Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Foil Sheath

En garde
This doesn't have anything to do with woodworking, but it does involve (faux) combat, so I say it belongs. (Also, as the author it belongs because I say it does).

I got into fencing, which is almost certainly the closest I'm ever going to come to actual sword fighting. I'm not as good as this guy...

Seriously, Chamley-Watson is a a beast. Also, I need a mask with the American flag on it. Freedom... but anyway even if I'm not an Olympian or World Champion like he is, it's a helluva lot of fun.

Anyway. The scoring system works thusly (radically simplified for brevity):

If you look closely you can see a cable running to the fencer's back, that energizes the metallic jacket that they are wearing. Also, you can occasionally see a cord running out their sword-arm sleeve to the weapon. That cord plugs into the bell guard of the foil and runs current down a wire that runs the length of the blade to a tip with a switch on it. Press the tip in and it causes a light to go on. Push the tip in by pressing it into someone's energized metallic jacket, and a colored light goes on. You need to put a touch "on-target" to get a colored light to score a point (although in foil you can put a colored light on and not score, but this really isn't a post about the rules of foil fencing).

Pictured: The extremely fine wire that runs the length of the blade

German tip, taped
Notice that the area around the tip is taped. That is because for being an object used to, literally, stab people, it does have some rather delicate working parts. If you look closely at the very tip, you'll see that there is space for the tip to depress, which allows the circuit to complete and the lights to go on for the scoring mechanism. A few millimeters down the blade you will notice two bumps on opposite sides of the weapon beneath the tape. These are *tiny* (think watch-maker-small) screws. The tape is there primarily to protect those screws.

It is important to take good care of your gear, not only because it's expensive, but also because you want it to work when you need it to. In order to eliminate any chance of the wire or tip getting clunked in my bag, I took some PVC pipe and made sheathes.

If you look at the picture two above, you will notice that the wire runs down a fine groove in the blade. These are not fragile objects. They (obviously) spend a lot of time getting smacked with speed and force into other steel blades. These sheaths are not, strictly speaking, necessary. However, they do offer some protection, and at least they will protect the bag that they are carried in.

In any case, you can see that the blade slides into the PVC pipe, which I capped on one end, and then used a heavy-duty rubber band on the other to secure the handle inside of the sheath.

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