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Damascus Steel

PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:29 am

Without knowing a GREAT deal about all swords----many for sale are marked "Damascus" (even Katanas) if a "riblike" pattern is perceived on the side of a blade.

the pattern generally indicates an attempt at 'folded forging" in which the folds have not been poliished out.

The patterns shown on some Katane is OK, I guess, but they should not confuse one into thinking the blade in Toledo (in the Moorish Process) or Damascus blade. I think the true process for these blades is 'lost" as is, technically, the formula for "Greek Fire" although suitable substitutes abound in that respect.

Japanese Katanas a meant to be cutters and , because of the typical snadwichiing of steels of varying hardness, one will not see the flexiility of the Toledo/Damascus blades of yore.

A Pattterning also called Damascene or Damascus was used to produuce black powder only frelocks. In this process four or more "sptraplets" of still malleable iron or steel is hammered into shape around a "mandreal" of the proper dimenion iuntill the 'straplets" appear in swirling patterns on the finished barrel.

"Mandrel" forging has since been used for a century and a half with high temperatures and armor grade stell. The hardness and witdh of which could not be duplicated in the old time country gunsmithe's shop.. There are a many ways to make a barrel as there are a sword. "Button" rifling following a deep drill on a "blank seems the more prefreferred.

In a Katane, the harded steel can be used as the core (edge to back strap) or in reverse patern where the hardest steel is wrapped around the softer, but does not extend to the "ha" (cutting edge) of the blade.


PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:35 am
by f.Channell
Hi John,

The harder steel is always wrapped around the softer core. To maintain the best cutting edge the hardest steel is needed, just like a drill bit. Take a drill bit and put it in a vise and hit the side with a hammer and it will break easily. So to balance that fragility that comes with hardness a softer steel core is needed.
Take a glass blade, very sharp, but easily shattered and useless on a battlefield.
The one thing most people don't realize from watching too many movies maybe, is that the sword is still in some ways fragile and blocks are always made with deflections so as not to break the blade.
Consider an Okinawan with a sturdy 6' staff or oar fighting a samurai.
They had better reach and no fragility in the weapon. If they hit the blade well, it may break.

No weapon I suppose is unbeatable. The skill and strategy always lies in the warrior.

Not Exactly

PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 1:43 am
No Fred:

At least not in shanghai---my contact in china (whose activities are apparently severly Curtailed post near apocalyptic smog there-they ran small outside forges) they use , and I suppose i have hanging around, at least five type of maunufacture, and i will quote from them:

1. Maru type: "this type of construction, with one grade of steel, . blades of this type usually reveal a sooth grainless appearance. I will atttempt to add illustrations)

2. Sanmai Type: In this type of blade the high carbon steel laminated in the middle is surrounded by two layers of soft folded steel. the middle high carbon steel is exposed and hardened so that the cutting edge cutting edge becomes stong,

3. Type Kobuse A: In this stype the soft core steel is wrapped by high carbon steel the---soft core steel makes the blad flexible.

4. Kobuse B: In this type the soft core is wrapped by sturdy folded steel,
.but only the back inside core is soft core. the sturdy folded steel compleately encloses is exposed and hardened so that the cutting edge becomes strong.

5. Hon-Sanmai-Awase: the softest core steel and the high carbon steel are covered by the mid-softer folded Steel. The high carbon steel is exposed as the cutting edge.

Other types include Clay tempered Homogenous steel, Shiho Zume type (same as the hon sanmai-awase),

Valley Forge swords are original modern steel alloy ( homogennous chrome vanadium steel) . The blade is shaped, then as in the clay tempered sword, a varying thickness of a special mix of the forge owners own composition is applied, then the blade is heated to 850 degrees and quenched in liquid, The varying thicknessess of the clay type applied coat varies the cooling time, with the thinnest part cooling the most quickly and the backstrap cooling the most slowly. Thus the edge (cooling most quickly) becomes hardest.

this type of blades tends to show the least "grain" and does not show a defined line where the core steel and the outer wrap.

A Hamon line, however, does show where the special clay type mixture thins to next to nothing.

So, there are simply several different ways, to say the least, to "make a sandwich" and/or varying hardness blade.

The material is dated as the forge has apparently undergone some change and is divided into atleast two websites.

The swords do m=not, I think, come close to a Valley Forge (Iowa) or buGei, but the makers appear to have known what they were talking about.

I can get it copied for you-but it is too much materil to attach here.


PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:36 pm
by f.Channell
You are confusing Chinese swords with Samurai blades made in Japan regulated strictly by the Government.

Think of it like Chinese knockoffs of swiss watches.

The Japanese swords are made very specific to tradition. Costs begin at 6 grand.

When looking to Japanese sword tradition and quality. Forget about China.

This video shows the production from the Steel production forward. ... re=related

In 1990 I stumbled upon a samurai sword show in Chicago. Once you have seen a 400 year old blade that looks like new, the difference is apparent.

Hi Fred

PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:15 pm
Yes I understand what you are saying.

But the matters referring to are only noted as to there apparent knowledge of the various blade types. I have found nothing to contradict what they say as to various methods of manufacture.

The Morgan Valley Forge and Bugei follow the method of homogenos chrome vanadium steel and, at less for the blade i saw made, the clay tempering mefhod.

Morgan Valley Swords also in the 3-4000 dollar range. I will research the various mathoeds cited, I do not think it is sufficient to throw out possible knowledge because the knowledge is connected with the "knock offs".

These swords are not up to your standards, to be sure, but they are decent blades. Check the Morgan Valley forge website.

The entire (Or one) traditional proccess was document on Weaponsmasters strarting at the bring of the huge block of iron from the stream beds and the seletion of various parts thereof by the master smiths . Then the progran followed a piece to a master swordsmith shop where there sword blade waas made.

The Finan step (before polishing) was the clay tempering method and it is too lengthy to set forth here. I Image

An apparent capture Blade. It is incorrect in that the Saye was "beadblasted" in black.

It is for sale

the methodshown in the youtube video did not follow the traditional 'fetching" or the iron from the mountain stream beds, but it is not disimilar otherwise.

In the Weaponmasters each smith was alowed to select from the 2000 lb black block of steel-and that chose was broken down into what would be used for each "layer" of the blade. The forge was done by use of a hand powered hammer-and then the result was retempered using the aforementioned clay method.



I have inserted two poor pics of my "Clay tempered blade".

I have the video of the Weoponsmasters showing the construction of a Katana in two wildy different ways. How do I get it, and the little sword blade type manual I compiled several years agoe (pre Olympics) I would like to get this you NOT to sell you on the manufacturer but only to show the varying type of blades put together which I velieve to be a correct compilation of Blade shaeps(including tachi, katana, Ken, Nagianata and others.

I will try and get one page of the compilation posted here.

In the meantime, perhaps you can pay me a visit at the house and revieww my poor collection and my new/used Corvette (a 1999). Perhaps a step down from the Z 06-but a 'vette just the same.

I will copy the video (it is included with an episoe on blowpipes, but you do not have to watch that.)