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"Dragonslayer- The Taste of Steel" Sword Sculpture by Jay Fisher

"The history of the sword is the history of humanity."

Sir Richard F. Burton, 1884

The Sword

There is nothing in the history of man that can compare with a sword. No club, no knife, no tool, and no firearm could ever be mistaken the sword. Nothing can compare with the feeling a human has when he wraps his hand around the sure and solid grip, when he lifts the blade toward heaven, and when he pulls the blade through the shadowy ether-

It is one thing to hold a hammer, another to hold a two-foot long pipe. But when you add a sharp cutting edge to a long blade, the energy and dynamics of the entire experience changes. When you hold a real sword, you are instantly linked to our our human history, and you can feel a connection that is not available by any other means.

Most of the swords made in current times are simply not real, but replicas heralding back to an earlier time or style. While modern media entertainment offers up plenty of styles and unbelievable feats of these curios, there are few actual modern, real swords in existence.

Like my knives, with swords, I make the real thing. I use the finest modern tool steels, properly hardened and tempered, blades accurately hand-ground and hand-finished, with working-tough materials in the fittings, guards, pommels, spacers, handle materials and scabbards. Though my swords may never be asked to cut a thing, like my knives, they are fully capable, properly hardened and tempered, balanced and fitted with their matching accoutrements and accessories.

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"Lycaon" handmade custom broadsword, mounted view  in 440C high chromium stainless steel blade, cast bronze fittings, guayabillo hardwood and nephrite jade gemstone handle, obsidian pommel, lauan hardwood scabbard with cast bronze chape, display board of ebonized red oak, steel, black suede, American Black Walnut, engraved black lacquered brass

The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

--Hebrews 4:12

Replicas, Reproductions, Knock-offs, and Pop Swords

The sword has always fascinated man, and plenty of different types of swords have been portrayed in humanity. Add to the pile of popular culture swords (pop swords), movie swords, the contribution of anime, video and computer games,  fantasy comics, as well as the entertainment media and it's easy to see that the sword has evolved from an actual edged weapon to an illustrated figure of icon. There are many of these types of images, styles, and creations available as knock-offs, reproductions and novelties, but extremely few that are the real thing.

What is the real thing, particularly when compared to what is available through mass marketing media and movie-licensed outlets?

  • Blade Steels: The real sword has a real blade, made of the highest quality modern tool steel available to man. This is the stopping point for most further pop sword discussion. There are even web sites claiming that only standard carbon steel blades should be used for swords, and sadly, this ignorance of what constitutes a fine blade is prevalent in many sources, both in digital and print media. Just as in fine knives, fine, high alloy martensitic stainless and other high alloy tool steels are absolutely the best for any knife, whether it is a small utility tool, a medium sized hunting knife, a large kitchen knife, a stout tactical knife, a khukri with a sixteen inch long blade, or a full sized rapier with a forty four inch long blade. A simple question then, would be why these fine steels are not commonly recommended? Most people do not even know that a sword can be made of, for example, 440C high chromium martensitic tool steel. Many of these self-proclaimed reference sources have never even seen a blade of fine stainless tool steel and they are still stuck in the past wives' tales of how all stainless steel is bad. These are the same sources that are trying to sell knock-off replicas made in Pakistan, Taiwan, India, or China. Beyond that, there is a large and looming reason that these steels are out of the conversation of most of these uneducated, inexperienced, and unknowledgeable sources. Can you guess what it is? The reasons are the same as they are when knife makers are restricted to the plain carbon steels, low alloy steels, or simple hobby steels. The process of working with extremely high carbon, high chromium, high molybdenum, and high vanadium tool steels is much more difficult, detailed, expensive, and involved than the working of these other steels. The heat treating and processing of these steels in a sword takes a specialized sword heat treating oven, one that handles the sword in a special way, in a tightly controlled and regulated environment, one that orients the sword in a very specific fashion. The sword oven is not simply a knife maker's oven that is longer, it is a completely different mechanical arrangement. I'll probably go deeper into the details and specifics in my book, but the important reasons that modern real swords are not usually made of high tech alloys are:
    • High tech modern tool steels are very difficult to machine, shape, grind, finish, and polish
    • High tech modern tool steels must be handled with specialized equipment
    • High tech modern tool steels are unforgiving of mistake, error, or corrections
    • High tech modern tool steels are limited in size, width, and thickness
    • High tech modern tool steels are very expensive
    This is why you don't see many swords made of the finest high alloy tool steels, and why most swords made today are inferior to many knives made of the high tech alloys! Since the cost of creating a very fine modern sword is so high, they are rarely offered, and are out of the reach of most people. If you need further information on why modern steels are superior, please check these topic links on various pages of this very web site.
  • Designs: The number of sword designs is larger than it has ever been in history, which is an unusual idea, since real swords are actually very rare. This is due to several reasons. First, we simply have a longer past, so the accumulation of sword patterns and designs will always be great, and even greater in the future. Second, the same media sources detailed above have given us the large array of fantasy sword designs. Unfortunately, most of these designs are impractical, unworkable, or unfeasible. This is because the people who conceive, illustrate, or represent these forms and patterns have no real world or historic knowledge, experience, or familiarity with actual edged weapons. Many of these idealized forms can not even be lifted, much less carried and used, since the fantasy creatures who wield them are also far beyond the reality of modern man. In our world, then, expect to see many unreasonable sword designs.
  • Fittings and Handles: Just like the impractical fantasy blades, handles and fittings of pop swords are beyond practical construction, and many have little to do with the actual sword wielding, gripping, and fixturing that allows a sword to actually work in the hand of man. It reminds me of a guy I knew who once suggested that I carve the figure of a fantasy woman into the inside of a quartz crystal to use as a sword handle. I told him it sounded great, and would he please advise me just how to do it. He shrugged, telling me that he was the idea guy, and I was the maker, so his contribution to the piece was fulfilled, and it remained for me to determine how this could be done. Add to this impractical reasoning the fact that most modern sword makers and suppliers as well as some historians do not actually know and understand the functional features and reasons for sword components and fittings, and a lot of myth prevails with little actual useful knowledge about swords. It might also surprise you to find out that many educated and experienced historians do not know why certain parts and fixtures exist on sword handles, hilts, guards and pommels, and that they repeat only what they have heard as little about actual sword mechanics is studied in current times. Just because someone claims to be an expert on sword design and history, it does not mean that they know what function each component of the sword serves. Only a maker would know in modern times, and since there are no actual sword users who rely solely on real swords for combat, even a modern warrior knows little of actual sword construction and features. If you doubt this, ask any other source if they can explain why a sword would have a graduated temper and how to achieve this, what the mechanical purpose of a pas `d ane is, how the center of balance differs from the center of percussion, and why the sword may have a differential blade grind. Ask also why a sword must be fitted to its owner, why the owner is initially overwhelmed by the weight of an actual sword, and why toughness is more important than hardness or wear resistance in a sword blade.
  • Scabbards and Sheaths: Just like in modern knives, this is, sadly, a neglected factor in most swords whether they are popular culture novelties or sold as functional units. The scabbard or sheath is just as important as the sword, but is often considered a troublesome hassle and afterthought. How sad. This was not always so, as historic pieces clearly tell us. The scabbard or sheath was just as important once upon a time, and that was the same age when an actual sword would have to be carried, spending most of its time in the sheath.

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"There are a greater number of samurai swords in America today than there are in Japan."

--John M. Yumoto
The Samurai Sword, 1958

"Dragonslayer" - The Taste of Steel, handle details, sculpted stainless steel, opals, jasper with hematite, blue obsidian

"The White Arm is more than the oldest, most universal and most varied of weapons, it is the only one that has lived through all time."

-Richard F. Burton
The Book of the Sword, 1884

Considerations Before Ordering a Custom Sword

If you are here because you are interested in ordering a custom handmade sword, I appreciate your interest. Making a custom sword is one of my greatest pleasures and honors in my professional life, and the patrons who commission them have my highest respect. Before you contact me about a custom sword, there are several key considerations I'll ask you to consider:

  1. Is this a real sword? This is the only type of sword I make. That means a hardened and tempered geometrically correct and functional blade, and properly made and fitted handles, fittings and accessories. A real sword also includes a real scabbard or sheath and sometimes a display stand, case, or other accessories.
  2. Is the design you are considering someone else's intellectual property? Often, designs for swords from pop culture sources are legally protected. Usually, movie swords that are designed from non-common domain patterns are licensed to companies that mass-market pop replicas, so they are protected also.
  3. Are you willing to allow tuning and modification to make a fantasy sword a real one? Often, the geometry of fantasy pieces and their mechanics are unsound or unworkable, and I reserve the right to make the real thing, which is a sword that can actually be used: a real sword. This may necessitate tuning, changes, and material applications to make it work.
  4. Are you capable of the investment? A real sword made of modern, high tech, high alloy tool steels is a substantial investment, costing thousands of dollars, sometimes tens of thousands.
  5. Are you patient? At the time of this writing, new sword deliveries are quoting a five year wait, due to a large order list and high interest.

If you've considered these aspects of your project, then I'll be glad to talk to you and give you a detailed quote. Email me and we'll discuss your exciting project!


 

Dragonslayer- The Taste of Steel: Sword Sculpture by Jay Fisher

Dragonslayer-The Taste of Steel

Sword sculpture by Jay Fisher.

This piece was made to honor Dr. Steven Rosenberg, MD., PhD., head of oncology at the National Institutes of Health. It was commissioned by Tom Clancy, world renowned author and philanthropist. It represents slaying of the black dragon of cancer, to honor Dr. Rosenberg's work in pediatric oncology.

Hundreds of hours were invested in this piece. The sword and dragon sculpture are my own work, the casting of the lost wax sculpture in bronze was performed at Mesa Bronze Foundry in Center Point, Texas. The dragon weighs 400 lbs, and has a 58" wingspan. I carved the claws and feet large to represent the filaments of a cancer cell, reaching into other cells. The eyes are made of aventurine and blue tiger eye quartz.

The sword represents the medical caduceus, and has a 56" blade of hardened and tempered 440c high chromium stainless tool steel, double hollow ground and mirror finished. The guard is hand-carved 304 stainless steel, 25% chromium and 8% nickel, mirror finished and hot formed into spiral snakes that wrap around the handle core. The snakes tongues are split and wrap around the sword's cutting edge. The snakes eyes are solid Australian opals, representing the manifestation of life. The core is banded red jasper and hematite, chosen to represent tissue. The pommel is stainless steel with silver bezels embracing a solid polished gem of blue obsidian, into which is engraved the medical caduceus.

Click on the thumbnails below for enlargements.

Click here to see just how big and impressive Dragonslayer is!     More pictures coming; website rebuild underway!


If you're interested in the price of an authentic, well made, real custom sword, please read the section "What do your knives cost?" on my frequently asked questions page.

"The Warrior's Quill:" Fine Custom Rapier and Parrying Dagger.

Fine Rapier with Parrying Dagger true to historic form and function

True to historic form and function, this rapier incorporates modern technology with ancient design and style. The 45" long blade is 440c high chromium stainless steel, hardened with a graduated temper. The blade is springy and flexible at the tip (Rc55) and the temper graduates to high hardness and great strength at the ricasso (Rc60). The parrying dagger was traditionally carried in the other hand, and this one has a 14" blade. The blades both have a half-length cannelure which reduces weight and increases strength by forming an "I-beam" down the center of the blade. This limits lateral flexion. The blades have third-length piercework, which has several functions. One is to reduce weight without sacrificing strength, another is decorative, and the third is a bit more sinister. In days of old, the piercework was loaded with poisons, mainly rotten meat and feces, to infect the opponent, fatally. The hilt has an active Pas d' ane, which is actually a spring force distribution device that spreads shock and energy across the ricasso, the thickest, strongest part of the blade. Most historians consider these finger rings. They are wrong. The pas d' ane  also has an arrangement of transfer springs to further distribute the shock energy. All the spring steel in the hilts is hand-engraved and hot blued with nitrate salts. The handles have stress-free mounts of labradorite gemstone, cut and polished for an absolutely stunning angle of display of reflected light in blues, greens and even warm reds. The play of light in labradorite is so unique that it has it's own mineralogical term: labradoressence. The pommels are fluted, carved, engraved and blued, and both have matching labradorite gemstone cabochons mounted and polished in them. The scabbards (sheaths) are made of the exotic hardwood Arririba (Canarywood) and finely finished. The sheath fittings have matching milling and hand-engraving, and are also nitrate-blued for a deep cobalt-blue color. Both blades mount on a family Coat of Arms frame, made of antiqued oak and appliquéd lacquered and anodized carved aluminum panels. The Coat of Arms was researched to be of correct historical depiction and display.

I don't know how  many total hours are in this piece, but the rapier blade alone took 80 hours to grind!

Click on the thumbnails below for more pictures of this fine piece!

Professional Knifemaker      Professional Swordsmith      Fine Swords and Craftsmen      Unique Swords and Weapons      Collector's Museum Swords   Museum Quality Swords and Knives

Fine, Handmade Custom Rapier, Sword, with Accompanying Parrying Dagger


If you're interested in the price of an authentic, well made, real custom sword, please read the section "What do your knives cost?" on my frequently asked questions page.

The Ultimate Warrior

Here is picture of The Ultimate Warrior, a combat sword made to use in active duty modern military combat. It's made of .250" thick 440C Stainless Steel, satin brush finished, with custom engraving on the blade. The blade is hollow ground, yet thick, and particular attention  and design details were incorporated into the tip, the swage, and the point. Many angles come together at once to allow a strong thrusting point, a usable center of percussion, and a proper center of balance. There are 7 inches of rabid, rip-teeth serrations. This is a real sword meant for real military use, and feels powerful, balanced, and unyielding in the hand. It has 304 Stainless Steel fittings, and is full tang for great strength, that is one solid piece of steel from tip to pommel. The pommel is "fish-tailed" to positively lock into the hands. The two-handed handle scales are dark green Alaskan nephrite jade and black jade, the toughest gem available (most resistant to breakage). The sheath (scabbard) is double layered kydex over an aluminum welt frame, which has six point suspension. Shown in the picture is the dress leather (hand-tooled) harness, and there is also a combat grade waterproof nylon harness.

"Ultimate Warrior" Military Combat Grade Modern Sword


If you're interested in the price of an authentic, well made, real custom sword, please read the section "What do your knives cost?" on my frequently asked questions page.

"Firewind" Wakisashi

I was inspired to make this sword after stabilizing a 16th century wakisashi for a client. This modern depiction of the wakisashi is made of hollow ground and mirror finished 440c high chromium stainless tool steel, fully fileworked and hand-engraved in a deep-relief "flame" pattern along the flats and spine. The sword has a fully engraved nickel silver habaki (ricasso frame) and pierced and engraved tsuba (guard). The handle framework is strong, hand engraved 304 stainless steel, and supports a floating (stress-free mount) overlay of prehistoric mastodon ivory inlaid with a flame pattern gemstone carving of polished Mookaite jasper gemstone. The pommel is also carved, fileworked and engraved and inlaid with a Mookaite jasper gemstone cabochon. The hard scabbard is exotic hard and polished Canarywood (Arririba), fitted with nickel silver framework hand-engraved and polished, wrapped with braided leather, and a red rayskin, hand-tooled inlayed and ringed strap. The sword feels light and fast in the hand, a formidable weapon, razor-keen.

"Firewind" Lightweight Asian Style Wakisashi Short Sword

Thumbnails: Please click to enlarge!

Asian Swords     Katanas, Wakisashis, Tantos         Professional Martial Arts Swords, Wakisashi, engraved short sword, hollow ground, pierced tsuba and habaki, fully engraved blade, mastodon ivory handle inlaid with blood jasper gemstone

Email Jay Fisher


If you're interested in the price of an authentic, well made, real custom sword, please read the section "What do your knives cost?" on my frequently asked questions page.

Are there more swords in the works? You bet. I'll always have several that I'm working on, and I'm always interested in new orders. For details about prices, ordering, and knife making in general, please look at the FAQ page here. If you're interested in blades, check out the blades page here, and for some really stunning work, look at the Museum page here.

Please contact me for any inquiries!

Email Jay Fisher

Find out about how to order your custom knife, sword, or dagger here

Need more details? Jump to the FAQ Page here.

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