Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Sword Heat Treatment? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Aaron Schneiker




Location: Davis Junction, IL
Joined: 23 Nov 2005
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 52

PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2007 11:13 am    Post subject: Sword Heat Treatment?         Reply with quote

I have a question about the heat treatment of sword blades. When a blade undergoes final heat treatment, is the entire piece heated to temperature then quenched, or just the blade. Meaning is the tang also hardened with the rest of the blade, or is it left unhardened? How was it done in the past? How do modern smiths do it today? I ask because I have seen several snapshots of blades being quenched where the smith is holding the tang as the blade is quenched or a blade being heated before quench with the blade in the coals and the tang left out. Are there any documents that define how blades were to be processed, or did each smith have his own methods that were only passed down through apprentices in their direct study?

Thanks,
-Aaron
View user's profile Send private message
Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Joined: 21 Aug 2003
Likes: 10 pages
Reading list: 13 books

Spotlight topics: 7
Posts: 5,886

PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2007 1:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My understanding is that the tang is softer. In any case, heating the tang for the purpose of peening would wreck any heat treatment in the upper part of the tang.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Fri 11 May, 2007 2:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Korey J. Lavoie




Location: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 06 Apr 2006

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2007 2:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Sword Heat Treatment?         Reply with quote

Aaron Schneiker wrote:
I have a question about the heat treatment of sword blades. When a blade undergoes final heat treatment, is the entire piece heated to temperature then quenched, or just the blade. Meaning is the tang also hardened with the rest of the blade, or is it left unhardened? How was it done in the past? How do modern smiths do it today? I ask because I have seen several snapshots of blades being quenched where the smith is holding the tang as the blade is quenched or a blade being heated before quench with the blade in the coals and the tang left out. Are there any documents that define how blades were to be processed, or did each smith have his own methods that were only passed down through apprentices in their direct study?

Thanks,
-Aaron


You want the tang annealed or left untreated from the forging process. The difference lies in the function, what Annealed Steel lacks in hardness it makes up for with it's qualities of shock absorbency and overall flexibility. Qualities that are desirable for the tang of a Sword.

From the hundred year war
To the Crimea
With a Lance and a Musket and a Roman Spear
To all of the Men who have stood with no fear
In the Service of the King
-The Clash: The Card Cheat
View user's profile Send private message
Justin King
Industry Professional



Location: flagstaff,arizona
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 551

PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2007 5:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Historically tangs were often of iron and therefore unhardenable to any degree. Some were welded on, others were probably an extension of an iron core in laminated or pattern welded blades. Some modern sword makers do harden the tang along with the rest of the blade, I believe that a somewhat softer temper in this area would be standard when using this method.
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Törlind





Joined: 19 Nov 2006

Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sat 12 May, 2007 2:17 am    Post subject: Casting diriectly on blade...         Reply with quote

I had a nice idea once (I tought...)

I made a live steel viking blade, and I had have some problems that the cross guard sometimes started to rattle after some heavy fighting (sometimes because bad blade geometry or just abuse) so I was experimenting with casting the cross guard directly on the sword.

Did the usual treatments on the blade, normalising, quenchning and annealing and straightning the sword.

After that I did a sand form with the cross guard and this time I let the blade go trough the middle of the form, did the casting and got an excellent result with the cross guard directly on the blade.

Finiched the blade with pommel etc. It worked like a really nice fightining blade, until the tang cracked just under the cross guard (under the grip) , wtf was my first impression, this is impossible, but after an inspection of the tang I saw that the metallic structure was a very fine Martensite structure.

But how? I never fully harden the pommel (using the method above holding in the pommel when quenching) but after some thoughts I understand that the unusual cross guard casting process heated the blade to about 1000 degrees with quite rapid cooling afterwards. And I did not thing of annealing the pommel after the casting process.

So if you cast directly in the blade, anneal the pommel and the blade directly above under the cross guard;-) I have not proceeded with this direct casting maybe in the future...
View user's profile Send private message
Aaron Schneiker




Location: Davis Junction, IL
Joined: 23 Nov 2005
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 52

PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2007 9:13 am    Post subject: Re: Sword Heat Treatment?         Reply with quote

Quote:
You want the tang annealed or left untreated from the forging process. The difference lies in the function, what Annealed Steel lacks in hardness it makes up for with it's qualities of shock absorbency and overall flexibility. Qualities that are desirable for the tang of a Sword.


Agreed. That is part of the reason I asked the question. I would like to extend the question a little further now. In my view, the properties that you want to see in the tang (shock absorbancy and flexibility...) are the same properties that you would want to see in any part of the blade that does not see contact. So, would the first few inches of the blade from the gaurd also be left in an annealed or softer state? This area should not need to hold an edge, as it would be impractical to ever cut with this area. Does it need to be hardened to deflect opposing blows in this area, so it doesn't dent/deform too quickly? Again, how was it done in the past and how is it being done today? I'm sure the smiths of the past had an exceptional understanding of the give and take when it came to the varying properties resulting from steel in different states, and they would have taken full advantage of this when making a purposeful blade.

Thanks,
-Aaron
View user's profile Send private message
Justin King
Industry Professional



Location: flagstaff,arizona
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 551

PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2007 9:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There was a recent feature article concerning the hardness of original sword blades which showed that the hardness could vary a great deal from one part of a blade to another. How much of this was intentional is not always easy to infer, I think, but in any case the methods and intentions of the maker would also vary, as well as quality and composition of the material.
This is the case with modern makers as well, some use more traditional methods and materials, others use thorougly modern heat treatments and steels and these tend allow much more consistent and uniform hardness if this is desired. Some use differential tempering from this point to acheive greater toughness in specific areas.
View user's profile Send private message
Korey J. Lavoie




Location: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 06 Apr 2006

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Sat 19 May, 2007 5:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Sword Heat Treatment?         Reply with quote

Aaron Schneiker wrote:
Quote:
You want the tang annealed or left untreated from the forging process. The difference lies in the function, what Annealed Steel lacks in hardness it makes up for with it's qualities of shock absorbency and overall flexibility. Qualities that are desirable for the tang of a Sword.


Agreed. That is part of the reason I asked the question. I would like to extend the question a little further now. In my view, the properties that you want to see in the tang (shock absorbancy and flexibility...) are the same properties that you would want to see in any part of the blade that does not see contact. So, would the first few inches of the blade from the gaurd also be left in an annealed or softer state? This area should not need to hold an edge, as it would be impractical to ever cut with this area. Does it need to be hardened to deflect opposing blows in this area, so it doesn't dent/deform too quickly? Again, how was it done in the past and how is it being done today? I'm sure the smiths of the past had an exceptional understanding of the give and take when it came to the varying properties resulting from steel in different states, and they would have taken full advantage of this when making a purposeful blade.

Thanks,
-Aaron


You're right and I should have mentioned that too. I assume that this was usually achieved on swords by annealing and then drawing temper colors. However, if anyone has a more detailed account I'd like to read it.

From the hundred year war
To the Crimea
With a Lance and a Musket and a Roman Spear
To all of the Men who have stood with no fear
In the Service of the King
-The Clash: The Card Cheat
View user's profile Send private message
Arne Focke
Industry Professional



Location: near Munich, Germany
Joined: 13 Mar 2006
Reading list: 34 books

Posts: 204

PostPosted: Sun 24 Jun, 2007 6:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wanted to add a few lines to this discussion when it started, but I never managed to stick to my computer long enough to do more than a little reading. So here it goes:

When a blade is hardened in our workshop it is held by the tang and thrust forward into the hardening medium in a kind of cutting motion. It has to be pulled out quickly afterwards.
The blade is annealed by its still hot core. Of course that takes some practise, or you might ruin the blade.
Even with practise you ruin a otherwise perfect blade ones in while. Worried

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Marton Pap




Location: Hungary
Joined: 16 Jan 2006

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Sun 24 Jun, 2007 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi!
I have seen an article about armour metallurgy on oakesott.org. There was a historical example of case hardening, with an interesting part:
Quote:
But, lest the rings of a coat of male should be broken, and flie in pieces, there must be strength added to hardness. Workman call it a return. Take it out of the water, shake it up and down in vinegar, that it may be polished and the colour be made perspicuous: than make red hot a plate of iron and lay upon the same: when it shows an ash colour, cast it again into water, and that hardness abated, and it will yield to the stroke more easily

Can the same be done to sword blades by putting two hot rods each side to the blase leaving the edges uncovered? I think this way the center part of the blade can be given a nice spring temper, and the edges a normal straw color. I have seen similar treatments from modern knifemakers using oxyacetylene torches. I don't know if a double edged blade twists from it or not. Worried I'm about to start my own forge so any opinions would be highly appreciated.
Regards!
View user's profile Send private message
Fabrice Cognot
Industry Professional



Location: Dijon
Joined: 29 Sep 2004

Posts: 354

PostPosted: Sun 24 Jun, 2007 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marton Pap wrote:
Hi!
I have seen an article about armour metallurgy on oakesott.org. There was a historical example of case hardening, with an interesting part:
Quote:
But, lest the rings of a coat of male should be broken, and flie in pieces, there must be strength added to hardness. Workman call it a return. Take it out of the water, shake it up and down in vinegar, that it may be polished and the colour be made perspicuous: than make red hot a plate of iron and lay upon the same: when it shows an ash colour, cast it again into water, and that hardness abated, and it will yield to the stroke more easily

Can the same be done to sword blades by putting two hot rods each side to the blase leaving the edges uncovered? I think this way the center part of the blade can be given a nice spring temper, and the edges a normal straw color. I have seen similar treatments from modern knifemakers using oxyacetylene torches. I don't know if a double edged blade twists from it or not. Worried I'm about to start my own forge so any opinions would be highly appreciated.
Regards!


Heh. Della Porta. Cool Happy


It can work. The sword blade will not move/twist/bend/warp during tempering.

Though a straw temper on a sword's edge might be a bit too hard IMO.

PhD in medieval archeology.
HEMAC member
De Taille et d'Estoc director
Maker of high quality historical-inspired pieces.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Marton Pap




Location: Hungary
Joined: 16 Jan 2006

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another idea: the blade could be laid onto a plate like in the article flipped regularly. The question is whether the ridge is enough to keep the edges distant enough from the plate and protect it from too much heat. Does anyone have an idea to make the differential tempering that could be bade historically?
View user's profile Send private message
Bruno Giordan





Joined: 28 Sep 2005

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 915

PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2007 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin King wrote:
There was a recent feature article concerning the hardness of original sword blades which showed that the hardness could vary a great deal from one part of a blade to another. How much of this was intentional is not always easy to infer, I think, but in any case the methods and intentions of the maker would also vary, as well as quality and composition of the material.
This is the case with modern makers as well, some use more traditional methods and materials, others use thorougly modern heat treatments and steels and these tend allow much more consistent and uniform hardness if this is desired. Some use differential tempering from this point to acheive greater toughness in specific areas.


The past is not an uniform concept.

Various areas of Europe were not so well connected after the demise of the roman road system, also technical knowledge was not voluntarily spread by its holders: smiths were no exception, so tempering methods were most often a family secret.

As it has been noticed, swords from different areas and periods exhibit different kind of metal composition and heat treatment.

As of today, most smith agree on not hardening the tang, but there are some who do it.

Such kind of approach are influenced also by many other factors, from steel composition to other more obscure aspects of modern engineering.


I would say that with most classical steels it is safe to left tang unhardened, but real heat treatment experts could have more than a single answer to give.
View user's profile Send private message
Korey J. Lavoie




Location: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 06 Apr 2006

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Wed 27 Jun, 2007 12:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bruno Giordan wrote:
Justin King wrote:
There was a recent feature article concerning the hardness of original sword blades which showed that the hardness could vary a great deal from one part of a blade to another. How much of this was intentional is not always easy to infer, I think, but in any case the methods and intentions of the maker would also vary, as well as quality and composition of the material.
This is the case with modern makers as well, some use more traditional methods and materials, others use thorougly modern heat treatments and steels and these tend allow much more consistent and uniform hardness if this is desired. Some use differential tempering from this point to acheive greater toughness in specific areas.


The past is not an uniform concept.

Various areas of Europe were not so well connected after the demise of the roman road system, also technical knowledge was not voluntarily spread by its holders: smiths were no exception, so tempering methods were most often a family secret.

As it has been noticed, swords from different areas and periods exhibit different kind of metal composition and heat treatment.

As of today, most smith agree on not hardening the tang, but there are some who do it.

Such kind of approach are influenced also by many other factors, from steel composition to other more obscure aspects of modern engineering.


I would say that with most classical steels it is safe to left tang unhardened, but real heat treatment experts could have more than a single answer to give.


You're absolutely right, The Present is not a uniform concept either: In the field of custom Blade Smithing, individual makers all have their own preferred method of heat treatment and there is no precise, universal method. There is a mind-boggling degree of methods recommended and utilized for the individual tasks that go towards Edge Treatment: Thermal cycles, Annealing, Draw Tempering, Quenching mediums (Different grades of Steel also need to be taken into account) . . . You name it. However in spite of the lack of a uniform method, there is a large and diverse pool of modern day Blade Smiths who produce high-quality edged tools for every task imaginable.
With the immense amount of Sweat and Blood that has been put towards the craft of the Handforged Blade, combined with the phenomenal capability to disseminate information available to us now: I feel fairly secure in stating that we are already aware of and capable of utilizing the methods used to produce Historic Swords at their zenith. Even if we are not completely aware of the specifics of how, where or even if they were utilized: As well as taking into consideration the Intended Purpose of the Blade, Regional Variations, Materials Available, etc.
In the end, I recommend study and experimentation . . . A lot.

From the hundred year war
To the Crimea
With a Lance and a Musket and a Roman Spear
To all of the Men who have stood with no fear
In the Service of the King
-The Clash: The Card Cheat
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Sword Heat Treatment?
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum