I am retired and a former epee fencer at CCNY Varsity and USFA. I have achieved the rank of A and have competed in National tournament.
If you are an active fencer, at some point in your career, you will need to learn how to perform simple repairs on your weapon. This article is a tutorial on how to replace an electric epee blade.
- Jan. 2020
The electric epee is a simple piece of fencing equipment. It allows the scoring machine to register a valid hit. The blade is electrified meaning simply it contains a spring loaded point that closes a circuit when depressed which causes the light to come on. The wire consists of two very fine conductors that is insulated and runs down the V channel of the blade.
This simple design has been in use since the 1940s when foil and epee fencing was electrified. It took another 40 years before saber was electrified in the 1980s.
This article is a tutorial on how to replace an epee blade. The skills are the same but with minor variations for the other two weapons of foil and saber.
Anyone with a little dexterity can learn how to replace a blade. This will save you money in the long term.
Some Basic Tools...
- hex wrench
- screw driver
- clear tape
- hack saw
- sand paper
- continuity tester (multimeter, or a buzzer)
- adjustable wrench
Remove the Old Broken Blade
The first thing is to remove the old blade. There are several reason to replace a blade. If the blade is broken, or if the wire came loose outside the V channel or the wires were exposed or broken or the point assembly came loose. These are some of the reason to remove and replace a blade. If it is just a matter of a broken or lost tip, a simple replacement of a new tip with two screws is all it takes.
Assume you are going to replace the blade:
- Disconnect the two wires from the socket of the epee. This is located inside the guard.
- Use a hex wrench and remove the nut that is holding the blade to the handle. Turn the hex wrench counter clockwise while holding the guard and the handle still.
- Pull the blade carefully through the hole of the guard and remove it. You might have to remove some tape inside the guard that is holding the wires flat.
Installing a New Electric Blade
A new blade can be purchase from any Fencing equipment company. They vary in cost but start at $40 for a basic one and can go up to $120 for an FIE blade. The function is the same regardless of the price, just the durability of the steel and the weight and the quality of the point assembly. The extra cost may be justified for serious competition. For practice, a basic model is sufficient.
The Steps to Install a new blade:
- Unwrap the tape around the wires in the new blade. Test it with a continuity tester to make sure it is working properly. You can do this by connecting the two loose wires to the + and - terminals on the tester and depressing the point to see if the circuit closes.
- Cut the blade to the correct dimensions. Use your old blade as a guide. The new blade is shipped with a long threaded stem. Use a hack saw and cut to the proper length.
- Align the socket hole inside the guard to the hole located on the guard and tape it in place with a strip of clear tape. Make sure you are either left handed or right handed. The orientation is different. The handle is off center to allow room for your hand.
- Pull the wires carefully through the hole and then insert the threaded stem through the hole of the guard.
- Bend the wires up flush with the guard and tape down with a strip of clear tape.
- Install the felt padding over the stem shaft.
- Install the grip or handle over the shaft, add washers as needed and tighten the nut with a hex wrench. Warning, do not tighten until the two wires are sitting inside the notch at the top of the handle. This will insure the wires are not cut off.
- Connect the two wires to the socket connectors. Use a sandpaper to strip off the insulation over the wires. Wrap the exposed wire around each connector and tighten with a flat screw driver. Don't worry about polarity, the two wires are connected to the two connectors that are close to each other. the other one is the ground and has no connection. It is automatically grounded to the guard.
- Test the finished assembly using the continuity tester. Make sure each connector is not shorted to the guard. Then connect both connectors and use the point to depress and close the circuit. Also use the gauge to test for the tolerance.
- Finally, bend the new blade to establish a curve that is concave in shape. When you hit a target, the blade should naturally bend upward to form a bow. This can be accomplished using the round hole at the end of a monkey wrench. Start from the tip and just bend the blade slightly and then work your way down the blade towards the guard.
It is not hard to replace an epee blade. It takes some practice and know how and you can replace a blade in less than one hour. A tip when working with an epee. It helps to have a large bench or table to spread things out. Also, use duck tape to tape the weapon down while you are working on it so it does not move or roll around. Good luck.
- Use WD40 to wipe down the blade periodically to reduce rust and corrosion.
- Use a protector to cover the point while carrying your epee in your bag. This will prevent dust from getting inside your tip. I created one called EPECAP using 3D printer. It is a trademark.
- Make sure you tighten the two screws periodically that holds the tip to the point assembly. They do get loose from the constant banging and vibrations.
- Periodically bend the blade into the concave shape.
Some Related Info
- An Epee Fencing Repair Jig - EPEJIG EPECAP
A simple jig to help with epee point repair, and a protective cover for Epee point.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Jack Lee