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#380019 - 01/28/08 07:26 AM Surgical Stainless Steel Katana??
drgndrew Offline
< a god, > a man.
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/09/05
Posts: 599
Loc: Toowoomba, Qld, Australia
G'day Fellow lovers of 4 foot razor blades.

I was wondering your opinion on AISI 420J2 surgical stainless steel Katana, they have a full Nakago (tang), and are live blade. They have cheap fittings (also AISI 420J2 sss). Apparently they are reasonable balanced as well

I know these aren't going to compare to a folded blade but as a all rounder involving soft cutting and forms work, kind of an every day blade, Bare in mind they are a cheap blade and thats what I'm looking for something that wont give me heart trauma if the blade gets scratched ( you know what I mean),

I thought they may be ok. What is your thoughts.
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#380020 - 01/28/08 08:36 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: drgndrew]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...
Primarily, this should be in the weapons forum. After a few days of observation, I found this was for sword practices (kendo and the like)

I'm not to sure on katana schematics, but I do know this.
Stainless steel, although low maintenence. Is signifigantly more prone to shatter. The result of any hard hit, defence or other, may be akin to that of a fragmentation Grenade.

An everyday blade? We live in a land of guns and people shooting with them,
important call of duty quote: "try to look unimportant, they may be low on ammo"
Carrying around a weapon indicates to them, that you have either something to protect, or a problem defending yourself without a weapon. They will then target you.

As for balance, Isn't that relative to your forearm reach?
I'm not quite sure, It's not my area.
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#380021 - 01/28/08 10:02 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Vennificus]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Cheap junk which is only good good for hanging on the wall and looking gaudy? I think that about covers it.

Oh and real katana do not have "full nakago". The nakago is typically around 75% or so of the length of the tsuka.

You might want to go to google and look up Richard Stein's Japanese Sword Index and spend some time readingup.

You should also checkout the Cheap Steel sucks video at the top of this forum, and the following links:
http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?threadid=43606&highlight=second+mekugi

http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=53083


Edited by Charles Mahan (01/28/08 10:10 AM)
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#380022 - 01/28/08 10:53 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Charles Mahan]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...
that would be the tang and grip?
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#380023 - 01/28/08 10:58 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: drgndrew]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5811
Loc: USA
drg

Terms like "full tang" and the like get tossed around alot---but mean pretty much nothing.
"Full tang" is a essentially a MARKETING term---a "buzz word" if you will.

Sure a sword needs a "full tang" to be safe/effective--but you kinda need more information for that term to actually be of any value.

If the fittings are "cheap" and the blade is "cheap"--as you say above---then I would not trust it.

When I hear the word "cheap" I DON'T think "cost effective" or "inexpensive but accpetable."

If your dealing with sharp steel then the blade getting "scratched" is way down on my list of worries.

BTW how do you you know its "surgical stainless steel?"--is the comapny reputable that is making the claim?

Are they using the word "surgeicial" because it "sounds" cool or are they claiming an advantage for such a steel???

IMO if the blade is sharp---and yur going to be using it for cutting or put it thu the hard stress of practice (even drawing and cutting at "air" with speed puts the blade under some pretty serious forces) then you need to get the best blade you can afford.

Going "cheap" is seldom a good idea with anything-----esp when it comes to sharp metal.

If you still decide to get a "cheap" cutting blade---please, please, pretty please don't use around other people.
Its one thing to personally risk getting cut up if the blade breaks, the tang snaps or the pegs break----but OTHER people should not have to bear the risk of your choices.

Just a suggestion.


Edited by cxt (01/28/08 11:07 AM)
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#380024 - 01/28/08 01:23 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Vennificus]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Quote:

that would be the tang and grip?



http://www.geocities.com/alchemyst/glossary.htm
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#380025 - 01/28/08 11:49 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Charles Mahan]
drgndrew Offline
< a god, > a man.
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/09/05
Posts: 599
Loc: Toowoomba, Qld, Australia
Thanks for the reply guys, my thoughts are much along those lines as well.

The problem is I won't be in a position to buy a decent quality blade for at least another 3 years. my wife and I have both returned to uni (we're in our 30s)

I owned a beautifully balanced Iaido katana back in the early nineties, my instructor borrowed it for a demonstration and never got it back to me before he went into hiding (long story that sounds more exciting then it really was)

Anyway I was thinking of getting a cheap but usable blade to reacquaint myself with before investing in my my new soul.

I forgot to mention that they come with a life time warranty, which covered the cutting I was limiting my self to.

p.s. using the AISI 420J2 is a guarantee of surgical Stainless Steel, to use it with out actually having that steel is illegal in Aust. and if found to be not AISI 420J2 the person is liable to heavy fines and the usual. false advertising penalties.
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www.ToowoombaSelfDefence.websyte.com.au
Bushi Dojos Self Protection
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#380026 - 01/29/08 12:07 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: drgndrew]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
We're not suggesting that it isn't 420 stainless. We're saying that 420 stainless is not suitable for making swords. Stainless steel is simply too brittle. It can break all to easily and actually runs the risk of shattering.

You'd be better off with an iaito. They can be had nearly as cheaply and are much better suited to the rigors of training.
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#380027 - 01/29/08 02:34 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Charles Mahan]
drgndrew Offline
< a god, > a man.
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/09/05
Posts: 599
Loc: Toowoomba, Qld, Australia
that sounds reasonable

Thanks for the advice Charles (and everyone else). Based on what has been said, I think I'll wait till I can get a better quality blade.

on a related note could you guys suggest a few examples (link or name) of a decent quality but relatively low priced Katana. Ideally I would like to be able to soft cut occasionally with it, so would prefer a live blade, and would also like it to have a decent balance for Iai. An all-rounder till I can afford to buy specialised blades in a few years.

It's been a long time since I've look at what's available out there, any links and/or suggestions would be much appreciated.

ps if this type of question has been answ2ered before just direct me to the thread.

Thankyou .


Edited by drgndrew (01/29/08 02:36 AM)
_________________________
Sumo Pacis (Choose Peace)

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Drew Guest
www.ToowoombaSelfDefence.websyte.com.au
Bushi Dojos Self Protection
Toowoomba Self Defence

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#380028 - 01/29/08 09:48 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: drgndrew]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Quote:

on a related note could you guys suggest a few examples (link or name) of a decent quality but relatively low priced Katana.




I don't think I could bring myself to recommend any blades that you would consider low priced. The cheapest live blade allowed in the dojo I train at is in the $700 US range. Personally I wouldn't purchase one, but they do seem reasonably safe and suitable for regular Iai practice.
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#380029 - 01/29/08 09:56 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Charles Mahan]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...
Make one yourself after several years of a metalwork class
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#380030 - 01/29/08 11:31 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Vennificus]
pgsmith Offline
Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 275
Loc: Texas
Quote:

Make one yourself after several years of a metalwork class



Sorry, but that is just a ridiculous thing to say. You've obviously got no knowledge or concept of how Japanese swords are made. If you have nothing worthwhile to contribute, please just read other people's posts!
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#380031 - 01/29/08 01:50 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: pgsmith]
fatguy Offline
Member

Registered: 12/19/05
Posts: 146
Quote:

Sorry, but that is just a ridiculous thing to say. You've obviously got no knowledge or concept of how Japanese swords are made. If you have nothing worthwhile to contribute, please just read other people's posts!




well in his defense I do like that Call of Duty quote he gave.. but ya Im confident that making a katana is quite a bit more difficult than a few years in a general metalworking class...
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#380032 - 01/29/08 02:48 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: fatguy]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...
I say this because It would seem folly to put your trust in anything you haven't made yourself. Any Sword of any kind. If you do not know the results of endless painstaking days, folding and hammering, melting and molding firsthand, you have no idea how much of a defense that sword will give you.

I do not know the exact procedures, to making a japanese katana, especially not in traditional, but even though I don't have professional training, Me and my friend fight with sticks. We know that if we choose the wrong type of tree, even if we use planks of lumber, we know that the wrong choice means one of us is going to be recovering from a hard knock to the head for a few weeks (let's face it, we're not Miyamoto Musashi, we aren't trying to kill and we don't have ironwood. we're not gonna do that much damage)

Would you rather put your life behind a blade you made yourself or someone elses?
Sure you don't have to work to get the blade, but what's in the mystery box? How many times was the steel folded and hammered? How long was carbon migration aloud? How many blocks can you make before you end up like the guy in the cheap steel video? That is where my point is. Unless You know what the peice is capable of, That katana you may have paid a thousand for may just as well have been the peice of art you could've got for $30

(back to the tree part, We know that those Fir trees can't stand up to full blown sparring, we've tried, we've paid the price. We just do it for a laugh, not as serious sword training. And don't use lumber. It's not much better.)

P.S. Edit:
My life isn't worth much, I'm content with pre-packaged kraft dinner, and I'm not too worried about an assasination attempt


Edited by Vennificus (01/29/08 02:50 PM)
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#380033 - 01/29/08 03:04 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Vennificus]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5811
Loc: USA
Venn

Maybe, there are few if any absolutes in life.

I am however pretty sure that spending $1800 on a blade from a reputable dealer that has been in business for some time is going to get me a better blade than a "$30" one purchesed from a lesser known source.

That may not ALWAYS be the case---but that would be the way to bet.

We are not really talking absolutes---were talking about the reality of chance in an imperfect world.

And on durable goods--ESP those that involve some risk of serious injury--you skip the cheap stuff and buy the best you can afford.

I rock climb as a hobby---I had a guy ask me if buying the "expensive" rope was "really worth it???"

I kinda figured that his life etc was worth the extra price.

Not an exact match in terms of analogy of course--but its ballpark.
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#380034 - 01/29/08 03:18 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Vennificus]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Quote:

I say this because It would seem folly to put your trust in anything you haven't made yourself.




It seems like folly to put my trust in any sword which I made myself. I also do not know the exact procedures for making a servicable blade, but I do know I don't intend to spend the next 20 or so years learning the basics just so I can continue my training.

Quote:

Would you rather put your life behind a blade you made yourself or someone elses?




Someone elses, any day of the week. In fact, I risk serious injury everytime I train with a live blade no matter who made it. My shinken was made by a very reputable smith in China. My particular sword came from a reputable importer and was recommended by two instructors within my style, including my own sensei. It ran me $1800.

Would you apply your logic to your car? You are at far greater risk of dying in a car accident than in a sword fight. Do you insist on building your own car? After all how can you know it was built correctly with good parts? Would you risk your life in a car that you built? How about a plane that you built?


Edited by Charles Mahan (01/29/08 03:21 PM)
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#380035 - 01/29/08 03:19 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: cxt]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...
True, although I was referring to the lack of knowledge element. It is likely that if they are able to place their prices high then they are a considerable choice. But again, you don't know how cheap it is until you are lacking an arm and short a K.

There aren't too many famous dealers anymore, I mean, people don't place their life on the sword like they used to, opting for a faster alternative that gives them a better chance to run away.

On another note, one would be hard pressed to make High quality rock climbing equipment by hand. It can be done sure. Hell If you have the time, why not use spiders like silkworms. But swords have been made in small enclosed spaces by hand scince...they began making them really... the alternative being outside.

And on another note (again), Does anyone have any specs on high-end ceramic blades? They are supposedly stronger and more resistant than steel. Maybe you should try one of those?
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#380036 - 01/29/08 03:26 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Vennificus]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
There are plenty of famous swordsmiths in Japan. Not so many as any of us would like I'm sure, but they are hardly rare. There are now multiple smithies in China that are producing some very high quality products, and a gazillion churning out cheap dangerous junk. The trick is discerning which is which, and that knowledge can be had from a reputable instructor.

I am not aware of any ceramic blades in sword lengths. While ceramics can be stronger than steel, I believe you will find that it is too brittle to sustain the kind of stress that swords are expected to survive.
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#380037 - 01/29/08 03:45 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Vennificus]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...
Touché
In the case of a car, there are more security certifications, and alot more security features.
However to relate to a slightly different mechanization, My grandfather's old fridge was put together by hand, true it was bought, but the fact that it is about 50 years old and still functioning perfectly, whereas other such things have a life expectancy of what? 5 years? Common Factory work is often done by robots, and you will often hear that things made by hand were much more reliable.
yet again, my argument is weak. Your point.
Another angle from my view is that it is not so much how you trust a blade, It is how you trust it's maker. Out of necessity, would you make the best work you possibly could, or would you say, "6 months I have worked on this sword, It is done enough"
We have to consider that Drg seems to be hinting at self defense, entirely likely putting his life on the line.
If he did take the time to learn, then not only would he be able to repair, reforge, and fit his own sword. He would know what work had been done and what that work was capable of.

Making your own is only an option. All options have equal considerable points, He must make the choice on what risks there are.

(And I used to have a friend who's dad built planes for arctic use in their garage. Considering that fact I probably could place confidence in a plane I built. Or If for example I knew how to build a car, then yes I would build one, as it happens not only do I not know how, I also prefer biking or walking)
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#380038 - 01/29/08 03:46 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Vennificus]
pgsmith Offline
Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 275
Loc: Texas
Quote:

well in his defense I do like that Call of Duty quote he gave.. but ya Im confident that making a katana is quite a bit more difficult than a few years in a general metalworking class...



Yeah, I was in a pretty bitchy mood (happens alot!). However, I have very little tolerance for kids that try to get on the internet and act like they have knowledge when they don't. "Internet experts" are a particularly sore spot with me. It's not the fact that they are an irritant (although that's true), it is the fact that many people that are truly trying to learn something end up with really skewed ideas from listening to these people.
Quote:

I say this because It would seem folly to put your trust in anything you haven't made yourself.



Vennificus,
You sound like a pretty good kid, but you would be much better off asking questions and reading other's answers rather than trying to give out advice yourself. If you follow your own advice from this statement, you'll never drive a car, since I doubt you'll make your own.
Quote:

Any Sword of any kind. If you do not know the results of endless painstaking days, folding and hammering, melting and molding firsthand, you have no idea how much of a defense that sword will give you.



I've got an excellent idea of what it takes to make a sword. I've watched them being made, and talked with various craftsmen involved in making the parts. I've used both antique and modern made Japanese swords in my practice. I've also used Japanese style swords made by various companies from China, Thailand, the Phillipines, and by several makers in the U.S. I know a little bit first-hand about what makes a decent sword.

First, it doesn't take endless days of folding and hammering to make a sword. Folding is not necessary when using modern steel, and it only takes a day to pound out a sword. Second, I don't think I will ever have to depend on a sword to defend myself. Third, despite the fact that I know pretty much what all is involved, I wouldn't trust myself to be able to make a decent sword. I would much rather trust the fellow that's put decades of his life into learning how to properly make a sword.

Just for general info, here's an interesting "article in progress" from anvilfire, a really informative blacksmithing site. Good information about what's involved in making swords ... http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/swords_faq_index.htm.
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#380039 - 01/29/08 04:00 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: pgsmith]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...
Again, Touché.
I'm just presenting an opinion.


That's a really good site. (suspiciously good. (Yeah that should be in the "stop read this" thread at the begining of any weapons forum.) I feel I owe you an apology.)
If I were to make a sword, I wouldn't have any Idea what to do with it. I accept swords as art. I would have no use for them, so I would not actually make one. Instead I draw them.
I could draw you one if you like. It's what I do, It's a hobby.

I'm sorry I was annoying and will hang back and read more posts from you guys more.

(I realized only a few days ago that the weapons forum was for all weapons, not only oriental as it's title suggests)
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#380040 - 01/29/08 07:37 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Vennificus]
drgndrew Offline
< a god, > a man.
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/09/05
Posts: 599
Loc: Toowoomba, Qld, Australia
Quote:


We have to consider that Drg seems to be hinting at self defense, entirely likely putting his life on the line.





No dude, I'm a RBSD instructor ........ i don't believe in carrying weapons for self defence ( it is illegal in oz to carry any item for the purpose of Self defence anyway), i much prefer to improvise weapons if needed. even in a home invasion situation it would be unlikely that I waste time "getting" my katana. that only allows then further in the door, and closer to my family, I'll be on them at the door step and burying my fingers two knuckles deep into there eyes whilst tearing parts of their face off and crushing their wind pipe. I'll probably also be dropping knees and other strikes in aswell. hell knows no fury as family threatened

My sword work is purely personal, an attempt to perfect myself through a 4 foot razor blade, it's personal, the cutting would be tameshigiri with soft targets.
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Sumo Pacis (Choose Peace)

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Drew Guest
www.ToowoombaSelfDefence.websyte.com.au
Bushi Dojos Self Protection
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#380041 - 01/31/08 05:58 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: drgndrew]
Hapkid0ist Offline
Member

Registered: 09/20/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Hollyhood, Ca.
Here is what I got on steel..
Metallurgical Analysis - Grades of Steel

By WarAngel, with special thanks to Motoyasu and Bob Engnath
At last, here is a guide to what steel is good and what is bad, and the inherent strengths and weaknesses and properties of each! I've hunted high and low for this information, knowing nothing about different grades of steel that would make sense in a swords context. And now, here you have it!

Caution on Marketing Language
Please be careful when shopping with sword smiths. Some use anything from magic and mysticism to all kinds of marketing hype. We've heard every manner of hogwash under the sun.
Some claim they use a particular tool steel because it's used to cut through other steels. Sounds great when you're marketing swords. Others say, "we use spring steel; our steel comes from Mercedes truck springs. If it's good for a two-ton truck, it's good for a sword." Technically this is true. But rather than get brand new 5160, some third world countries actually get them tank springs and try to forge them. Improper heat treatment results in the "memory" of the original shape being retained in the steel, which can further result in microcrystaline fractures. What this means to you is this: research the totality of that smith's smithing process, or you will pay dearly. One smith sells his "live warblades" for $6,000. Word has it that some customers find they crack easily!
And finally, who could resist web pages that have all kinds of metallurgical baloney such as "secret steel" or "steel of the Knights Templar" or "our blades function as one crystal" and "edge packing of the edges" and the occurence of an "electromagnetic hum" that can be "felt" - the appearance of "magic."
Twentieth century metallugy is a science. Most non-swordsmiths buy into anything on a website. A lot of it is inaccurate and misleading.
There is no such thing as an indestructable sword or indestructable sword steel. Even those websites that claim secret recipies and magical properties are reported to us whereupon customers claim anything from cracked blades to foul tempered business owners!

Grades of Steel
Traditional/Original Japanese Steel - Always the best, this contains iron, carbon, silicon and many various trace elements. Approx. 0.6-0.7% carbon. One modern smelter in Japan that was used during World War II provides steel of the following composition: 0.04% molybdenum, 0.05% tungsten, 0.02% titanium, 1.54% copper, 0.11% manganese, and a few other traces, a varying amount of silicon (due to the sand - amount depends on sand/ore ratio in a particular load), between 0.1% and 3% carbon and the balance being iron. The presence of silicon increases structural strength as well as improving flexibility characteristics.
AISI/American 1050/10xx - A good choice! While not identical to medieval Japanese steel, this plain carbon steel is the closest we have today. AISI 10xx steel contains iron, manganese and carbon, thus differing slightly from traditional steel. AISI 1065 maybe closer in carbon content to Traditional than 1050, but 1050 is tougher steel, and compensates somewhat for the lack of silicon in the steel (silicon improves strength and flexibilty). The xx in 10xx indicates the percentage of carbon, where 1050 has .50% carbon, and 1070 has .70% carbon, etc. The higher the carbon content, the harder the steel. The lower the carbon content, the more tough the steel is. Too hard, and the blade can shatter upon impact. Too soft, and it can easily be cut through. Many ask, "Which is the best for swords?" However, it's all in the heat-treating. But generally, you want a low-alloy steel for your sword. The biggest difference between 10xx and traditional Japanese steel tamahagane is the presence of manganese in 10xx but also the lack of silicon.
AISI/American 5160 - a low Chromium (0.7%) alloy tool steel, it also contains 0.2% silicon, and is considered widely to be a superior steel for swords in general, particularly European style swords, because it is so tough. Although this steel contains chromium, there is not enough to make it stainless (More than 13% is required to make steel "stainless". 440C contains 16-18% chromium) or to affect the strength of the steel. This steel has a slightly richer alloy mix than the AISI 10xx series. Some Malaysian manufacturers use this steel, but do a poor job with heat-treatment so the resulting blade is inferior. However, this inferiority is the fault of the sword-maker and not the steel itself! The steel's chromium content is enough to make it extremely difficult to create a hamon (temper line). Also, 5160 is a bit more corrosion resistant than 10xx when it comes to fingerprint oils' acidity. You could touch it without fear of instant rusting, but clean your sword still before resheathing it.
A2 Tool Steel - The "A" of "A2" means "Air Hardening" which means it can be cooled with an air blast ("slow cooling") rather than being quenched in water or oil ("fast cooling") A2 is a chromium tool steel, rated for high toughness and in a knife, very good edge holding potential. The chromium content is not enough to make the steel "stainless" or to weaken the grain boundaries significantly (like 420 and 440 Stainless). Despite its excellent properties, for use in a Japanese style blade, it cannot be clay treated (for differential hardening) in the traditional manner - which gives the katana its superiority, as traditional blades are fast cooled instead, and clay does not work to prevent hardening of the blade's back in cooling A2. Because of this, you generally cannot create a hamon (temper line) with A2. Phill Hartsfield however, uses A2 and is the only smith in the world able to create a temper on this steel with a "secret" process (some have observed from personal experimentation that running an oxy-acetaline torch does the job, but this really compromises the toughness of the edge due to this air-hardening steel's uneven hardening). In short, A2 will make a good sword steel. Swordmaker Tom Maringer uses D2 in his fantasy and Japanese-style swords. We have received reports of various A2 swordblades that have been returned to some smiths, suffering cracks. A lower-alloy high carbon steel may perform better. Generally, the marketing pitch on A2 swords is that "it's a tool steel that cuts through other steels, so it's good for a sword."
D2 Tool Steel - This is a good chrome-vanadium tool steel; it has 12.5% chromium which is not enough to make it stainless, but which in other steels, would be enough to rule it out as a sword steel. However, D2 also has vanadium and tungsten which act as grain refiners and counteract some of the weakening effects of the chrome. Because of the addition of molybdenum and some nickel, it is very tough, very hard (from the tungsten) and holds a good edge (only stellite and maybe 440V come close in terms of edge holding, but 440V is much more brittle, and stellite is a cobalt alloy, not a steel). Unfortunately, like A2 and other high alloy, deep hardening steels, you cannot create a hamon on it. A sword of this material would be incredibly tough. And despite its edge holding characteristics on paper, it is said that it holds a lousy edge and will hold it forever. Like A2, it's an air-hardening steel and is hard to heat treat properly. If you manage, then that's great. L6 may be a better choice for high performance steel (it's not too hamon-friendly either). It is said that D2 may be a little better than high carbon stainless steels.
S-5 Steel - The "S" stands for "shock-resistant" which comes about as a result of its 2% silicon content. This might be better than 1050, but it is more difficult to find, and will most certainly be more expensive than plain carbon steels.
S-7 Steel - Another shock-resistant tool steel, air hardening, which means that unless the smith really knows what he's doing, this finnicky steel is hard to heat treat. Some may use a torch to treat the edge to give it a Japanese style temper line - such a maneuver might be okay with knives, but in swords there is almost always a total loss of control of quality. We've gotten reports of certain "Angelic" swords cracking. The marketing hype is "Shock resistance" so everyone things this steel that "cuts through other steels" must automatically be good for swords. Take into account the totality of the sword smithing process! Inferior heat treating can result in a poor steel. S-7 is getting very alloy-rich for use as a high-performance sword. S-5 might be a better way to go, but it's pricey.
CK55 Krupp Steel - You've seen it advertized in some of Museum Replica's catalogs - which earlier Del Tin swords and blades were forged from. It's the European equivalent of AISI 1055. "C" stands for "Carbon" and "K" for Krupp - the German company that makes it.
50CRV4 - This is a steel with very small amounts of Vandium and Chromium. Chromium in higher quantities lends to a steel's "stainless" properties. However, in 50CRV, there isn't enough to make it "stainless" - and metallurgically brittle. Thus it makes a good spring steel. It contains trace amounts of Silicon and Manganese. The tensile strength of CK55 and CK50 is about 600 N/mm2, while 50CRV4 ranks about 750 N/mm2. (Many thanks to Fulvio Del Tin for this information!)
420, 440A, 440B, 440C, 440V, ATS-34 - Stainless steel. Great for kitchen knives, folding knives, etc. Sword-makers such as Gladius and Marto/Martespa of Spain use it a lot. However, they are unsuitable for swords and swordplay re-enactment, namely because of the weak grain boundaries caused by the presence of the chromium, which is used as a grain enhancer and gives it it's "stainless" properties and mirror finish when polished, but makes it more brittle. Chromium and other alloying elements like Vanadium, tungsten, etc. can make steels stainless, fine grained, heat resistant, etc but really add to the problem because you cannot create a beautiful hamon ("cloud pattern") line with these steels. The ones that appear on replicas are ugly acid or electro-etched sine waves! NOTE: Some rip-off companies only put "440 STAINLESS STEEL" on their products, but neglect to say whether it's 440A, B, or C. Since 440C is the most qualitative of the lot, they just say "440" and lean on the popularity of 440C, which is dishonest.
NEW! CPM420V Stainless Steel - Made by the Crucible Materials Corporation as an upgrade for CPM440V, this high alloy (20 percent) stainless steel was developed originally as a high-wear steel for wear and corrosion resistance (on par with most othe rpopular stainless knife steels). For a knife blade, this steel has good things going for it. It has good edge holding capabilities (you can make a very aggressive edge on blades made of CPM440V), howbeit you'll find some ductility and pliability with this steel. On the downside, it's difficult to get a decent finish on it due to its high alloy content. It's an excellent steel but not a workhorse like D2, 51200 (used for ball bearings), 440C, and 154CM/ATS34 (a modification of 440C). However, knifemakers find CPM440V blades outcut all other steels hands down.
420J2 Stainless Steel - Again, just because it's "100% pure Stainless Steel" doesn't mean it's all that great. 420 Stainless Steel could normally produce a fair wallhanger sword. However, 420J2 has very little carbon content, so the Rockwell hardness won't be higher than 53 Rockwells. Even though many Marto and Martespa products fall into this range - and the spines (not edges) of Japanese swords are in this range - the unfortunate fact that 420J2 swords are so quickly churned out by these rip-off overseas companies that they've been independently rated at a mere 45 Rockwells! That means that a Marto wallhanger could cut through it! So why do these companies use 420J2 for their swords? First off, it's extremely easy to grind - almost like butter. But because they can grind ten swords to shape in the same time it takes to make, say, a Marto, the fact is that their greed for money exceeds the importance to them that their swords cannot hold an edge after going through cardboard a few times! Think of 420J2 as the stainless equivalent of mild steel - with very low carbon content and thus will not harden.
High Carbon Steel / High Carbon Spring Steel - They may use words like "Spring Steel" or "Live Steel" in their sales pitch. Spring Steel is a term that refers to any member of a group of steels that various types of springs are usually made out of (e.g, car springs are commonly made of 5160, but they can also be 1065). "Live Steel" is another euphemism for "plain carbon steel" (i.e., it can refer to any of 1050, 1065, 5160, CK55 or any plain carbon or low alloy steel) used by one mail-order/web company. Because these are not stainless, swords made of these materials do require oiling to prevent rusting. You may want to keep Iberia swords outside of their scabbards to avoid moisture damage and corrosion from chemicals used to treat the leather. Their high carbon spring steel is from the Philippines and comes from automobile springs (typically 5160), and can flex somewhat and return true. The high carbon steel used in Indian swords is similar to 1065. But, watch out! Even though many Indian, Filipino and Malaysian companies use superior steel, they put it through very poor heat-treating, which results in an inferior blade! In terms of "bang for the buck" you're getting an okay sword, but I wouldn't bet my life on an Indian, Filipino or Malaysian blade due to low-quality tempering.
Damascus Steel - Damascus is interesting. The original Damascus was a crucible steel with an extremely high carbon content. When forged into a blade, the carbides in the steel formed into a pattern that was visible on the surface of the steel. This material is also called "Wootz" or "Bulat". What most people think of today when they hear the word "Damascus" is actually pattern-welded damascus. Now this steel is composed of many layers of high and low carbon steel, and when etched, the high and low carbon steels are attacked at different rates by the acid, resulting in a visible pattern. Pattern-welded steels have existed since man began working with iron and steel (the Vikings made many pattern welded blades, however the technique fell into disuse until after the Crusades, when the smiths attempted to re-create the appearance of Wootz blades brought back by the knights by pattern welding steels).
Now, regarding modern (or pattern-welded) damascus in a Japanese-style sword, Atlanta Cutlery probably kinda inspired this ever since they began selling a full tang samurai damascus blade, at the request of many customers. However, this blade was produced by Windlass Steelcraft and was done improperly! It suffers from a condition known as "carbon migration" which means that all the carbon from the high carbon layers has gone into the low carbon layers, and the overall carbon content is now too low and the blade is unhardenable. It is very soft and weak and will not stand a chance against a well-constructed blade


Edited by Hapkid0ist (01/31/08 06:02 PM)
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#380042 - 01/31/08 06:40 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Hapkid0ist]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5811
Loc: USA
Hap

Thanks for posting!

GOOD read.
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I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#380043 - 01/31/08 06:41 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Hapkid0ist]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...
you know what, Let's put all this amazing sword info in one spot, in the weapons forum, along with the other amazing sword info
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#380044 - 01/31/08 09:09 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Hapkid0ist]
howard Offline
Member

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 43
Loc: Clifton NJ
Quote:


Grades of Steel
Traditional/Original Japanese Steel - Always the best, this contains iron, carbon,...



Hi,

Not sure exactly what the writer means by "always the best", but if it means always the best raw material to make a Japanese-style sword from, I'd disagree. I assume this quote refers to tamahagane.

Compared to the raw material available to smiths today, tamahagane is of poor quality. Full of impurities and uneven in quality. That's a main reason why the Japanese smiths of yesteryear folded their blades as much as they did - to flush out the impurities.

Today's smiths can obtain raw material that's way more pure than tamahagane. The main reason katanas are forged and folded today is aesthetic - to produce a visually appealing pattern in the steel. There's no need to beat impurities out of steel today.

btw, all steel contains iron and carbon... that's the basic definition of steel. An alloy of iron and carbon.

Not trying to be a PITA, just wanted to clarify that one point. Thanks for that good info.

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#380045 - 01/31/08 09:58 PM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: howard]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Ahh.. but then we get back into a matter of "best for what"? If by best he means best material for making the most realistic historical reproduction, or new swords made in the old style, then tamahagane is the best. That's the point I was trying to make in the other thread. It's all subjective.
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#380046 - 02/01/08 09:39 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: Hapkid0ist]
paddles Offline
Member

Registered: 11/30/06
Posts: 45
Sir,
An excellent primmer on modern steels. Contained in that list are a number of steels that will make excellent blades. I've made blades of A2,D2, S7, and of course O1 tool steels. All make excellent kozukas kwaiken, tanto's etc. For swords I have stuck with O1. All take great edges. Two points. I make blades by a process known as stock removal rather than forging. Not in the least bit traditional. The rational is quite simple. Heating and forging these steels tends to introduce or remove elements that folks who are a lot brighter than me considered extraneous or vital. If you are going to try to make your own stay away from the forge. Second there are a lot of good heat treating houses out there. Tell them what you made the blade out of how hard you want the spine, how hard you want the edge and leave the heat treat and temper to them. There won't be a hamon but you can likely feel safe working with the blade you have created. Freeing a blade from a piece of flatground stock is pedestrian but quality control is easier and if your purpose is a working blade this is an alternative.
Russ

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#380047 - 02/01/08 10:50 AM Re: Surgical Stainless Steel Katana?? [Re: howard]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5811
Loc: USA
howard

Despite its detail I did not get the impression it was supposed to an all encompasing post---but an accurate "cliffs notes" on steels--what they are used for and some of the main advantages and disadvantages they might have.
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