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Scott Roush
Industry Professional



Location: Washburn, WI
Joined: 27 Jan 2011

Posts: 452

PostPosted: Fri 16 Nov, 2012 7:58 am    Post subject: Use of 'Brescian' steel         Reply with quote

Hi folks.. I'm experimenting with the making of 'Brescian' steel... a type of steel used in the early Italian Renaissance for the mass production of blade steel and armor. It basically entails the use of molten cast iron to carburize low carbon bloomery iron. I'm working with a local foundry on some experiments with this.. and am starting to get some interesting results.

In the meantime I'm trying to get a better feel for the context of this stuff. I'm looking for information regarding the type and quality of weapons that were actually made from 'Brescian steel'. I'm doing fairly well on resources related to how it was made... but not much on the actual weapons made from it. I'm beginning to suspect that this type of steel was used for low quality, munition grade arms and armor due to the potential low carbon and heterogenous character. I'm contacting a local university to help get access to the primary literature.. but I was hoping somebody here could help point me to anything.

Thanks much....

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David Gaál




Location: Hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sat 17 Nov, 2012 2:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Scott,

Good to hear such good news Wink That would be real authenticity, I wanted to do something like that too but because of the lack of time and money I think I have to wait a long time to do it.
Alan Williams: The Knight And The Blast Furnace offers some information about the topic on the pages: 57, 214, and in the Chapter 8.1 titled as Furnaces And Blooms
One of the few higher quality Brescian armours could be seen in the book Heroic Armor of the Italian Renaissance: Filippo Negroli and His Contemporaries on the pages 321,322,323.

Dávid

Dávid

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Scott Roush
Industry Professional



Location: Washburn, WI
Joined: 27 Jan 2011

Posts: 452

PostPosted: Sat 17 Nov, 2012 5:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the info...

I just bought Dr. Wiliam's 'The sword and the crucible' and that was of some help... but I don't have the 'Knight and the Blast Furnace' yet! I will try to follow up on your resources... hopefully they won't be as much of a bank buster as 'Crucible'! Well spent though....

http://www.bigrockforge.com
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Scott Roush
Industry Professional



Location: Washburn, WI
Joined: 27 Jan 2011

Posts: 452

PostPosted: Sat 17 Nov, 2012 6:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well the Heroic Armor references certainly back up 'munition grade' and 'mass production'... So thanks for that.
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David Gaál




Location: Hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sat 17 Nov, 2012 11:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here you can find some of that: http://books.google.hu/books?id=GpVbnsqAzxIC&...CGMQ6AEwBw
Maybe I could copy the remaining pages from the 8.1 Chapter if you want.

Dávid

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David Gaál




Location: Hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sat 17 Nov, 2012 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nearly forgotten, I think these are reasonable sources for steel making from 16th century:
Georgius Agricola: De re metallica - http://archive.org/details/georgiusagricola00agririch
Vannoccio Biringuccio: De la Pirotechnia - http://books.google.hu/books?id=ruBbKRKGeOwC&...mp;f=false

Dávid

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David Gaál




Location: Hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sat 17 Nov, 2012 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry for writing so much separate messages but slowly everything falls in what I know:
From Alan Williams: The Steel of the Negroli (could be downloaded freely from the site of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

"3. The decarburization of liquid cast iron might be halted at an intermediate carbon content, that of steel. According to Walzel, steel was made in Styria this way by letting the liquid iron from the blast furnace drip through an air blast onto a charcoal hearth. Obtaining anything like a consistent carbon content would have been difficult, if not impossible, and British attempts to make "puddled steel" by a similar direct process in the nineteenth century proved to be unsatisfactory.
Steelmakers like Bessemer found that it was easier to remove all the carbon and then add a measured weight to give a steel of the chosen carbon content.
4. A method related to method 3, sometimes called the "Brescian process," was described by Biringuccio in 1540 (to be precise, he ascribed it to Valcamonica, near Brescia), and his description was copied by Agricola a few years later. A lump of bloomery iron ('weighing thirty to forty pounds") was supposed to be swirled about on the end of an iron rod in a bath of liquid cast iron for 4 to 6 hours, with crushed marble added, until it was somewhat carburized, and then taken out and forged into a uniform product. If this genuinely describes contemporary practice, and is not simply a misrepresentation of the finery process, then this method may have supplied the steel used by later sixteenth-century Milanese armorers."

So it might be good to read Biringuccio.
Hope I could help and not bore you.

Dávid

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Scott Roush
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Location: Washburn, WI
Joined: 27 Jan 2011

Posts: 452

PostPosted: Sat 17 Nov, 2012 5:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks again! Yes... I have Biringuccio.. and it was nice to have Alan William's 'the Sword and the Crucible' to interpret the text. Although it is a bit confusing since he ends it with the suggestion that the 'masters' may have misled him regarding the technique so that he didn't reveal industry secrets. He suggests that they may have actually been fining cast iron rather than carburizing iron. But I've since found references to a Chinese process that is so similar to what Biringuccio refers to that it seems unlikely (to me) that the process wasn't as he described.

At this point.. in terms of actual manufacturing.. Biringuccio is all that really exists in terms of a description. What I would love to find at this point is more written in terms of the quality of arms and armor that were coming out of this region ... What 'Brescian steel' considered good?

Thanks again for your help and references....

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