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Lancelot's review of Calvin's Tinker bastard sword

by Lancelot Chan



In a casual email exchange, Calvin, a Taiwanese customer, made a comment that his Cold Steel bastard sword did not handle the way I described European swords on this website. My reply was that Cold Steel's supplier did not really know how to make European swords and they made European swords as if they were just broad Chinese swords. In order to purchase an affordable yet good European sword, I recommended him the smith who made the sword I practiced with for 3 years. It did not receive any damage in cutting through countless yellow and green bamboo, pork arms, tatami omote and plastic bottles. The smith was Michael 'Tinker' Pearce.


The ordering process was full of difficulties, including the smith's previous injury acting up, postponing the order for attending shows, mailed the sword out in a wrong method and losing the sword during transit. Eventually Tinker had to make another sword and sent it to us by Fedex. It made the customer waited longer and longer. I could not help to feel embarrassed for the full payment was sent on 28th June 2005 and the deposit was sent on 20th April 2005. At last, the sword arrived at my place in the morning of 3rd August and I can finally relieved.



Although the wait was long and painful, the moment I wielded the sword in hand, I was filled with satisfaction. I tried some German style moves and the sword responded quickly and solidly. The tip did not wobble yet the sword was not hefty. The transitions could be done at full speed easily. The grip comfortably fitted my hands and did not require wearing gloves. The pommel did not hurt my fingers. The corners and the planes on the pommel told me where the edges are pointing at. In addition, the shape of the pommel helped my hand to secure the sword even in single handed cuts. Besides, the sword also made a loud whistle whenever the blade alignment was correct. So it was a good sword to practice cutting with. My only problem with the hilt was the ridge of the guard, which interferes with putting your thumb on the blade to stabilize it as is done in certain German cuts and guards. Yet to my customer it would not be a problem.



The fuller extended from the forte to the middle of the blade, then the blade's cross section flattened to a diamond shape. This design made the sword's forte stiff while diminishing the
friction of the foible during cutting. In fact, during my test cutting on plastic bottles, twice the
lower half of the bottle stayed on the stand. In one of them, the water did not even spill out!



The design philosophy of being sturdy in the defense and sharp in the offense extended to the edges. At the forte the edges had a thick secondary bevel, while the bevel was almost inivisible at the tip, as if it was sharpened with one bevel. Moreover, both the forte and foible were very sharp.



The scabbard was a simple leather single seam scabbard. This scabbard would absorb humidity along time and thus, unsuitable for long term storage for a sword in a damp environment. Yet, since there were no metal parts and it was low priced, there would be no rusting or feeling sorry for the damages that happened during use. It was a relief for those who had lived with expensive scabbard.


As any handmade sword, there were slight irregularities scattered here and there on the blade and on the fittings. The edges, fuller and spine lines could be wavy at certain spots. However, the degree of variance was acceptable to my standard. The very few pittings on the guard were nowhere close to the degree of those I found on my Brescia Spadona. The finish was bright and shiny, but not mirror-like. In conclusion, it was a pleasing sword. I hope my customer found it pleasing as well, worth the long wait. 


The following are the specifications of the sword:


Overall length: 43.25"

Blade length 34"

Guard width 7.875"

Weight  2 lbs 14 oz

Point of Balance 4" down the guard

Blade width at guard 1.75"

Blade width behind tip 0.875"

Blade thickness at forte 6.25 mm

Blade thickness at tip 2.5 mm


Click the picture to download the test cutting video.



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