Tools of the Trade
(Cross posted at On Literary Intent)
When I’m stuck for blog topics, I often poll my friends to see what things they’d like to hear me babble about. Most often, one (or more) of them says “Hey, tell us more about the swords and stuff that you talk about in your books.” And I’ve been hesitant to do that, mostly because I don’t consider my knowledge on the subject that extensive. I know just as much as I need to know to make sure that I don’t look like an idiot in my writing. If I started claiming to be some expert, I'd be a big fat liar.
However, that said… My hubby and I own a LOT of swords. A LOT. And most (99.99%) of them were made by the crew at a place called Badger Blades. I love these guys/gals, not just because they make awesome weaponry, but because they’re awesome people. We’ve known them a long time, long enough that they’ve seen my kiddo grow from infancy (where they spoiled her rotten) to almost-tween (gods help me) and they still spoil her rotten. Long enough that my hubby has a place of honor on their website, because of all the wicked blades he owns.
I’ve learned a lot about swords from Badger and his crew, from how they’re made to how they function. In A Devil in the Details, I mention that Jesse’s katana can almost be bent double and still spring back straight. After that book came out, I had a fan letter questioning whether or not that was actually possible. And I swear to you it is. I’ve seen it. I’ve been hit with shards of flying anvil when one of Badger’s swords has taken out chunks and left not one blemish on the blade. I’ve also seen one punch all the way through a chest freezer without a bit of harm (don’t ask). They’re beautiful, and functional.
Now, when it comes to katanas, we all know that the old Japanese sword masters did amazing things with metal. They folded it an insane amount of times, slowly working impurities in the metal into miniscule amounts in order to keep the blade from having weak points where it might shatter. Those swords are indeed works of art, and the world will probably never see their like again. However, that doesn’t mean that today’s modern weaponry is anything to sneeze at. It basically boils down to the quality of the metal. Old swords were folded because the steel had so much gunk in it. Then new smelting technologies were introduced, and today’s steel is much higher quality than what those ancient masters had access to. So while today’s swords may not require the intricate effort that the old ones did, that doesn’t mean that they’re inferior quality.*
*Note – There ARE inferior swords out there. Cheaply made, easily broken. They’re meant to be hung on a wall and be pretty, not to be used.
**Note the second – Yes, I know that the middle blade in this picture isn’t technically a katana. It’s a nodachi. I just wanted it in with the smaller blades for size comparison.
Frankly, everything I know about modern swords, I learned from Badger and his crew. You can find out more on how they make these gorgeous blades on their FAQ page. Are there folks who do it differently? Sure. But having had my hands on just about every blade they've made in the last...oh...ten years, I know the quality of their craftsmanship, and I trust their work.
If you’d like to see pictures of more swords, you should really swing by the Badger Blades website. Their photos are much better than mine, and they've got some swords there that I don't have examples of at home. (Don't tell my hubby there's a sword he doesn't have yet)
And if you really are a sword lover, check out Badger Blades' show schedule to see if they’re hitting an event near you!