What Kind of Blade Do You Need?
Choosing the hilt style from the other web pages is only half of the process. You also have a range of blades to choose from depending on the fighting style to be used. The following blades are all fight-worthy and can be fitted onto most of the hilt styles, but different blades will affect the grip and pommel style that can be fitted onto the sword. As different blades have different characteristics, and can greatly change the performance of your actors and the tone of the scene, it is the choice of the blade that is crucial to the effectiveness of the fight. Choose the hilt based on looks, but choose the blade based on function. [NOTE: some broadswords do not have removable blades and are only available in one format]
“What if the swords don’t have to hit each other?”
We also carry a wide selection of costume blades (check out the bottom of this page). These are non-tempered steel blades that are not suitable for stage combat but look and feel real enough for dress and flourishing purposes at a considerable savings. Straight or curved, short or long, just ask. NOTE: We do not carry a costume equivalent of the thin dueling blades. So if you need the thin elegant look of the epee or the schlaeger, you’ll have to order the sword with those more expensive blades. [Once a blade is that thin, it has to be tempered steel]
“Oh, the actors aren’t really fighting; they only have to hit them once or twice”.
I understand what you mean, but that’s like saying that you don’t really need brakes on your car because there is only one stop sign on your way to work. Even if you only need to touch the brakes once all day – at that one time YOU REALLY NEED THEM. The same with swords. Even if the sword only has to touch another one time, or if it has to be dropped, it must be a fight worthy blade.
Blades break. Under the stress of performance and rehearsal, blades break. The lighter blades break with more frequency, but even a broadsword blade will snap in half and give no warning before it does. Even brand new blades fresh from the foundry have micro-fractures. When these micros turn macro, the steel shatters. For that reason, we do not guarantee against any blade breakage. If it breaks, you’ve bought it. For the same reason we strongly advise that sword fights be choreographed by an instructor of stage combat certified by the Society of American Fight Directors, or someone of equal training. This does not include fencing instructors. The techniques of competitive fencing are dangerous to actors and their swords.
Members of the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) and renaissance faire fighters are not qualified to fight onstage, and should certainly never give fight instruction to those who do.
“What about plastic blades?”
We don’t carry them. Plastic breaks more easily than steel, and then you have a very sharp stick with the same potential for danger as a real weapon. Steel is safer. For some tips on blade longevity see our sword safety handouts.
Need a replacement blade? We have epee blades for only $20 – that’s the lowest price nationwide.
Light and “Finesse” Blades
Foil – for the sport of foil fencing it’s fine, but it is far too “whippy” and weak to be used for stage combat. L= 35″; 5 oz. We do not carry this blade – it is unsafe for stage use.
Epee – the traditional standard for stage combat. Pronounced “eh-pay”, the triangular cross section and thin groove allows for stiffness, flexibility, and quick response, but it will break if strong cutting motions or aggressive parries are used. L= 35″; 6 oz
Demi-epee – we’ve taken the epee and reduced the size to more closely match the true smallsword blade. Excellent choice for theatres with limited space. L= 28″; 5 oz
The last blade shown in that photo is the Double-wide Epee also called the Musketeer. WE NO LONGER CARRY THIS BLADE. Many people like them because they think that they are stronger than the standard epee. Please benefit from our experience. Over the past twenty-eight years we have purchased thousands of both kinds, and we’ve seen that the double-wides are more brittle (break more often) than the standard, and are three times as costly. L= 35″; 7 oz
Straight Cut-&-Thrust Blades
Schlaeger – an excellent compromise between a light blade for point work and a heavy blade for strong cutting. The stage combat standard for a couple of decades (although the pendulum seems to be swinging back in favor of the epee). L = 35″; ½” wide, 11 oz Sorry, but these Chinese blades are difficult to keep in stock – We may need to substitute the Rapier blade below as we see fit.
Rapier – these blades came to us from Hanwei, in China. L = 35″ (we cut them down from the 37″ as shown in the photo) 1″ wide, 16.5 oz We are discontinuing this blade from our line-up.
Vorpal – a very sweet light blade, wider and shorter than the schlaeger. The balance point is closer to the hand, making an exquisitely responsive sabre, stout rapier or single-hand broadsword. Strong and quick. Sorry, but this French blade is no longer being made, so these are all used blades only – We will continue to provide them for both sales and rental until we run out. L= 29″; 15 oz; ⅞” wide.
Poniard – this light and thin blade makes a perfect match against the common epee or foil bladed rapiers found in most props cabinets. L= 15″ [some a little shorter]; W= ⅝”; 4 oz
Wide Dagger – incredibly strong steel, this blade can survive even broadsword fights. Very lovely, but might be too strong against the fencing epee blade. L= 12″; W= 1″; 8 oz
Main Gauche – at 17″, this is a lot of dagger. “Main gauche” is French for left hand, and the blade was used for rapier and dagger fights of the late Renaissance and Cavalier period (but then again the rapier blades back then were up to 4 feet long). Consider it also for use as a short sword. Sorry, but this French blade is no longer being made – We will continue to provide them for both sales and rental until we run out. L= 17″; W= 1 ⅝”; 10 oz.
Falchion – the peasant fighting blade of the middle ages, usually on a broadsword hilt. Most foot soldiers were untrained farmers, so simple hacking weapons were the most effective swords. No finesse required, just rush in and swing. Not for knights, but actually far more common than the broadsword in medieval baffles. L= 18″ to 22″; W= 1 ½”; 14oz [This is one of the few blades we build, carved out of machete blades. So we will repair it should it ever break – free of charge]
Fantasy Cutlass – a fantasy blade that looks menacing – but is still very light and quick. L= 18″; W= 1 ½”; 14 oz. [This is one of the few blades we build, carved out of machete blades. So we will repair it should it ever break – free of charge]
Briquet Cutlass – this is the true naval cutlass blade, a cut-down curved sabre blade short enough so as not to get caught in a ship’s rigging. Also keep it in mind as a fine infantry sabre for weaker hands or when fighting space is limited. L= 22″; W= 1 ⅛”; 15 oz Sorry, but this German blade is no longer being made, so these are all used blades only – We will continue to provide them for both sales and rental until we run out.
Cadet Sabre – a curved blade with the fighting characteristics of the schlaeger. Amazingly, these beautiful stainless steel blades are wonderfully strong and excellently tempered. We took the liberty of attaching our own hardened steel tangs to turn them into great combat worthy blades. L= 30″; W= ⅞”; 17 oz.
Heavy Sabre – The weight of the blade dictates the use of singe-hand or even double-hand broadsword fighting techniques (as opposed to rapier). Very strong and powerful. Also the blade we use for our Japanese katanas. Sorry, but this German blade is no longer being made, so these are all used blades only – We will continue to provide them for both sales and rental until we run out. [More information if you wish] L= 31″; W= 1 ⅛”; 24 oz.
Scimitar – This is a very light spring steel, but stiffer than the usual bendy blades used by Wushu martial artists. L= 30″; W= 1 ⅜” [2 ⅝” at the widest point] ; 25 oz. These are all used blades only
Early “Arming” Sword Blades
Shortsword – Greek, Roman, and other bronze-age and iron-age cultures. L= 18″; W= 1 ½”; 14 oz Sorry, but this German blade is no longer being made, so these are all used blades only – We will continue to provide them for both sales and rental until we run out.
Leaf – this shape was developed by many early cultures as a way out of the conundrum of making swords with iron or bronze. If too short, not enough striking power. If too long, it bends easily or must be made too thick to be practical. The leaf shape puts extra weight at the impact point and lightens the blade near the hand. Especially popular among early Celts and Romans. L= 18″; W= 1 ½”; 13 oz [This is one of the few blades we build, carved out of machete blades. So we will repair it should it ever break – free of charge]
Medieval “Arming” Sword Blades
Vorpal – a very sweet light blade, wider and shorter than the schlaeger. The balance point is closer to the hand, making an exquisitely responsive sabre, stout rapier or single-hand broadsword. Strong and quick. L= 29″; 15 oz; ⅞” wide. Sorry, but this French blade is no longer being made, so these are all used blades only – We will continue to provide them for both sales and rental until we run out.
Single-hand Broadsword – These blades are permanently mounted on the three single-hand broadsword styles – Frankish, Norman, and Galahad. They therefore are not available for any other hilts. L= 29½”; W= 1 ½”
Two-Hand Broadsword – These are only available as two-handed weapons. Some variation in length likely L= 31½ to 33″; W= 1 ½”; 24 oz
Zweihander Broadsword – (not shown) The blade used by the Landesknight foot soldiers. Note how much larger is this blade. Sorry, but this German blade is no longer being made, so these are all used blades only. These last specimens we have are for rental orders or special sale orders only. L= 45″; W= 1 ¾”; 48 oz
Costume Grade Blades
I have a dwindling supply of costume grade steel blades: long and short, single and double edged, straight and curved. They are all made of steel, but they are not constructed nor tempered for blade-to-blade contact. Just as with the fight-worthy blades, all have rounded tips and dulled edges. You tell me the optimal dimensions of what you’re looking for, and I’ll try to get as close to that as possible.
(Note: I don’t have a costume grade equivalent of the epee blade. Once a strand of steel gets that thin, it has to be tempered steel.)
Here’s a few examples of some random twisted blades for various productions of Man of La Mancha (post-windmill battle).