More tests cutting the head off a pike

Last week we did a little experiment trying to cut an ash haft in half with a two handed sword.  You can check out those videos here.  We received a lot of great comments from folks with ideas about how to improve the experiment and we've addressed some of them today.  We use a longer pole with a pike head attached with langets, but we had to use a softer wood (pine) to get a piece that was substantially longer.  

two handed sword

Two handed custom sword

In today's test we also use a custom version of our 15th century Two Handed Sword.  This time around we had Patrick (one of our sword makers from the shop) plant the 10.5 foot pole against his foot on the ground and hold it with two hands providing a more stable base and imitating the position often used in the front line of a pike formation.  He held the pike so that the langets faced in the direction that the blow was coming from so that the sword blade impacted the steel of the langet, which was made of 16 gauge mild steel -- a material substantially similar to the iron langets of the period.  Below you can see a photo of the damaged langets and the severed pole.  

damaged pike head
Though the results of this experiment were different from those of the first, this too comes with important caveats.  First, the pole was softwood rather than ash because we did not have any ash poles long enough -- we are working on it.  Second, the grain on period polearms was frequently circular instead of straight, meaning the poles were cut from what amounted to saplings instead of sawn from a board.  This probably had the effect of making period poles more durable.  
15th century two hander
15th Century Two Handed Sword, as seen in video
Check out the full video below!

Sword border

Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography.  He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.

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