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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Best type of steel? Reply to topic
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Garrett Hazen




Location: California
Joined: 30 Aug 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 5:43 pm    Post subject: Best type of steel?         Reply with quote

what is the best type of steel to look for in a sword, when browsing around to buy one?
Learn to obey before you command--Solon of Athens
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 5:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's far more important to find a maker who knows what they're doing in terms of the craft, be they a custom or production outfit. Most will have their own preference as to material and as long as they know what to do with it the end product should be satisfactory.
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Garrett Hazen




Location: California
Joined: 30 Aug 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 6:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

oh, well that makes sense. i just noticed stuff like "high carbon steel" and a bunch of different stuff. what does all that stuff mean when its talking about X type swords or Z type swords, ect.? i dont quite understand that.
Learn to obey before you command--Solon of Athens
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Sean Belair
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Joined: 08 Aug 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

10/75 and 51/60 are popular as is L6
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Tim Harris
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 6:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Garrett Hazen wrote:
oh, well that makes sense. i just noticed stuff like "high carbon steel" and a bunch of different stuff. what does all that stuff mean when its talking about X type swords or Z type swords, ect.? i dont quite understand that.


Garret,

Quite a few retailers seize on particular terms for marketing purposes, to the point where they become meaningless.
"High carbon steel" is a case in point. Any functional sword should be of tool or spring quality steel, but "high carbon" is arbitrary. If the retailer can't give you an actual steel standard classification, you could be dealing with spin.
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Allan Senefelder
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Location: Upstate NY
Joined: 18 Oct 2003

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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

High Carbon is a popular catch phrase. The "catch" is that unless its heat treated, and done so properly it means nothing. "High Carbon Steel" means basically that its a steel with enough carbon content to be heat treated. Stated in a REALLY basic way steel is iron with more carbon in it, but unless steel has a certain level of carbon or above it can't be heat treated. It will still be steel and harder than iron but not capable of being manipulated with heat to become harder still. High carbon steel (upper 10 steels, high alloys like 5160, L6, W1 and the like) can be manipulated with heat and cooling agents in a very controlled process to become much harder. Without going through this process they confere little if any benefit (sp) in construction over low carbon or mild steel. As Patrick mentioned the important thing is that the smith knows what they're doing and is familiar and comfortable with the steel in which they choose to work. There are custom and high end production makers working in all the steels mentioned so far in this thread and thier work in these various steels are all of outstanding quality.
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J. Bedell




Location: Maryland, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 13 Dec, 2006 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Type X, etc. is the Oakeshott classification for the sword. It has to do with the sword style, not the steel type.

-James

The pen may be mighter, but the sword is much more fun.
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Michal Plezia
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PostPosted: Wed 13 Dec, 2006 3:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The best steel is of course Holywoodium!!! Laughing Out Loud

And now seriously-what do you think about damascus steel?Are there any advantages over homogeniuos material?

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The sword is a weapon for killing, the art of the sword is the art of killing. No matter what fancy words you use or what titles you put to
it that is the only truth.
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Joel Whitmore




Location: Simmesport, LA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Wed 13 Dec, 2006 4:09 pm    Post subject: Old Debates Die Hard         Reply with quote

Michal Plezia wrote:
The best steel is of course Holywoodium!!! Laughing Out Loud

And now seriously-what do you think about damascus steel?Are there any advantages over homogeniuos material?


As far as I know, there has been no substantive proof that damascus steel ( sometimes confused with pattern-welded steel) has any advantages over other steels. Now this debate has been raging for centuries and you will find people who think one is better than the other. One has to keep in mind that swordmaking and heat treating are highly technical but very artistic endeavours. Many smiths perfect their craft over decades of trial and error. It just so happens we rarely see the errors. So many smiths will stick with steels they can work and trust. By trust I mean they know what the steel looks like when heated to the maleable state they want to construct the sword and they know what it takes to get a proper heat treat with that particular sword. Some sword makers stick with one or two steels exclusively while some like to use a variety and experiment. I think in general you will see production facilities stick with one kind of steel because they need to get consistant heat treating across larger batches of product. There is a brief but informative article on Sword Forum about this: http://swordforum.com/sfu/primer/heattreatment.html . It is a very interesting topic and one worthy of study by those who have no intention of making swords.

Joel Whitmore
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Wed 13 Dec, 2006 4:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michal Plezia wrote:
The best steel is of course Holywoodium!!! Laughing Out Loud

And now seriously-what do you think about damascus steel?Are there any advantages over homogeniuos material?


I assume you're talking about pattern-welding? If that's the case, there's no definable superiority in pattern-welding when compared to a comparable homogenous blade. The only ones attempting to convince anyone of that will either be in the business of making and/or selling pattern-welded work, or collectors of the same who are uninformed. Weapons of homogenous steel replaced their pattern-welded ancestors because they could do the same job in the same way, yet were much easier and faster to make. Today we treasure pattern-welding not for any non-existent superiority but rather for its intrinsic beauty, as well as its place in history.

One of my favorite pieces has a pattern-welded blade and I have another commision coming up in the next couple of months that will also be pattern-welded. I love the process for its historic and aesthetic value, but have no illusions to any kind of superiority.

If you're talking about the crucible steel known as wootz (considered to be the real "damascus" steel), in my opinion the same applies. It's a different method used to arrive at the same end.
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Bruno Giordan





Joined: 28 Sep 2005

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PostPosted: Thu 14 Dec, 2006 4:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dr J. Chrisoulas\' book \\\"The complete bladesmith\\\" has a nice introductory section on steels that are useable for blades: for each of them he provides the ideal kind of temper as well as pros and cons.

As you will see the tempering method as well as the forming method of the blade have a great deal of importance in achieving good results.

So a good steel will be behaving badly under stress if not properly heat treated: and that is what separates decent and good companies from bad ones.

See also www.swordforum.com for advivce, there are however too many discussions over there , try to find a getting started thread.
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Brad Harada




PostPosted: Thu 14 Dec, 2006 5:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've not much more to add as others have already stated: pattern welding has no discernable advantages over monosteel other than aesthetics. That being said, there are some spectacular examples of very beautiful pattern welded blades. I offer this as an example: The Flower Wharncliffe by Johan Gustafsson. The degree of control to produce the patterns is, to my mind, simply astounding as is the smith's ability to produce such vivid colors!

http://www.bladegallery.com/shopexd.asp?id=84...0440312461
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Brenton Hudson




Location: Barnwell, SC
Joined: 21 Dec 2006

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The best type of metal for a sword is mithril! Sorry, I couldn't resist. Big Grin Wink

Anyhow, from my research the best steel for a sword is one that has been forged carefully, and by carefully I mean the smith ensured that slag and other impurities are absent as possible from the blade. Slag can weaken a sword and cause it to become vulnerable to breaking.
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