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I Forge Iron

"perfect" blade neccesities? characteristics?


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Ya, I know.. no such thing as perfect blade, I just said that to get a few more people checking out this thread and posting their info concerning my q's..

Any way, what do you guy's think goes into play for a cutting blade? I want to make one, but am having a tough time designing it. I want it fairly light, (cutting with a heavy machette is not what im going for here) with a resiliant spine, and a hard cutting edge. I cant get around thinking of a katana, but I think the Japanese were held back slightly by their culture+ beliefs surrounding the blade, and could have improved it if pushed to it.. (not saying it isn't a magnificent creation)

but ya, what are you guy's opinion on length, balance, geometry, grind (flat, beveled double edged..) thickness, steel, tempering proccess ect..

I have a good amount of 5160 bar stock, which I plan on using if possible..
yep, thanks guys!

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this has opened a can of worms that could easaly turn into dispute. (it could get really fun in here!!)
i'll give you my opinion and my experience of swords...

for a cutting sword...like a cutlass or falcata or "machete" the balencing point should be around one third from the butt. if you want it light it can't be much more than maybe 27" which is a standard length for a cutlass. using the 5160 would be ok. personally i would go with 1087 but thats jsut me. wit the 5160 for a single edged cutting sword i would do a full quench. then selective temer the spine back to...greyish. leaving the cutting edge straw. drawing the full handle to a blue. also i would stick with a flat grind but making sure not to get the cutting edge TO thin or it will roll.

for a double edged sword. you get into not only lateral geometry but also logitudinal geometry. (keeping everything straight) with a single edge sword it's ok actualy recomended to have a curv in it to help with the cutting motion. (thats why a machete blade has a gigantic curve in the tip of the blade) but with a double edged blade it's more of a sword than a slicing or cutting sword. again stick with the flat grind. the balenceing point should be right at the blade/riccaso line. the riccaso should be about twice the thickness of the handle. for a true sword i would again not go any longre than 27" alot like a gladius hispaniensis. Again i would go for the full quench and the selective temper to selectively temer a double endge sword you need to harded the whole thing then polish it some so you can see the colors run. lay the piece down on a steel table and heat up a VERY large piece of plain old steel to red hot. lay that hot iron over the ridge in the sword and eventually when enough heat has travled fro mthe hot piece to the sword you will start to see colors running from the center out to the edges. you need to do this so the the cutting edges are still straw hard. but the center of the blade is as soft as possible while still mantaining strenth.

i hope this helped
this is jsut my knowledge take it for what it is. i'm am by no definition of the word a master. there are cirtainly othres here who much better than myself.

Son Daughtry

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the question fetches up against the right tool for the job problem. While swords in the past where developed within a framework of technology, culture and warfare. Swords today are not really wielded in anger only occasionally in lunacy.

So set adrift of the cultural heritage, free to employ the breadth and width of steel technology, and without the reality of warfare, what is the perfect sword?

Think George already answered that one. :P

But seriously, what standards are to be employed, beauty? saleability? ritualized combat?

l'art pour l'art seems the most applicable, a demonstration of both beauty and master craftmanship.

And of course beauty is highly subjective, one of the most beautiful blades Ive ever seen was a beveled leaf bladed short sword lacking a guard (which seemed unnecessary given the hilt much like a Dirk)

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If you want it to cleave like a surgeon's scalpel you want a curved shamshir design, or something like a Katana. ...The steel should be high in carbon ..

And if you want it to cut well AND be light ..you have to do a clay hardening.

Mix clay, coal dust and straw ash and apply it to all but the edge ..then heat the whole body of the blade at once. ..and quench it in lukewarm water

do not temper it afterwards. .
( I have started a new thread to see if anyone knows the recipe for this . .I'm also not sure about the not tempering it part. .but I am convinced that if you quench it properly . .tempering will do more harm then good.)

let a professional sharpen it. . .and learn from him. ..
if it didn't crack after the quenching . .it probably never will.

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  • 2 months later...

I dissagree about not tempering, While one may not need very high temps, a stress buildup can break the blade, a bake at 350F won't remove much if any hardness, but it will remove much stress that builds up in the quench.

Having said that I know a few bladesmiths (Very few) that quench O1 in water, then do not temper at all, but if we were that good/lucky at this process we would not be posting questions like this in the first place. :D

And for a large blade such as a sword do we really want a RhC of 60+ anyway? play it safe and at least temper at 350F or so.

Another set of question for those that really recomend not tempering at all: Have you ever done it? more than once? have the baldes ever been used?

IMHO its asking for trouble not to releave the stresses induced by quenching in some way. But I admit that I am an arrogant bladesmith.

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  • 2 months later...

Well they say a picture is worth a thousand words so,


Pretty, light, fast, sharp, easy to change the balance. The Kopesh is a nasty piece of work. They can be hard to make well. Also don’t expect it to go toe to toe with anything heavy like a katana or a claymore. This is the kind of sword you use to counter a rapier or foil. It is a good blade where precision movements of the blade is more important than overall crushing damage. This sword is good at getting between heavy plate armour and can be used in for thrusting as well. This post is more about a reminder that other styles of blades are out there and are being overlooked.

Now to the concept of a good cutting sword with two edges I like to look to the early bronze age swords found in the roman empire.


This sword has a leaf shape and is wider two thirds up the blade than anywhere else. This edge design facilitates the user deflecting a heavier blade along the edge and away from the defender. It is also a great in close slasher. Due to the width of the blade near the tip the user cant pierce with it as well as some blades, but that is not what this blade is about. I perfer more of a bulge than is displayed in the picture and the more you exaggerate the bulge the better the blade gets at cutting. Of course there is such a thing as too much. Personally I would not want to see more than a 3:1 ratio between narowest (near the hilt),and widest (near the tip but not at it), part of the blade. And of course rivited full tang on both.

As for the forging details, I am still learning myself sorry.:rolleyes:

Edited by KnarfleTheGarthock
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