you could easily make what I've heard called a 'redneck katana'. Basically, it's an appropriately long piece of rebar with a foot-long grip on one end. It won't break without trying, and it's heavy enough for a good training aid. Now, about getting a real sword..I'd avoid ordering off of ebay or catalogs, because you're making a decision based from a picture, and not the real thing, and the retail stores, which tend to be insanely expensive (saw an early rapier sell for 500 euros in a corner store). I'd suggest scanning the flea markets and yard sales. With luck, you'll find a decent sword for a much smaller price than it may otherwise command. How to know you've got a decently durable piece of sharpened steel in your hands: 1. Bang the hilt/grip. If you hear a rattle, or any appreciable noise at all, the blade isn't secured very well into the pommel, or it's a rat-tail tang. Either of those isn't good news for a working sword. 2. Swing it around hard. If anything comes off (ie: the blade), or if you hear any noise come from the sword that isn't the whistle of metal slicing through air, something may be loose, or poorly attatched. 3. If the blade is chromed to prevent rusting, it's worth questioning. If it survives the first 2 tests, it's probably ok. I'd be cautious about cutting with it, though, since while stainless steel blades can be decent to swing, impacting anything may break or damage the sword. 4. Look for any old rustmarks on the blade, if it's a carbon steel, or otherwise non-stainless steel. This is almost purely an indication whether the sword's been taken care of, or just been oiled up and left to sit. Also, extensive rusting, even if cleaned off, might weaken the blade. 5. Swords with unusual blade design (like spikes coming out perpendicular to the spine, some flamberge types, etc) are often just for show. Same goes for any sword weighing in over 5 pounds that's bigger than a claymore (like the one Gibson used in Braveheart. That one's gotta be around 5lbs or so. DISCLAIMER: I'm by no means a sword-expert, and these guidelines are purely my own, used whenever I buy a sword. There are exceptions to most, if not all of these guidelines, except for 1 and 2.