differential tempered EUROPEAN swords

Is there anyone that produces differential tempered EUROPEAN swords ?
( slightly off topic )
And, Would filling the fuller of a sword with a similar clay as used in
heat treating Japanese swords work as a technique to increase this
differential tempering effect ? Maybe leaving the edges at 52 to 54 R.C.
and with the center of the blade in the 40 to 45 R.C. (Just guessing
here as to the numbers.)
Any idea if European swordsmiths ever used this technique ? Or did they
use different ways to get a similar effect. I have seen a tool that
resembled a tong that perhaps was used to apply heat to the center of
the blade to retemper it. This would be done by heating the ends of the
"tong" hot enough that touching the fuller of the blade would turn it
blue quickly. You need to do this on both sides simultaneously, then
need to cool immediately {water}, or you risk softening the edges too.
Doing something like this gives a hard edge, and a softer body. Today,
Tinker does something like this to "differentially temper" his blades,
and he comes up with an edge of 58 to 60rc, and a body of 46 to 48 rc.
This also gives you a very different product than traditional
differential hardening, the Japanese way.
Even without the antique tools, differential tempering makes sense. We
know that many of the older antiques exhibit varying hardness', and we
know that many of them exhibit a springiness to them. Pearlite isn't
overly springy, its tough, tends to bend {take a set} relatively easy
compared to the same crossection martensite.....
We have texts from the 16th C about the tempering of steel and those
show us that there was a developed understanding of the effects of heat,
cooling rate and degrees of temper of steel. Although there was no
concept of carbon content.
Steel used varied as well. From the rather crude to material of very
high quality.
When heat treating simple carbon steel, and especially in a very fine
grain structure (as you would want in a sword blade) the ability to
harden gets pretty low. That means you will have to cool the material
very quickly to get any martencite at all. The martensite you get will
also not go very deep. How deep depends on carbon content, grain
structure, quenching medium, shape of cross section of the blade, mass
of the blade and amount of heat to remove.
Knowing this, it becomes pretty obvious how meaningless it becomes to
speak about specific effects of "medieval" methods and apply these in a
very general way. There are simply too many variations to take into account.
What we can see is that a simple "monosteel" blade of diamond cross
section will just as a result of its cross section get a variation in
hardness from the edge to the spine. The core will also show a mixture
of pearlite and bainite in a thick blade. It is like a skin of varying
thickness with martensitic structure (hardened) around an oval core with
a less hard structure. In a thinner blade the base might have this
mixture of "unhardened" material in the core, while the outer section
towards the point gets hardened all the way through.
Please not this need not be the result of lamination of iron core, steel
surface: a monosteel blade of simple carbon steel will show this
variation of structure trough out its length and thickness.
This is a result of varying cooling rates of different parts of the blade.
You do not have to play with differential tempering to get these effects
of varying hardness. They could well have done that, but it seems the
most applied method up till the 15th C was to temper on the remaining
heat: an interrupted quench. This can give good results but takes high
skill to do well. It does not lend itself well for differential
tempering, though. I am not saying it was not done.
If you also play with the heating of the blade so that the edges get a
higher heat than the core, you will also get interesting result without
having to resort to clay coating or any other exotic method.
In a text from 1780, Sven Rinman, a Swedish metallurgist, writes that a
recommended way to give heat treat to cut and thrust swords was that an
experienced master should heat the blade so that the edges glowed orange
and the midrib was more dull. This was I know that the vikings did write runes on their weapons to make them
more effective in combat.
Alu is a Germanic charm word appearing on numerous runic inscriptions
found in Central and Northern Europe dating from between 200 and 800 CE.
The word ? the most common of the early runic charm words.
The only local weapon that has a runic word written on it that i know
about was found at Øvre Stabu farm at Eastern Toten, Oppland, in one of
two graves, a 28 cm long spearhead with a runic inscription was found.
In the grave they also found other weapons and fragments of weapons,
more or less damaged by fire and corrosion. The tomb and the inscription
are dated to the last half of the 200's AD. Thus it is one of the oldest
runic inscriptions in Norway.
formatting link

The nSl. word raunijaR is similar to the gno. reynir, which means "one
who tries". raunijaR might be the name of the spear.
A good deal of Norwegian futharcs and some inscriptions:
formatting link

Here's a sketch of a axehead that a local blacksmith is going to make
for me:
formatting link
Hausakliuf (skullsplitter, the name of the axe )
Alu (to guard) winr ( freind) Gautstafr ( Gustav ).
Here is some of the shapes a viking battle axehead had.
formatting link
Ådal (Buskerud) (C25583)
2)Fugltun, Selbu (Sør-Trøndelag) ca. 900 (T16687)
3)Homerstad, Stange (Hedmark) ca. 800-950 (C10150)
4)Namdalseid (Nord-Trøndelag) ca. 850
a Skjeggøks (bearded axehead )
:Steinsvik, Nordland
formatting link

The blade on the axehead itself was reasonably light and forged very
thin, making it superb for cutting. The thickness of the body above the
edge is somethimes as thin as 2mm. Many of these axes were constructed
with a reinforced bit, typically of a higher carbon steel to facilitate
a harder, sharper edge. Average weight of an axe this size is between 1
kg and 2 kg (2 and 4 pounds). Proportionally, the long axe has more in
common with a modern meat cleaver than a wood axe. This complex
construction results in a lively and quick weapon with devastating
cutting ability.
Based on period depictions, the haft of a Longaxe for combat was usually
between approx. 0.9 m and 1.2 m (3 and 4 feet) long, although Dane axes
used as status symbols might be as long as 1.5 to 1.7 m (5 to 5 1/2ft).
Such axes might also feature inlaid silver and frequently may not have
the flared steel edge of a weapon designed for war. Some surviving
examples also feature a brass haft cap, often richly decorated, which
presumably served to keep the head of the weapon secure on the haft, as
well as protecting the end of the haft from the rigors of battle. Ash
and oak are the most likely materials for the haft, as they have always
been the primary materials used for polearms in Europe.
Reply to
Loading thread data ...
A lot of sword makers do a differential hardening process, Steve could do one for you, you'd just have to ask.
Filling the fuller with a mixture as in Jim's book would work, there's no real reason it wouldn't. Personally I like to paint on my temper. I really have to get around to making that swords tempering tool.
History says no on differential hardening techniques in dark age Europe.
I think the differences you are describing are due to metal selection as opposed to the heat treating.
Regards Charles
icepr> Is there anyone that produces differential tempered EUROPEAN swords ? >
Reply to
Well,swords of both Early and High Middle Ages were differentially hardened. Archeometric examinations have revealed this without any doubt. Peter Johnsson has done a lot of research on this.
Reply to
I did say "no" on differential hardening techniques in Dark age Europe, however blades in the dark ages weren't the same hardness through the entire blade.
The blades were simply hardened and tempered, a two step process, hardening and tempering.
The differential hardening technique is a technique that is a one step operation.
I suspect that the swords you are referring to have been heat treated in a two step process, one of hardening and one of tempering. This is not a differential hardening technique, this is a standard heat treatment of a sword, which will if done correctly produce a blade which is not the same hardness throughout the blade.
I would be interested in "any" study claiming a early/high medieval technique that used clay to protect a blade from the heat treating process.
Reply to
No it ain't. :)
I use what I call "the arrest point method" to determine the time to quench my knife blades and springs. There is a brighter section that's gone through the arrest point and a "shadowy" section that hasn't. The brighter section is usually the thinner sections and the darker section is usually the thicker sections.
As soon as the whole piece's color evens out... I-quick and quench it.
No magnets (or messing around with magnets or time spent messing with magnets) are needed. :)
I've quenched a large butcher knife where only the thinner hollow ground part had gone through the arrest point and it turned out real good. :)
But then the back square edges of it couldn't be used to sharpen sorry factory made knives. ;)
Doggonit I didn't scan the graph showing the basis for my "arrest point method" and it's been over a year since I've been able to scan stuff. :/
Alvin in AZ ps- unsubscribed to rec.knives
Reply to
Actually, I've been lurking here for quite a while :-)
But on the subject.
Years ago when I was a journeyman I was taught that the way to temper knife blades or any other tools that might be subjected to twisting, bending or impact stress was to first harden them (cherry red, in those days) and then color temper them by heating a non working portion until the desired color ran to the working surface.
I.e., first fully harden a knife blade and them heat the back of the blade until a, say, yellow color reached the cutting edge and then quench. Isn't this essentially a differential hardening technique? Yes, I know the Japanese smiths did a single quenching of a coated blade, but isn't this simply one technique to obtain a desired result and isn't the result what one is aiming at?
When I was a lad there were still a few working blacksmiths in existence although by that time it was s dying trade (it later came back in the form of farriers) so I assume that what I was taught was common knowledge in the trade at that time.
And if they knew about this in New England when I was a lad isn't it possible that they knew about it in the middle ages? After all they have been banging on hunks of hot iron for more then a few years.
Reply to
Bruce in Bangkok
Technique and definition is my point, although you are correct in saying that a good knife will exhibit a difference in temper through the blade (a process older than steel), the process used to obtain that heat treatment is not a differential temper technique. In fact you definitely don't get the temper line that is associated with heat treating process that uses clay to mask parts of the sword.
If you go to a professional heat treater and ask them about differential hardening and tempering techniques, they will either, not know what you're talking about, or they become very interested.
I had a batch of swords done professionally (okay, but pretty much just a 57 rockwell spring temper, okay for a sword, but not optimal).
I mentioned the clay coating techniques as outlined in Jim's book and the heat treater got very interested.
I do them myself now (cause petrol is a price I don't like to forward on to the customer)as I like to paint on the temper (and have more control over the properties of the sword). I have not tried a differential heat treating process using clay... yet, but the temper line is an inviting and interesting feature imo.
Regards Charles
Reply to
Cool. :)
Yes and it's a good one too. :)
I once forged a spade-type wood-drill-bit from 1/4" O1 drill rod and drew the temper the same way you describe.
Since O1 doesn't get all that hard, I figured I'd finish it up by sharpening it with a file. :) It didn't file so good! :)
Had to sharpen it with the grinder real careful like. :)
It'd be cool to gather all the different ways to "differentialy harden" steel in one place and evaluate the results.
Different steels lend themselves to different methods tho. Like the clay mask doesn't work so good with austenite stabilizing alloying like the Cr in 5160 for example.
That's the way I see it but Charles is looking at it from the "proof" side of it as reported by "experts".
I don't know anything about any proof or lack there of! :) I haven't studied "old" sword stuff at all. :/
I do suspect "experts" and their "expert opinions" tho. :/ Always have and always will. :)
Alvin in AZ
Reply to
Actually Charles is looking at it in terms of a definition of technique ;-)
All I was saying is that there's not proof to the differential hardening technique using a clay mask. They may have used it, but there's no proof.
Hardening and tempering has been known since we started using metal seriously. This is not known as a differential technique.
There's heaps of references and pictorial evidence of heat treating swords, and how to temper the the blade with a hard cutting edge and a soft core.
Fair enough, and quite right :-)
Regards Charles
Reply to
Of course the major "proof" that the Japanese were using clay and a one time quench is because they are still doing it. The Europeans, on the other hand, took to making guns instead of swords. Perhaps if they hadn't there would be evidence of "clay hardening"
Think of the "magic" Damascus steel. How long have they known what it was and how it came about? Perhaps there was a lost technique of differential hardening in Europe that was forgotten.
Reply to
Bruce in Bangkok
We occasionally had to make a boring bar or some other metal cutting tool for one time use and used "drill rod". I used to harden and then clean off the scale and temper but the Apprentice Master used to do it all in one go. Quench, jump around to get the thing clean enough to see the colors and quench again. Used to miss occasionally and have to do it over :-(
Reply to
Bruce in Bangkok
Perhaps European blade makers did use clay, but there is no evidence to this. Who knows maybe someone will find a hidden document or an artifact that proved clay was used.
Magic Damascus steel (This one can get a little messy too :-)), as opposed to pattern welded steel.
Prior to the Crusades the European swordsmen weren't into the practice of making a sword blade razor sharp, there was no point, the level of metal technology wasn't that great. If a razor edge was applied, it wouldn't last long. This didn't really matter as contemporary documentation suggests that the blades were use with more brute force i.e. infrequent very heavy blows, sometimes done with two hands on a single grip sword.
As an aside the majority of swords from this period had a grip length 6-7 cm (2 3/8" - 2 3/4"). Which meant that your pinkie, and ring finger on your right hand was exposed (no one fought left handed for practical reasons). Note: Average hand size has not changed in Europe within the last 10 centuries.
At best the swords had a soft iron core and better steel on the edge of the blade. The worst examples were Viking swords that would bend under impact and the Vikings would have to straighten them under foot.
"Ah", you may say. "What about the fine examples of Viking swords we see in collections today?"
Well if you study swords you will find that there a are a "lot" of swords with the same makers name on them. The Vikings used to import a lot of their swords, and they had there favorite makers (we do the same thing today, anyone "not" own a Swiss Army Knife?).
When the Crusaders started to play in the world's largest sand box, they not only came across very sharp swords, but swords that could hold an edge, and this was the magic Damascus you are referring to. It can also be called wootz and bhulat.
These steels are crucible steels, obviously made in a crucible. The steel puck created from this process, does not need to be heat treated (or so modern experimenters tell me).
The steel puck can be shaped into a blade, finished, lemon juice applied and that's it ready to go.
I have not been able to acquire a puck, modern or antique, to test this, I only have the documentation of experimenters and researchers.
Naturally the Crusaders brought back not only the practice of "really" sharpening swords, but also Damascus steel billets and swords.
Sharp swords also influenced they style of sword fighting, as can be seen with the introduction of sword fighting schools, whose techniques are very flowery in comparison to Viking styles.
Regards Charles
Reply to
I did a blacksmith course a couple of years back and the instructor demonstrated the concept of hardening and tempering in a one step process. This process wouldn't necessarily suit knife making...
The demonstration was making a scriber.
He heated up the metal to a cherry red (as you'd do with any spring steel), and quenched it. Then quickly he cleaned off the tool and watched as the resudule heat changed the colours of the tip, and dipped it in oil once again to halt the tempering stage. He then stabbed the point into a piece of mild steel plate, and left it sticking there.
The other students attempted this and failed, usually chipping off their tips in the process and having to re-forge another tip to try again.
I use a standard technique to harden mine, took the same amount of time and was still able to to the sticking into the steel plate thing.
I appreciated his demonstration, and the skill required to do it, but for my purposes I'd never use it so I stuck to a technique I know works for me :-)
Regards Charles
Reply to
I used the term deliberately as "pattern welded" steel has been known as "Damascus" steel for generations. the differentiation of the two materials is relatively recent and I'm an old man :-)
I suggest that this was more a matter of what they were doing rather then what they had. If you are going to batter people armed with metal reinforced shields or wearing some sort of armor you probably want about a 60 degree edge, like a cold chisel. Not a 15 degree edge and razor sharpness.
In the Viking period the Nordic countries were very primitive and damned hard to make a living in. The reason the Vikings were doing their best to colonize the english islands was because it was so much easier to live there. Didn't snow hardly a bit.
Not obviously. They have excavated a forge and found the crucibles and furnace with (I think) even some of the crucibles packed in place. I can't point you at the URL but I did read the report on the Web.
Reply to
Bruce in Bangkok
Exactly, but showing off a bit. I can do it, or could when I was working at it, but (frankly) it was more a stunt to show that you really had your act together. When I was alone I usually hardened and then tempered in two heats.
Reply to
Bruce in Bangkok
Personally I'd like to see the differentiation, the modern use of the word Damascus is technically incorrect, but that's just me being fussy... meh.
When you look at what the average Viking wore to fight, even those wealthy enough to afford a sword, armour was sparse.
The average Viking basically wore clothes, carried a shield, maybe a throwing spear, helmet, a sax and (maybe) a sword.
Shields of that period, and region, were constructed out of wood (linden was a generic term used to represent many different types of wood not necessarily the wood used in construction), with a central grip, an iron boss (being a metal hemisphere to protect the hand, for those that don't know), and in the case of a Viking artifact, a large metal ring. This ring allowed the wooden planks to be reinforced from behind.
The purpose of this ring was also to allow the vertically aligned slats to have a raw edge. This construction was an effective Viking trick. A weapon coming down with force would split the planks and get jammed in the grain of the wood, twist the shield and your opponent is weaponless.
Relatively primitive, I agree that their metal technology was sub-standard as opposed to the Franks, who were early arms dealers :-D
The Vikings still harassed the Frankish people, and in the case of one type of North-men they harassed the Franks so much they they bought them off with titles and lands, hence the Normans came into existence.
The Vikings were interested in colonisation, and the reason Greenland was called "green land", was because "Freeze-your-balls-off land" doesn't encourage colonisation :-D
Okay... evidence and existing artifacts strongly suggest that Damascus was made in a crucible. However if you do find that links I'm always up for a good read :-)
I've approached many of the modern experimenters to purchase a puck, but due to the effort in their manufacture they're not willing to part with them.
I've also been out bit on antiques.
Basically I want to try before I attempt to make them myself.
Regards Charles
Reply to
A matter of semantics. Pattern welded steel was known as "Damascus" for several hundred years. And probably the middle easterners called it a different name anyway.
Also a cheap and dirty of holding the edge of the wood together.
"Relatively" is what is important, if the grass is greener across the paddock then all the sheep want to go to that side. I think you'll find that all migrations are motivated by economics (for want of a better name). If one can make a living easier, or better, in a new place then one moves. Or, if one's neighbors tend to take the best land or the prettiest women then one moves.
The Norse invasions of the English Islands, Ireland, and France were obviously driven by the miserable living in Scandinavia. Why would one give up their farm, pack wife and kiddies, in an open boat. Make a long and hazardous voyage and have to fight to get a new farm if the old farm was any good.
Reply to
Bruce in Bangkok
Yeah, for sure, but. :)
It -was- green! :)
Study up on the "global warming hoax" and you'll see that it was green -then- and will be green (around the edged) again! :)
Don't hold your breath waiting for it tho. ;)
BTW, carbon dioxide -follows- global warming and does not lead it. Gore's got his head up his butt again, our increased CO2 ouput will actually serve to help cool the planet, not warm it.
Believe it? :)
Reply to
Schools out for me on this one.
I've heard that the world will have a non-breathable atmosphere in 60 years.
This may be true, but at the rate technology is going, we'll either have it fixed, have figured out a way to live with it, or we'll go somewhere else and f*ck that place up.
We're close to a pole and I have noticed a change in the weather patterns over the years. Whether this is a natural cycle of the Earth, or man made I'm not sure (and no one really is).
I like something I heard on Futurama :-
"Global warming? Oh that was canceled out by the Nuclear Winter."
Regards Charles
Reply to
Your first comment certainly follows what I have read about early Scandinavian explorations. However, no mention was made whether that was green in relation to Norway, or green relative to African jungles :-)
Your second assertion I can't argue with as I never did any investigation into the question. But, it is a matter of recorded history that at one time the Thames river in England froze over during what was called the mini ice age so fluctuation in climate seems to be perfectly normal.
If one looks at the amount of money that is being expended on "green" activities one can certainly see a reason for certain groups to support the concept.
Reply to
Bruce in Bangkok

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.