Best around metal for sword

by Dave
(Tucson Az)

Hello. Recently got into swords. I bought a 1090 sword and have a 1045. Plan on buying more. In your opinion for strength and laying life which is the best type of sword? Also is air craft medal for a sword good? I think they said it was air craft aluminum metal for a sword. I just recently found your blog

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No simple answer..
by: Paul

I often get asked this question, and it is not an unreasonable one - but the thing is, there is no one single "best" or "strongest" steel for a sword as it depends on the design of the sword itself, the tempering, and intended use.

Generally speaking, 1045 carbon steel is the most common and cheapest steel for a functional sword to be made from. It is fairly durable, but a little on the soft side - which is part of the reason why it is cheap (it is easy to shape and polish).

For durability, a steel with the last two digits ending in xx60 tends to be quite durable and good compromise between hardness (for edge retention) and durability. 1060, 9260 and 5160 are three of the most common "60s" that make great monotempered (read the same hardness all the way through) blades.

Japanese Katana can also be monotempered, but the most traditional way to get the real temper line (hamon) is to differentially harden them, and T10 tool steel is a very popular choice as the hamon seems to really come out well on these blades and they are more durable than most other steels.

The aircraft grade steel you mention and alunimium is too light for a real sword - they are often used in the movies and can be made to spark well on blade to blade contact, but are basically disposable and soon chewed up (they use a lot of the same sword in a movie as after each scene, the blade is more or less ruined).

Stainless steel is cheap but a BIG no no for functional swords as it tends to be brittle and can break quite easily.

More info on the various steel types can be found on our site here

Hope this helps.

- Paul

Best sword metal
by: Adam Pendragwn

1). Bar none, the best metal for sword blades is steel made from bog iron—that which has been found in bogs as apposed to iron which has been mined from the ground—the main reason being bog iron has silicon in it, other irons don’t. Having said that, your sword would have to be hand made, and probably in Solingen, Germany. I say this because you did ask about the best, and I did have two swords made from bog iron, so it can be done. In fact, the silicon is why actual Medieval swords were so sharp and tough. Ulfberht swords were made of bog iron, incidentally.
2) As far as tempering goes, Medieval swords were not tempered to just one hardness the whole length of the sword, but differently along the blade—softer at the hilt, flexible in the center, and very hard at the end and along the edge. Again, no manufacturers now days do this, it would have to be hand made—and by someone who even knows this.
3) Contrary to what most believe, Stainless Steel is perfectly fine for sword blades IF the steel is tempered—no manufacturers’ Stainless Steel blades are tempered however, but the US Marine Corp sabres are made of Stainless Steel and are highly flexible—and very real.
As for my credentials, I am the world’s foremost leading authority on Western European swords from AD 900 to AD1200.

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