The Wounds of Summer

This time of year is usually our busiest, and this year is even crazier than ever. What with unprecedented order volumes and totally insane demand at renaissance fairs, we are working harder, longer, and faster than ever before. At best this means that we are finding new ways of leveraging efficiencies etc., but mostly it means that we are running around like headless chickens desperately trying to make swords, spears, daggers, and axes for all of the folks who want our stuff. We are so grateful for all of our customers and all of the community support that we've gotten over the past couple of years, and we really want to make everyone happy -- honestly, it's what we live for. We literally read appreciative emails from customers out loud at our payroll meetings because your love is what keeps us going.

Occasionally though we have to remind ourselves to slow down a little bit and play it safe. This week we achieved "peak minor injury due to going too fast".  None of these were particularly dangerous wounds, but we have spent all week showing each other our battle scars and we thought that you might get a kick out of it too. FYI, this post contains pictures of minor injuries with some blood.

So, here they are, this week's worst wounds from manically making swords. 

#`1: Dane Axe to the noggin

At the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on Sunday, our head blade grinder and Viking re-enacter Joe Marsello was just finishing up a hard day of selling weapons to the fine folk of the upper midwest when he bent over to pick up the cash box and stood up underneath a Type L Danish War Axe that was being cleaned prior to being packed up. Nathan had made it extra sharp and it cleaved the heck out of Joe's scalp. Fifteen stitches later and Joe was back at work the next morning doing his particular brand of grinding magic.  

Watch where you stand up
Dane axe nip
A stitch in time, save nine
#2: Near fingertip-ectomy from drilling a rondel
Arms and Armor President Chris Poor was blazing through a bunch of tasks on Saturday morning that included roughing out some rondels for pole arms. He was using a drill press to punch through a rough cut circle of 14 gauge steel when the bit caught, spinning the rondel and turning it into a terrifying blade of death. Luckily for us all it only nearly chopped off the end of his finger.  It looks like it is going to heal up fine, even though it smelled a little funky after a couple days in a bandage...

I know better

#3: picking up a blade while in a hurry

Ian is the man who makes all the parts fit together and become an actual sword. When we finish grinding a blade we wrap it in butcher paper to keep it pristine while it is fitted. This morning Ian picked up a newly finished sword blade and was adjusting the paper wrapping when the ultra sharp edge burst through the paper and unapologetically attacked his hand. Since it was Nathan's fault for making it extra sharp, he helped Ian with the bandage. We know for sure that "it will kill".  

How sharp is this sword

Yep sharp enough

Nothing. tight bandaid won't fix

In addition to the sword-making wounds laid out for your enjoyment above, there were also a couple of leisure-oriented injuries that plagued our staff.  Interestingly, they both involved fishing mishaps.   

Nathan was fishing over the weekend in a canoe when he caught a decent pike on a Rapala that promptly slipped out of his hand and lodged a treble hook into his inner thigh. Ripping the hook out with pliers caused the nasty bruising below.   Although it was not actually a medieval weapon oriented wound, the fact that the fish shares its name with an infantry weapon qualifies it for this list.  

fishing attackAftermath of being impaled by treble hook
Finally, Craig Johnson was viciously assaulted by a boat dock. It turns out that he's not as young and spry as he thinks, here hold my beer. While attempting to manfully climb out of the water after setting his wife and daughters afloat in a pleasure vessel the dock denied him the dignity of exiting the water without a wound. Summer in Minnesota can be dangerous, even during those rare times that you aren't actually making, holding, or fighting with medieval arms


When the boat dock attacked

Based on the current rash of fishing/lake oriented injuries we are considering making a special line of fishing cuisses and swimming greaves... 

divider swords

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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