ANGUS TRIM
ABOUT THE MAKER AND HIS WORK

Angus Trim is a machinist by trade. He has spent much of his career manufacturing parts for the aircraft industry in Washington, but an abiding interest in swords led him to begin making blades in A.D. 2000, first for Michael Pearce’s ill-fated TinkerBlades production venture and later as an independent sword maker.

Gus Trim uses modern manufacturing techniques and a thorough knowledge of mechanics to fabricate swords that perform like the historical originals but are still affordable to today’s consumer. For his blades, Gus uses AISI 5160 steel treated to a spring temper. Guards and pommels are fashioned from mild steel. American walnut provides the grips.

Each sword is assembled by an almost ingenious method—at least Michael Pearce and Gus Trim were among the first to employ it. The pommel is slotted to fit over the rectangular end of the sword’s tang (the part of the blade that runs through the grip) and thus hold the grip and guard in place against the shoulders of the blade. The very end of the tang is threaded, allowing the pommel to be secured by a cylindrical stainless-steel nut (countersunk into the top of the pommel). While not historically accurate, this method is very secure and allows the sword to be easily disassembled for maintenance.

Gus likes to describe himself as a “sword builder” who “cheats” by roughing out the shape of his blades on a CNC milling machine, rather than shaping them by hand on a grinder or under the hammer in a forge. Of course, he still has to finish all his swords by hand.

Whatever he may call himself, Angus Trim builds thoroughly modern swords based on historically proven designs. We at Dancing Giant Swords are proud to be associated with his work.

Here is a little history from the man himself:
 

The market has changed drastically over the last four years, and really, it all starts right here [at Sword Forum International]. Note, this is for Euro swords only, the [Japanese-sword] market already had cutting as a priority.

A funny little fella (Adrian Ko) … started something called the HSG (Highlander Sword Shopper’s Guide), that eventually grew to what we have today, a variety of forums pretty much devoted to swords and swordsmanship.

Back in those days, the High-Performance Sword market really didn’t exist. Certain things emphasized today just weren’t factors four years ago. Sales emphasis on “functional” swords had more to do with a sword’s capability to “survive the rigors of reenactment” than a sword’s ability in the cut.…

Del Tin and Arms & Armor were considered the top of the “production” market, and blades generally were 3/16 inch thick at the base, with distal taper starting [half] way down the blade or further. ([T]his becomes relevant later.) Custom swords generally were thicker, and might have distal taper all the way.… Anything under 3 lbs. was considered extremely light.

………

Then, some dumb, loud Irish country guy [Angus Trim] started talking about cutting, cutting with Del Tin swords and W[indlass] S[teelcrafts] [expletive]. ([M]y collection at the time mostly came from M[useum] R[eplicas] L[imited].)

Adrian decided that reviewing swords would be a good idea, and several reviews were done by participants of the time. [O]ne turkey included test-cutting results, and skimped on the aesthetic [expletive].…

So, Adrian started a staff of sorts, with two staff writers (that really handsome and scholarly Björn Hellqvist of Sweden, and that dumb Irish country guy from Rain Country [Washington]). Test-cutting results became a real deal, and cutting, slashing, and thrusting results [through] several mediums were included.

Shortly afterwards HACA [the Historical Armed Combat Association] came on line and started suggesting that practice cutting would be a good idea for an aspiring WMA student.…

About 9 months into SFI’s life (by this time, the name had become Sword Forum) various swordsmiths and swordmakers discovered the forum.…

The Irish Country Guy met one of the Skirt Wearin’ Scot swordmakers, a fella known as Tinker [Michael Pearce].… Soon swords weighing in at 2.5 lbs. were being tested, and a new phenomenon (not really, just unknown by the forumites of the time), Harmonic Balance, was being discussed. Distal taper was included in the discussions as it is important for balance, blade geometry, and you guessed it, Harmonic Balance.

Now, here it’s fair to say that more than one swordsmith/maker knocked Harmonic Balance and called it boohuckie, and at least one prominent Swordmaker told a customer that distal taper wasn’t important.…

Well, test cutting and practice cutting was getting into being in vogue. Things like vibration and hilt durability [were] becoming important. So was cutting performance.…

About two years ago, another important happening happened. Tinker and the Dirty Dawg [Angus Trim] tried working together, to develop a line of Performance Swords. The swords for the most part started ¼-inch thick at the base, and distal tapered from there to the point. Most of these swords weighed less than 2.5 lbs.… Harmonic Balance was emphasized, and so was taper.…

That winter, [due] to bad luck, etc., TinkerBlades more or less fell apart, and [the] A[ngus] T[rim] [line] came out of the ruins.… Stock size remained the same, [harmonic balance] was still emphasized, but many swords got lighter.…

In the last year and a half, things have changed drastically. Smiths that knocked [harmonic balance] three years ago, today would tell you that they knew all about it for 12 or more years, that all good swordmakers knew about it, just didn’t talk about it. Arms & Armor increased stock size from 3/16 inch to ¼ inch, and distal taper starts from the base in a lot of swords. Harmonic Balance is emphasized, and cutting ability prized.…

The Dirty Dawg and Tinker may have been the beginning of this, but what really reinvented the High-Performance Sword, was the market. The market wanted swords that would perform, be fairly durable, be as light as [R. Ewart] Oakeshott and other worthies claimed many antiques were, and look good. Today, many of the custom and semi-production swords available, start with ¼ inch at the base, and distal taper from there. The swords balance right. And cutting performance matters.…

Copyright © A.D. 2001 by Sword Forum International.



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