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Francis Trez Cole

(Material) Question

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Good Morning,

Damascus is a town. Damascus is a mis-nomer for "Pattern Welded Steel". If a Janapese sword is made from more than one steel, it is "Pattern Welded Steel".

Neil

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Traditionally the typical Japanese smiths have made their swords from scratch... smelting their own ore and selecting chunks of steel to weld up into sword blanks. This process does NOT create obvious patterning in the steel such as we would think of in modern pattern welded steels. It is a similar process though in many ways.

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if the question is .
are Japanese swords made from folded steel that shows a pattern between the layers , then the answer is yes often. The Japanese call this Hada and it has many variations and its visibility is dependant to some extent on the polish. from just visible grain to quite manipulated laminar pattern.
wrought iron and bloomery steel show good hada , especially if you combine pieces to bulk up or create effect.
I have no problem with using the phrase 'Damascus" to mean patterned laminar steel, it is the modern accepted use of the word.

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that would be my point more than one type of steel. Thank you for your input it help put it into prospective. That was the same answer I gave a person he did not like my answer So I figured I would go to the experts. From what I under stand when a Japaneses sword smith selected metal he is picking higher carbon content for the out side and lower carbon content for the core. This giving it flexibility but quality to hold the edge. But all metal came from the same source. From what I see Viking swords are patterned welded as well but from the same material. I have seen many Japaneses swords while I was in Japan I could not see any pattern my self. To me after all the folding it seemed that it had become a smooth blend of all the pieces.

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In most cases, Japanese swordsmiths would polish their blades to a near-mirror finish, and only the Hamon (I hope i'm spelling that correctly) would show from the differential tempering.

At least, that's what a metallurgy grad told me.

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In most cases, Japanese swordsmiths would polish their blades to a near-mirror finish, and only the Hamon (I hope i'm spelling that correctly) would show from the differential tempering.

At least, that's what a metallurgy grad told me.


the hada shows on most blades that are forged from Tamahagane , it can be very subtle but its there.

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Note that most Japanese sword smiths don't smelt their own tamahagane. It's a specialty task just like polishing and handle making---much like sword making in medieval Europe!.

Note that you have it wrong about viking blades; shoot even centuries earlier the Celts were selecting different irons for their edges and bodies (see "The Celtic Sword", Radomir Pleiner)

"Damascus" has been used for several hundred years now to refer to both Wootz and Pattern Welded materials. For clarity it is nice to always use the sub-terms; but not to get snooty if someone uses the general term as it's use predates the "United States of America"!

(Also: japanese swordsmiths are almost never the sword polishers! Different craft, different mastery!)

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For clarity it is nice to always use the sub-terms; but not to get snooty if someone uses the general term as it's use predates the "United States of America"!


Damascus certainly isn't wrong, but the term is so shrouded in myth and misunderstanding that I would rather avoid it if possible. I do make an exception for cable damascus, though. "Cable pattern weld" seems too forced and cumbersome.

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Interesting to see how each person posting sees the terms damascus and pattern welded steel. When I am speaking with folks that are knowledgable I try and avoid the term damascus, my limited knowledge of the old process leaves me a little short on using that term. I do however use that term when others use it as I know we are likely speaking about the same thing. And even the term pattern welded leaves me a little bit out of the loop, I see pattern welded billets as a welded stack of layers that have had specific thing done to them in a predictable manner to create a pattern desireable for wot it will be used for. A stack of layers welded properly into a billet to me is a layered billet. I am not a fan of random pattern billets. There is so much prep work and forge work in a billet I see no reason for me to just take a chance on soemthing nice at the end. I want to consider handle material, size and shape of the finished piece, For me that will be a knife. I think of the big picture. Patterns, however they are created to me define pattern welded steel billets. I have done alot of work with patterns and some of the things I see posted on here are just absolutely great. I can see how most of them are created but not all and that will force me to keep at it, not to recreate someone elses work but to push my abilities.
For the new folks starting. the simple, patterns,,even the random ones are wonderful, they show you immediatly when you pull them from the etch that you have created something to be proud of. That moment is one if the best feelings I have in the shop. It is even more so when it is something I envisioned and predicted.

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Rich how about the term "piled" for simple stacked billets---from the archeological usage of early examples made that way.

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I have read, that the term "Damascus" for blades that were forged welded from layers of iron derived from the “fact” that, during the Middle Ages, Damascus, Syria was the major trade center to this type of blade. That does not mean that the blades were necessarily made in that city, but were obtained from there. The blades seemed to have been forged mainly in the surrounding areas.

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No Wootz blades and pucks were traded through Damascus. The heyday of pattern welded blades in Europe occurred before the year 1000---and before there was much traffic between the Middle East and Europe and many were made by Frankish smiths in what is now Germany.

I have often heard the urban legend that crusaders seeing wootz blades in the Middle East returned home and came up with pattern welding trying to replicate them. Unfortunately they were most popular in Europe several centuries before the first crusade...and in fact everywhere the bloomery process of making wrought iron was used, pattern welding was also "discovered" as it's a variation on how you process the bloom into usable stock.

May I commend to your attention "The Sword in Anglo-Saxon Europe"

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I have read, that the term "Damascus" for blades that were forged welded from layers of iron derived from the “fact” that, during the Middle Ages, Damascus, Syria was the major trade center to this type of blade. That does not mean that the blades were necessarily made in that city, but were obtained from there. The blades seemed to have been forged mainly in the surrounding areas.
And this is why I prefer to avoid the term "Damascus." See Thomas's response. Pattern welding/piling/layering has no connection, that I know of at any rate, with the blades of yore coming out of the Middle East. I feel as if, by referring to pattern welded steel as "Damascus," I help perpetuate the confusion.

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I had sent this as a private response, but it may muddy the waters here..so I will post the thing:

Assuming the term "damascus" mean pattern welding then two groups form.
There is pattern weld for Intent and pattern weld of Necessity.
Today it is almost exclusive to decoration and therefor for Intent.

In years past it was almost impossible to get a clean solid bit of steel large enough on its own for a sword ..so smaller bits were joined through welding.
Also added to this joining requirement was a need to refine in some way the bloom material so forging was used to drive out the silicate slags and distribute the non-silicate slags (like MgS) in such a way so they would not harm the final product. It did not take man long to use this required forging and welding to produce something beautiful.

So the answer is....much like life...no so simple.

IF you see pattern welding as two or more alloys then using a bloom, no matter how heterogeneous, will not qualify. If you see bloomery forging as an act to refine and consolidate the raw material then the act of welding is not intentional pattern development....or rather that is not the driving factor, but merely a result of the required process.

Couple this with the various composite techniques however and the game may change...san mai, go mai, kobuse etc...are these pattern welding?

I have seen bold patterns (various Hada) in the steel of Japanese swords (and tools and tsuba as well) which are absolutely from manipulating the steel in welding and not the result of anything else. I have also seen great lengths taken to hide any patterning at all with burnishing, carvings (horimono) and such.

In the end I think a case can be made for ALL blades with a pattern in the steel due to welding as "damascus" in the sense that the term seems to mean any pattern in the steel....however...the devil is in the details and the more specialized you get into this craft the more important definitions matter.
If it were up to me the term "damascus steel" would be abandoned entirely and replaced with a term that means something more specific.

Note:
The above does nothing to address the issue of crucible steels with a pattern as that is a different "crucible of fish"...er, I mean "kettle of steel".

Ric

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Sachse"s Damascus Steel" book has a beautiful sword from the year 1600 that has been etched showing the amount of patterning that exists just from making a steel billet in that time for the use. No intent at all!

I bought that book back when it only came in German just for that one picture!

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Starting with the reference provided by Thomas Powers (although I was not able to obtain the book) I have learned at lot about the history of wootz, and Damascus steel. I have not learned much about the method of manufacturing of the orginal products.

A short: Damascus was a trading center during "Bibical Times". Jerusalem, Egyptian, and other kingdoms of that area

traded and fought with damascus from time to time.

Greece (Alexander) and Rome had contact with Damascus early on. Agustus Ceasar annexed the area of Syria, and from that

time on there a great deal of trade between Rome, China and India. So much so that some elements in Rome was warning

that too much of Rome's wealth was flowing eastwards.

With Indian steel coming into Damascus BCE and the method of manufacturing being developed and improved upon for

many years or decades it is likely that the area was highest grade of worked steel of the time. The Romans seemingly took

little interest in the high grade of the inplements of agriculture and distruction from that area, due to the Romans wanting

standardized weapons for its military.

Rome was hiring "Barbarians" to supplement their army and to be a barrier along their frontiers. Some of these Barbarians

were from North-Western Europe (Celts, Goths and others have moved into the area from the north-east). Some of these

soldiers, now in the active Roman army were at times stationed throughout the Roman Empire. Some or many were likely to

have been stationed in Syria where they came in contact with local Blacksmiths. Having learned some of the process of

heating and beating folded steel they probably carried at least the idea back home. On the other hand folded Damascus type

of steel may have been locally developed in Northern Europe independent of Damascus.

Here are some articles that you may like to read.

http://habairon.org/...atz%20Wootz.pdf

http://www.tms.org/p...oeven-9809.html

http://materials.iis...itage/WOOTZ.htm

http://digitalcommon...r=1&referer=htt

http://img2.tapuz.co...1_135016317.pdf

http://www.realarmor...ord-making.html

http://met.iisc.erne...~rangu/text.pdf

http://hofstra.acade...r_Almost_2_000_Years

http://www.tf.uni-ki..._greece_an.html

One of the sites will not work so had to delete it.

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Well the celts were considered better iron workers than the romans as least as far as weaponry goes. If you are interested in this "The Celtic Sword" Radomir Pleiner has lots of metallographic information on celtic iron/steel swords. (As for crucible steel, Dr Feuerbach's thesis on "Crucible Steel in Central Asia" has quite a lot of information on the hows as it analyzed a large number of items from the manufacture of crucible steel---and as she points out not all was wootz! (things like the percentage of grog used in crucibles, etc)

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I don't know if Dr Feuerbach's book has been published yet. I read her Thesis when it first came out.

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In most cases, Japanese swordsmiths would polish their blades to a near-mirror finish, and only the Hamon (I hope i'm spelling that correctly) would show from the differential tempering.

At least, that's what a metallurgy grad told me.


MInor correction. you mis quoted the expert, its differential Hardening, as differential tempering will not make a hamon.

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