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Thread: Ancient Steel Workers and Anomalous Batches of Steel for Blades

  1. #1
    Spyderco Forum Registered User SpyderEdgeForever's Avatar
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    Jul 2012

    Ancient Steel Workers and Anomalous Batches of Steel for Blades

    This may interest some of you here. I was reading some material about ancient steel and metal working, and there is an idea that some of the ancient smiths at times came across iron ore that had other alloying elements such as molybdenum and cobalt, rare but it happened, and would forge these into swords, daggers, knives, and other blades that had properties similiar to modern alloy steel, mostly unknowingly.

    We do know they found meteoric iron at times and forged it into blades, which were pretty good.

    There is a claim that some of the ancient Japanese sword makers were using molybdenum steel for their katanas.

    Here is a related question: If you were to somehow transport some blocks and bars of a steel like VG-10 to Medieval era or Roman era blacksmiths, could they have generated the temperatures necessary to forge this into blades, or would it be unworkable to them?

  2. #2
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Stuart Ackerman's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    New Zealand
    Yes, they would be able to CAREFULLY forge it, and the abrasives that they had would have been usable...
    Any stainless type steel can be forged, just with MUCH more care than high carbon types...

    Sean McWilliams was known for 440V and ATS-34 forging...
    Last edited by Stuart Ackerman; 12-31-2013 at 09:37 PM.

  3. #3
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    May 2013
    up the Okanogan river WA
    Yes, there are some Koto era Japanese blades that are high in titanium that was tracked back to an ore source local to one of the smelters that is no longer in operation. The wootz blades, so well studied, have vanadium in the structure. The likely end of wootz smelting occurred as a result of that alloying element in the natural ore running out. It is entirely probable that this occurred more often than not.

  4. #4
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Evil D's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Northern KY
    A better question would be, would something like VG10 be any good in a sword used for battle?

    You should check out this Nova episode on the Ulfberht....very interesting stuff, and you get to see a modern day smith, the one and only Richard Furrer of Door County Forgeworks, forge one out of an ingot.


    Official plea to Sal: Can we PLEASE get a DLC Yojimbo 2? PLEASE!!?

  5. #5
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    Nov 2013
    Stainless steel is not recommended for swords, except as wall hangers! Stainless steels are supposed to be too brittle, with little to no give under impact stresses. Spring steels(5160, 9260), or medium-high carbon carbon steels that have different hardness at the blade edge than at the spine(Hamon) give a sword blade the flexibility either not to break or take a permanent bend under stress! Go to Southren)! His site is amazing if you want to get started into swords of all varieties!

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