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Old 26th May 2016, 07:53 PM   #1
Seerp Visser
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Default Materials used in medieval pattern welded swords

For a study, i should like to know the materials used in medieval times to forge pattern welded swords.
Perhaps a subject discussed before, but can anyone help me to find metallurgical information about the subject?
Are there results available from research on unearthed swords?
What are the materials causing the contrast in the coloring of the blade?
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Old 27th May 2016, 03:08 AM   #2
Ian
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Seerp:

I'm going to send this one over to the European Armory Forum where you are likely to get more attention to this topic.

Ian
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Old 27th May 2016, 08:50 AM   #3
Cerjak
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Please see this thread

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=21215

best

CERJAK
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Old 28th May 2016, 08:38 PM   #4
Jens Nordlunde
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Hi Seerp,
This may help you - if not, I will try to dream up some other books.
Sachse, Manfred:Damaszener Stahl.Verlag für neue Wissenschaft GmbH, Bremerhaven 1989.
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Old 28th May 2016, 10:29 PM   #5
Timo Nieminen
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You might find what you want in http://www.amazon.com/Sword-Crucibl...n/dp/9004227830 (and you'll find some of Williams's stuff in his papers online).

The simple answer is iron and steel, with the steel ideally having about 0.7% carbon, though this wasn't always achieved. Some surviving swords show a lot of contrast due to differential corrosion; when new, they were (at least sometimes) polished and showed very little contrast (IIRC, one source describes a sword blade being breathed on so that the condensation would show the pattern).

For high contrast patterns, stain the blade (like keris blades). There's discussion of staining methods in al-Kindi's book, available in English translation: http://www.amazon.com/Medieval-Isla...d/dp/0906094526 (though not European).
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Old 28th May 2016, 11:17 PM   #6
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There is also the root url of this site that shares numerous articles.
http://www.vikingsword.com/

Cheers

GGC
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Old 29th May 2016, 08:43 PM   #7
Seerp Visser
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Thank you all for your information. It gives me some work to read all the relevant parts of the suggested documentation.

One of the specific questions i have is the use of Phosphorus containing iron.

Since the difference in carbon content between two steels only shows a minimum of contrast, i looked for other tricks.
Nickel was not present those days (perhaps some in China as Nickel/Copper alloy), but i heard the rumor that Phosphorus rich iron gives a clear contrast with iron without Phosphorus.

When the Phosphorus story is true, the blacksmiths in the old days have applied iron traded from other areas to make a design in their swords....
This was not done to obtain more strength (Phosphorus makes the steel brittle) but for reasons of beauty.

So when and where did they apply that trick? and what is Phosphorus rich iron, or how much percent (will be tenths of a percent) is Phosphorus rich?
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Old 30th May 2016, 12:29 PM   #8
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This is covered to some degree in:
Tylecote, R.F. and Gilmour, B.J.J., B.A.R.British Series 155: The Metallography of Early Ferrous Edge Tools and Edged Weapons (Oxford: B.A.R., 1986).

A relevant selection from page 251 of that work is shown below.

Page 252 is table (ex. Salin) on composition of Merovingian pattern-welded sword blades and gives Phosphorous contents between 0.14 and 0.35% but without localization.
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Old 1st June 2016, 01:40 PM   #9
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"The simple answer is iron and steel"


It is not as simple as you may think, because they had dozens of different types of steel and iron without any industrial standard. The quality of the different types was also very different.

It is also almost impossible to find out more about medieval european steel and iron, because we have no written sources from that period.

Only one country in the world has a complete history of its steel manufacturing, Japan.
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Old 1st June 2016, 06:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seerp Visser
Since the difference in carbon content between two steels only shows a minimum of contrast, i looked for other tricks.
Nickel was not present those days (perhaps some in China as Nickel/Copper alloy), but i heard the rumor that Phosphorus rich iron gives a clear contrast with iron without Phosphorus.


I've heard that nickel was used in Indonesia when the first bicycles come to Indonesia by the dutch i.e., the wheels/rims where used to get a rich contrast by keris pamor. Could be very well correct but an unproved story.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 1st June 2016, 08:38 PM   #11
Jens Nordlunde
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Have a look at this thread http://videnskab.dk/kultur-samfund/...78e96-239811693
I find it quite interesting, that they knew about meteoric irin at the time, and knew how to work it.
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Old 1st June 2016, 08:51 PM   #12
Timo Nieminen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
"The simple answer is iron and steel"

It is not as simple as you may think, because they had dozens of different types of steel and iron without any industrial standard. The quality of the different types was also very different.


Yes. That's all well-known. That's why the papers/books (e.g., Williams, as cited) describing work where specimens are examined to determine
(a) composition,
(b) physical properties such as hardness, and
(c) microstructure
are so useful. Sometimes, it's important to go beyond the simple answer, and get to the details it leaves out. In particular, that's information we can't get from any pre-modern historical sources, so we need to do that kind of analysis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
Only one country in the world has a complete history of its steel manufacturing, Japan.


IMO, that overstates how much we know about early manufacture of steel in Japan (we know very little about their early iron industry).

Japan does have the advantage that steel-making is more recent than in many other countries, and was literate. So, while we know more about traditional steel-making in China than in Japan, there's also more we don't know about steel-making in China.

(But I think we have a more complete history of steel-making in the USA than in Japan.)

Last edited by Timo Nieminen : 1st June 2016 at 09:20 PM.
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