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What does Full Tang Mean?

If a sword isn't full tang you probably shouldn't buy it. Let me explain.

If a sword isn't a full tang sword then it isn't suitable for swinging around even casually. It is a wall hanger. It is ok to hang on the wall, take down and show to friends. It is ok as a show piece. But it is not ok to swing!

I will explain this further - with pictures!


Here is a sword.

A sword handle

Underneath the handle of that sword is an area of steel called "the tang".

A view of the tang

Here is the important thing. And this is where the "full" comes in.

In order to be a full tang sword the sword has to be one complete piece of steel. This includes the blade and the tang going all the way through the handle and sticking out the pommel where it is secured in some way. The important thing is that it is one continuous piece of steel with no welding, no extra steel added in any way. The dashed line shows the complete single piece of steel.

Diagram of a full tang in a sword

This next picture shows a sword I made. You can see here that the blade and the tang are cut from the same piece of steel.

A sword that is full tang


This next picture is not a full tang sword. This is something called a rat tail tang. A steel rod has been welded onto the partial tang of the sword.

A rat tail tang sword

Let's take a closer look.

Explanation of the rat tail tang


What we have above is a very small tang with a steel rod welded to it. That steel rod is what runs through the handle and out the pommel. This is called a rat tail tang. And it is not safe for swinging a sword around. That weld can break. And if it breaks while you are swinging it the sword blade will go flying. That can be very dangerous.

It is ok to buy a rat tail tang sword. As long as you understand that it is just for display and for hanging on the wall. You can take it down and show it to friends. But you really should not swing it.

If you want a sword you can swing. One of the important factors is that you get a sword that is clearly marked and sold as a "full tang" sword.

How to make a sword

How to Make a Real Sword -

The sword in the first four pictures in this tutorial is an actual sword that I made. Want to learn how to make a sword? Here is the tutorial with an included video: . How to Make a sword


The Complete Bladesmith

The Complete Bladesmith: Forging Your Way To Perfection

Looking for instructions in bladesmithing that'll put you on the cutting edge of the custom blade market? Then this definitive guide to forging world-class blades is for you. Written by a master bladesmith, this book tells you how to set up your forge, select your materials, fashion grips and hilts, grind edges and much more!



Techniques Of Medieval Armour Reproduction: The 14th Century (Medieval & Renaissance)

Few historical icons can match the evocative power of the medieval suit of armour, and this epic new book is a complete course in the tools and techniques of the modern armourer's art. Through more than 1,000 detailed photos and clear instruction, Brian Price presents a working handbook for aspiring and active armourers who want to develop their skills in the production of medieval armour in the style of the 14th century. The book is divided into four sections: a sweeping history of armour and its production from its medieval roots to its modern revival; a practical introduction to all the tools and supplies necessary to equip a modern workshop; a thorough review of key techniques; and a series of actual courses in constructing armoured defenses for the head, body, arm, hand and leg. Taking the reader through the construction of an authentic medieval harness from conception to completion, Techniques of Medieval Armour Reproduction is a vital addition to the libraries of serious craftsmen, historians, collectors and researchers.


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