Sword Measurement Protocol

The work for the exhibit The Sword — Form & Thought has had a tremendous impact on my research about sword dynamic properties. The availability of new data and the need to develop new tools to investigate the properties has led to a more or less complete revamp of my approach, although the basic notions are still the same. I am now in the position where I can see how to publish the various methods, computations and applications in a consistent whole. This will still need time, however, and more data is always welcome!

In this context, I have realised that there was no document describing the measurement protocol that I use in a single place. It was all dispatched across blog posts, old articles, forum discussions, and mixed with outdated interpretations and conclusions. This has made it difficult to discuss opportunities to measure original swords, as there was no reference outlining what to measure and how. My first private measurement session in a museum also made it clear that it was better to have a clear outline set down in order to be as efficient as possible in the documentation, and not forget important details.

I have therefore written the protocol down in details:

The protocol includes a measuring sheet that I make available on its own in two different formats:

I am sharing in the hope that other people who wish to document swords, either modern or original, have a basis to ensure that their measurements include the maximum information. Although the protocol has be developed together with the Weapon Dynamics Computer, it is not tied to it and in fact describes a superset of the measurements currently used in this tool.

I would of course welcome all feedback and will update this as my research progresses!

2 thoughts on “Sword Measurement Protocol

  1. Thank you for sharing your work with us! I plan to visit some museums to take measurements as well!

    A thought occurred to me the other day, but I lack the expertise to know if this can actually be done practically. Would it be possible to make a test which measures a blade’s resistance to twisting as it moves through a cut? There may simply be too many variables involved to do this, but I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

    • Hello,

      If by twisting you mean torsion around the longitudinal axis, I’m afraid this won’t be possible to do without imposing a lot of force to the sword, and so it won’t fly in any museum. I mean, it is the same sort of problem there is with the flexibility test, but with an order of magnitude more force ! So there might be a problem of many variables being involved, but the real blocking problem I see is the amount of force that would need to be applied. It would be dangerously close to destructive testing.

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