Hi all, You have just bought a sword, but how do you know that it is safe to use? The main way is by looking at the material. The most common material for cheap swords is called 440 Stainless Steel. However, there are some bad properties of this material that make it a dangerous material for swords. Have you noticed how motorcycles are covered in chrome? Have you also noticed that chrome is in stainless steel (16 - 18% in the variation 440A)? This is because chrome is shiny and looks good. However, chrome can also be very brittle (notice how it can flake off a base material?). Because of this (and correct me if I am wrong), an alloy containing can be weakened, making it dangerous to hit another item (such as bamboo, tatami, another person) with a blade made of it (in small quantities, chrome improves the metals “grain”). Now move onto the main "problem" with swords such as this (wall-hangers): the tang, or the part of the blade that goes into the handle. On a "real" sword, the tang is the same width as the blade (or at least 2/3 the width). On a sword such as this, the tang will most probably be a "rat-tail" - meaning it is very thin (as little as 5mm^2). TeJitsuDo posted a picture of the tang in his sword of this type: and I have a picture of the tang on the sword I took to bits: As you can tell from the pictures, the tang is "sub-standard", and the welds on them do not look very strong at all, and the tang shouldn’t be welded anyway, it should be one piece of metal. Thin tangs also affect the balance of the sword, making it more “blade-heavy”. In both pictures, you will notice that there are no holes in the tang. There should be holes for rivets or mekugi (in cheap swords the mekugi are steel, in more expensive, bamboo), but in these, the tangs are so thin that a hole would weaken the metal even more, and just shear, getting me onto my next point (no pun intended). With these two weaknesses, a sword like this one is quite frankly a death-trap, not only for yourself, but for anyone around you. If you hit something with it and it shatters, it could take someone’s sight out (have you seen metal shatter? The fragments fly everywhere). If you swing it and the tang gives way, then you have a spear. A completely uncontrolled piece of stainless steel flying through the air that could stick harmlessly in a wall or it could fly into a mate. There is actually a video of such a sword snapping after only a couple of light hits on a table, which can be found HERE. Another way of telling if your sword is “real”, is by checking how much you paid for it. A “real” sword that won’t shatter or shear-off as easily will, unless you find a brilliant deal (and if you do, tell us where!), cost over £150/$300. For this money, you will get a sword that can be swung around safely, and possibly used for cutting (depending on the sharpness). A 440 Stainless sword will cost a lot less than that, with some UK shops selling sets of 3 swords with a stand for as little as £30/$60. With swords, you will always get what you pay for. Even if you know the dangers, if a mate sees it and starts swinging it, you have the same problems. Short of informing everyone who is ever likely to go anywhere near the sword, it would be safer to buy a "real" sword such as those at Nine Circles, A Trim Blades, Sword Store, or another site that someone from another country could give you. It would be a lot safer, and you could swing it around until you are bored Warning! Any sword-work is dangerous! Do not use a sword against another sword unless you have years of experience or are in a supervised environment with an instructor. When in doubt, use a bokken with armour being used for sparring.