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Ne0spartan

The Bleeding Edge

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Okay I made a bad pun with the title so sue me :P


 

What I want to look at here is information about modern technology and techniques that can be applied to sword smithing. This is just a theoretical idea thread not a "I am going to go make it now" thread so don't get agitated and attack me okay. I just want to tickle people's creativity and have a little fun, if we can actually come up with a usable concept then its a bonus. I though about posting this somewhere else on the forums but this was still the best to do so in.


 

The first idea I want to look at is...
 

Making a "Modern" metal blade.

 

Okay so what do I mean about making a "Modern" metal blade. Well I mean a blade that takes advantage of the wonderful modern alloys that have been developed.

 

The meat and bones of my idea though revolves around a concept found in the best blades, different parts. I am going to use the very basic example (basic in that most people who have exposure to swords should/might know this) of the Japanese Katana as a starting point, specifically the Honsanmai assembly method.

 

 

Assembly structure

With the Honsanmai  assembly method you have a hard steel edge, a soft steel for the core, and medium steel for the skin.

Please view the diagram to see the specific assemble structure...

Katana_brique.png

 

So instead of just using steels that have a varied content of carbon I was wondering about using a larger variety of steel alloys or not using steel altogether. Using a metal that holds a good edge in place of the edge steel, using a more malleable metal in place of the skin steel, using a metal that has good flex in place of the core steel, etc... Is this a understandable concept?

 

A starting concept

So to start things off the design that has been floating around in my head would be to have a hard yet durable alloy for the edge metal, I am still open to a carbon steel for this as it is the best steel for holding an edge I personally know. And then I was thinking of using maraging steel for the core and a mangalloy steel for the skin steel.

 

Any thoughts on these materials or other materials that might be better?

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Trying to do better than a japanese sword blade is a very easy job.
Any modern steel correctly heat treated preferably with a differential temper or mid range temper. L6, 5160 etc.
Any of these steels will make a thinner lighter stronger blade than a traditional Japanese one.

The japanese sword blade is an amazing solution for the specifec problems faced by japanese smiths and their materials. Taken out of this context I do not think they stand up to their contempory european blades and definatly not a modern one.
That a blade that will both crack and bend at the same time is held up as an ultimate sword has always confused me.
They are beautiful and complex and have a continued line of makers into the modern world and for this they are very usefull.Especialy like me if you are interested in european blades form the 7 th to 10 century which show many similarities in their complex virtuosity.

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WHAT HE SAID! People have a very skewed viewpoint on Japanese weapons; may I commend to your attention the role of ashi and what it indicates about the blades that make use of it.

Also look into differential heat treating and tempering to get different properties at different locations using a single steel.

Also "best blades" is a meaningless concept with out the details on best blades for *WHAT*. What may be an excellent blade for some activities can be a terrible one for others. For example: posit a rank of sword and shield, standing side by side and fighting another rank of the same---the Katana doesn't shine in that usage!

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@Both: Like I have said the Katana was only an example of a sword with multiple parts. The Chinese have been doing the same thing for at least 3 thousand years, starting with their double edged bronze swords which would have a core/edge bronze of higher tin content sandwiched between two layers of bronze with a lower tin content (they were also the first to use chromium to treat a metal).

 

@Basher: I understand that European blades have been thrown under the bus in regards to modern preference for the Katana. And from what I have studied a well made European Blade from the late 1500's would easily been as good as quality as well made Katana. Also the reason for the flex is to prevent the cracking in the first place; make it bend in like a reed in the strong wind instead of shatter like a tall tree (or something along those lines).

 

@ThomasPowers: The term best blades refers to the blades that were made the best and not just munitions blades; it has nothing to do with what type or specific way they were used. I understand that different styles/types of blades are better at different tasks; a straight blade is better than a saber for thrusting but the saber is better at slashing, a short thrusting blade is better in a shield wall then a long cutting blade but the long cutting blade is better for one on one fighting, and the list goes on and on. There is no perfect fits all situations blade but that is not what I was trying to do here.

 

-------

 

All in all I would say that this is getting off to a good start (at least no one is outright attacking me :P) and you both have given very good points without making me feel stupid :D . So lets again look at my idea but focus down some more specifically on the style of blade being made.

 

So a straight singled edged (except for 3 inches near the tip which is sharpened for thrusting) backsword that has a blade under three feet with a handle that can be used with both hands if necessary. It would have a hard yet durable alloy for the edge metal (I am still open to a carbon steel for this as it is the best steel for holding an edge I personally know). And then I was thinking of using maraging steel for the core and a mangalloy steel for the skin steel.

 

Remember the goal is to push the sword tech to the bleeding edge (similar to the cutting edge but even more advanced).

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you still have missed the point, First off, by definition: ALL steel is carbon steel, Second: laminates are only as good as the smith welding them. Third: mono steel can beat them all if properly made. Fouth: you worry about running a marathon before learning to walk, this is ambitious to the point of being silly.   If you had worked on any blades for a while,   you would understand most of this already.   Fifth: read this over again, to allow it to sink in.

 

There ya have been rebuked now :)

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I spent a year once working with a professional swordmaker who's Father was a research Metallurgist; he used high alloy monosteels with high tech heat treating equipment to get the best from the alloys.

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Ne0spartan, if you're really interested in Japanese style bladesmithing, Murray Carter hosts classes of all types from his forge, and is the 17th generation Yoshimoto Master Bladesmith.  He's also an American Bladesmith Society Master Smith. 

 

I'm not trying to take anything from anyone here (there's some amazingly knowledgeable and helpful smiths on this site), but if you really want to take it to the "bleeding edge", and you're gonna have to shell out some big bucks on equipment and training, and get way more dedicated than prodding some old curmudgeons on the interwebs.  That being said... Murray's probably the guy you want to get up with.  

 

Unless your pockets are as deep as an art knife collector's, and your expertise as expansive as a mastersmith's ... it's probably best to keep it simple.  Not trying to put you, nor your enthusiasm down bud, I'm just saying the nuances of the finer points of heat treating O1 tool steel are more than most want to tackle, or really have the capability to do.  The highest quality steel isn't worth any more in the scrap bin than 5160.  Just sayin.

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I spent a year once working with a professional swordmaker who's Father was a research Metallurgist; he used high alloy monosteels with high tech heat treating equipment to get the best from the alloys.

 

I understand about heat treating. My father worked at a steel mill as a metallurgist and my grandfather worked as a blacksmith at the same steel mill repair shop, he eventually became the head blacksmith there (unfortunately that mill has been mostly shutdown). Working metal seems to be in my blood which is why I am here. That we can get so much just from changing the temperature that a metal is exposed to in one area is astounding and should not be looked down upon. Can you go into more details about the methods used?

 

@Everyone: Remember steel is just a starting place before we get into more exotic materials; don't just focus on it but if you have constructive imput then please post it.

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Ne0spartan, if you're really interested in Japanese style bladesmithing, Murray Carter hosts classes of all types from his forge, and is the 17th generation Yoshimoto Master Bladesmith.  He's also an American Bladesmith Society Master Smith. 

 

I'm not trying to take anything from anyone here (there's some amazingly knowledgeable and helpful smiths on this site), but if you really want to take it to the "bleeding edge", and you're gonna have to shell out some big bucks on equipment and training, and get way more dedicated than prodding some old curmudgeons on the interwebs.  That being said... Murray's probably the guy you want to get up with.  

 

Unless your pockets are as deep as an art knife collector's, and your expertise as expansive as a mastersmith's ... it's probably best to keep it simple.  Not trying to put you, nor your enthusiasm down bud, I'm just saying the nuances of the finer points of heat treating O1 tool steel are more than most want to tackle, or really have the capability to do.  The highest quality steel isn't worth any more in the scrap bin than 5160.  Just sayin.

 

As I have stated before the Katana was just an easy example to start the discussion not the end point. Though the information about the sword smith is helpful and I will look at . 

 

@Everyone: This is just a place to throw ideas around and not even a planning stage. I put forth a hypothetical sword design that has been floating around my head in order to get everyone's creative brain juices flowing. I am not going to go out and try to make this sword as like Kearnach said I would need deep pockets and I will admit  I don't have those (yet ;) ). Plus I want to just build up to other ideas and concepts that are truly bleeding edge but this discussion so far hasn't moved enough forward for that.

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........................................................................................................

Steel Heat Treatment Handbook (Steel Heat Treatment Handbook, Second Edition) by George E. Totten and Maurice A.H. Howes (Jan 15, 1997)  $20.00 ........................................................................................

Heat Treater's Guide: Practices and Procedures for Irons and Steels by Harry Chandler (Dec 1, 1995)

.

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The Complete Bladesmith: Forging Your Way To Perfection [Paperback] Jim Hrisoulas (Author)

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Newbees wanting to make swords is a sore topic on this forum:

http://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/23664-words-of-caution-for-budding-swordsmiths/?hl=%2Bmagic+%2Bsword

 

 

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The methods were using a computerized, ramping, inert atmosphere electric furnace custom built for swordmaking---it had a vertical bore so swords could be suspended vertically and so not sag when soaking at temps.

Note that one of the "tricks" of heat treating blades is that the *books* and *charts* are based on 1"sq cross sections, blades tend to be *MUCH* smaller in cross section and so you have to take that in account when planning the process.

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The methods were using a computerized, ramping, inert atmosphere electric furnace custom built for swordmaking---it had a vertical bore so swords could be suspended vertically and so not sag when soaking at temps.

Note that one of the "tricks" of heat treating blades is that the *books* and *charts* are based on 1"sq cross sections, blades tend to be *MUCH* smaller in cross section and so you have to take that in account when planning the process.

 

Interesting, I really like this concept. So this special forge was used for the final heat treating or the entire process of making the swords?

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Ne0spartan, if you're really interested in Japanese style bladesmithing, Murray Carter hosts classes of all types from his forge, and is the 17th generation Yoshimoto Master Bladesmith.  He's also an American Bladesmith Society Master Smith. 

 

I'm not trying to take anything from anyone here (there's some amazingly knowledgeable and helpful smiths on this site), but if you really want to take it to the "bleeding edge", and you're gonna have to shell out some big bucks on equipment and training, and get way more dedicated than prodding some old curmudgeons on the interwebs.  That being said... Murray's probably the guy you want to get up with.  

 

Unless your pockets are as deep as an art knife collector's, and your expertise as expansive as a mastersmith's ... it's probably best to keep it simple.  Not trying to put you, nor your enthusiasm down bud, I'm just saying the nuances of the finer points of heat treating O1 tool steel are more than most want to tackle, or really have the capability to do.  The highest quality steel isn't worth any more in the scrap bin than 5160.  Just sayin.

How does a kitchen knife, what Murray is trained to make, relate to a sword?

If Murray is a licensed Japanese sword-maker it would be news to me.

 

Ric

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seem its more over stated ABS hype, they do have a few very good smiths, sadly most members there think they are the only ones able to do it, or so I have been told by a few members,  one reason I refuse to join them. I suggest again that you read, the answers  to your questions are here at IFI, if you take the time to read them

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Neo,

Other than a modern material sword....what is it you are after?

Many folk wish to combine materials...be they titanium,coppers,nitrided steel,diamond or plasma coatings to blades, but most of this is done to add another hook to marketing and has nothing to do with performance.

If you see a performance issue which needs a solution then we may be able to point you in a direction.

 

If I could have anything work in sword form I guess I'd want a high KW hand held laser or a light saber..never needs sharpening,will not bend or break and the beam at least would not rust.

 

As to available steels...Howard Clark's use of L6 or his 1086modified blades are rather hard to beat. In addition to spending several decades honing his work in forging, geometry and heat treatment he also has a no-nonsense attitude. 

 

Ric

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@Richard: For now I have been trying to keep the discussion in what many would consider the 'real world'  but your mentioning of beam based blades circumvents that. Remember this is just for fun and to challenge our creativity and  knowledge.

 

Okay how does this sound for a purely hypothetical challenge. Creation of a "heat" blade. Essentially a metal blade that is heated to high temperatures to assist in its cutting. Metal would need to be a alloy which will retain its qualities of sharpness and resilience at higher temperature.The blade would be heated either with electricity or though a chemical process. Application: Make sword that can cut through another sword like butter. Reason for Creation: Because it would be a challenge. Your thoughts on how to do it?

 

@ThomasPowers: I still want to hear more about this special forge :)

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I'm sure he will correct me if I'm wrong, Ne0spartan, but I don't think Thomas is referring to a vertical forge (though they do exist). I think he means a temp-controlled heat treating kiln or furnace with a vertical chamber to prevent sag (warp).

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How does a kitchen knife, what Murray is trained to make, relate to a sword?

If Murray is a licensed Japanese sword-maker it would be news to me.

 

Ric

 

 


I'm sorry if I didn't expound enough on my statement... I don't know the limits of Mr. Carter's training or expertise.  I'm unaware of any licensing he might or might not have, I was merely suggesting him as a "traditionally trained Japanese bladesmith", and should have added the caveat that he "would be a step in the right direction."  

 

I have a habit of typing in spurts and derailing my train of thought, dropping cars that turn out to be important, so to speak.  For that I apologize.

 

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I'm sure he will correct me if I'm wrong, Ne0spartan, but I don't think Thomas is referring to a vertical forge (though they do exist). I think he means a temp-controlled heat treating kiln or furnace with a vertical chamber to prevent sag (warp).

 

Ah! That makes more sense. Can you tell me more about vertical forges?

 

@Thomas: So the nearly finished sword is placed into this kiln/furnace for final heat treating, with this special furnace being able to project different temperatures at different parts of the blade?

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Again, I may be wrong as I've never seen/worked with one in person, but a vertical forge would be set up similar to a normal gas forge (anyone ever try coal?) except that the chamber is oriented vertical with burners through the side. I would assume the reason being that long pieces of hot iron tend to bend under their own weight as you remove them from the fire in the normal horizontal orientation?

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I believe he's talking about a heat treat oven, not really a 'forge'. Usually electric with electronic temperature control for heat treating accurately which also allows for ramp up control (time taken for it to get to the desired temperature) and soak time. These are used for normalising,annealing, hardening and sometimes tempering.

Something like this:
http://www.britishblades.com/forums/showthread.php?99898-Vertical-heat-treat-oven

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Neo,

Other than a modern material sword....what is it you are after?

Many folk wish to combine materials...be they titanium,coppers,nitrided steel,diamond or plasma coatings to blades, but most of this is done to add another hook to marketing and has nothing to do with performance.

If you see a performance issue which needs a solution then we may be able to point you in a direction.

 

If I could have anything work in sword form I guess I'd want a high KW hand held laser or a light saber..never needs sharpening,will not bend or break and the beam at least would not rust.

 

As to available steels...Howard Clark's use of L6 or his 1086modified blades are rather hard to beat. In addition to spending several decades honing his work in forging, geometry and heat treatment he also has a no-nonsense attitude. 

 

Ric

 

Murry Carter is the 17th generation Yoshimoto master Swordsmith, he spent almost 2 decades in japan learning formal swordsmithing under a master swordsmith. The ABS Master certification came afterwards if I'm not mistaken.

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Honestly neospartan. You are talking out of your xxxxxxx if I may be frank. You are asking artisans and master smiths questions you could easily find yourself! You need to read and learn. Not debate about something you know nothing of with smiths that will more than likely accomplish more in the craft than you and I could dream about! When you actually tried to correct Thomas, Basher, and Ric I was literally offended! The audacity. Have you seen these gentalmens work? Do you think they do not know what they are talking about? I'm sorry if I'm being to harsh, but please read and learn all that you can before asking such questions.

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