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Alex Yeoh





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Nov, 2004 4:11 pm    Post subject: Steels - which are better for what?         Reply with quote

I suppose most of the steels used in swords rust?

What are the advantages of each of the steels that manufacturers use? I see many use 5160 spring steel and some say this is the best because of its durability. Some use carbon steel, some use 1075 steel.

Can someone please explain why each manufacturer chooses to use the steel that they do? Also please tell me about rust.

thanks!

"Only a fool would go after the singing sword!" - Bugs Bunny
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Nov, 2004 4:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Steels - which are better for what?         Reply with quote

Alex Yeoh wrote:
I suppose most of the steels used in swords rust?

What are the advantages of each of the steels that manufacturers use? I see many use 5160 spring steel and some say this is the best because of its durability. Some use carbon steel, some use 1075 steel.

Can someone please explain why each manufacturer chooses to use the steel that they do? Also please tell me about rust.

thanks!


This is a big question. I'm not an expert, but here goes.

Any traditional non-stainless steel will rust. Some poor-quality stainless steels may rust or etch over time as well. Any steel sword can be easily maintained by regular oiling. Patrick Kelly wrote a great article about care and maintenance: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_care.html . Period swords were maintained by oiling or greasing.

The amount of Chromium is typically what makes a steel stainless. A small amount of chromium (found in non-stainless steels like 6150) can actually enhance hardenability; too much, and the steel can be brittle. Other trace elements can be found in varying combinations and amounts including vanadium, manganese, etc. These extra elements each bring different qualities to the steel.

What is more important than the steel is the way it is heat-treated. Sword blades must be heat-treated to get the desired combination of hardnesses. Different sword designs call for different combinations. A harder edge and softer body is generally found to be good: the hardness keeps the edge while the softer spine aids in shock absorption. But if the steel is too hard it becomes brittle; too soft and it won't retain an edge for long.

Different makers prefer different steels for different reasons. Simpler steels (like 1075 I believe) are supposed to behave more like period steels. Other steels are better for certain types of heat-treatment.

I realize this is pretty vague, but it's a vast topic. You'll get a lot of different opinions on this one. Happy

Happy

ChadA

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Alex Yeoh





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Nov, 2004 4:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I see.. thanks for that.

I am familiar with steel used in high-end watches, with is 316L Steel - surgical stainless steel which is probably not suitable for swords. Rolex watches use a slightly different steel 914 steel which some say is harder but that is debatable.

As for the 1075 steel - thanks for that information. So then, some manufacturers use it because it is authentic - I see. Whereas manufacturers like Angus Trim who are primarily interested in performance use 5160 steel because it is the "best" modern steel for swords at the moment?

Very interesting.

"Only a fool would go after the singing sword!" - Bugs Bunny
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Nov, 2004 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

More information:

Stainless steel (from nass.org.uk): Can be defined as a group of corrosion resisting steels containing a minimum 10% chromium and in which varying amounts of nickel, molybdenum, titanium, niobium as well as other elements may be present. An Englishman, Harry Brearley, is generally acknowledged to be the pioneer who developed stainless steels for commercial use.

Here's an article from bladeforums.com: http://www.bladeforums.com/features/faqsteel.shtml . Be aware, though, these guys are mainly knife guys, and what applies to knives doesn't always apply to swords. The length of a sword, its use, its design(s), and stresses are different from what knives are designed to do.

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ChadA

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Nov, 2004 5:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex Yeoh wrote:
As for the 1075 steel - thanks for that information. So then, some manufacturers use it because it is authentic - I see. Whereas manufacturers like Angus Trim who are primarily interested in performance use 5160 steel because it is the "best" modern steel for swords at the moment?

Very interesting.


"Best," of course, is highly subjective. 10XX series steel isn't necessarily authentic, but can be called more authentic in composition than some of the more modern steels. I wouldn't say 5160 is better than 10XX series steels, it all depends on design, purpose and heat-treat of the sword.

Happy

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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Nov, 2004 9:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex Yeoh wrote:
I see.. thanks for that.

I am familiar with steel used in high-end watches, with is 316L Steel - surgical stainless steel which is probably not suitable for swords. Rolex watches use a slightly different steel 914 steel which some say is harder but that is debatable.

As for the 1075 steel - thanks for that information. So then, some manufacturers use it because it is authentic - I see. Whereas manufacturers like Angus Trim who are primarily interested in performance use 5160 steel because it is the "best" modern steel for swords at the moment?

Very interesting.


Actually what I would say is that 5160 is the best steel for me. I understand its rules, and can make a very durable sword, taking into account the sometimes extreme blade geometries I use.

I like 5160, it is a high performance spring steel. But so is 6150, the steel of choice for Arms and Armor. Some smiths like some of the tool steels, like L6 or S7........it winds up being a preference thing, and what one is trying to do with a sword blade..........

Auld Dawg

swords are fun
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Alex Yeoh





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Nov, 2004 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The legend himself speaks!! Thank you for repling. I have become a fan of yours after reading reviews and finding out more about your design philosophy!!

May I ask you two questions?

1) what are the pros and cons of 5160 vs 6150 vs L6 vs S7? In other words, why do you think 5160 is best for you?
2) I am considering buying one of your swords. If later I wish a more elaborate cross guard or pommel - would it be possible for you to make it for me, and would I be able to attach it myself - or do I need to engage an expert to do so?

Thanks Angus!!!!

best regards,
Alex.

"Only a fool would go after the singing sword!" - Bugs Bunny
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Nov, 2004 6:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex Yeoh wrote:

2) I am considering buying one of your swords. If later I wish a more elaborate cross guard or pommel - would it be possible for you to make it for me, and would I be able to attach it myself - or do I need to engage an expert to do so?


I'm not Gus, but I can help out with this one until Gus chimes in. Gus's swords are dismountable. The guard, grip, and pommel slip over the tang and are secured by a threaded nut. Therefore they can be taken apart for maintenance and part-swapping. But, this feature is not something found on medieval-era swords. It seems it would be handy for customization, though.

Christian Fletcher (on the links page) customizes a lot of Gus's swords.

Happy

ChadA

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Angus Trim




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Nov, 2004 8:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex Yeoh wrote:
The legend himself speaks!! Thank you for repling. I have become a fan of yours after reading reviews and finding out more about your design philosophy!!

May I ask you two questions?

1) what are the pros and cons of 5160 vs 6150 vs L6 vs S7? In other words, why do you think 5160 is best for you?
2) I am considering buying one of your swords. If later I wish a more elaborate cross guard or pommel - would it be possible for you to make it for me, and would I be able to attach it myself - or do I need to engage an expert to do so?

Thanks Angus!!!!

best regards,
Alex.


Hi Alex

You know, your questions on steel can't be answered fully........ by answering fully, I'd be contradicting what other people say about the steels they use, which could make this thread as political as any has been for a while........

So, I'll just concentrate on why I like 5160.

5160 is simple alloy steel. The biggest thing that separates it from the 10xx steels is a little chromium added to the mix {.7 to .9%}. What this does is add to the thru hardening ability of the steel.

5160 is not a great steel for the "cute" stuff. Its thru hardening properties make it a less than excellent candidate for hard edge/ soft back heat treating, ie for those that like hamon. It can be done, but this is not an ideal steel for it.

When fully hardened properly, it full hardens to 62+ rc. This allows a lot of tempering to get to the 52rc {+ or - 1rc} that I prefer. Tempered martensite has a reasonable amount of toughess to go with the hardness and strength of the chosen rockwell. Making swords is a juggling act of various compromises, and the choice of steels and the finished temper of the steel is no less a compromise..... edge hardness which translates to edge angle and edge retention and cutting ability, vs durability, ie toughness.

But even here its not that simple. The blade geometry and the sword's mass is more important for durability than the choice of steel, or the final hardness of the steel. Stress durability over everything else, and you have a crowbar, so durability is just one factor {an important one}. Handling and actual performance, and aesthetics are other keys to a finished modern sword.......

Many historical examples of various sword types have the foible very thin in crossection. This makes for a very magic handling sword, a good cutting sword, but a sword that is counter to modern thinking of a sword that should be able to survive repeated banging on hard targets like helmets on poles. I've chosen to make several of the models I do in the manner of these swords......... No steel known to man though would make these indestructable........

However, 5160 has the edge holding, and a reasonable ductility, so for what I do its likely the best compromise.

Chad has pretty much answered your other question.... Both Christian Fletcher and John Lundemo are known for customizing AT's after fact........

Auld Dawg

swords are fun
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Alex Yeoh





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Nov, 2004 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Angus for your insightful reply!!

cheers,
Alex

"Only a fool would go after the singing sword!" - Bugs Bunny
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Nov, 2004 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex,

My best advice is to forget about what kind of steel is "best" or should be used. It's much more important to find a reliable and knowledgeable maker to do business with. Do your homework in that area. The maker will know what type of steel to use.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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