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Gerald Fa.





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PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 8:05 pm    Post subject: What is the best steel to use for armor?         Reply with quote

What is the best steel to use for armor?

I would like a very strong steel for my armor, and I have two great armorers more then willing to make it for me. I suggested to them 4100 steel alloy and they are willing to make the armor on such steels like that…


It is going to be heat-treated and all. I am talking about super strong stuff here, and I read some info about this 4100 steel and I understand that you can forge it, they said the same about it... I am looking to make me a full German Gothic armor and a full set of black Landsknecht armor as well by late 2011. LOL I will be ready for 2012 LOL.

Is 9260 Spring Steel good for armor as well? What do you people think? I know it is a over kill, but I do not want to worry about dings and such on my armor wile using it or what not.

Can any one help me here? THANKS!! Happy
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 9:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I know, spring steel is the stuff for the very best.
Man, it's gonna cost a whole heap though.
And dents and dings will happen.
Just my two cents,

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
Founder of The Van Dieman's Land Stage Gladiators.
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Gerald Fa.





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PostPosted: Thu 18 Feb, 2010 5:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
As far as I know, spring steel is the stuff for the very best.
Man, it's gonna cost a whole heap though.
And dents and dings will happen.
Just my two cents,



Thanks; I agree, and that’s the thing, I am using “spring steel”, it is just there are so many types of them out there… They did use spring steel for armor back then, and I got the impression that Historically they did use some thing very close to modern 1055 or 1065 steel. To make spring steel you must do some type of heat-treating to the steels and it cannot be any lower then 1050 steel or maybe 1045 steel.

As you can see here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/255Knights#p/f/91/Uo72dL7uDuc

What I know is that heat-treating is the big trick, and some steels can be soft as heck but ones heat-treated it will be Super! This makes it much stronger then mild steel and springy…

What I am suggesting is that I am making my two armors out of 4100 steel or maybe 9260 Steel! These seem to be SUPER strong stuff after heat-treating it…

But what I want to know is which of the two are better and stronger? Or what is a good steel to make it out of? OR is Titanium alloy any good? I am looking for super strong stuff here people… My Armorers are willing to do it too! I am making the strongest metal armors in the world! : D


I am looking to make me a full German Gothic armor and a full set of black Landsknecht armor as well by late 2011

I would love to do the Maximilian armor too!

So if any one can suggest any thing to me, that would be great. Happy



I mean I will be back from the U.S. Marines training by Oct. And I am going to talk to my armorers about this by then. They are also looking a bit into what steels or what not is the best. Very, VERY strong but yet can be forge…
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Feb, 2010 7:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am hoping an actual armourer will provide experienced input here.

The higher carbon range of spring steel may make it more difficult to properly cold form than a lower carbon mild steel. Unless properly heated during forming (requiring some large furnace space depending upon the size of the piece), I am not confident that a cold worked piece of spring steel, un-heat-treated, would equal its mild steel "cold worked" counterpart in terms of mechanical toughness either. To really get the maximum benefit, it would have to be annealed, hardened, and tempered after being fabricated.

Some crude experiments by one armour I perused a few years back indicated that tempered spring steel helms tended to resist denting, take more overall punishment than mild steel, but, fail abruptly. This may be equivalent to transmitting more shock to the wearer. From a safety perspective (leveraging on aerospace and automotive vehicle design), deformation is generally a good indicator of reduced trauma in abrupt impacts and collisions.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Thu 18 Feb, 2010 7:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gerald, whatever you go with, keep in mind that the most important thing is that the material not be the least bit brittle after the heat treat! A shattered helm could ruin more than your day. I have used some fairly low carbon spring steels with good success; the trick is in how you do the heat treat.
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Eric Hejdström




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Feb, 2010 4:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The steels used in historical armours vary mostly from 0.1-0.6% carbon content. If you want to dig into it more I suggest "The Kinght and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period" by Alan Williams. Very good information on european plate armours.
And just as Mr. Gillaspie says, be careful to not get a brittle steel. There's an example in the Churbourg Armoury of a lower cannon that's unusable due to it's hardness....
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Liam O'Malley




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Feb, 2010 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i'm a blacksmith, not an armourer, but super high carbon alloy steels don't seem like they'd be too easy to work cold, most of the alloy steels are work hardening, and spring steel, being spring tempered, transmits shock pretty badly. i'd imagine you'd be better off using a medium carbon steel with minimal alloying compounds, the heat treat will give it some durability without making it shatter prone. i'd say something like .4-.5% carbon would probably be ideal, so like a 1050 or so.

still, not an armourer, so this is not any kind of authoritative statement.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Feb, 2010 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

*IF* you have the proper setup, then I think one should be able to forge armours hot and heat treat them afterwards...
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Fri 19 Feb, 2010 11:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Liam O'Malley wrote:
i'm a blacksmith, not an armourer, but super high carbon alloy steels don't seem like they'd be too easy to work cold, most of the alloy steels are work hardening, and spring steel, being spring tempered, transmits shock pretty badly. i'd imagine you'd be better off using a medium carbon steel with minimal alloying compounds, the heat treat will give it some durability without making it shatter prone. i'd say something like .4-.5% carbon would probably be ideal, so like a 1050 or so.

still, not an armourer, so this is not any kind of authoritative statement.


All the armourers who have released armouring videos or made statements about their experiences maintain that to get proper curves steel has to be raised hot. My little experience ( a cervelliere in working stage) would suggest the very same setting.

You can check at armourarchive.org and see the videos of Eric Dube on youtube.

my cervelliere so far has been worked cold with annealing after any raising pass, the only multiple pass session without annealing resulting in a little mendable crack.

Yesterday i examined a cuirass at the Marzoli collection from behind, there was still the original surface that appeared as blackened by forge and hammer worked by raising from outside (it looked close to the interior of my cervelliere).

Steel was circa 3 mm thick (visual inspection), backplates showed all a lesser thickness.

As for carbon content I totally agree with you.
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Gerald Fa.





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PostPosted: Sun 21 Feb, 2010 11:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Hejdström wrote:
The steels used in historical armours vary mostly from 0.1-0.6% carbon content. If you want to dig into it more I suggest "The Kinght and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period" by Alan Williams. Very good information on european plate armours.
And just as Mr. Gillaspie says, be careful to not get a brittle steel. There's an example in the Churbourg Armoury of a lower cannon that's unusable due to it's hardness....


I do not think 4100 is brittle what so ever… But yes I agree.

So steels in that time were 0.1% to 0.6%? 0.6 is about modern1060 steel is it?

Liam O'Malley wrote:
i'm a blacksmith, not an armourer, but super high carbon alloy steels don't seem like they'd be too easy to work cold, most of the alloy steels are work hardening, and spring steel, being spring tempered, transmits shock pretty badly. i'd imagine you'd be better off using a medium carbon steel with minimal alloying compounds, the heat treat will give it some durability without making it shatter prone. i'd say something like .4-.5% carbon would probably be ideal, so like a 1050 or so.

still, not an armourer, so this is not any kind of authoritative statement.



Well 4001 steel is high-strength low-alloy steel, and I seen an old video of Germans in WWI and WWII partly forged their helmets to finish it off (all done in cold), and German helmets are made of Chromium steel.. I think they heat treated the helmets as well, but that I did not see. I think 4100 can be done on cold forged, it also has a bit Chromium in it.


Jared Smith wrote:
I am hoping an actual armourer will provide experienced input here.

The higher carbon range of spring steel may make it more difficult to properly cold form than a lower carbon mild steel. Unless properly heated during forming (requiring some large furnace space depending upon the size of the piece), I am not confident that a cold worked piece of spring steel, un-heat-treated, would equal its mild steel "cold worked" counterpart in terms of mechanical toughness either. To really get the maximum benefit, it would have to be annealed, hardened, and tempered after being fabricated.

Some crude experiments by one armour I perused a few years back indicated that tempered spring steel helms tended to resist denting, take more overall punishment than mild steel, but, fail abruptly. This may be equivalent to transmitting more shock to the wearer. From a safety perspective (leveraging on aerospace and automotive vehicle design), deformation is generally a good indicator of reduced trauma in abrupt impacts and collisions.


Oh, but they are actual armourers; I just know them quite well. They both make armors for years now. I think one of them been doing it for over 10 years! The one doing it for over 10 years now is making me a German Sallet with a face Visor out of mild steel… But yea, I agree, I am going to talk to them much more about it after Training.

So the higher the carbon the better it can transmit shock??? Confused Well I was looking at the 4100 and I read that it is high-strength low-alloy steel. 4100 steel has about 0.15% or 0.17% Silicon, about 0.18% or .20% carbon, about 0.40% or maybe 0.38% Chromium, 0.80% Molybdenum, about 0.70% or 0.60% Manganese, about 0.035% Phosphorus, 0.040% Sulfur. Is this good to stop some shock? Confused

(I read about S1 and S5 tool steel as well)

That said; 9260 Steel is very bad for what I want. What I read, it is very flexible and on what I read what all of you said, it is very bad, it seems that it can give me shock.
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Gerald Fa.





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PostPosted: Sun 21 Feb, 2010 11:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Gerald Fa."]
Eric Hejdström wrote:
The steels used in historical armours vary mostly from 0.1-0.6% carbon content. If you want to dig into it more I suggest "The Kinght and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period" by Alan Williams. Very good information on european plate armours.
And just as Mr. Gillaspie says, be careful to not get a brittle steel. There's an example in the Churbourg Armoury of a lower cannon that's unusable due to it's hardness....


I do not think 4100 is brittle what so ever… But yes I agree.

So steels in that time were 0.1% to 0.6%? 0.6 is about modern1060 steel is it?

Liam O'Malley wrote:
i'm a blacksmith, not an armourer, but super high carbon alloy steels don't seem like they'd be too easy to work cold, most of the alloy steels are work hardening, and spring steel, being spring tempered, transmits shock pretty badly. i'd imagine you'd be better off using a medium carbon steel with minimal alloying compounds, the heat treat will give it some durability without making it shatter prone. i'd say something like .4-.5% carbon would probably be ideal, so like a 1050 or so.

still, not an armourer, so this is not any kind of authoritative statement.



Well 4001 steel is high-strength low-alloy steel, and I seen an old video of Germans in WWI and WWII partly forged their helmets to finish it off (all done in cold), and German helmets are made of Chromium steel.. I think they heat treated the helmets as well, but that I did not see. I think 4100 can be done on cold forged, it also has a bit Chromium in it.


Jared Smith wrote:
I am hoping an actual armourer will provide experienced input here.

The higher carbon range of spring steel may make it more difficult to properly cold form than a lower carbon mild steel. Unless properly heated during forming (requiring some large furnace space depending upon the size of the piece), I am not confident that a cold worked piece of spring steel, un-heat-treated, would equal its mild steel "cold worked" counterpart in terms of mechanical toughness either. To really get the maximum benefit, it would have to be annealed, hardened, and tempered after being fabricated.

Some crude experiments by one armour I perused a few years back indicated that tempered spring steel helms tended to resist denting, take more overall punishment than mild steel, but, fail abruptly. This may be equivalent to transmitting more shock to the wearer. From a safety perspective (leveraging on aerospace and automotive vehicle design), deformation is generally a good indicator of reduced trauma in abrupt impacts and collisions.


Oh, but they are actual armourers; I just know them quite well. They both make armors for years now. I think one of them been doing it for over 10 years! The one doing it for over 10 years now is making me a German Sallet with a face Visor out of mild steel… But yea, I agree, I am going to talk to them much more about it after Training.

So the higher the carbon the better it can transmit shock??? Confused Well 4100 steel has about 0.15% or 0.17% Silicon, about 0.18% or .20% carbon, about 0.40% or maybe 0.38% Chromium, 0.80% Molybdenum, about 0.70% or 0.60% Manganese, about 0.035% Phosphorus, 0.040% Sulfur. Is this good to stop some shock? Confused 4100 steel is high-strength low-alloy steel, very, VERY strong steel, seems very reasonable on shock resistance? Confused

4100 steel is some what close to Chromium steel what I under stand. But like I said; German Helmets and I think Swiss helmets were made out of Chromium steel, and can be forged cold. Why not 4100 steel?

(I read about S1 and S5 tool steel as well)

That said; 9260 Steel is very bad for what I want. What I read, it is very flexible, very high in Carbon, and on what I read what all of you said, it seems that it is very bad, and so it seems that it can give me lots of shock. Eek!
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Feb, 2010 3:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gerald Fa. wrote:


So the higher the carbon the better it can transmit shock??? Confused


This is dependent on it being tempered to actually behave as a spring. A simple alloy steel with 0.4% carbon will not compete with a 0.8% carbon range similar steel in terms of hardening potential, or ability to take on a true spring like behavior. The worst for armour, in my opinion, would be completely rigid and brittle (maximum hardness.) Rockwell hardness of a spring might be in the mid 40's, where as metal that more readily deforms (mechanically absorbing the shock) would be something closer to 30. The difference is somewhat similar to a logarithmic scale (or at least quadratic based on area of the indenter), so the difference is more significant than we might realize if we regard these numbers as a simple linear difference.

4140 is commonly available and used where something needs to be very tough. (Often used in aircraft landing gear, roll cages, metal forming dies, etc.) It can be spring tempered to a degree, but typically requires mechanical devices (pneumatic dampers, etc.) to absorb the shock or very strong adjacent structures to withstand the forces (i.e. trauma) it transmits into them. I have hand cut it "store bought and fully annealed", but once heated to forging temperatures it becomes much tougher.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Gerald Fa.





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PostPosted: Tue 23 Feb, 2010 4:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Gerald Fa. wrote:


So the higher the carbon the better it can transmit shock??? Confused


This is dependent on it being tempered to actually behave as a spring. A simple alloy steel with 0.4% carbon will not compete with a 0.8% carbon range similar steel in terms of hardening potential, or ability to take on a true spring like behavior. The worst for armour, in my opinion, would be completely rigid and brittle (maximum hardness.) Rockwell hardness of a spring might be in the mid 40's, where as metal that more readily deforms (mechanically absorbing the shock) would be something closer to 30. The difference is somewhat similar to a logarithmic scale (or at least quadratic based on area of the indenter), so the difference is more significant than we might realize if we regard these numbers as a simple linear difference.

4140 is commonly available and used where something needs to be very tough. (Often used in aircraft landing gear, roll cages, metal forming dies, etc.) It can be spring tempered to a degree, but typically requires mechanical devices (pneumatic dampers, etc.) to absorb the shock or very strong adjacent structures to withstand the forces (i.e. trauma) it transmits into them. I have hand cut it "store bought and fully annealed", but once heated to forging temperatures it becomes much tougher.



Hummmm, but in your or any ones opinion would 4100 make great armor? good armor? ok armor? bad for armor? Or do not know?


I think the Rockwell hardness of 4130 is B 90–96. Is that good or bad?


I found a supplier that has 4130 steel... (I gave them to my armorers and they were very happy...)
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Feb, 2010 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most scales for converting Rockwell B to C don't overlap this far. It would be pretty soft on the C scale. I suspect 4130 or 4140 would most likely be higher than the suggested B scale figures after some hotwork. http://www.engineersedge.com/hardness_conversion.htm

It needs to be kept a little hotter than plain mild steel while forming, but 4130 should be workable for armour. Depending on what you wish to accomplish (lower weight through higher heat treated strength?), advantages may be offset by other factors. (Mass can be protective in terms of collisions.) A higher mass, more ductile material may absorb more energy in impact. If really going high tech here, you could make the exterior armour very tough, and utilize medium density foam padding underneath to absorb more energy than historical undergarments would have been likely to absorb. The 4130 and 4140 series materials do slowly corrode indoors in dry air unless protected with a film of oil. (I have some slightly rusty 4140 next to me now as I type.) There would still be some maintenance.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Gerald Fa.





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PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb, 2010 11:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Most scales for converting Rockwell B to C don't overlap this far. It would be pretty soft on the C scale. I suspect 4130 or 4140 would most likely be higher than the suggested B scale figures after some hotwork. http://www.engineersedge.com/hardness_conversion.htm


I see, but would that mean that the armors would be stronger?

And had a bit of a hard time reading the scale… Is Tensile Strength on lbs or Kg?

Jared Smith wrote:

It needs to be kept a little hotter than plain mild steel while forming, but 4130 should be workable for armour. Depending on what you wish to accomplish (lower weight through higher heat treated strength?), advantages may be offset by other factors. (Mass can be protective in terms of collisions.) A higher mass, more ductile material may absorb more energy in impact.


Well, yes, I was looking for lightweight armors, but historical thickness…

Jared Smith wrote:

If really going high tech here, you could make the exterior armour very tough, and utilize medium density foam padding underneath to absorb more energy than historical undergarments would have been likely to absorb.


Yes, I was going to go a bit high tech, but I would like my armors to be more or less historical thickness. You know; how ever thick the full German Gothic armor and the black Landsknecht armor were. But I think at least thick enough were it would not rust a hole on there that easily and were it can absorb some energy…

I think historically they knew how they were making armor, I would trust the armors words in the past, and I think my armorers know how thick they were. One of them told me a bit about it…

Were can I get that medium density foam padding?


Jared Smith wrote:
The 4130 and 4140 series materials do slowly corrode indoors in dry air unless protected with a film of oil. (I have some slightly rusty 4140 next to me now as I type.) There would still be some maintenance.


I under stand that it will have some maintenance…

But how fast can 4130 steel corrode? Is it slower/more resistance to corrosion then most steels? (I heard it was) It can corrode in dry air? But how? Is it like that with most steels too?

Thank you so much for the info! Happy
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