edge carbon



The niuweidao or “oxtail saber” was developed somewhere around the mid 19th century. It’s characteristic blade flattens and widens considerably near the center of percussion, creating a fairly thin edge on a sweeping arc; perfect for deep cuts against soft, unarmored targets. This specialized design made the niuweidao immensely popular among rebels and their enemies in the social unrest that lead to the fall of the Qing, and the chaos that ensued in the Warlord Period of the early 20th century.

By the end of the last century, floppy martial arts swords of the same profile featured prominently in martial arts practice and movies, settling the niuweidao in the mids of many as the archetypical Chinese saber.

This Example

Overall length: 95 cm / 37.4 inch
Blade length: 76.8 cm / 30.2 inch
Blade thickness: 8mm (forte), 2.5mm (middle), 1.5mm (widest at tip)
Blade width: 43mm (forte), mm (middle), 57mm (widest at tip)
Weight without scabbard: 1027 grams
P.o.b.: 12.5 cm from guard

Origin: China, probably northern
Materials: Iron, steel, wood
Dating: 1850’s - 1890’s


A classic niuweidao (牛尾刀) or “oxtail saber” with large blade that is thick at the forte but narrows considerably as it widens near the tip. This is to give structure to the deep arc at the end that is made to slash through soft targets, like the thick padded jackets that were worn in the north. The blade has an interesting groove combination that seems inspired by earlier military sabers. It consists of a deep groove flanked by two narrow grooves that start some 13cm up the forte and fade into the tip. The spine starts flat but turns round wher ethe fore starts, a transition common on niuweidao. It’s not in polish so the details of its construction remain obscured, but it is most likely of forge folded construction with inserted high-carbon edge. They all tend to be.

The hilt consists of a large forged iron disc guard with angled flange. The heavy pommel, also forged of thick iron, is made with a separate plate. On the left side of the wooden handle is a small burned mark with the character 潘 (pān), a Chinese surname and quite possibly a reference to an early owner of the piece.

It was initially pretty well made for these, with good geometry on the iron fittings -a deluxe material at the time, favored over brass- and precisely cut grooves on the blade. Unfortunately the blade has seen better days, it’s pitted and has some edge damage in the form of several nicks from another weapon. It has a very lively balance for one of these, and would do well as a practice saber for a martial artist. Restoration included refurbishing the hilt to get it tight again for exactly this purpose.

When the saber came to me, the handle was in bad shape and painted mint-green. There was also a hole in the handle and loss of wood inside due to rotting. I removed the paint, treated the handle and filled up the lost wood. All restorations are practically invisible.

A classic antique Chinese oxtail saber
Left: The choice of color can perhaps best be described as “interesting”.
Right: The character 潘 (pān as seen as I was removing the modern paint.


A classic example of an iron mounted oxtail saber of the 19th century with hand forged iron hilt mounts. It was of quality manufacture for one of these, but today the blade is not in the best shape…


Moro kris sword, circa 1940. The blade is 23 inches long, with a pattern welded steel core and high carbon steel edges. The grip is covered with silver bands and braided wire. The pommel is a large piece of finely carved ivory. The wooden scabbard is covered in rattan fibers and decorated with engraved and painted mother of pearl plaques.


The Shark Axe

Wrought iron has such a beautiful look. The life and lines of the wrought bring a special dimension to the body of work. This axe represents my first successful wrought iron axe body with a carbon cutting edge. The trick for success was to keep the cross section of the eye very thick. I started out with about 700 grams of weight and ended around 400 but I was able to keep that cross section quite thick. It was still tricky to shape the eye without the wrought crumbling but the wrought I used for this is very good quality.

The blade shape is shark inspired, hammer head to be more precise. The cutting edge feels like a shark fin or head protruding out of a sea of wrought iron. It is shaped much like a fin and comes complete with a mouth full of teeth in the underside. It throws like a dream and cuts like sharpened shark teeth. It’s ready to be-head the toughest of fish.


Custom Dane axe by Eric McHugh. The eye and body are made of low carbon steel and the reinforced edge of high carbon steel. The 42.5 inch hickory haft has an almost oval cross-section. This shape is very important in because it makes it easier to properly align the edge when cutting.

This style of two-handed axe was very popular during the 10th and 11th centuries in regions with strong Scandinavian influence, such as England, Ireland, Scotland and Normandy. In the Bayeux Tapestry it’s mostly shown wielded by the armored Anglo-Saxon huscarls, who could let go of their shields to wield their axes with both hands while relying on the protection of their mail.

Cedarlore Forge/ David DelaGardelle

The Firienholt Fierce-Fighter’s Skeggöx is an axe forged in collaboration with my good friend Nathanael Brandt.
I crafted the grip from hickory, and carved antiqued knotwork into the wood, further embellished by brass studs.
Ideas were taken from ancient bearded axes, aka: “Skeggöx” (Old Norse Skegg, beard + öx, axe)
As well as much later Norwegian Battle axes, which displayed breathtaking chiseled decorations on their faces.
Nathanael did the primary crucial forging of the axe head to its iconic shape, as well as forge welding on its high carbon cutting edge. I then shaped and ground it before hot chisel stamping in the decorative designs, and finally heat treating it.
This axe is inspired by a mixed verity of historical time periods and axe making methods, but executed in a mythologized way.
A fully-functional and equal part tool and art-artifact, that will be serving its new owner soon.”

Isn’t this just gorgeous??

There’s a new bleeding edge in carbonation technology — the SodaStream MIX, which will debut at Milan’s Salone del Mobile next month. The Yves Behar-designed unit is kind of insane: it has a big color display, Bluetooth connectivity, works with an app on your smartphone, and can allegedly “carbonate any and all liquids, from pure fruit juices to alcoholic beverages.”

We are going to carbonate milk, probably.