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#381186 - 01/31/08 05:20 PM Steel
Hapkid0ist Offline
Member

Registered: 09/20/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Hollyhood, Ca.
Ok, so there is about a billion different kinds of metal out there that they make Samurai swords with. I know that the Japanese do not consider a sword a real Samurai sword unless it is made with a specific type of Japanese steel that is mined only once a year.
I have papers os different kinds of steel, hardness and so forth. My question is what do you guys and gals think is the best steel for a Samurai sword? Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, American blends... Or is there a different type of metal that you think could be even better like titanium or platinum or someother metal....
_________________________
D.W. McCullar, Hapkido
I.H.K.A./I.H.M.U.Ca. Chief Instructor, 5th Dan
www.ihmuca.com

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#381187 - 01/31/08 05:23 PM Re: Steel [Re: Hapkid0ist]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Define best? Best for what? Artistic value? Hardness? Toughness? (not the same thing" Edge holding characteristics? Longer swords? Shorter swords? Heavier swords? Lighter swords? Most traditional?

There is no overall "best". Quality of blade is less about the type of steel which is used and has a lot more to do with the smith who is creating a sword from it.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#381188 - 01/31/08 05:45 PM Re: Steel [Re: Charles Mahan]
Hapkid0ist Offline
Member

Registered: 09/20/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Hollyhood, Ca.
Best over all metal for making a folded Samurai sword.. I know there are many efining factors in the quality of a sword. I am trying to look oer those and get a general answer and opinions of others on what they believe.
_________________________
D.W. McCullar, Hapkido
I.H.K.A./I.H.M.U.Ca. Chief Instructor, 5th Dan
www.ihmuca.com

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#381189 - 01/31/08 05:54 PM Re: Steel [Re: Hapkid0ist]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Well if you want a general answer. How about the one on the left? Thats just as accurate a selection as anything else.

The problem is that your question is rather like asking, What is the best recipe for rubber to make tires out of? Well... what are the tires going to be used for? High speed? Low speed? Quarter mile? Drifting? Rally? Motorcross? On-road? Off-road?... The comparison isn't a perfect, but hopefully it gets the idea across.

The question is simply too broad to come up with any kind of meaningful answer. Even if you could find a theoretical answer to your question, then you still wouldn't know much about what kind of sword to purchase. Too many other factors go into producing a good sword. Fittings, quality of the wrap on the tsuka, length, weight, balance, stylistic preferences, personal preferences... It's a big equation with a lot of variables.

If you want the most authentic, art quality sword, you need a blade from one of the top smiths in Japan made from Tamahagane, and several tens of thousands of dollars to pay for it.

If you want something to train with, you need to get something that your instructor approves of. Nothing else will matter for that.

See my point? It's not a question with a simple answer.
_________________________
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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#381190 - 01/31/08 06:13 PM Re: Steel [Re: Charles Mahan]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...
he's right, what you want the blade to be like is what you should make your choice on.
Weight, durability, shinyness etc
Hell tungsten is supposed to be a good one but may crack during cooling Check out the sword article on howstuffworks.com
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Livestrong Johnnyboxcutter!!

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#381191 - 01/31/08 06:29 PM Swords and steel 101 ... [Re: Hapkid0ist]
pgsmith Offline
Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 275
Loc: Texas
Warning! Rambling and probably partly incoherent post follows ...

I am a Smith ... OK, not a sword smith, but I do know a little about what makes a decent sword since I've been looking into this very subject for quite a number of years now. A "decent" sword is the product of a number of factors all working together. Each factor has a specific importance in the eye of the prospective sword-buyer. To a relative novice that is wanting a tameshigiri blade, how easily it bends becomes a very important factor. For a higher level iaido practitioner that needs a daily practice sword, how well it is balanced becomes a more significant factor. For an epee fencer, having a blade that will retain its original shape and not stay bent or break is of overriding importance. You see where I'm heading with this right? ...

All of the individual factors aside, a "decent" Japanese style sword will have three required characteristics. It has to be resilient enough (tough) so that it doesn't shatter with a mis-placed cut, it has to be hard enough to be able to take and hold a decent edge, and it has to be heavy enough that it will perform its role as a sword properly. All Japanese sword blades have these three factors in common, no matter what else goes into their making.

The third factor, heaviness, is what precludes the use of most exotic alloys for swords. Specially treated titanium or aircraft aluminum alloys could potentially be made hard enough to properly hold an edge, although whether their maximum hardness is enough is a point of debate. However, any of these alloys made into a sword-like shape would be too light to perform in the manner that a proper sword should. Too much effort would be required for the simple act of cutting. All of the sword techniques that we practice today were made back before exotic alloys were available (back when swords were still used).

The first and second factors, toughness and hardness, have been a perpetual tradeoff, and likely will continue to be in the foreseeable future. Toughness is what gives spring steel its spring. The problem with this is that spring steel is not very hard, and so doesn’t hold an edge well. The harder you make steel, the more brittle it becomes. This is the problem with using stainless as a sword blade. It is very easy to make stainless steel hard, but extremely difficult to make it tough enough to withstand the stress to which a sword blade is subjected. That being said, regular old carbon steel is still the best thing for sword blades, although there are many different mixtures of carbon steel. This is where the tradeoffs begin.

Heat treatment is what decides whether a given chunk of steel will be tough or hard. Traditional Japanese swords overcome the problem by differentially heat treating their swords so that the edge is hard, and the back is soft. Another way they overcome it is by various laminating methods, which help to produce the same results. These methods are what result in the “hamon”, which is the difference in the edge and back steel structure revealed by proper polishing. Various chemicals added to the steel mixture result in different methods and temperatures for hardening. These chemicals are what cause the different designations for types of steel. Steel from one country is not inherently different than steel from another country. There are good and not-so-good producers in all countries, and how well they countrol the percentages of additives in their steel is what decides whether it is good or not, not the country of origin.

So, all that being said, here’s my summation … 1) Steel is still the only decent material for sword blades. 2) The type of steel used is much less important than the person making and heat treating the blade. 3) The country of origin is much less important than the quality of the particular smelter producing the steel.

If you've made it all the way through to here, congratulations! Hope it made some sense!
_________________________
Paul

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#381192 - 01/31/08 06:35 PM Re: Swords and steel 101 ... [Re: pgsmith]
Vennificus Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 206
Loc: The frozen realms of Kah-Nah-D...


Edited by Vennificus (01/31/08 06:37 PM)
_________________________
Livestrong Johnnyboxcutter!!

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#381193 - 01/31/08 06:47 PM Re: Swords and steel 101 ... [Re: pgsmith]
Hapkid0ist Offline
Member

Registered: 09/20/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Hollyhood, Ca.
Thanks pgsmith. overall my question was answered..
_________________________
D.W. McCullar, Hapkido
I.H.K.A./I.H.M.U.Ca. Chief Instructor, 5th Dan
www.ihmuca.com

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#381194 - 02/01/08 09:01 PM Re: Swords and steel 101 ... [Re: pgsmith]
howard Offline
Member

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

...So, all that being said, here’s my summation … 1) Steel is still the only decent material for sword blades. 2) The type of steel used is much less important than the person making and heat treating the blade. 3) The country of origin is much less important than the quality of the particular smelter producing the steel.

If you've made it all the way through to here, congratulations! Hope it made some sense!



Hi,

Thanks very much for that. Excellent and accurate information.

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