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PostPosted: 21 Feb 2010, 04:21 
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hey, welcome to the forum Charlie, its great to have you here. A fellow table tennis lover is always welcome. And Wow!, those are some really gorgeous blades there Charlie. It's also very clear that you are not just a master craftsman who can design and produce great looking blades but you are well versed with the science that goes into making a table tennis blade a true weapon.

They look very expensive, :P

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PostPosted: 26 Feb 2010, 17:21 
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I think my main interest would be in combination blades. Something with a hard outer layer but slow (suitable for OX long pimples), and something more springy, softer and faster for the FH for a power looping (Chinese tacky rubber).


What sort of blade would you suggest for this Charlie?

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PostPosted: 27 Feb 2010, 16:33 
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Charlie and I just spent the better part of three hours poring over the 28 applications to join BBC's Designated Tester program. It wasn't easy, but Charlie has selected five testers from OOAK members who applied, either through posts in this thread or via PM. The selection process involved evaluating each applicant's playing style and past equipment likes and dislikes, and then matching each person to the most suitable BBC blade. Some blade models ended up with more candidates than others which made selecting testers from the popular blade models particularly difficult as there were so many well qualified applicants. In the end, the following OOAK members were selected as round one testers:

ranger-man -- Double Diamond*
debraj -- Matt's Dream*
rodderz -- Fiddler
Beer Belly -- CarboFlex Alpha
Skippy -- Three-ply Cypress


* These are brand new models that have completed local club testing and will soon be on the BBC website. Matt's Dream is what a Photino might be if BTY spent more money manufacturing it, while the Double Diamond is unlike anything on the market, now or ever (check my sig block if you're wondering what I think of the DD).

Charlie will be contacting testers individually via PM to gather more information regarding each blade's specifications. He'll also need your shipping addresses. Those who were not selected for the first round of testing may still be selected for possible future rounds of testing, but much depends on how busy Charlie gets and how this initial testing round goes.

Designated testers have agreed to test the supplied blade and post a formal review on OOAK within 21-days of receiving the blade. BBC will pay the postage to send each tester a blade; testers have agreed to pay the return postage. For international destinations where customs and/or import duties may apply, these shipments will be designated as Samples but testers have agreed to pay any local duties, if applicable. Testers wishing to keep the blade following the test may purchase it at a 50% discount; otherwise it must be returned to BBC where it will re-join the testing pool for use in subsequent rounds of testing.

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Last edited by nathanso on 28 Feb 2010, 13:21, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 27 Feb 2010, 16:47 
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Hey thanks Charlie and nathanso!! I'm not sure whether the Carboflex Alpha is suitable for my game (Fiddler is much closer to what I have in mind in terms of stiffness and surface hardness) - with the balsa in the Carboflex I think an OX LP blocker/hitter might be a more suitable tester. What do you think?

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PostPosted: 27 Feb 2010, 20:01 
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rodderz -- Fiddler gee many thanks for this oppertunity If it comes in time ill use it against Paul Pinky at the NZ veterans (hopefully in the same pool)

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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2010, 12:49 
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I just released a new Online Store page on BBC's website that uses Paypal's shopping cart for online orders. Prices are clearly indicated in the online store and now also at the bottom of each blade's page.

My apologies to those who had trouble accessing the old Google Checkout-based store which, unfortunately, was also the sole location of the blade prices.

Onwards and upwards!

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PostPosted: 28 Feb 2010, 18:30 
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Hi, Charlie.

I'm curious about the difference between what you're calling "flex" and what you're calling "surface." Is it possible for the surface of a blade to be hard but for the blade to "flex" when contact is made? I'd always thought of these as a single quality, and I'm not sure I understand the difference and, most importantly, what each of the two features (hardness vs. flex) means in terms of actually playing with the blade in question.

I'm primarily a chopper and looking for a lightweight blade that allows for great backhand spin variation with grippy, soft long pips (Xiom Guillotine with a 1.2mm sponge), which, I have found, I get when I use soft balsa (Joola R*1 and my current TSP BalsaPlus 3.5) but not as much when I use stiffer blades (Matushita Pro, Nittaku Shake Defense, Rendler Taipan). I'm not sure if what I need on my backhand is softness or flex (since, as I said above, I don't totally understand the difference), but what I need is whatever balsa provides, I think. However, I'd ideally also like a bit more pop on my forehand than I get with the TSP BalsaPlus 3.5, while still retaining the ability to chop on the forehand side effectively. I found the Joola R*1 great for backhand spin variation and firepower, but it was a bit too hard to control forehand chops, while my current TSP BalsaPlus 3.5 is great for controlling forehand chops and backhand spin variation but lacks punch when attacking. The Nittaku Shake Defense was WONDERFUL for my forehand -- it combined both great control for chopping and pop for attacking -- but I found that it was too stiff too provide the kind of spin variation I wanted for my backhand. It almost made me think that what I want is balsa on my backhand and whatever the Nittaku Shake Defense is made of for my forehand.

Anyway, I wonder if something like the Carboflex Alpha would suit me, or if you'd recommend something else.

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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2010, 15:20 
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haggisv wrote:
I think my main interest would be in combination blades. Something with a hard outer layer but slow (suitable for OX long pimples), and something more springy, softer and faster for the FH for a power looping (Chinese tacky rubber).


What sort of blade would you suggest for this Charlie?


hi haggisv, i have several 2-speed blades that i like to make. i would like you to try a Carbo-flex. i feel that i may have to handle considerations of yours that that brings to mind. so let me explain some about it and if i inadvertently confuse you just say so. most carbon blades have the fibers running up and across the blade, which doesn't lead to flex. the c-flex has fibers running diagonally and only in the middle of the wood layers, a center carbon only if you will. the intention was to make a bigger sweet spot and stabilize. on the 2-speed the balsa layers are different thicknesses, moving the carbon off center. by using different weight(density) for the balsa the relative speeds change. the thicker side is usually stiffer, harder, faster feeling, while the thinner flexes more,timing better with longer dwell rubbers. of the dozen or so that i have out some have mounted the rubber on the sides i suggest and then switched them and said they like
the alternate better. so, i've learned not to say that it has to be one way only.

i'm thinking oversized also but don't know your preference on size, weight and handle.
i will need your address and any "secrets" you might have on shipping and customs. looking forward to more on the subject and isn't it really fun! charlie

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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2010, 15:36 
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Beer Belly wrote:
Hey thanks Charlie and nathanso!! I'm not sure whether the Carboflex Alpha is suitable for my game (Fiddler is much closer to what I have in mind in terms of stiffness and surface hardness) - with the balsa in the Carboflex I think an OX LP blocker/hitter might be a more suitable tester. What do you think?


hi Beer Belly, thanks for your quiry. what i had in mind was a "2-speed "C-flex. the single carbon is not straight up and down but on a bias, running criss-cross, stabilizing and making a bigger sweet spot without the stiffness of multiple carbon. on the 2-speed the center carbon of the regular C-flex is off-center, with different thickness of plys, causing the blade to be more suited for wildly different rubbers. i also was thinking of having you try an over-sized shape to suit the "chop til you drop" kind of guy.
i just reread your answers, Defence II shape with a flare, 90 g. Your are not stuck with my choice, let's talk some more, ok? i'll need your address and any "secrets" you might have on shipping and customs (if needed) to ship whatever we come up with.
thanks for your participation and allowing me to have so much fun, charlie

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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2010, 15:55 
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TraditionalTradesman wrote:
Hi, Charlie.

I'm curious about the difference between what you're calling "flex" and what you're calling "surface." Is it possible for the surface of a blade to be hard but for the blade to "flex" when contact is made? I'd always thought of these as a single quality, and I'm not sure I understand the difference and, most importantly, what each of the two features (hardness vs. flex) means in terms of actually playing with the blade in question.

I'm primarily a chopper and looking for a lightweight blade that allows for great backhand spin variation with grippy, soft long pips (Xiom Guillotine with a 1.2mm sponge), which, I have found, I get when I use soft balsa (Joola R*1 and my current TSP BalsaPlus 3.5) but not as much when I use stiffer blades (Matushita Pro, Nittaku Shake Defense, Rendler Taipan). I'm not sure if what I need on my backhand is softness or flex (since, as I said above, I don't totally understand the difference), but what I need is whatever balsa provides, I think. However, I'd ideally also like a bit more pop on my forehand than I get with the TSP BalsaPlus 3.5, while still retaining the ability to chop on the forehand side
effectively. I found the Joola R*1 great for backhand spin variation and firepower, but it was a bit too hard to control forehand chops, while my current TSP BalsaPlus 3.5 is great for controlling forehand chops and backhand spin variation but lacks punch when attacking. The Nittaku Shake Defense was WONDERFUL for my forehand -- it combined both great control for chopping and pop for attacking -- but I found that it was too stiff too provide the kind of spin variation I wanted for my backhand. It almost made me think that what I want is balsa on my backhand and whatever the Nittaku Shake Defense is made of for my forehand.

Anyway, I wonder if something like the Carboflex Alpha would suit me, or if you'd recommend something else.


wow, great question. let me try to explain(confidence is high) but let me know if it is clear to you. hardness usually causes the ball to leave he blade faster, less dwell time. flex increases dwell time. flex allows a "load" and then a throw. combing hardness and flex get one variations in dwell time, thus the myiad of blades made today. all rubbers have their own load and throw timings. the tricck is to get the blade and rubbers to sync so that the sum is greater than the parts. they work together or you get a disaster.

i just now explained to haggisv and Beer Belly about the 2-speed Carbo-flex(i guess i need to put more data on my webs site soon). what i like about the C-flex the most is that the carbon doesn't run up and across the blade, it runs diagonally causing stability and a bigger sweet-spot with-out the stiffness(lower dwell) of multi-carbon. on the 2-speed the usually centered carbon is off-center because of different thicknesses of wood plys.
the difference isn't grear but still suits different rubbers better. then with outer plys of softer or harder woods the speed can be changed. whew! what a mouth full. let's talk some more and see if any sense can be made.

thanks and isn't this fun! charlie

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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2010, 17:21 
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BladesByCharlie wrote:
wow, great question. let me try to explain(confidence is high) but let me know if it is clear to you. hardness usually causes the ball to leave he blade faster, less dwell time. flex increases dwell time. flex allows a "load" and then a throw. combing hardness and flex get one variations in dwell time, thus the myiad of blades made today. all rubbers have their own load and throw timings. the tricck is to get the blade and rubbers to sync so that the sum is greater than the parts. they work together or you get a disaster.


It seems from what you're saying above that hardness and flex both affect dwell time, so what would be the difference in performance between, say, a hard blade with a lot of flex and a soft blade with not much flex? And how would these differ from a soft blade with a lot of flex? (Sorry about the questions, but I feel like this is important to understand in order to know better what I need.)

BladesByCharlie wrote:
i just now explained to haggisv and Beer Belly about the 2-speed Carbo-flex(i guess i need to put more data on my webs site soon). what i like about the C-flex the most is that the carbon doesn't run up and across the blade, it runs diagonally causing stability and a bigger sweet-spot with-out the stiffness(lower dwell) of multi-carbon. on the 2-speed the usually centered carbon is off-center because of different thicknesses of wood plys.
the difference isn't grear but still suits different rubbers better. then with outer plys of softer or harder woods the speed can be changed. whew! what a mouth full. let's talk some more and see if any sense can be made.


Yes, the Carbo-flex is the blade that I thought would probably make the most sense given my needs, but do you think the forehand side -- especially if it's thicker and faster -- would still have enough control for chopping?

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PostPosted: 01 Mar 2010, 20:06 
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BladesByCharlie wrote:
hi Beer Belly, thanks for your quiry. what i had in mind was a "2-speed "C-flex. the single carbon is not straight up and down but on a bias, running criss-cross, stabilizing and making a bigger sweet spot without the stiffness of multiple carbon. on the 2-speed the center carbon of the regular C-flex is off-center, with different thickness of plys, causing the blade to be more suited for wildly different rubbers. i also was thinking of having you try an over-sized shape to suit the "chop til you drop" kind of guy.
i just reread your answers, Defence II shape with a flare, 90 g. Your are not stuck with my choice, let's talk some more, ok? i'll need your address and any "secrets" you might have on shipping and customs (if needed) to ship whatever we come up with.
thanks for your participation and allowing me to have so much fun, charlie


Hey Charlie thanks for providing all these extra info and thanks for choosing me as a tester! When I wrote the post I only had the website to rely on, and I sorta panicked when I saw the C-Flex rated as medium-soft flex with a hard surface! ;) Regardless, I am of course delighted to be able to try your blade! They all look high quality!

Anyway, I'm intrigued about what you said regarding the different conformations of dwell time, and I thought I should share my view regarding their applications to specific playstyle (I do apologise if you're already aware of this).

I'd like to focus on just 2 characteristics: flex and surface hardness. For the modern defense setup, flex can be both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, the "load" allows better absorption of impact, which is good! On the other hand, the "throw" part can be worrying as it introduces another element for the defender to control. Worse is that the throw in this regard is not linear, making it even harder to correct. My feeling is that harder blades can exacerbate this problem, as it is less forgiving given lesser margin of error. Perhaps this explains why soft & flexy blades are popular for classical defenders as they capture the load part and yet control the throw well. I should also add that blade stiffness helps with hits/smashes away from table, but too much stiffness actually compromises the ability to absorb ball impact. So in short, too much stiffness or flex is not a good thing. Different defenders have their preference as to flex of course.

As to surface hardness, softer surface = high dwell time = better ability to add spin, which is great for the chopping game as it also allows better manipulation of spin. It also helps with absorbing impact. This aspect of blade design is generally more controllable and predictable. In the end it boils down to personal preference. I personally do not like the mushy feeling hence I tend to steer clear of soft blades.

Combining both flex and surface hardness, we get the following generalisations:

(1) Stiff + hard surface = short pimple hitter. Stiga Clipper and Avalox P700 are examples.
(2) Variable degree of flex/stiffness (personal preference) + hard (has to be hard and preferably with balsa core) = long pimple OX blocker/hitter with the occasional chop, chop/block. The LP blocker's blade - there's an entire blade industry devoted to these guys which focuses on balsa and/or combination bats.
(3) Flex + soft = classical defenders. Dwell + more dwell = sloooooooooooow. Some modern defenders like these blades too but it's much harder to get FH winners due to the low speed.

(4) Modern defenders' blade comes under two combinations:
(a) moderate flex + moderate soft/hardness -> this is a compromise between dwell, loop/chop ability, impact absorption with a certain degree of unpredictability depending on amount and control of flex. The unpredicability can be somewhat controlled by a dead LP. The Korbel would fall under such category. The Vioncello is slightly more flexy and softer than the Korbel. Both blades are popular.
(b) stiffer + moderate soft/hardness -> better predictability, but less impact absorption capability (this can be somewhat influenced by LP). The chopping feeling is not as good (depends on who you talk to), but to some, it is better to have predictability. Both the Defence II and Joo Se Hyuk are on the stiffer side, with the former having a medium-soft feeling and medium to medium-hard for the latter. The Defence II is the best chopping blade I've ever used because it absorbs impact better due to the willow wood. The Joo blade has better FH capability (it loops really well).

Naturally, there are exceptions to the above. From the manufacturer's point of view, it must be challenging having to think about the construction of a blade with specific characteristics. So good on ya Charlie for taking on the challenge! I hope I haven't bored you too much.

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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2010, 01:17 
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Beer Belly wrote:

(3) Flex + soft = classical defenders. Dwell + more dwell = sloooooooooooow. Some modern defenders like these blades too but it's much harder to get FH winners due to the low speed.


I don't know anything about blade construction, but why wouldn't it be possible to construct a combi blade that is flexy and soft on the backhand side and a bit harder on the forehand side, so that the capacity to increase forehand winners is increased, while keeping much needed spin manipulation abilities for the backhand side? Wouldn't this approach -- rather than just increasing the thickness of the core on the forehand side -- be most effective, because increasing core thickness (especially if it's a balsa core) results in added springiness and a consequent loss of control for forehand chopping, while simply making the surface harder on the forehand side would allow for a crisper impact in attacking without an accompanying loss of control for chopping. My ideal blade, in other words, would be something like the Nittaku Shake Defense for the forehand side (great for BOTH chopping and hitting), but would include balsa on the backhand side for softness/flex for spin manipulation. Am I missing something?

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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2010, 08:36 
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TraditionalTradesman wrote:
Beer Belly wrote:

(3) Flex + soft = classical defenders. Dwell + more dwell = sloooooooooooow. Some modern defenders like these blades too but it's much harder to get FH winners due to the low speed.


I don't know anything about blade construction, but why wouldn't it be possible to construct a combi blade that is flexy and soft on the backhand side and a bit harder on the forehand side, so that the capacity to increase forehand winners is increased, while keeping much needed spin manipulation abilities for the backhand side? Wouldn't this approach -- rather than just increasing the thickness of the core on the forehand side -- be most effective, because increasing core thickness (especially if it's a balsa core) results in added springiness and a consequent loss of control for forehand chopping, while simply making the surface harder on the forehand side would allow for a crisper impact in attacking without an accompanying loss of control for chopping. My ideal blade, in other words, would be something like the Nittaku Shake Defense for the forehand side (great for BOTH chopping and hitting), but would include balsa on the backhand side for softness/flex for spin manipulation. Am I missing something?


If you think about flex taking place at the neck of the blade, then it'd be impossible to "partly" flex one side of the blade while keeping the other side stiff. Flex implies that the entire blade bends at the neck. This is why the only other controllable factor for combi blades is to fool around with core thickness, placement of different wood ply etc, and even then warping of the blade is a concern.

Speedplay - since combi blades are already under higher than normal internal stress, I suspect the warping occurs while stress is being exacerbated i.e. while playing TT. Wood fibers are typically elastic up to a certain point, but given that the wood is already stressed, getting to that inelastic point (when warping occurs) is much easier. I think perhaps this explains why balsa core is often preferred for combi blades (it helps for LP too!) is because balsa is highly elastic and is therefore able to absorb stress better.

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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2010, 08:40 
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Beer Belly wrote:
TraditionalTradesman wrote:
Beer Belly wrote:

(3) Flex + soft = classical defenders. Dwell + more dwell = sloooooooooooow. Some modern defenders like these blades too but it's much harder to get FH winners due to the low speed.


I don't know anything about blade construction, but why wouldn't it be possible to construct a combi blade that is flexy and soft on the backhand side and a bit harder on the forehand side, so that the capacity to increase forehand winners is increased, while keeping much needed spin manipulation abilities for the backhand side? Wouldn't this approach -- rather than just increasing the thickness of the core on the forehand side -- be most effective, because increasing core thickness (especially if it's a balsa core) results in added springiness and a consequent loss of control for forehand chopping, while simply making the surface harder on the forehand side would allow for a crisper impact in attacking without an accompanying loss of control for chopping. My ideal blade, in other words, would be something like the Nittaku Shake Defense for the forehand side (great for BOTH chopping and hitting), but would include balsa on the backhand side for softness/flex for spin manipulation. Am I missing something?


If you think about flex taking place at the neck of the blade, then it'd be impossible to "partly" flex one side of the blade while keeping the other side stiff. Flex implies that the entire blade bends at the neck. This is why the only other controllable factor for combi blades is to fool around with core thickness, placement of different wood ply etc, and even then warping of the blade is a concern.

Speedplay - since combi blades are already under higher than normal internal stress, I suspect the warping occurs while stress is being exacerbated i.e. while playing TT. Wood fibers are typically elastic up to a certain point, but given that the wood is already stressed, getting to that inelastic point (when warping occurs) is much easier. I think perhaps this explains why balsa core is often preferred for combi blades (it helps for LP too!) is because balsa is highly elastic and is therefore able to absorb stress better.


hey your right. i've used different length handles for the b/h and f/h running one up higher(1/8"-1/4") causes the other side to be "stiffer".

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