Is my sword "real"?

Discussion in 'Weapon Resources' started by Anth, May 4, 2005.

  1. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country

    Yes it's hard abut also quite brittle, if you hold a sheet of same the individual nodules can break away also, I have an old Shin gunto and the same had split but when I had the entire tsuka refurbished, the wood was 100% sound, not bad for something 80 years old.

  2. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    I see. because I was wandering pawn shops eealeir today..or yesterday, and I saw what appears to a real japanes sword. Seems too short to be a katana but to long to be a wakizashi and the tsuka doesnt ahve the typically straight and fat fake pvc plastic look, and even if the blade isnt legit its only marked at 69 USD and i might be able to get the guy to drop the price a bit more. the fittngs looks prety awesome, which were what atracted me to it. Ill prolly end up buying it.
  3. Hapkidoin P

    Hapkidoin P Valued Member

    Nice looking blade,Dave.

    I'm going to guess that that's a production blade. Looks like a re-vamped LL to me. The only thing that I can see that gives me a push towards production is the two mekugi ana. The tsuba looks like anything you can order nowadays,and something about the hi disturbs me...can't put my finger on it,though.

    Also the kissaki looks a bit pregnant,and the yokote looks a little off. Can't really see any I couldn't even guess if it's steel. It looks nice,though. :) How does it handle?

    I probably bombed out,it's early yet... :D
  4. l3LUE-ghost

    l3LUE-ghost New Member

    is black carbon a safe steel. it obviously has no chrome in it, however it prices the same as steel 440, even tho this probably means nothing. even so, does black carbon steel have any dire weaknesses in it?
  5. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country

    ... It handles very well for me, it's 2,45 shaku and has an even sori, its about 900 grams, silk ito and sageo, stirling silver fuchi/kashira. the hi-ire is quite deep on both sides thus makes a huge noise :)

    I use this sword regularly in my study

  6. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    I assume you are talking about some type of steel. What type i have o idea as I never head of black carbon as a reference to steel. usually black carbon refeces to lamp black or sootie that stuff that is left over after you burn something.

    Do you mean steels that have a black coating over them?
    If so any steel can have that coating. I myself own three blades taht are black coated. two are two diffent types of carbon steel and the other is a stainless.
  7. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country

    I think they're refering to "anodising" the steel to make it black after construction.
  8. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    LOL "anodizing" steel.......thats so funny. Because anodizing is where a lay of oxides are electircally coated to a base metal, and iron ixide is not soemthing you want coating a sword.
    But there are several other processes used to coat steel to make it more rust resistant.
  9. Domenico

    Domenico Valued Member

    Not to be too much of a joykill, but Iron Oxide *is* a viable technique for preserving steel, even though common sense would say it's bad.
    16th and 17th century swords were often "rusted" on purpose, and are referred to as having a Russet or Sanguine finish. The idea is that with a controlled oxidation process, a thin layer of rust actually prevents the steel underneath from corroding any further. It's just like Verdigris with Copper and Bronze works.

    Ghost, one (very long... :) note for you is to discard the phrase "Carbon Steel", and ignore anyone selling a blade using those words. Carbon is what turns Iron *into* Steel, so it's kind of an oxymoron. You're correct in being concerned *about* the Carbon, but it's easy to lose track, especially when dealing with unknown manufacturers.

    The three traits you *SHOULD* focus on, and get under your belt when evaluating swords are the *AMOUNT* of Carbon, the specific Alloy they use, and the hardness of the finished object.

    First, think of Steel as an Iron Alloy. Iron by itself is very durable, but does not harden. Carbon is what allows it to harden, and the amount of Carbon will change the behavior of the Alloy. Also, the harder you make your steel, the more brittle it gets.

    Too much Carbon will *NOT* made your sword brittle, what makes your sword brittle is hardening it too much. It's a subtle difference but very important to think about. More on that later...

    Low Carbon Steels are those with Carbon contents generally below 40 points, or .4%. It has enough Carbon to make it harder, but is not a good candidate for a differential hardening or tempering, which are the traits a blade needs (hard edge, flexible core).

    A good blade should have 50 points or higher of Carbon in the Alloy, preferably between 60 and 90 points (.60% - .90%). Now, the *more* Carbon you have in the Alloy will make it potentially harder, but it can become too brittle to be of any use.

    Without going into too much metallurgical mumbo jumbo, hardening of Steel occurs when a certain temperature is reached, and the blade is then quenched, fixing the crystal structure in place. Depending on the types of crystals, and the rate at which it is heated and cooled will result in various states, but for simplicity, let's just say our blade is now "hard" after the quench, and let's further assume that our level of hardness is the maximum achievable under the particular Alloy we're using.

    A "low" carbon steel will hit about 25-40 on the Rockwell 'C' Scale. A "medium" carbon steel will hit about 50C, and a "high" carbon steel will hit up to about 62C.

    To give you a frame of reference for what these C's mean, the edges of most quality knives will be in the 55-60C range, and swords will be in the 50-55C range (knives having a harder edge, as they are not subject to the same impacts as swords). The spine or core of a knife or sword would usually be Softer, usually in the 40's. This will ensure a certain amount of flexibility, i.e. the edge may chip, but the blade won't break. Back to our blade...

    So, we've now hardened that blade, and assuming you've got a high carbon content, you've got a sword with a fairly uniform hardness of 62C. Given what you've learned above, you know it's now to brittle to withstand the rigors asked of it, so now you have to knock back the hardness. Here's where tempering comes in. If you gently raise the temperature of the blade (350-500 degrees F) you will slowly reduce the hardening. The higher you take it, the softer it gets, until you've removed the hardening completely. To achieve a differential temper, you would heat one area more than another. Since a blade usually has different masses in the different areas (more steel at the core, less at the edge), you would ideally add more heat to the spine, and less to the edge, so that the spine gets a bit softer than the edge. There are many ways to do this, but suffice to say you've now got a differential temper, and you've taken your theoretical 62C sword, and changed it to a 48-52C sword, which is a much better tool.

    Greatly oversimplified, yes, but a neccesary bit of info when evaluating blades.

    So, now let's talk Alloys. You've already witnessed how the amount of Carbon will change the behavior, and that is one part of the Alloy.

    Alloys (under the SAE standard) follow a naming convention that gives you a clue as to what's in the Steel. Simple steel alloys are referred to as the 1000 series, and the amount of Carbon in it is indicated by the last two digits. 1018 would have roughly .18% Carbon, 1050 would have .50%, and 1090 would have .90%, as well as trace quantities of other elements, Molybdenum, Selenium, Sulphur, etc.

    Other Alloys have more or less of these other Elements, and they have various effects of the steel as well, wear resistance, rust resistance, grain growth, etc. The other Alloys that get used to make swords are 5160 (the 60 refers to the Carbon content, and this is the material used to make leaf springs for vehicles), A1, O1, D1 (various tool steels, such as those used to make lathe bits, drill bits, files, etc.). Each steel Alloy behaves differently, and it is these differences that cause one maker to choose one material for a specific application. Thus you've now dipped your toes in the ocean of Alloys.

    The 400 series is a Stainless Alloy (Molybdenum and Chromium being the biggies if I recall correctly), and it's these elements that give it the rust resistance, but you sacrifice the durability of simple or tool alloys to get it. 440A, B, and C are three different common Stainless steels used, and the higher the letter, the more Carbon is in it. 440C is a common Knife steel, but makes for a lousy sword, it's too soft in some regards (due to the other Elements), and too brittle in others (people harden it too high in order to counteract the inherent softness of the other elements). In the world of Stainless, 440B would be a better choice for a sword, but Stainless steels are a poor choice overall, and I'd stick with a 5160, or similar alloys, for most blades.

    More data then you asked for, but hopefully a useful primer.

  10. Hapkidoin P

    Hapkidoin P Valued Member

    Hey Dave,

    You gonna tell us? :D
  11. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country lol
  12. Juego Todo

    Juego Todo Stay thirsty, my friends.

    Heck, if it can kill, then I guess it's real? I don't think your opponent would care whether it was this or that. He'd either be dismembered or dead.

  13. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    by real we meana sword that can be used safely for cutting, forms or sparring practice with out actually falling apart, also one that could be used more than once to attacksomeone, if you had to.
    Granted anything that you see touch taste and smell is real, but a wallhange isnt really a sword, its a decrotive item tha tlooks like a sword.
  14. mai tai

    mai tai Valued Member

    it seems that there are quite a few sword experts here. i have a sword (katana) that my grandfather took as a war trophy in WWII. i would never use it but are they "good" swords
  15. Kagebushi

    Kagebushi New Member

    erm... the swords in ww2 were usually just stamped pieces of steel... not very nice weapons..... barely functional in fact, but theres also stories of finding Garands split in two... regardless of the stories there were surely good ones involved in the war as well as the ones the military issued to boost morale.
  16. Hyaku

    Hyaku Master of Nothing

    Well they cut well. But they are usually a factory produced peice of metal.
    Strip in down and you will find a sakura stamp on the tang (part of the sword in the hilt).

    Some people did take family heirlooms that were put into military mounts.
    Its worth checking to see how its marked. You could have something of value if its in good condition.
  17. mai tai

    mai tai Valued Member

    very interesting, i always thought it was a good sword cause i figured that the japanese. with there strong warrior traditon, would not put out anything but fuctional swords.

    i saw on the discovery channel how these swords were handed down from samari days and i always figured it to be the same.

    when i thought it was a family heirloom i considered finding the family and giving it back. however i disalowed that grandfather picked it up from an officer he killed, any real warror would want it that way. that how i would want it.

    i dont care if its valuable or not.

    its valuable to me
  18. Arikuni

    Arikuni New Member

    stainless steel blades are an insult to the art of kenjutsu and of japanese swordmaking for that matter i cannot afford a real sword but to practice iajutsu i purchased a bokken with a sheath
  19. Kagebushi

    Kagebushi New Member

    most iaitou i've seen are stainless. nothing wrong with using it, it's just rare to find one of any real quality... and then theyre still nowhere near a high-carbon forged blade.

    by the way, is your sheath plastic?
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2005
  20. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    Wrong. Most Iaito are made of a aluminum zinc alloy. Stainless steels are innaproiate for use in any kind of sword that does more than hang on your wall, ie if its going to be swung or cut with.
    Also sword blades are NOT made of a high carbon steel, knife blades and cutting tools are but not swords.

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