The Department of National Defence has re-drawn the blade etching designs for all CAF ceremonial swords. Guthrie Woods Products Limited (GWPL) has obtained approval to use these new, uniquely Canadian designs in our etching tools. Beginning in 2021, all manufacturing of Canadian Officer’s sword blades will have the new etching patterns. We remain in partnership with the sword manufacturer, WKC in Solingen, Germany. This means customers can confidently purchase a sword produced in accordance with DND specifications and to the high quality standards that WKC is well known for. When combined with the reputable customer service and design assistance that GWPL offers, your purchasing experience will be hassle free!



First, a bit of terminology to assist as you plan the custom engraving for your order. How does one refer to each side of the blade? We refer to them as right and left. The right side is the side that is visible when the sword is positioned horizontally, handle to the left, guard facing down. The left side is then the opposite side, or we can describe it as the handle to the right with guard facing down. The right side is also the side that faces out when the sword is worn on parade with the left side being against the body.

Other terminology of note: The contemporary manner for display is horizontally with the handle to the left and guard facing down. The historical manner is horizontally with the handle to the right and guard facing up. This is important as you determine how you would like to display the sword. Note that whether you follow the contemporary or the historical manner, it is always the right side of the blade that faces out. The orientation of the engraving will have to be adjusted depending on which manner you choose.

Right side, contemporary:
Right side, contemporary:

Left side, contemporary:

Left side, contemporary:
Right side, historical:
Right side, historical

When determining the placement of crests and inscriptions, it is advised to consider the end use of the sword: is it for parade use or for display?
If the sword is to be used on parade, each Regiment/Branch of the military or police force have guidelines established for such matters. If you are not sure, please consult with the appropriate Quartermaster, Kit Shop or Clothing and Stores for the Regiment or Force. They will have more information regarding the Standing Orders as they relate to swords.

As a general practice, the right side of the blade is reserved for anything related to the Regiment such as Regimental/Ship’s/Squadron crest, title or position held, etc. The left side of the blade is reserved for anything personal such as rank, name, dates of significance, family crest, personal motto/verse, etc. One exception to this general practice that we know of is the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. It is the practice of the PPCLI to engrave the Regimental crest on the left side of the blade and personal inscriptions on the right side. The reason for this is when the sword is held “at attention” during drills, the left side faces behind the soldier, signifying he/she has the Regiment’s support and commitment.

If a sword is to be used for display purposes only (retirement gift, etc.), the same principles should be followed but the rules are a little more relaxed. Most like to have the personal inscriptions such as “Presented by…” or “In honour of…” easily visible and choose to engrave these on the right side. Please know that any personal inscription or dedication text on the left side can be copied to an engraving plate. This plate can be affixed to the display stand, board or case and remain easily visible without having to handle the sword.

For all ceremonial swords in our online store, there is an open space within the blade etching pattern on each side of the blade. The exception is the RCN NCM Cutlass as it has a blank blade and therefore, no limitations when it comes to engraving. For the others, the width of this open space varies from pattern to pattern and for some, from side to side.

In most cases, a maximum of two crests/logos OR, one crest and one inscription can be combined to fit on one side of a blade. The exception to this is the RCN Officer’s sword. It’s open areas for engraving are smaller. Depending on the engraving request, only one crest OR one inscription will fit on each side of the blade.

The design of the RCN Officer sword does allow for laser engraving on the latch that clips to the scabbard. This space is limited to one line of text and usually fits one’s rank in abbreviated form, first initials and last name.
Of all the Canadian Armed Forces models, the RCAF Officer’s sword has a unique blade etching pattern that includes four blank banners on each side of the blade. We offer engraving within these banners as an option. Keep in mind the space on the banner is limited to one line of text and simpler fonts such as Arial or Monotype Corsiva are used.
RCAF blade etching-closeup:
RCAF blade etching-closeup
Engraving on scabbards is also an option. For all metal scabbards, the engraving is placed on the right side, centered between the two rings. Variations include using the portion between the mouthpiece and first ring as well as the space below the second ring. Please make any special requests by email and it will be included in the digital engraving proof.
Digital Engraving Proof

For the RCN and RCAF swords, the scabbards are leather so we do not engrave the body of the scabbard. Laser engraving on the right side of the mouthpiece (point of insertion) is offered as an option. Space is limited to a short texts such as a last name or college number for example.

Mouthpiece Engraving

All engraving orders are confirmed with a digital layout that is easily modified as you require. No engraving work is done until we have your final approval of the layout.