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Old 12th January 2016, 08:34 AM   #1
BluErf
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Default Question on tulwar blade construction

Hello to everyone and a happy 2016!

I'm posting on behalf of a friend who bought this tulwar recently. The tulwar blade looks like it could either be wootz or sham, but the tip is made from a different steel and shows signs of being heat tempered.

Is this a known construction method for tulwars, and is there a reason for making the tulwar in this manner? Also, is this construction method native to a specific geographic region? Thanks.
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Old 12th January 2016, 09:00 AM   #2
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The riveted handle with brass washer suggests NW India or ( more likely) Afghanistan.
The blade seems to be wootz.
The reinforced point is for stabbing : rather unusual on tulwars. I have shown a similar one ( also potentially NW India or Afghani) in the topic "Indian short sabers"
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Old 12th January 2016, 10:21 AM   #3
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Unlike reinforced point on Ariel's tulwar, this one is not designed as such. The blade was broken and the tip was welded as in scarf-welding technique. it is good quality repair and likely an old one.
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Old 12th January 2016, 11:21 AM   #4
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Alex,
You are absolutely right re. re-welding. The shadows in Pics 1 and 5 fooled me: they gave an impression of a swollen tip. Need new glasses....
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Old 12th January 2016, 12:15 PM   #5
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knew about the glasses, Ariel
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Old 12th January 2016, 12:45 PM   #6
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Yes, as Alex says, though I feel it may be a more modern mend.

The pin with washer looks fairly new to me, as it shows no sign of wear,
and the edges of the washer still look very square. Also the peened over pin looks half -peened, not like it would be done originally.
Not looking for fault, but this is as it appears.

Richard.
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Old 12th January 2016, 01:01 PM   #7
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I think the mend is too good to be modern. I do not know of anyone who can make anything like this, unless someone is willing to give 10 tulwars to repair one Also, what's interesting is that there is no loss of wootz pattern near weld line, so someone knew how to control the heat not to destroy the pattern, and that is far above any modern skill IMHO.
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Old 12th January 2016, 01:05 PM   #8
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I have seen many katar with scarf welded homogeneous steel tips that were heat treated. In those cases it added strength to this area. Haven't seen this on tulwar which makes this one likely a repair. However, the smith was knowledgeable of wootz as they managed the repair carefully, because you don't see much faded pattern at the join which would have required careful control of the heat.
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Old 12th January 2016, 03:28 PM   #9
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Default Welding

Sorry to not agree with everybody but--- Unlikely to be a scarf joint. A scarf joint is when both ends are cut at an long angle and one side then slides over the other. This method is good for silver braze lead joints and if done neatly is nearly invisible. If you try to weld a scarf it is impossible to get full penetration and only the ends get welded. The blade in question has I think been joined by cutting each side into a v then welding. Pity that the welder has not found a better tip so now there is three different shades on one blade. If I do a weld I try to find a close match and use strips of steel from the replacement bit to use as the welding material Ok, never perfect, it is a repair but much better way than the sad blade being discussed.
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Old 12th January 2016, 06:26 PM   #10
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A very good bladesmith mended one for me, (pattern -welded blade), and afterwards I could hardly find the join. This was done just a few years ago.
I would like to give the man credit, but he does not want to get inundated with this type of work, so asked me to keep it quiet.

I must respect that, but yes, it Is possible to have someone weld a blade and make an excellent job still.

What made me think the repair above was new-ish is the way the light catches the added piece;
It Appears to have multiple facets (or a bit wavey) on each side, not dead true as the rest of the blade seems to be.
It Is a good join though!!

Richard.
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Old 13th January 2016, 07:15 AM   #11
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Thank you all for sharing your valuable insights!
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Old 13th January 2016, 12:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALEX
someone knew how to control the heat not to destroy the pattern, and that is far above any modern skill IMHO.



This is no great problem!

The temperature for laminating such a blade is around 750C. Wootz will forged at ~800C.
A modern gas furnace with a temperature control unit can hold the temperature exactly at the preset value.

You can check the sword forum to see modern examples and you will be surprised, how good they are!


Roland
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Old 13th January 2016, 01:22 PM   #13
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Roland, in theory you're right. In practice, forging new wootz and repairing old is not the same. Once formed, wootz can be affected and even completely diminished by temperatures much lower than stated. and I am yet to see one modern example where wootz was not affected by mending/welding process. Perhaps I am missing the advances of modern technology, and hope a smith like Ric Furrer will comment on how easy it is to perform a mend such as above without affecting wootz structure.
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Old 14th January 2016, 01:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALEX
Roland, in theory you're right. In practice, forging new wootz and repairing old is not the same. Once formed, wootz can be affected and even completely diminished by temperatures much lower than stated. and I am yet to see one modern example where wootz was not affected by mending/welding process. Perhaps I am missing the advances of modern technology, and hope a smith like Ric Furrer will comment on how easy it is to perform a mend such as above without affecting wootz structure.



Alex, I understand your opinion and you are right. I forgot the fact, that it was a finished wootz-sword before welding. And it must be indeed very difficult to make this work without destroying the surface and the pattern. Maybe the original blade was thicker and was grinded down after the welding process.


I know some viking-swords which were broken in battle and repaired hundreds of years ago and they are often quite ugly.
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Old 14th January 2016, 03:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony PP
Sorry to not agree with everybody but--- Unlikely to be a scarf joint. A scarf joint is when both ends are cut at an long angle and one side then slides over the other. This method is good for silver braze lead joints and if done neatly is nearly invisible. If you try to weld a scarf it is impossible to get full penetration and only the ends get welded. The blade in question has I think been joined by cutting each side into a v then welding. Pity that the welder has not found a better tip so now there is three different shades on one blade. If I do a weld I try to find a close match and use strips of steel from the replacement bit to use as the welding material Ok, never perfect, it is a repair but much better way than the sad blade being discussed.


Here is a period example of what would typically be called a "scarf weld". The blade is wootz and smaller part attached to the hilt is mono steel.
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Old 14th January 2016, 04:14 PM   #16
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Estcrh, nice example and fotos. Does scarf weld usually placed closer to the middle of the blade to serve the purpose of making it less likely to snap on impact (I think this is what it was intended for). If so, the example you show also could be a repair, i.e. not originally-intended. What do you think?

Roland, I second your opinion about wootz repair. the smith was able not to affect it at all right near the mend line, and that is quite a feat.
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Old 14th January 2016, 08:47 PM   #17
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To my opinion the scarf welding mostly have been made by an artist, but what Eric shows is a bit more artistic than most of the scarf weldings I have seen.
However in this case the smith does not seem to have been an artist, but we does not know, if he had to do the repair over night as the battle was not finished yet, and had to go on the next day.
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Old 17th January 2016, 01:42 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALEX
Estcrh, nice example and fotos. Does scarf weld usually placed closer to the middle of the blade to serve the purpose of making it less likely to snap on impact (I think this is what it was intended for). If so, the example you show also could be a repair, i.e. not originally-intended. What do you think?


Alex, I have not seen enough Indian blades that have been welded in this way to be able to make any kind of reasonable statement on whether this was planned or a repair. I do know that welds of this type were noted in Viking swords, here is a quote from Swords of the Viking Age, by Ian G. Peirce, Ewart Oakeshott, 2002. Note that the amount of steel projecting from the hilt of Viking age swords were the blade was deliberately scarf welded for strength is said to be from 4 cm to 12 cm (1.57 in to 4.72 in).
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Old 17th January 2016, 01:30 PM   #19
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Now Eric,

In the cases you just quote above, Do you think these were repairs, rather than a technique used in manufacture?

To me it Sounds like a repair.

I do have one broad-bladed tulwar that was repaired at some time in its working life. Very well done as well. The break is just forward of the centre of the blade.
I will see if I can find a picture.
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Old 17th January 2016, 02:07 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook
Now Eric,

In the cases you just quote above, Do you think these were repairs, rather than a technique used in manufacture?

To me it Sounds like a repair.


This is a known technique, and not only for swords.

The prehistory of metallurgy in the British Isles by R. F. Tylecote, 1986.
Quote:
It would seem that scramasaxes were made by scarf welding-on a steel edge, as shown in the French example.


How about this Indian axe, a hard steel edge with the rest a softer metal.
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Old 17th January 2016, 02:18 PM   #21
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Indian horse head tulwar with wootz blade
Quote:
The blade is a typical Indian scarf welded blade, but in this case, both irons used are the best quality. The hard crystalline Wootz blade has been fused to a softer, more flexible heel of Pattern Welded Damascus, with a high contrast pattern. The weld is complex, and a feat of difficult engineering according to metallurgists, but it has been beautifully achieved, with only a small lamination flaw.
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Old 17th January 2016, 02:24 PM   #22
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The tabar : is it what is called inserted edge? How would it differ from scarf welding?
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Old 17th January 2016, 07:03 PM   #23
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Mughal Indian horse head sword with wootz blade.

Quote:
The long slender blade is forged from Wootz Damascus, and has been scarf welded where the hard steel blade is welded to a softer more flexible heel.
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Old 17th January 2016, 07:08 PM   #24
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Afghan pulwar sword with pattern welded blade.

Quote:
The blade is forged from very high quality pattern welded Damascus steel, with a high contrast pattern. The process used in the construction of this sword is very unusual and acts to provide a stiff but flexible cutting blade. It is known as Scarf Welding. The hard pattern welded steel blade is welded to a softer more flexible heel part of the blade. The weld can be seen at the ricasso, or just under the langet.
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Old 17th January 2016, 07:14 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
The tabar : is it what is called inserted edge? How would it differ from scarf welding?

Ariel, I am not sure if the edge of the tabar is inserted or welded etc. It used to belong to Runjeet I believe, along with the swords I posted as examples, maybe he knows something more about both methods. Inserting a harder cutting edge into a axe head is another old (viking?) technique.

Runjeets swords do show a pattern were the weld is close to the hilt, with a softer steel being attached to the hilt. The sword originally being discussed is the opposite situation, with the damascus steel attached to the hilt being much longer than the piece welded to the tip of the blade.
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Last edited by estcrh : 17th January 2016 at 11:45 PM.
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Old 18th January 2016, 12:20 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluErf
The tulwar blade looks like it could either be wootz or sham, but the tip is made from a different steel and shows signs of being heat tempered.

Is this a known construction method for tulwars, and is there a reason for making the tulwar in this manner? Also, is this construction method native to a specific geographic region? Thanks.


It appears that this sword may have been repaired, either in the past or more recently, better pictures would help. There is also the chance that this sword had a hardened tip attached purposely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RSWORD
I have seen many katar with scarf welded homogeneous steel tips that were heat treated. In those cases it added strength to this area. Haven't seen this on tulwar which makes this one likely a repair.


Just because this technique is not known to have been used on tulwars does not rule it out completely either. This is an interesting example whatever the purpose of the weld was.
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Old 18th January 2016, 12:23 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook
A very good bladesmith mended one for me, (pattern -welded blade), and afterwards I could hardly find the join. This was done just a few years ago.
I would like to give the man credit, but he does not want to get inundated with this type of work, so asked me to keep it quiet.

I must respect that, but yes, it Is possible to have someone weld a blade and make an excellent job still.

Richard, can you post a picture of the blade? Was the blade snapped and re-welded or was a new piece of steel used?
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Old 18th January 2016, 02:16 AM   #28
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Eric,

There Might be a photo on this forum from maybe 10 years ago.
If I cannot find the thread, I will take a photo or two.

By the pattern of the blade, the original broken off piece was re-joined.

Actually I had a look at this sword this morning, and the break was just at the end of the fullers, so maybe 9 inches from the tip.

Of course, attaching a hard edge to a softer blade, like an axe, has been common practice for maybe a thousand years, maybe more,

To be honest, unless we see documentation for the type of work we see in the swords above, I feel that some of them are definitely mended broken blades, rather than a recognised technique.
It is usually unsound practice to join two dissimilar metals, and expect them to work and flex together. The exception is the Japanese layering, or the old twisted rod construction where the mass becomes homogenous.
Some of the above blades are coming apart at the join.
Could not this have been spun into a story by those selling such blades in more recent times? We do see a lot of rubbish written.

Yes, we see evidence of joining, but Did they start out that way?
As we still see more old good quality sword blades worked in one piece, the above examples still compel me to think mended. :-)

I will look for that photo now;

Regards,
Richard.
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Old 18th January 2016, 03:16 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook

To be honest, unless we see documentation for the type of work we see in the swords above, I feel that some of them are definitely mended broken blades, rather than a recognised technique.
It is usually unsound practice to join two dissimilar metals, and expect them to work and flex together.

Why would a better piece of steel be attached to a lessor steel as in all of the swords I posted if it was known to cause problems, why not use like steels if these were indeed repairs? Just one of many questions.


Tulwar, early mid 19 C., most probably from Rajasthan, India.
Quote:
The all wootz blade is 31 inches long constructed in the style known as scarf welding where it is forged welded from two wootz ingots ( a very common technique in Indian swords).
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Old 18th January 2016, 03:30 AM   #30
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Indian Tulwar/Talwar with a wootz blade from Gavin (swordsantiqueweapons)

Quote:
The blade is a scarf welded wootz contruction, it has a very nice curve and a sharp bevelled cutting edge free from nicks. The back edge at the tip is sharpened for approx 20cms.
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