Sword and knife steels.

by Jean

hello, being more in the world of knives and being aware that what applies to knives should not be extrapolated to the swords, I would like to have clarification on the following points.

1) Why there is little experience with the new steels from PM technology, they do not meet the criteria sought or just because as the market of swords is smaller than that of knives there has fewer people who dare to try new things.

2) On this same point I also wondered if the cpm 3v and a8mod steels would be good for for example an European-style sword (not too long) how would their performance in front of the 5160, s7 and t10, could they offer innovation (even on a trial basis) , if someone can make me a little comparison it will be amazing.

3) finally i want to know which can be the best hrc as an example and if a partial tempering along the blade will be more important than the steel itself.

Thank you by advance and if someone need more details to give me a better answer you can tell it to me.

Comments for Sword and knife steels.

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Good questions!
by: Paul

Excellent questions Jean - here are a some answers:

1) You kind of answered this one yourself - the market for swords is but a tiny fraction of the blade market when compared to knives. Knives are often made using state of the art manufacturing techniques while functional swords are for the most part hand made in China, India or the Philippines - and they tend to use the steels that are readily available and that they know how to work.

Some custom sword makers in the USA experiment with new steel types - but these are usually only available for one off, custom orders and typically cost between $3 to $5k as a ballpark price.

So, in a nutshell, the market is just too small to experiment as much as what is done with knives.

2) I have heard some makers, such as Dan Keffler, who make Japanese swords from cpm3v and that they are well made and cut extremely well - but due to the tiny size of the market and difficultly obtaining the required steels at most foreign sword forges, it is unlikely to be anything we see anytime soon.

3) Tempering is much more important than the type of steel by itself - if not tempered properly, L6 steel performs worse than well tempered 1045 carbon steel (the most basic, cheapest steel for swords) - and how hard it should be (measured by the HRC rockwell scale) depends on the type of sword.

For example, a Katana should ideally have a HRC close to 40 on the spine (relatively soft for shock absorbtion) and 60 (very hard) on the cutting edge while a European sword is probably best with a HRC somewhere in the low 50s.

Partial tempering (differential tempering) along the edge produces a shock resistant sword with a hard cutting edge, but because of the two different hardness levels it is not that flexible and will take a set on a bad cut while a sword that is tempered to the same hardness all the way thorough has a tendency to avoid taking a set but does not cut quite as well.

Like all things, it is a bit of a trade off and there is no perfect or universally 'good' design, but rather different swords for different applications.

Anyway, hope this helps.

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