Blade Shapes, Features and Geometry

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The shape (geometry) of swords varies extensively and the creation of a typology which attempts to capture all the possible types seems to be impossible. Features added to the shaper, for purposes of function or esthetics, are another significant factor in classification.  Nevertheless, students of sword design often look to certain general physical attributes when describing edged weapons.  In this section we are referring only to the blade itself.

  • Length (guard to tip), Width (top left to right), Width (top to edge) 
  • Edge - sharpness, one/two side, angle, acuteness, serration
  • Temper Line (Hamon) - the visible line where the difference in metals used for the edge and body of the blade become apparent, or where different materials were used in tempering.  This pattern is called "Hamon" in Japanese blades.
  • Point or Tip - the tip of a sword, which may be a point, rounded or squared off.  There are a great many profiles for the points of swords where the edge and top of the blade meet the point.  
  • Cross Section - Many types This is sometimes called "profile taper", i.e., how the blade narrows from spine to edge
  • Distal Taper - the change in thickness from the base of the blade to the tip. Greatly effects control.
  • Curvature - forward curved and backward curved, whether smooth or angular.
  • Tang - the section of the blade onto which the grip is attached; normally not visible; full or partial
  • Blade Geometry and Weight Balance:
    Center of Balance - the point on the length of the blade where it balances.
    Center of Percussion - the point along the length of a blade where there is little vibration when striking and object. This is the "sweet spot" where maximum energey is delivered to a target.
    Pivot Point - the location on the length of the sword around which the blade pivots when the grip is moved.
  • Blade Shape - the main features can be described as straight, curved, and angled. Edged weapons may be predominately of one shape, or a combination. 
  • Fullers - horizontal grooves in the blade that vary in number, width, length and position. 

There are also many different names for specific features that have their own names, often peculiar to a particular region or individual type of sword (see Nomenclature), and these can be used for classification.

The pages listed below provide an illustrated overview of the features listed above, followed by examples.