Knives, swords and Daggers in the styles of the European Middle Ages and Viking Era
Items for Sale
About my work
"The Medieval Sword in the Modern World (2nd Edition)"
Tinker Pearce Tactical
My Work and Philosophy
I became interested in swords when I started playing fantasy role-playing games as a teenager in the mid 1970s. I started researching medieval weapons because the games mentioned these items but never explained what they were. I became fascinated with swords when I actually got to handle a 10th c. sword in a private collection in Germany in 1981 and it was like nothng that I had imagined. Far from the heavy, awkward and crudely made item that I was expecting it was light, well-balanced and surprisingly agile. For the first time I could readily imagine how people managed to fight with swords. Swords were not at all what fiction, cheap reproductions and movies had led me to expect.
Resources were limited in those pre-internet days but I studied whatever I could get my hands on in the way of swords, daggers, books etc. I got involved with the SCA as a heavy-fighter and we tried to do some interpretive work with a reprint of a German fencing manual. Towards the end of the 1980s I started rehilting daggers with more period-correct handles and this led me to begin making my own; in the beginning I was actually filing the blades out by hand! In 1992 I began working full-time as a knife maker working for a sword-retailer in the SCA and when he was getting ready to move out of the Seattle area the following year I set up on my own as a full-time knife and sword maker. With guidance from other makers, notably Chuck sweet (Steelwolf Swords) and Ike Roe I began working to discover the engineering principles that govern sword design.
It was a very different time- the internet was in it's infancy and the only manufacturers of 'functional' European style swords were Del Tin, Museum Replicas and CAS Iberia. There were makers of hand-made swords also, but makers that genuinely understood the engineering rules for swords were few and difficult to find. At that time merely making swords of the correct weight and balance with good 'harmonics' and other needed qualities was so rare that people were willing to put up with brass furniture, exotic hardwood handles and other anachronisms of detail. I got involved with Sword Forums International at the end of the nineties which gave my work world-wide exposure. In 1999 and 2000 I embarked in a joint-venture with Angus Trim to attempt to create custom-quality swords on a production basis. This was a dismal failure as a business but did serve to get Angus Trim into making his own swords which I recommend highly; Gus does excellent work.
The Internet has led to many changes in my work over the years as the market has become increasingly knowledgeable about swords. Today the main thrust of my work is create swords, knives and daggers in the style of the Viking Era and European Middle Ages. My swords are not copies of specific pieces but rather are representative of 'period' pieces of their style. Naturally my swords and knives reflect my preferences so they do not represent the entire spectrum of what was 'period-correct' for a given type and style- however they always fall within the spectrum of characteristics for their given type. I will do correct period construction if a customer requests it or the style of the piece demands it, but normally my swords use a modern, take-down hilt construction. What I strive for is to make swords that, excepting their take-down construction, would be unremarkable in weight, balance and form if they were somehow magically transported to their intended period. According to scholars of swords that have handled both a great many antique swords and my work I have for the most part sducceeded.
I also make Scottish Dirks and Sgian Duhbs, modern knives and 'fantasy' swords. My 'fantasy' swords are fully functional, correctly engineered 'real' swords. I won't make a sword that doesn't work as it should (and make sense!) whether it is in the style of an historic piece or a 'fantasy' piece. I won't make a sword that I don't like- not only do I feel entitled to be choosy but in the past I have found that if I don't like the sword it won't come out as well as I would like- or as well as the customer deserves.
Over the years I have made a huge variety of swords including complex-hilt rapiers and basket-hilt swords, Japanese-style blades etc. These days I have mostly stopped making pieces of these styles; either I couldn't make them well enough to satisfy me (though customers mostly seemed happy with them) or I simply lost interest in making them. You might see them occasionally on the Items For sale page but I am not likely to be receptive to custom orders for these types pieces.
I have long been interested not just in swords, but in how they were used. Since my days as an SCA Heavy fighter and our early attempts at interpreting period manuals I have studied Rapier Fencing and the use of the longsword and sword and buckler. I have also studied stage-fighting and choreography. This led to myself and a friend to begin staging demonstrations of medieval fighting techniques and then to teaching these techniques. One martial arts instructor years ago expressed the opinion that sword-makers could not become swordsmen as they would lack the time to pursure both interests; contrary to this opinion I believe that a sword-maker
study the use of swords to achive a full understanding of swords and the needs of students of swordsmanship.
What is 'Marquenching?'
When a piece of steel is heated to hardening temperature and quenched the desired goal is to produce Martensite or Bainite. These are crystaline structures in the steel that are of use in a sword or knife. Bainite is thought to be tougher and more shock-resistant and Martensite is harder and offers better wear resistance. A typical heat-treat and oil quench produces about 70-80% Martensite, but the steel cools before the transformation to Martensite is completed so the remaining material is composed of non-useful crystals like Ferrite, Pearlite and Cementite. Marquenching is a process that results in a much greater percentage of Martensite- well over 90%. This means that blades heat-treated using this process are stronger and more wear-resistant than blades finished with a conventional heat treat. For larger blades I have used Pacific Metallurgical since 1992. They are a commercial heat treater that works to aerospace specs and this insures quality and consistency in the heat treat of my blades.