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Owen Bush
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Location: london
Joined: 31 Aug 2007

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PostPosted: Mon 02 Nov, 2009 4:57 am    Post subject: Piling and damascus in medieval blades         Reply with quote

Following a visit to the back room of the Museum of London to look at Fighting knives last Monday I was quite heartened at the large number of blades that showed signs of Piling ,some with all piled steel blades and many with what looks to be steel and iron laminates .
Many of the pieces were heavily etched (over etched ) and showed wonderful structure both piled across the blade and looking much like modern damascus or tamahagane.I think we are a little misled by the term "Monosteel" for blades in the medieval period with the exception of wootz ,real monosteel did not appear in Europe until Hunstman in 1740 (feel free to corect me if this is not the case).
Does anybody know of any evidence for etching to reveal the folded nature of medieval blades (in origionals) or were they kept shiney to hide their inner beauty?
All the best Owen

forging soul into steel .

www.owenbush.co.uk the home of bushfire forge school of smithing .
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G Ezell
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Location: North Alabama
Joined: 22 Dec 2003

Posts: 235

PostPosted: Mon 02 Nov, 2009 9:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Owen, this thread may be of interest to you... http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ht=etching
" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
Gabriel Lebec

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Owen Bush
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Location: london
Joined: 31 Aug 2007

Posts: 221

PostPosted: Mon 02 Nov, 2009 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks it appears that this has been visited before .
I wonder If the Ideal of a homogeneous monosteel would have been a good reason to not etch a blade,after all in a burnished form these blades do not look to be of a piled construction at all .

forging soul into steel .

www.owenbush.co.uk the home of bushfire forge school of smithing .
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Nov, 2009 2:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Piling and damascus in medieval blades         Reply with quote

Owen Bush wrote:
.I think we are a little misled by the term "Monosteel" for blades in the medieval period with the exception of wootz ,real monosteel did not appear in Europe until Hunstman in 1740 (feel free to corect me if this is not the case).


I guess this comes down to discriminating between modern steel that is homogeneous to within small fractions of a percent chemically and mechanically versus late medieval steel that had varying manufacturing methods; re-smelting, forge-refining, and carburizing in large oven type operations by historic manufacturers to refine slag and target carbon content with variations accepted in the period materials. By the 16th century, some of the armour etched and sectioned in "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" really requires magnification to see the ferrite-carbon banding and imperfections. I would say the growth and empirical refinement of the steel manufacturing industry probably did on average follow a "steady evolution" of improvement from some point around 12th century A.D. onward.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Bruno Giordan





Joined: 28 Sep 2005

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Posts: 918

PostPosted: Thu 05 Nov, 2009 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Owen Bush wrote:
Thanks it appears that this has been visited before .
I wonder If the Ideal of a homogeneous monosteel would have been a good reason to not etch a blade,after all in a burnished form these blades do not look to be of a piled construction at all .


What appears as "damascus" is the common middle age pilde construction, which was part of the refinement steps of the bloomery sponge.

I suppose this was known to be increasing the strength of the blade as this notion survived until the last century in our saber makers, who used a piling method called "a foglia" (leaves like).

A sword from the river Adige was analyzed very recently in Milan (it was a badly broken sword , lacking more than half the blade), it was cut and the resulting section was analyzed.

It revealed eigth layers of metal separated by fayalite, with the outer layers becoming progressively steel because of a carburization process.

The external layers had a carbon percent approaching more or less the eutectic point.

See fort his

Microstructural Investigation on a Medieval Sword Produced in
12th Century A.D.
Carlo MAPELLI, Walter NICODEMI and Riccardo F. RIVA


http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/browse/isijintern.../_contents
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