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Old 27th March 2022, 12:03 PM   #1
ausjulius
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Default casting of sword blades in the 19th century

i have read and had it mentioned on severla occasionas that both steel and white iron guards were cast in solingin in the 19th century and also that whole sword blades for the austrians were cast specifrically the m1869 sabre with its bazaar blade iwht a fuller on one side and asymetrical grinding.
has anyone hever seen any proof of this . it would be a very inferior method to cast the blade it seems crazy. i can belive the guards coudl have been cast in the uk they were forged with a die and punched out.. but in solingen there was many complex casting s of steel already being made int he 50s and 60s. but the blade just sounds bazaar to me
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Old 27th March 2022, 03:46 PM   #2
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I doubt casting would have been viable for blades back then. One would have to get the molten steel to a pretty high temperature in order to hold the carbon down in an acceptable range and I imagine it would be difficult to adequately decarburize if the casting started as brittle cast iron, as this is mostly a surface phenomenon and a brittle blade core is extremely undesirable. Hopefully some knowledgeable smiths will reply in this thread.
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Old 27th March 2022, 06:55 PM   #3
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I think this is a misinterpretation of the term "fluid cast steel" which appears on some 19th century gun barrels and possibly blades. It refers to the raw billet produced by industrial processes, a homogeneous steel rather than the older folded or puddled metal. This was then forged by hand or rollers into the final product.
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Old 27th March 2022, 07:17 PM   #4
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The "chilled iron plow" was developed in the mid 19th century for casting plows where a heat sink was incorporated into the mold to rapidly cool and harden the soil contacting surfaces. Perhaps something similar was tried with swords, but David's explaination seems more likely.
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Old 27th March 2022, 09:12 PM   #5
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Developments by Huntsman in the 1740s reflected refining shear (blister) steel in crucibles. In following decades, we see a fair amount of sword blades made from these refined steel ignots. These differ from wootz cakes but are still a crucible process. Until Bessemer comes along, this cast steel was a superior cutlery (and spring) steel as an option. We still see "best cast steel" listed for drop forged tools well into the 20th century and indeed, lots of steel is listed as crucible steel.

https://books.openedition.org/pumi/37703?lang=en

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Old 2nd April 2022, 02:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee View Post
The "chilled iron plow" was developed in the mid 19th century for casting plows where a heat sink was incorporated into the mold to rapidly cool and harden the soil contacting surfaces. Perhaps something similar was tried with swords, but David's explaination seems more likely.
yes i belive the blades were cast to shape in a rought blank and then forged to a finished serface with something with a rolling forge like the wilkinson type of rolling forge machines.. but the cast to shape blade would allow the whole sword to be finished with only one rolling die with minimal flashing. as opposed ot the regular rolled blades needing a rolled steel strip reshaped to a taper and then rolled in several dies.
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Old 2nd April 2022, 02:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee View Post
The "chilled iron plow" was developed in the mid 19th century for casting plows where a heat sink was incorporated into the mold to rapidly cool and harden the soil contacting surfaces. Perhaps something similar was tried with swords, but David's explaination seems more likely.
no not "cast" steel but cast into blanks in their rough final form just as today many steel items are. most of the "forged" chinese tools are cast for example
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Old 4th April 2022, 11:02 AM   #8
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Default blade breakers

I've mentioned this in the past but it seems pertinent here:
I have memories of Hollywood depicting the disgraced officer's sword being broken across a knee.
Also, the business of blade breakers incorporated into left-hand daggers and cup-hilt rapiers.
I always felt this was not a plausible situation and certainly the spring in the best blades precludes this, but maybe there were cast blades around: doesn't seem likely.
BTW: Huntsman was a Doncaster clock and watch maker by trade and was searching for the perfect mainspring.
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Old 4th April 2022, 03:04 PM   #9
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This is a conversation that has gone round and round over many years, even on this site. It is possible that the waters have been muddied by written references to "cast blades" which in fact meant "cast from service" and sold on, which is what happened to a lot of the 1796 sabres.
The billet may well have been "fluid cast steel" but it went through a forging and rolling process, which doubled it's length, halved it's thickness,and gave it a better grain, and more resilience. Even so blister steel aka shear steel was still being used for some blades right into the early 20th century.
Some bayonets were made by "drop forging" but still not cast. Below are pictures from a sword factory of automatic hammers and grind stones used in the forging of blades in the late 19th century.
I think if you want to back up the casting of blades theory we now need to see some evidence, video, photo or documentary.
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Old 5th April 2022, 07:23 PM   #10
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Default Manganese

I can't quote figures here but I can say that the iron in the Wupper Valley had a very high Manganese content which reputedly accounted for some of the reason for fine blades.
I notice that the WS manganese content is very low compared to the rest of the steels.
Did Solingen eventually need to import their ore?
Does anyone know if the Danemora iron had high manganese?
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