blades except in classes for kids or beginners. The lightest blade I care to work with is an epee blade, but even that's a little silly...
AAC

Maitre Crown - does this mean that your foils and dueling swords are mounted with the same blade? (unless it is a kid or beginner class of course)


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#16 2007-08-29 16:49:49

The Rose Knight
Member
From: Maryland
Registered: 2006-10-12

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Akilles wrote:

Although, I should again reiterate how much better and affordable the Chevalier blades are.  You may have to wait a little longer, but it is worth it.

Good luck!

Is this the same Chevalier blades made by Prieur? 

Waiting is not a big deal as long as it is within reason and I generally don't shop on price; I learned that lesson with my recent (and it will be my only) encounter with Dinamo blades.  It didn't last nearly as long as my TCA blade which was made by Blaise Freres forge (actually, that epee blade is still working beautifully).

Daniel


Daniel Sullivan
Rockville Fencing Academy
Foil, Epee
Second dan Kumdo/Kum bup

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#17 2007-08-29 17:11:16

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

@ 16

Daniel - may be.  the website is = http://www.chevalierdauvergne.com

The product is listed as "ancient foil".  We bought 3 test blades and have been very pleased with them.  Yes, the BF forge will produce some blades with consistent quality.  Very few forges are doing that these days.  Again, the benefit of an ebay find (old blade) or buying from a quality production line (Chevalier) is that the blade will last.  This takes for granted that you are taking care of your blade and using it properly ;)

Last edited by Akilles (2007-08-29 18:13:08)


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#18 2007-08-29 18:03:48

The Rose Knight
Member
From: Maryland
Registered: 2006-10-12

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

My thanks!!  I just spent some time perusing their site.  Fantastic!  I will definitely be ordering a few things from them very soon!!

Daniel

Last edited by The Rose Knight (2007-08-29 18:16:22)


Daniel Sullivan
Rockville Fencing Academy
Foil, Epee
Second dan Kumdo/Kum bup

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#19 2007-09-01 09:14:27

Adam Adrian Crown
Maître d'Armes
From: Ithaca, New York
Registered: 2006-04-04
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Maitre Crown - does this mean that your foils and dueling swords are mounted with the same blade? (unless it is a kid or beginner class of course)

Strictly speaking, we work only with foils --ie, blunts. A duelling sword is a sharp.
I employ blades that match the ability of user. The light, quadrangular "foil" blade, of various lengths, for children & beginners.  "Epee" blades after that. The "mousketaire" or "double-wide" blade after that.
The latter is the closest thing to a "real" fluted sword blade that is reasonably available.
I don't see any purpose in continuing, after the developmental stage, to use anything else.

It's about skill specificity -- both in muscle memory & mind-set.

If you're going to carry a .44 magnum revolver on the street, I wouldn't advise you to practice on the range with a
.22 automatic.  Practice as close to performance as possible.  You might LEARN to shoot with that .22  but if you're going to need something wioth more authority, that's what you'd better practice with.

AAC

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#20 2007-12-04 09:13:56

cfaustus
Member
From: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Registered: 2006-04-20
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Adam Adrian Crown wrote:

I've used a variety of the so-called "double-wide" epee blades (I cringe at the trailer-park association, I guess). France-lames made a great one. Triplette -- now zen warrior -- makes one that is all right, too. I like them because they behave like sword blades -- very stiff, blunt bending just enough not to break, but if sharp.....

Are these the ones they design with the shallower fuller? If so, I have to say I have not been impressed. The idea is a good one. The main problem with these blades in my experience is that they have little to no distal taper. One I got from them had no variation in thickness from forte to foible. This makes them overly heavy and stiff. I asked Walter about this once and he said it was a design decision to make the blades 'safer' for use by the SCA and stage groups. They use this blade for their rapiers (there is also a 40" version). The SCA has some rather interesting regulations regarding equipment (much like the USFA and FIE) that basically account for poor technique. It is a shame because one can see where he was going with this blade and then was thwarted. The shallower groove looks more like a smallsword blade, however, when compared with the delicate, tapered historical blades, these are quite gross. The first ones I got were standard 35" blades that a I cut down. Sure cutting a blade down will make it stiffer, but these were stiff to begin with as they had no taper. I wound up grinding a distall taper into one to get it to be lighter and not such a crowbar. I used a historical smallsword I had had the opportunity to examine and take measurements from as a model. I told Walter about this experience. Walter then talked about producing a 32", but when I asked him whether these would have the same non-existent taper, he said yes and I told him that did'nt help. Walter appears to be primarily concerned with filling the SCA's demand - not ours. At least AFS is filling the void to a degree.

This past weekend I did have a chance to see a lovely older epee blade on a Denny Graves piece. It is the closest I have seen a modern blade come to a real smallsword blade. The blade was evenly tapered, delicate, but properly tempered and had the shallow, wide groove... problem is, Dennis does not remember where that particular blade came from. He apparently has a large selection of blades which he picks from for each weapon he makes... one imagines a dragon's hoarde of beautiful old blades is waiting patiently to be joined to hilts over at Denny's. M. Martinez seemed to recognize the blade as an old production piece from one of the French forges, but I do not remember which. David, do you remember?

Last edited by cfaustus (2007-12-04 09:24:27)

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#21 2007-12-04 09:51:31

cfaustus
Member
From: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Registered: 2006-04-20
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

Anyone have any experience with the St. Syr or F1 sabre blades from Chevalier? They look like they might be a good match for dueling sabres. Also, the polytechnique epee blade looks suspiciously like a smallsword (see the polytechnique full weapon) but it is hard to tell much from the image... Yet, given our good experience with this company, I would not be surprised if they had something to offer in this regard... makes me want to order one of the musketaire's as well...

Last edited by cfaustus (2007-12-04 09:52:03)

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#22 2008-01-09 14:15:14

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

@20

We concluded that the blade on that Graves epee must have been an old France Lames.


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#23 2008-01-09 14:18:27

Akilles
Member
From: Saint Louis
Registered: 2006-06-06
Website

Re: getting what we want out of our friendly neighborhood fencing vendors

I spoke with Dennis Graves the other week and he has sent a smallsword component into TCA for production.  I have not yet seen how the piece has translated into purchase piece, but it is nice to hear that there will be more affordable options for students with better design and utility.

Anybody willing to take a chance and find out on these?


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