PDA

View Full Version : Stainless steel???



Geoff.
25th September 2000, 07:27
Are stainless steel blades any good to preform tameshigiri? Any suggestions? Thanks.

Joseph Svinth
25th September 2000, 08:52
When buying custom knives, the general advice I've read recommends against stainless in blades longer than 6-8" because it's a bit brittle. Triple or quadruple that length, and I'd think the problem would be compounded.

The high-carbon steel used to make railroad tracks is supposed to be good, however.

Tom Smyth
25th September 2000, 11:50
I have personally seen two stainless steel blades snap in half during tameshigiri. And the students were cutting beach mats ! We do not allow these in class due to the high risk of injury caused by the flying piece of steel after it breaks. Serious practioners should spend the money to get a quality sword which will last for quite a while.

Gojudude

glad2bhere
25th September 2000, 21:16
GM Koo has recently begun to make arrangements to import Korean swords (shin guem) from Korea. When it was suggested that SS swords could be had for much less, the student was met with a quiet reflective look and a patient explanation that approximates those made earlier in the thread (too brittle; too dangerous; poor balance).

Despite his patience, or because of it, I have since kept my suggestions to myself.

Best Wishes,

Bruce W Sims
http://www.midwesthapkido.com

Paul Steadman
26th September 2000, 09:40
Hi,

In the early days we used 440 S/S blades (from United Cutlery etc.) for tameshigiri, due to economical considerations. We had no problems! We have since moved on to high carbon steel blades (tameshigiri-to, manufactured in S/E Asia), due to the insistence of our Sensei.

As long as you use correct tenouchi (grip), utilise excellent hasuji (blade angle) and proper kirisen (cutting line) one shouldn't have any problems.

Regards,

Paul Steadman

glad2bhere
26th September 2000, 13:50
"As long as you use correct tenouchi (grip), utilise excellent hasuji (blade angle) and proper kirisen (cutting line) one shouldn't have any problems. "

Dear Paul:

If I could do all that, I could use a spatula to good effect! In the meantime I need all the help I can get!

Best Wishes,

Bruce

26th September 2000, 17:00
Paul...buddy...

Don't do that anymore. Especially don't cut thick bamboo with a 440 stainless blade. You are risking serious injury. Stainless steel is way too brittle to be doing really serious cutting. A broken sword flying around is a recipe for disaster. Just because it didn't happen... yet... doesn't mean it will not in the future.

The Japanese developed the unique metallurgy of their swords for good reason. I recommend that you go to the forum at http://www.bugei.com and ask Howard Clark if you want a technical explaination of why this is so dangerous. He understand sword metallurgy at the highest level around.

Toby Threadgill

Dan Harden
27th September 2000, 03:45
When buying custom knives, the general advice I've read recommends against stainless in blades longer than 6-8" because it's a bit brittle. Triple or quadruple that length, and I'd think the problem would be compounded.

The high-carbon steel used to make railroad tracks is supposed to be good, however.
__________________
Joe
http://ejmas.com

*******************************

I think the comments are a bit simplistic. In and of themselves "Stainless steels" are a far more diverse and complex group than to make simple comparisons to carbon steels. The various methods used for hardening/tempering are as diverse as the steels themselves.
When discussing stainless steels, many people refer to the old types usually used by factories in cheap cutlery; 440A,b,and C being the most common. There are a wealth of stainless steels out now, with excellent performance capabilities that smiths are very well aware of, and the public knows little about. While I agree that the use of them in swords can be exceedingly difficult,it is not impposible. It is just that most smiths and ANY factory are not up to the task at hand. Personally, having tried them,I don't use them in swords.
Knives are different story though. Many smiths have, and would, agree with me, that the performance characteristics of a well forged and shaped stainless steel blade will surpass that of carbon blades. Brittleness? Maybe in a factory blade or a maker who wasn't knowledgable of the materials available and the differential tempering processes.
I could make you a blade of Differentailly hardened cpm420v that will withstand any abuse you wish to offer it. AND, it will outcut any plain carbon steel you wish to place it up against. I would love to sit back and suck up a few suds as I watched you "intentionally" try to break it in half in a vise!
The notion of the "bendable blade" is usually carried too far. The tests put out by the various knife groups afford a much to soft and bendable "back" in my opinion. Then again so do many of the Katana offered. When I place my knives in a vise for a bending test and the bend "sets" at 90 deg.(as is the norm in many of these tests) I consider it a failure. It should spring back under tension. I have had knives that threw a 215lb guy back with released force.

An edge will generally perform well in the 58-59 rockwell C range for most steels. The back and tang will be far better off in the spring tempered state than in a hardened state (factory knives) or in a softened state as is frequently found in differentially tempered smithed knives.
There are several "powder metallurgy" stainless steels offered these days that will outperform most any other steel offered. Too, one should consider it of paramount importance to understand the effects that blade geometry plays in the functionality of any tool. Distal tapering, edge geometry, ridge height etc., play as equal a role in determining the ultimate failure of any tool as do the type of steel and the tempering offered.
I could offer you a plain carbon steel blade, uniformly tempered in the 60C range and ground with a hollow ground edge with an equal "back" thickness from the riccaso to just below the point. Then place it up against an ATS34 stainless steel blade distally tapered with a canard edge with a rockwell of 58 on the edge and 45 on the back.

Guess which one will win?

And only a "part" of the performance parameters were directly attributable to the steel used.


*****************************************


Hi,

In the early days we used 440 S/S blades (from United Cutlery etc.) for tameshigiri, due to economical considerations. We had no problems! We have since moved on to high carbon steel blades (tameshigiri-to, manufactured in S/E Asia), due to the insistence of our Sensei.

As long as you use correct tenouchi (grip), utilize excellent hasuji (blade angle) and proper kirisen (cutting line) one shouldn't have any problems.

Regards,

Paul Steadman


Paul.

With all do respect. Tameshigiri is not all the same. I cut through live trees and steel cable with my katana. I know several smiths who do the same or equal. These tests are far more tortuous than cutting up grass or bamboo. Cutting these soft objects is no true test of a blades abilities. In my opinion they are BARELY adaquate tests of the ability of the men wielding them.
It isn’t that the stainless steel swords you were using were “safe” due to your te-no-uchi or ha-suji. They could have been drawn back so far on the rockwell scale that the entire blade was essentially soft. That is the reason they didn’t break. It is also the reason that many others from different “shops” >DO< break. They are hardened through and through. Those blades can kill you when they break. Well, then again so will a poorly constructed plain carbon steel blade.
All in all I would say you were lucky NOT to have had a mishap. It is probably a good idea to stay away from stainless steel swords in general. More so for the questionable pedigree than simply for the materials offered


Don’t buy into the myth of the all mighty Japanese sword steel either. It was crude, smelted garbage, that had to be folded many times to remove the impurities. More should have been written about the skill of the men involved, who arrived at anything half way decent out of the junk they were handed to begin with!
The stunning good looks are more of a byproduct born out of necessity than anything of intentional design. The folding process, necessary to remove the slag and impurities, and to distribute the carbon happened to produce some interesting visual effects. The lack of Manganese (an oxidizing inhibitor) is what helped to keep the steel darker than conventional steels when Nugui is applied.
The result of the folding did nothing more than to homogenize an impure product. In its time it was the best method to attain an essentially uniform carbon distribution. After the attainment of a somewhat uniform carbon distribution, the complex folding patterns like Kobuse and San Mai, are completely unnecessary for the stresses placed on the blade. This has been proved out in tests performed by smiths in several countries. In fact, they did little more than add another potential for wled failure. The resonances set up in a blade at the moment of impact on hard targets do not require a soft support core (kobuse)or the support of a springy skin (san mai). And as far as cutting goes, provided all else is equal;

any modern plain carbon steel will equal it (From ANY country).

Plain carbon steels, with the addition of vanadium will out cut it.

Others, with the addition of both vanadium and nickel will both out cut it and out perform it.

The nickel and the vanadium keep the Hamon well into a diffuse Nioi. The vanaduim, in addition to inhibiting the formation of large grains, creates vanadium carbides that are harder than the martinsite formed by carbon carbides found in the more simple "tradionally" smelted Japanese product. The nickel naturally diffuses the formation of large grains and greatly increases the ductility (with blade geometry being equal)
There are several American smiths (including myself) who would put the performance of their blades (not the polish) up against any Japanese steel out there. Old or new.

More nonsense has been written about the supposed “perfection” of the Japanese sword than any other sword in history. The majority of it being written by scholars with no practical knowledge of metallurgy or martial art “dreamers” who have bought into, and carried on, the myth. In its time, it was an excellent tool. But so were many other indigenous peoples blades. The complex folding patterns of some of the Viking blades were far more complicated than the Japanese ones. They expressed a deep and profound knowledge of the materials, the shaping , heat treating and ultimate requirements of the tool.
What made the Japanese sword stand above the rest was the totality of the processes in its manufacture. The quality of the steel being only one part of the equation. The refined structure of many smiths steel produced a small grain that when properly hardened, maintained a small grain (this shows as Nioi in the Hamon). But! There were many failures. You can find many weld openings and inclusions in Koto to modern blades. You will also find many enlarged granular structures as evidenced by Nie in the Hamon, which produced a weakened blade. While some smiths and collectors enjoy the look of Nie, its presence reveals a compromised blade. Beyond the quality of the steel,it was the knowledge of the shaping of the blade that did much to contribute to their legend. First and foremost, were the complex tapering, both in thickness and width. Secondarily it was the quality and perfetion of those lines. Add to that, the unsurpassed polish and finish as well as the fittings that expressed so much care and skill that these blades were fitted with. It was the totality of these processes that garnered the admiration of knowledgable men.
I suppose I should add (and some would argue that this was myth as well) the highly refined skill of the wielders of these terrible instruments of death.

Dan
“who had the distinct pleasure of having a Nagunobu blade bend while his own blade kept on cutting.”





[Edited by Dan Harden on 09-27-2000 at 06:44 AM]

Joseph Svinth
27th September 2000, 13:56
I'm sorry, Dan, I assumed that Geoff was asking about commercial swords costing under $500 rather than custom pattern welded swords costing over $2,000. Therefore I assumed that the short answer would do, especially as the short answer only took me a couple minutes to write instead of an hour. But, as one knows what happens when one assumes, the following is an essay about steel.

Because they require almost no maintenance, swords intended for display are commonly made from 440-series or 420-J2 stainless steels. Unfortunately these steels are not especially suitable for heavy use, which includes whacking makiwara and tatami. But then, that was not really what they were intended for, either. SwordForum.com discusses the problems of 440-series and 420-J2 stainless at http://www.swordforum.com/metallurgy/stainlesssuitable.html . See also http://www.cancom.net/~hnilica/metals.html .

Now, if you intend on whacking things but still want the low maintenance provided by a stainless steel, a much more suitable sword metal is the Swedish K-120 stainless used in many Chen blades. For details, see http://www.swordforum.com/faq/faq-chen.html and http://www.damasteel.se ; also follow the links found at http://www.newsteel.com/features/NS9909f3.htm .

Another MUCH more expensive alternative is having a smith pattern-weld a custom sword using stainless rather than tool steels. The pattern-welding process is often called Damascene, but this is not accurate because that term properly refers only to medieval Indian steel called wootz. (The name "Damascus" in this case does not refer to the Syrian city but to a type of cloth known as damask, whose patterns wootz resembled.)

If you want to read more about pattern-welded blades, try James P. Hrisoulas, "THE COMPLETE BLADESMITH", "THE MASTER BLADESMITH", and "THE PATTERN WELDED BLADE" (all Paladin Press). Online, also see http://www.techfak.uni-kiel.de/matwis/amat/def_en/kap_5/advanced/t5_1_1.html

Finally, if you have specific questions, a fellow who will try to answer them resides at http://www.anvilfire.com.

As for breaking swords, that's easy. The first way recalls a demonstration done on "That's Incredible" years ago. Some Great Grand Master was going to show John Davidson how he used his incredible ki to break iron bars with his bare hands. Unfortunately host Davidson accidentally bumped into the bars first and they shattered -- seems they'd been dipped in liquid nitrogen prior to airtime. The other way is the old-fashioned way -- you issue the thing to a private, tell him that this is his general-purpose tool to be carried with him everywhere he goes, and then wait at the supply room door with the replacement parts.

27th September 2000, 16:44
Dan & Joseph,

Excellent posts. Geoff thats probably everything and more than you ever wanted to know about sword metalurgy. Hey, ask on E-budo and you will receive... maybe in spades! LOL

Dan,

Have you seen one of Howard Clarks L6 Super Katana's?

I cut with one recently and was quite impressed. Amazingly traditional looking hamon all things considered.

BTW, How have you been ?

Toby

glad2bhere
27th September 2000, 17:15
Dear Dan and Toby:

Fascinating responses.

This question is a bit off to one side but have either of you read the material carried in a relatively recent book on Aikido and its relationship to Chinese arts? The reason I ask is because the was quite a bit of metallurgical information in there, though I must confess I had a hard time following it. I believe the gist of the material was to identify relationships between metallugical developements in the Far East as it related to smelting methods found in Northern Europe. The various psoitions were supported by assessing the chemical composition of materials excavated in various sites in Scandinavia, China, Korea and Japan.

Thoughts?

Bruce

Paul Steadman
28th September 2000, 00:45
Thanks guys,

Advice taken. We don't use S/S blades anymore! When we did we were only cutting soft material (grass mats, rolled wet newspaper etc) nothing hard-core. All the best.

Regards,

Paul Steadman

Earl Hartman
28th September 2000, 01:25
Dan:

I have heard a lot of people say that the supposed quality of the Japanese sword is a myth. The question is: compared to what? I have no doubt that modern smiths, equipped with modern scientific knowledge and training and modern tools and materials, could easily produce blades superior to medieval Japanese blades, at least in terms of their cutting performance and durability. Indeed, it would be exceedingly odd if we couldn't.

However, comparing a medieval Japanese blade to a modern Western one is not a fair comparison. It would be necessary to compare a medieval Japanese blade to a medieval European one to get a fair comparison. The question then would be: how do European blades from a certain historical period stack up against Japanese blades from the same period, assuming that they are both products of competent smiths?

Even this might not be a fair comparison, since the armor they were going up against was different, thus resulting in different designs. Still, it would be the only way to begin to arrive at a reasonable comparison.

Earl

glad2bhere
29th September 2000, 14:21
I was reading the posts over again and it comes to me that people truly value a sound, sharp instrument with which to cut. At first thought, this seems to make very good sense. However, now as I give it a bit more thought I wonder if it is possible to depend on the quality of the sword to compensate for marginal technique. The model that I am using for this question would be, say, an Aikido student who routinely uses speed or muscle to make a technique work rather than polish the technique itself. Within obvious limts, how much do you all feel a high quality sword actually contributes to the accomplishment of the cut. My founding for this question is the anecdotal material which crops up from time to time about sword masters who could execute extraordinary cuts with marginal swords. I think what I am asking is -- to what degree is it possible to do the opposite and perform extraordinary cuts with superior swords and marginal skills?
Thoughts?

Bruce

Eldorobo
29th September 2000, 14:48
Well I got to put my two cents in. I have cut quite a few times and only once have I used a "real sword" all the other times I have used 440 stainless steel swords in fact the same ones you can get fron AWMA for about 99 dollars. Now the handles needed to be shaped and wrapped the right way and the length shorten to give the sword more tang. But it has become a fine cutter. I have never seen one break but I have seen them bend but then I also have seen a thousand dollar hammered blade bent from cutting goza. If you don't know what you are doing then yes you might break a blade but if you preform your technique right then the 440 sword will cut. I remember a qoute from a instructor at a seminar. "A hammered blade will forgive mistakes a 440 will not." Yes it is more diffcult to cut with but when I used a hammered blade I didn't even feel the target (I thought I missed the target) Will I ever stop cutting with a 440 blade maybe when I get a hammered blade and get use to it but until then I will keep cutting with my cheap 440 blade. Now I would say that 440 blades are good for single target only I would never try more than one goza with it. And most likely it would not be good for heavy targets like double wrapped goza like those used in some tournaments for vertical cuts but still for training with single goza it does great.

Eldorobo
no insult intended no apology offered

Animo
29th September 2000, 15:43
Bruce,

Even the best sword can not compensate for poor skill. I have seen a $3000 sword fail to cut through beach mats in the hands of a beginner, while the same sword cut through six tatami mats in the hands of an expert. We expect better results from students with superior swords. They should rely on technique rather than force. Cuts are expected to be cleaner and the angles more precise. I equate a cupped cut with a superior sword to failing to cut with a lesser sword. The superior sword can cut with almost no effort if proper technique is used. I personally cut with swords ranging from a remounted 26" WWII gunto to a 30 ½" modern Japanese sword made specifically for tamishigiri. Our targets range from beach mats to tatami wrapped around bamboo cores. I have cut both single tatami and bamboo with the gunto. I definitely prefer the feel of cutting with the superior sword. I can use all the help I can get when I cut big rolls of multiple tatami. The big sword can cleanly slice through a roll of four.

Dan Harden
29th September 2000, 16:48
Hi Guys

I have several things I wanted to respond to. However, I am opening a new Abbey conference center I designed. I got in at 2:30 this morning, and I dont have time to write down everything I want to say. I'll write more tomm.

Earl,
My answers to some of your questions were in my original letter.
Two examples of metallurgy that existed during the Japanese discovery of steel manufacturing and that equals or surpasses the Japanese product are Wootz steel,and viking steel,

Wootz steel is a very superior product.Perhaps surpassing all others in its time. And being a top contender to this very day. It too is a smelted product like the Japanese tamahagane. Both initally had a dendritic structure upon cooling with varying carbon content. So do many meteorites. The Wootz steel frequently has carbon in the 2% range. The excess carbon produced should make a brittle structure. After a certain point the excess carbon would precipitate into graphite. This is supposed to weaken the structure, but we find it doesn't. Instead the metal is VERY hard yet extremely flexible. This is due to the fact that it is supported by the iron in the cake. The result is a damascus layered look from a smelted ingot. The differening hard and soft properties are retained in the ingot from cake to blade. Giving a VERY hard surface juxtaposed to soft metal. it will bend 90 deg. and then cut through steel. There were supposedly "verified" field records of wootz blades cutting through the blades of other attackers.
Due to the preservation of the dendritic structure its performenace curve is WAY above that of Japanese process. As I stated, the main reason is due to the formation of a dendritic structure formed during cooling of the smelted ingot. These dendrites are "left in" in the Wootz process. They are removed in the forging process of the Japanese. Interestingly, the west tried to buy and forge the wootz cakes with freqqent failure. The cakes were so hard they cracked when you hit them. Anyone who has forged meteorite can tell you how that feels!. Some are soft like iron others wham!!! all over the shop.
The key to forging wootz cake was to place it above critical temprature long enough to have it decarborize the outer layer. The results were a soft skin to hold it together. This, together with cold forging (below 1000 to 1300 deg) kept the dendrites intact.
Wootz blades are the only ones that you could literally float a scarf over and have it part. You could take the same sword and cut hard objects as well. New makers are casting blades to get the dendritic effects. But they have compromised structures due to brittleness........

Some Viking swords had damascus steel of low carbon and low layer counts in their core. The bar was twisted and folded back on itself to produce a chevron pattern. (This is telling, in that the makers knew the visual effect they were forming in the blade) This core was surrounded by a high carbon layer used for double edge cutting.

Note*
The core I speak of here is a visible, exposed, layer wrapped with an outer layer. This is NOT the same as the Kobuse method. The inner and outer is exposed.

They didn't need clay tempering either. They heat the whole thing to critical. Upon quenching, the outer core would harden, the inner would not, since it didn't have enough carbon to form martensite. The result! A differentialy hardened blade

Shhhh!!.......Don't tell the public.
Many of whom, still think the Japanese make the best swords :)

Hoplology and the notions of "emic" and "etic" study, applies to weapons and their MAKE.
Not just their use.

More later

Dan
"Who likes to give credit where credit is due
and who has found that "being published" holds no promise of expertise."

P.S

Joe
As I stated earlier Most of the 440c blades are in fact "too" soft. They do this to prevent them from cracking due to the inherent brittleness of 440C in that length of blade. However, The margin for error when using a sword is very small. With the potential for catastrophic results. MOST of the people cutting with them ARE inexperienced. Therefore, all things being equal, I wouldn't recommend their use

[Edited by Dan Harden on 09-29-2000 at 12:01 PM]

W.Bodiford
29th September 2000, 19:14
Dan Harden on 09-26-2000 wrote:

(quote)

"Don't buy into the myth of the all mighty Japanese sword steel either. . . .

. . . . More nonsense has been written about the supposed 'perfection' of the Japanese sword than any other sword in history. "

(end quote)

The Japanese sword can be criticized on more than just metallurgical grounds. For much of its recent history its design was dictated more by fashion and government decree than by practical considerations.

As a result, when the Japanese armed forces adopted traditional Japanese swords (in place of the Western-style sabers they used initially) front-line soldiers experienced high rates of failure. These failures were documented by NARUSE Kanji (1888--1948). Naruse was a master of several traditional martial arts who, upon being drafted into the Japanese army during the Sino-Japanese war (ca. 1894), became employed as a sword repairman. As a result of what he saw on the battlefield Naruse became a lifelong advocate for changing the design of Japanese swords. He wrote three books which recently have attracted the attention of a new generation of readers: Tatakau nihonto (1940, Japanese swords in battle), Jissen todan (1941, Discussion of practical swords), Rinsen tojutsu (1944, Battlefield swordsmanship).

During one nine-month period Naruse kept detailed notes. During that period he repaired more than 2,000 swords. The sword ranged from all historical periods: 25% were Koto, 60% were Shinto or Shin Shinto, and 15% were Gendaito. Only 30% had been damaged in battle. In other words, most of them (70%) had been damaged in training or through mishandling. The types of damage they suffered is very instructive. Scabbards required the least attention: about 10% of scabbards had been broken or split --- a problem primarily caused by the stress of incorrect unsheathing or re-sheathing the swords. Blades, of course, were a problem, but not the most numerous problem. About 30% of the swords suffered bent or broken blades. For the most part, these were the swords that had actually been used in battle. (Although at least one sword was broken when a horse stepped on it.) Naruse was shocked at the high rate of blade failures. The main problem, however, was not the blades. It was the sword handles. A full 60% of the swords needed to be repaired because their handles had broken. Worse, Naruse reported that almost every sword he examined need to have the handle's mekugi (retaining pins) replaced. Even without severe use, the mekugi quickly wore out or became damaged.

In short, the handles are the weakest part of traditional Japanese swords, and the mekugi are the weakest part of the handles.

Even the worst quality blade can inflict serious injury if it comes loose from a defective handle. Anyone who wishes to own a sword that will be used for any purpose other than decorating a display case or wall, therefore, should pay as much or more attention to the quality of the handle as to the quality of the blade.

Joseph Svinth
30th September 2000, 00:24
Think of your sword as a watch. A $5 watch you got from a cereal manufacturer tells the time as well as a $200 Seiko sport watch or a $5000 Rolex. The $5 watch generally offers lots of bells and whistles (sometimes literally) but generally is not especially water or shock resistant, and typically looks cheesy. Meanwhile the Seiko and the Rolex probably don't offer much more than the basics, but will withstand most any reasonable (and more than a few unreasonable) conditions to which you are likely to subject a watch.

Which watch is best?

Depends on what you're doing, but for myself, I normally choose the Seiko range.

Another analogy. A Kia, a Saturn, and a BMW are all automobiles, and all should get you to work reasonably reliably. I would like a Beemer, can best afford a Kia, and would be most likely to buy a Saturn L-series.

The same principle applies to cutlery. You can buy Taiwan swords for about $100, tool-steel katana for between $350-$1000, and museum-grade weapons for however much you want to spend. My personal recommendation is for the Saturn rather than the Yugo, the Seiko mid-range rather than Swatch's cheapest.

***

As for cutting, well, a story, told from memory, so my apologies to Murphy and the late Warren Sapir.

Remo Williams wanted a new job, so he got a job on TV selling cheap cutlery. Chiun happened to be watching the commercials on his soaps, and had to stop because, watching Remo slice and dice, he was in awe -- this was the only pale piece of pig's ear in the world who could chop lettuce with those knives and not only make flowers, but also not lose fingers in the process. Oh my, said Chiun, I really must videotape this.

A few weeks later, though, Remo was back to work at his old job, as there had been so many fingers chopped off using the cheap cutlery that the lawyers were after Remo for false advertising.

So, with this cautionary tale in mind, it is probably best that beginners use the best cutlery they can afford because good tools are more forgiving. Meanwhile, you should probably reserve the $90 Century specials for the 20-year old grandmasters, as if anybody can make Taiwanese sheet metal cut machine gun barrels, it will be they.

Joseph Svinth
30th September 2000, 03:27
Janty, you trying to say those things blow up when you hit 'em?

Walker
30th September 2000, 07:29
When I was a kid we called them Generic Death Traps which, of course, meant we had to drive faster and drink more beer in the Pinto.
Proving that our youth should avoid Freud!
:smokin:
Everyone wanna go to heaven, but nobody (except the kids) wan’ to die.

[Edited by Walker on 09-30-2000 at 01:35 AM]

glad2bhere
30th September 2000, 12:28
There is some fabulous information here. But there is a piece missing, I think. People have been sorta talking around it, but I imagine it plays a pretty important part.

Price.

By this I don't mean to ask anyone to justify the tag they themselves put on a product. For a moment I want to just play "Joe Consumer" and say that I have a hard time identifying a clear correlation between quality and cost among the higher ($900 - $1800) priced swords. I think what pressed the point home was John's contribution comparing sword quality to the auto industry. Putting aside the (rare) chance of finding someone who will produce a museum piece to specs for under $100 out of sheer love of metalurgy, are there general guidelines correlating cost to quality overall?

One other point, as long as I have the floor, I noticed that there are a lot of references to cutting "mat". I remember a video tape some years back which included a section on constructing targets for cutting. The process included soaking straw, and binding it around a bamboo standard. Has this practice been abandoned?

Best Wishes,

Bruce W Sims
http://www.midwesthapkido.com

Joseph Svinth
30th September 2000, 13:14
If you are truly a stud, try this next time you're test cutting:

Japan Times, 3 May 1919, page 4. Mr. Hayama, 72 years old, will perform test-cutting on bundles of straw, bamboo, and iron. Hayama described as "only living swordsmith whose blades are classed as 'deserving to be trusted.'"

Japan Times, 10 Jul 1934, 2. Hiromichi Nakayama [think Toyama Ryu], one of two highest graded kendoka in Japan, demonstrates the strength of a New Sword by cutting iron bar the thickness of a man's finger wrapped in straw and placed on the edge of table. He cut it with one stroke, without leaving a mark on either the table or the blade. The Japanese Sword Institute forged the sword; the smiths were students of Hikosaburo Kurishara.

***

As for the Army issue sword (one of which resides in my closet, though in fairness to Shango, God of Steel, I should light a fire and melt the thing to slag):

Japan Times, 4 Oct 1931. Sunday Magazine photo section shows photos of Japanese soldiers sharpening their swords and bayonets, which were historically kept blunted.

Japan Times, 3 Dec 1932, 1. Japanese Army decides it likes swords during Shanghai street combat, allocates Y 500,000 to promoting sword smiths and starts a new sword plant in Tokyo.

The information Professor Bodiford cited regarding broken swords appeared 4 May 1938.

Japan Times, 9 Jan 1941, 4. In Meiji, Japanese military sword was modeled after the German military saber. Found inadequate in Russia in 1904, it was remade "in the style of the broadsword used by the Japanese during the end of the Kamakura period." Again found inadequate during the 1930s.


***

Regarding cost:

Japan Times, 4 Jun 1941, 8. A New Sword typically cost ¥2,000-¥8,000. The yen was at the time worth US 47c; at the time, a new house in the US cost $6,000 and a new Ford cost $1,000. So figure $20,000-$80,000 for a New Sword of 1941.

Same article: Four hundred swords were listed as national treasures, and about 30,000 swords were "good swords". The rest were considered junk. This implies the Allies didn't dump that many in the ocean -- there weren't that many to be dumped.

Furthermore, SCAP directive dtd 24 Sep 1945, published in Japan Times (then known as Nippon Times) on 22 Oct 1945: Police ordered to collect revolvers, rifles, and "privately owned swords, except those having particular value as objects of art… As regards swords considered to be objects of art, such distinction in this matter is approved."

By way of comparison, the standard issue US Army bayonet of the current era costs the government about $100 per copy. The blade length is about 8", and it cost 5x as much as the bayonet it replaced in part to the over-engineering required to make a knife that would not break when put into a vise at -50 deg F. and then repeatedly struck with sledgehammers.

***

Bottom line: if you shop carefully, you get more sword today for $1000 than you did in 1940 for $10,000. And for $350, you get more sword than was reasonably available to any medieval soldier.

Furthermore, the Kodokan charges $750 for promotions and the WTF charges a grand. Surely a decent sword is worth more than one of those cheesy certificates?

bob elder
30th September 2000, 17:56
Boy did a bunch of you guys " slobber a bibfull." Rihjt here and now I want to start a contest. I want to know if anyone has bent a more expensive sword than me. A $6,500.00 Kenpaku Yasutoshi made sword. Huh, can anyone top that? I have it on video ( way after the first 40 times I bent it) that during a kesa/ gyaku kesa and thenon the sui hei , ( on a 6 mat cut) I noticed a flash and stopped the video. About halfway thru the sui hei the sword blade flexed down about 30 degrees! But when the cut was finished, it was hardly bent at all. Weird but true. Maybe Dan from up north can explain if that's even possible. Bob ( the king of the sword benders, uh, so far) Elder P.S. whats a simile?

carl mcclafferty
30th September 2000, 20:43
Bob:
My Nobuhide probably costs more than yours does on the open market (alot more with the furniture I have on it), but hhmmm you're right I don't bend it or any of them because I don't force a cut. But I have managed to get other people to bend my swords when I lent them.

You've probably noticed you can tell when someone bends a sword by the sound of the cut. Terrible when its one you've loaned. But that's why God made David Hofhine; to straighten, polish and sharpen them for me.

Carl McClafferty

Dan Harden
1st October 2000, 02:14
Toby

I have seen Howards Knife work, not his sword work.
His use of L6 is not unusual. Without taking anything away from his considerable skills, its use has been a staple in the knife smith field for decades. Many of us have used it plain or as a mix in Damascus layer work. Due to its nickel content it contrasts nicely with plain carbon steel when etched. It appears as more of a silver layer than the dark higher carbon (see notes below). I prefer NOT to use it in katana as I find the Hamon to be too diffuse and “plain Jane.” Its look reminds me of the oil quench katana. Blah!
Personally I like a very sharp Hamon with ashi being clearly delineated. Further, I like the look of a .70%carbon content or less. The 80% and higher range is too thin a line in my view. Of course that is just personal taste.
Your comments about performance are of course accurate. It has excellent ductility. AND!! there are some really nifty benefits to be gained in heat treating it >IF< you know what to do. You can control the transformation of certain properties at certain temperatures. If you can control the heat treat , at a certain point you will gain Maximum ductility. It is a bit of overkill since a properly heat treated plain carbon or better yet Vanadium / carbon blade, with the proper grinds will be practically unbreakable. They will match if not exceed the performance curve of ANY tamahagane blade past or present. In Japan, the poor slobs are chained to the sand iron, sponge iron, electrolytic iron restrictions. God only knows what these excellent Japanese smiths could do with good steel and less restrictions.


Notes on steel

*As a side note to those who do not know;
when highly polished and or acid etched, steel will act as follows
High carbon will appear darker
Low carbon will appear lighter
Nickel will appear shiny-er? Depending on the nickel Content. Pure nickel is a bear to forge but will
appear as silver streaks in the blade.
Very small whitish layering between welds is usually due to de-carborasation of the outer skin, prior to a
fold.

For those interested in Japanese type blades
Damascus steel will not produce a uniform or even decent looking Hamon, unless it is made from an all medium to high carbon mix . This is due to the fact that the lower carbon will not produce martensite and make a transitional zone. Therefore the hamon apears interrupted. Yuk!

Nickel will not form a very sharp hamon. The hamon will be more diffuse and have to be accentuated with the polishing techniques used. This is due to its deeper hardening qualities. You want a shallow hardening steel to get the sharp ashi, or choji look. For that matter ANY detailed Hamon should be done in water.

The following will inhibit and diffuse a hamons appearance
1.Nickel
2.oil quench
3.water that is too warm
4.too much vanadium
a. vanadium inhibits grain growth. This is generally desirable in steel but up to a point will make a diffuse hamon. It will also improve wear resistense and cutting ablity
5. Low layer count damascus
6. too much carbon
7. too little carbon

Hamon
The overall width of the hamon is a determining factor (for the experienced smith) in telling the carbon content of a blade WITHOUT chemical analysis. The narrower the line, the higher the content. Items 6. And 7. being the opposite ends of the spectrum.


To the fellow who asked about the Aikido book.

I haven't seen it, as I do not follow Aikido. What is the title?


Dan
"Bordering on information overload"

Dan Harden
1st October 2000, 04:46
Follow up

Bob I missed your question about blade deflection.

I am probably going to raise a few hackles here. So be a little forgiving and read thouroughly.

You were surprised that the blade deflected severely and then "sprung back" so as to present little or no permanent "set" in the blade.
I would say that "its a keeper."

Why?


So much has been written about the bending of blades and of the methods to fix them that it has become a common place and "almost" expected reaction of a blade to have a bend "set in". In fact, it is an example of failure! The failure can be a combination of poor shape and taper and/or failure in tempering the body of the blade too soft. Of course nothing is perfect and we have to allow for flat out terrible, technique. But, a better performance curve should be expected.

Excuse yourself of the "legend" of the Katana for a moment and allow me to explain. I will address the processes that produces failures and /or high performance curves in a piece of steel.

Tempering processes
*******************
The clay coating of a blade that allows the ha to expand and form the curve is both wonderful AND limiting. It will have definitive effects on the eventual performance of the steel itself. In many ways, the hardening /tempering process is every bit as important as the steel and the forging.

edge
*********
The clay coating, and quenching process allows for a hard edge 60-65C that must be tempered back to 58-59C to be useful without chipping. we have all born witness to the many chipped blades (Koto to shin-shinto)
Why?
The "legendary" smiths screwed up. They, like us, have failures. Many of them were convinced they could harden and temper in one process. For a steel with a carbon content of aprox. .60% or higher that is a practical immpossibility.
Now... IF, and that is a big IF, you knew you had a carbon content that is low (50% or so) when you quench it, it will only get to about 58C or so. Therefore, it doesn't need to be tempered.
For the rest. No temper = cracks and chips.

Body
*********
Again, the clay coating, and quenching process allows for a hard edge. BUT! the thickness of the clay and/or the type
clay will prevent the body from either hardening at all, resulting in a dead soft back and body. Or, hardening to a certain temper, due to either the formation of martensite, pearlite or banite.

Ultimately you would prefer a spring temper to the body of the blade. Unfortunetly, if you use the method that allows for the full curve of the blade to be made by quenching you frequently wind up with a soft body. What does that mean. "Set in" bends.

Most American smiths would consider that a failure. It sounds like Bob encountered a blade that did what it SHOULD do. Under stress it should deflect and bend back to it original shape.

I have conquered the problem by forging a partial curve in and using less clay. This, along with very controlled forge temperatures produce certain structures in the body that are optimum for performance and they produce a higher rockwell rating to the body. The result? its difficult to make the blade bend. And when it does. It tends to maintain its shape by springing back.


Last
Forging method
*****************
The use of the Kobuse method (wrapped skin) does nothing to improve the performance of a katana. Blade to blade it will not improve the ductility, and in fact increases the chance for weld failures. If I had to bet money on the performance of a blade, I would place it on a forge folded single piece of steel over a Kobuse or san mai. Further, I would place my money on a piece of vanadium or nickel bearing steel NON folded.


Many of us have been "reversed trained" to accept a lesser quality then what is attainable. This is for the simple reason that we are under the mistaken belief that we have been handed an example of the "finest blades in the world."

Do not think I am derogatory of Katana or Japanese smiths (who could forge better blades if they were allowed better materials). As I stated earlier. It was NEVER one single thing that made the "legend" of the Katana. Its the totality of the manufacture; the Era, the steel,the tempering, the shape, the polish, and the fittings, that contributed to the well deserved legend.
But even in their own time, they could have done better.

Dan



[Edited by Dan Harden on 09-30-2000 at 10:57 PM]

Joseph Svinth
1st October 2000, 10:59
Dan --

Two questions.

1. Bob mentions seeing his sword bend on video, but not realizing at the time that it was a bad cut. (As Carl says, the sound is different, so I am assuming that he would have heard if he was really, really off.) So, this made me wonder -- are you aware of anyone having filmed a cut using high-speed photography, the kind that stops bullets in flight?

The reason I ask is that often things at this level are not what they seem. (Think Eadward Muybridge's photography of horses, for example, showing that horses didn't run as people thought they did.) Therefore it is possible that a sword usually bends as it cuts and then springs back into shape, only much faster than the unassisted eye can follow.

2. If it isn't uncommon to see a bent katana due to a bad stroke against an unmoving straw target, then what happens to the average katana when the tatami is covered by scrap metal set at acute angles? Here I am thinking that the swordsman's stroke was true, but the opponent was lucky or nimble enough to catch the strike on his breastplate rather than his arm. Blunt trauma injuries could be enormous, no doubt about it, but that seems preferable to being sliced.

Cady Goldfield
1st October 2000, 14:04
Originally posted by Joseph Svinth
Dan --

1. Bob mentions seeing his sword bend on video, but not realizing at the time that it was a bad cut. (As Carl says, the sound is different, so I am assuming that he would have heard if he was really, really off.) So, this made me wonder -- are you aware of anyone having filmed a cut using high-speed photography, the kind that stops bullets in flight?

The reason I ask is that often things at this level are not what they seem. (Think Eadward Muybridge's photography of horses, for example, showing that horses didn't run as people thought they did.) Therefore it is possible that a sword usually bends as it cuts and then springs back into shape, only much faster than the unassisted eye can follow.


If this hasn't been done, such a photographic method can be set up easily using a strobe system invented by an MIT professor (name eludes me at the moment. He passed away a few years ago. Was famous for his photos which captured bullets in motion). Years ago, Choi Hong Hi (old TKD guy) and his student, Jae Hun Kim (at the time, a grad student at MIT) used the strobe lab at MIT to photograph Kim stopping a sword cut with his hands (I'm not kidding. I have the photo. LOL). The strobe flashes in effect do the same thing that Muybridge did. But setting up a strobe-camera is way easier than setting up 25 individual cameras with trip strings, as Muybridge did to capture his famous images of horses, humans and other creatures in motion.

Anyone who is doing a serious study of cutting would find this setup effective for capturing to movements piece by piece.

Dan Harden
1st October 2000, 17:07
Dan --

Two questions.

1. Bob mentions seeing his sword bend on video, but not realizing at the time that it was a bad cut. (As Carl says, the sound is different, so I am assuming that he would have heard if he was really, really off.) So, this made me wonder -- are you aware of anyone having filmed a cut using high-speed photography, the kind that stops bullets in flight?

The commercial video "Budo" Has Nakamura from Toyama Ryu ( as well as several other places :) cutting through a grass bundle. They recorded the cut at 1/100th of a second. They showed it in VERY slow motion. No deflection! I have seen many slow motion cuts with no visible deflection. Come to think of it, I have seen many "stop" action cuts mid way through. These show a straight line cut. Further I have another video here somewhere of calvery sabres being tested that showed considerable (amazingly so) bends in the cut that sprung back. In order to understand this you need to realize that Calvary Sabers are hardened through and through. Then the whole mess is drawn back to spring temper. That is how they withstand the stresses. But they won't hold an edge for long. Their too soft. There is another example to my earlier posts of the need for spring tempered not “soft” bodies. The calvary saber performed above many Katana. But they lacked the all important differential hardening process that kept the edge hard.


*************************

2. If it isn't uncommon to see a bent katana due to a bad stroke against an unmoving straw target, then what happens to the average katana when the tatami is covered by scrap metal set at acute angles? Here I am thinking that the swordsman's stroke was true, but the opponent was lucky or nimble enough to catch the strike on his breastplate rather than his arm. Blunt trauma injuries could be enormous, no doubt about it, but that seems preferable to being sliced.

An interesting question that has much nuance. Lets take several tacks. How sad though, that we even have to discuss the accepted “set”bending of a blade

1. Obata Toshihiro says that the edges were often blunted prior to battle. I have some other documentation here that mentions that as well. I suppose the theory was that NO EDGE could survive cutting through metal.
My answer is that the Katana edge angles were not all the same. Some were flat edged from the shinogi to the edge. Others have a tapered rounded edge from the shinogi to the edge (well known, and called appleseed or canard edge by American smiths).
The first one would cut through soft targets easier. It was easier to polish but makes and inferior blade. It is also the most commonly seen.
The second will cut through steel and keep its edge. It is also a bear to polish and will be just slightly heavier than the first. In a strange twist, Smiths think of Tamashigiri-yo as needing to be heavier than Iai-yo. While this is true you usually see the thickness expressed in the mune only. You could actually make the overall thickness a wee-bit less. While keeping a bit more metal from the shinogi to the edge in a rounded fashion. This will make an overall lighter blade that will cut through VERY hard objects.
Decades ago Buck knives and one famous American smith, whos name alludes me at the moment, became famous for cutting through nails and railroad spikes with Appleseed edge ground knives. Several American sword smiths, including myself, (as well as Japanese, German etc.) know the details of how to do this and do it. These Katana can cut through steel cable and brass rods.

Is it true that they blunted their edges? We may never know. But if you were knowingly going up against an amored opponent it may be a wise course of action.

yet another tack
2. A well known researcher stated that field excavations showed little use of the sword in combat. The majority of injuries were from projectile weapons such as arrows and thrown rocks!! This, combined with information from other sources about the Katana being the last weapon used, may be revealing to us that these fellows were not the great sword users we thought. Perhaps they were caught up in the symbol of ability it portrayed on the owner. When in fact, they very rarely, if ever, “closed” with it. Perhaps it was largely theory or Dojo use, or the relativly rare (considering all the swords around) one on one dueling. It may also account for some of the ridiculous looking Japanese sword techniques.

and yet another

Your questions about angle of deflection on an armored opponent are of deep interest to me. But I fear it will remain academic. Moving targets and deflection does much to diminish target aquisition and power.
(Delete essay on gun combatives)
Here we have all this writing about the Japanese blade and the masters who wield them.
We read papers about the legendary EDGE and its other worldly cutting ability.
We read about the veritable cultural cult of the sword in Japan.
Along comes new research, perhaps showing little use of it in combat,
blunted edges made to induce trauma in armored opponents and wait minute!! Save the unstoppable edge?
Add to this the notion of fighting “armored” men in the first place.
We read next that most could not afford armor.
Then what percentage wore armor in any given confrontation?

So....
I find it difficult enough to accept this talk of blunting edges when I also read how many couldn’t afford armor. WHO were they blunting the edges for?
As I said, I think it is a queation that will remian academic.
I simply do not trust much of what has been written about medieval combat. pArticularly when the source was the written record of the times.
Men dream too much of glory, and write of grand things.

and finally

What can be deduced from current study?
Much of what is shown in weapon Kata will not work in any severe, practical test. You can study several techniques from well known schools on cutting into armor openings. They look great in Kata. Try them in Kendo armor against a well seasoned swordsman, well versed in the use of maai, sen, and peripherals such as topography (something rarely, if ever, taught, not to mention "mindset". They fall apart. They show potential, that’s about all. That is why the study of target aquisition, and the delivery of power in a moving target is a worthwhile study. "Cutting to the heart" that is, the aquisition of a targeted area inside the legs, arms, neck or torso, is very difficult against an adept. His "closed" area, remains closed. You are left with deflections off of armor or blade.
The question goes beyond weapon work though. Much of Japanese style taijutsu are far too "stand up," stiff, and formal to be used for actual confrontaion with an experienced foe. While being an excellent means to preserve and transmit technique. Many exponents suffer lack of experience in handling a moving opponent hell bent on seeing you undone and having the means at his disposal to see it through.
A good dose of being “man handled” by someone who knows what he is doing would wake people up to the folly of much of what they do
Again men dream……………..

Sorry for the length. I believe form should follow function. I have little patience for “legendary” steel and legendary “martial” technique.





Joe
Your final question is apprapo.
“The reason I ask is that often things at this level are not what they seem.”

Yes
Reality is frequently dirtier and a hell of a lot more fun

Dan
“Everyone has a plan until they have been hit.”










[Edited by Dan Harden on 10-01-2000 at 11:49 AM]

ghp
1st October 2000, 17:55
Dan,


Perhaps they were caught up in the symbol of ability it portrayed on the owner when in fact they very rarely, if ever, “closed” with it.

Your quote could very well be applied to the Japanese during the Second World War.

A sketch of two rebel swords recovered after the Boshin Civil War (1968-69) -- or it was the Satsuma Rebellion of 1977 -- shows one to look much like a logging saw; the other is similar, but was additionally broken in two at the half-way point. There may be other sketches, but this is the only one I've seen.

Interesting topic ... I keep expecting Joe Svinth to start talking about his magic machete at -40 degrees F. :D (Hi, Joe!)

Regards,
Guy

Dan Harden
1st October 2000, 18:10
Interesting topic ... I keep expecting Joe Svinth to start talking about his magic machete at -40 degrees F. (Hi, Joe!)


OOOH
Subzero quenching?? Whole other topic

I should tell you about my grand machete incident. See, everything I own is razor sharp. Clearing a field, it cut through a tree and through 7/8ths of my thigh muscle. A tampon and Three tampaxes later I was driving myself to the hospital and three months of recovery.

some martial artist huh!


Dan

bob elder
1st October 2000, 18:52
The cut I was talking about was not bad nor did it make any funny sound. Of course I relize that sometime the cutter does not hear any sound. When someone does a really good cut, it sounds like it to the folks watching, but is often not heard by the cutter. The cut was done on beach mats, three to a roll and 6 of them across. The cut was pretty near flat, perfectly flat being the ideal and also the most difficult cut ( for most people) to make. That particular sword was first bent by a short female student who was cutting a kesa and let the sword swing to far to her side. She actually stuck the kensaki in the ground, sideways. we were outside. I was doing a fair amount of seminars then and let anyone use it. It was bent many times and the more, the easier. I of course missed a few of my own and bent it. Usually I straighten the sword over my knee but if I had access to the sword straighteners we have in the dojo I used that. Swords are also "tweaked", my word) and do not always bend in particular degree, looking along the mine, but are bent , or tweaked from edge to back. They are a little more difficult to straighten. Bob Elder

Kolschey
1st October 2000, 19:49
I just want to tell everyone that this is an excellent subject of discussion. I feel very fortunate to be able to learn more about metallurgy by reading these posts. It is not a common thing to find such a dedicated group of swordsmen and bladesmiths having such a substantial conversation, and I am glad to be able to listen in!

Dan Harden
1st October 2000, 20:01
Krzysztof,

I am bending to the wishes of my students and this winter will be forging with them for a day. We are not far from you. Perhaps you would care to visit. we have our regular training every sat. as well. So you could see a bit of forging and then engage in a bit of Kenjutsu.

Dan

Dan Harden
1st October 2000, 20:21
Bob
I was uder the impression that the sword you were dicussing returened somwhat to straight on its own
you wrote:

"About halfway thru the sui hei the sword blade flexed down about 30 degrees! But when the cut was finished, it was hardly bent at all. Weird but true. Maybe Dan from up north can explain if that's even possible."

This was the post to which I replied about the need for increased hardness in the body of the blades.

but then you went on to write

"That particular sword was first bent by a short female student who was cutting a kesa and let the sword swing to far to her side. She actually stuck the kensaki in the ground, sideways. we were outside. I was doing a fair amount of seminars then and let anyone use it. It was bent many times and the more, the easier. I of course missed a few of my own and bent it."

Am I confused?

If this were the case I would caution you to rotate the swords offered to the students. Metal, like people, has muscle memory :) Metal fatigue is a very serious issue.
Do not be suprised if one day you see micro fractures or worse a flying monouchi-kissaki portion of the blade! It is far less critical if the body were in fact spring tempered. But frequent "set in" bends that are straightened will lead to failure. For a "heavy user" placed in the hands of amatuers, I think its only a matter of time.

Dan

Cady Goldfield
1st October 2000, 20:24
Heck, I'll be amazed if the day ever arrives that Dan lets his short female student even touch any of his metal swords, never mind any of his good bokuto... ;)

Kolschey
1st October 2000, 21:36
Dan,

That sounds like a wonderful idea! Both my girlfriend and I were training as part of a sword group headed by Mr. Pat Nichols in Madison, WI, and we will be living in Pawtucket very soon. What part of Massachusetts do you live in?

Joseph Svinth
2nd October 2000, 07:57
Dan --

What Guy was alluding to was my theory that a military sword(as opposed to a civilian work of art) should be capable of being taken to Korea in mid-February and used to chop firewood when Sarge isn't looking, to Hawaii in mid-July and dragged through the salt surf (gotta get off the boat somehow) and then sent to Saudi in October to go through a sandstorm or two. In between it should be used to open boxes, cut steel strapping, and maybe serve as a pry bar a time or two.

In other words, it should be capable of handling routine field conditions.

Note I am not talking about works of art here; I'm talking about social iron. So, for those folks who confess to being strapped for cash but still want/need/desire a serious whacker, wouldn't they be better advised to spend their money on steel, handle, and suspension system rather than a pretty finish?

carl mcclafferty
2nd October 2000, 12:48
Folks:

I hate to see the poor results of some cutting in this country blamed on the blade regardless of what its made of. Several of us whom have trained for many years in Gendai sword arts that have shizan as a major part of their curriculum (Power and Elder to name a few) have watched long time Iai instructors try to jump on the cutting bandwagon without being trained in that technique themselves.

The emphasis on training new students is put on on how many goza you can cut instead of how well you can cut "one". If you do teach that idea, buy a chainsaw. There's instructors that hunt deer and then practice hacking the bodies. Hacking is correct technique for a Viking axe, but not what we envision when it comes to teaching cutting with a Japanese Sword.

Every katana has its limits regardless of its material. Its the instructor's job to realize the limits of his/her students' katana and skill level, and teach accordingly. I don't believe that a beginning student needs an expensive blade to learn proper technique. More than likely it will only hurt their understanding of cutting technique. A blade like the mantetsu Bob Elder sells, inexpensively, cuts well with proper technique. In fact one of those blades took a third place in "shodan and under" cutting at the Florida Tai Kai. It beat a lot better blades because of the sword technique behind it.

Its true that I own an expensive Nobuhide that I use for demos, but my dojo cutting blade is a simple Kao Isshin in regular fittings.

Having said all this I support Bob Elder and Russell McCartney banning stainless blades from their Tai Kai. As much because of the skill of some of the cutters as the type of steel in the sword.

Carl McClafferty

glad2bhere
2nd October 2000, 17:34
Dear Dan:

Thanks for your response. Sorry I was so slow in gettting back you. The Aikido title I was inquiring about is AIKIDO AND THE CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS by Sugawara, Xing and Jones (Japan Publications, 1998). The material begins on pg 297-350 and is essentially the entire appendix of this volume.I suspect the point that initially caught my eye was the authors' intention to emphasize bio-mechanical relationships between Aikido and such Chinese arts as Tai Chi Chuan. I think what I was wondering was how much of a like stretch may have been made to identify relationships between the metalurgy of Northern Europe and that of Japan and the manner in which they documented this in their book. Thoughts?

Best Wishes,
Bruce W Sims
http://www.midwesthapkido.com

pgsmith
2nd October 2000, 17:51
I thoroughly agree with your post Mr. McClafferty. Students at our school are not allowed to begin cutting until brown belt (about 1 to 1.5 years) and then they are kept at single beach mats to develop technique. It's a great way to tell if your technique is good because they are so thin that you can't cut through them if you are off even a little. They bend over and you end up scooping them. It is much more difficult (IMHO) to make a good cut on a single beach mat than it is on a double of tatami omote. Of course, it's more fun to power through a big target! :D

Cheers,

Paul

Animo
2nd October 2000, 18:19
I'll add another note of caution about selecting tamishigiri swords. Make sure you have a sound mekugi (bamboo peg) and always check it before cutting. Mekugi have a nasty tendency to fall out. A number of mekugi were replaced during the mandatory sword inspection at the recent Orlando Tai Kai. Wood dowels have a greater tendency to crack versus bamboo. I personally prefer swords with double mekugi as an added insurance. We do not allow WWII tsuka (handles) on cutting swords. The 60 year old wood may look sound, but I have had one practically disintegrate in my hands when cutting. The blade, tsuba, and fuchi went flying (The mekugi remained intact and stuck in the mekugi anna of the nakago). The tsuka should fit firmly and without any play. A loose tsuka will wear out mekugi very quickly and put a lot of stress on the wooden core.

Dan Harden
3rd October 2000, 05:55
Krzysztof,

Sorry not to get back I have been away again

Was the Madison group the TSKSR study group I heard of out that way?
Anyway. Perhaps you could come for forging and train with us as well after. I will endevour to to insure that evertyone gets to hammer red to white hot metal.


************************
Bruce
you wrote

The Aikido title I was inquiring about is AIKIDO AND THE CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS by Sugawara, Xing and Jones (Japan Publications, 1998). The material begins on pg 297-350 and is essentially the entire appendix of this volume.I suspect the point that initially caught my eye was the authors' intention to emphasize bio-mechanical relationships between Aikido and such Chinese arts as Tai Chi Chuan. I think what I was wondering was how much of a like stretch may have been made to identify relationships between the metalurgy of Northern Europe and that of Japan and the manner in which they documented this in their book. Thoughts?

I think that I covered some of what you are looking for in my earlier post regarding differing cultures forging methods.
As for the book.Is this the same Sugawara that was Un-invited by Otake after teaching the TSKSR publicly to Aikido people?
As I said, I don't follow Aikido So I would have to get a copy and read it to comment. I will say that Budoka frequently give poor advice relating to smithing. Many of whom still buy into the Japanese "myth" thing. You say the book talks about Aikido and Tai chi chuan, but then discusses the "relationships" of forging methods and metalurgy between Nothern Europe and Japan? Hhmmm. Who did the reasearch? The Aikido guy? The Tai Chi guy? or Jones?
can you scan the pages and email them for comment? If so, I will answer here fwiw.

*****************

Joe


I could not agree with you more. But!The Japanese Katana could fit that bill with some minor changes. For starters the handle is an anachronism. Trying to "fix" it with better mekugi-ana, or more of them, or better pegs, is a fools game. The structure is fraut with potential failure to begin with. A phenolic or glass fiber handle with a "through core" full tang pinned in place, and epoxied, would do better. I would stay away from screwed on But caps (AKA European methods) they are suseptible to resonant vibrations that could crack the transitional zone area from tang to thread (that would apply to mostly encountering VERY hard objects though).
Why the hell they don't make the Nakago length up to 1" shorter than the Tsuka and use better pin materials, beats me. Such an easy fix for many of the problems.
The habaki is a disaster. To much potential for rust getting under there in field use. Not to mention wear and movement. A normal riccaso would fare better.
There is really nothing inherently wrong with plain carbon steel for a using blade. Ever notice that all of the worlds indigenous peoples used carbon blades for years without much trouble? I am not afan for sowrd length stainless steel. Several good smiths can do it, myself included. But it is time consuming. Therefore costly.
For a top tool pick, I would have a tie between a Kukuhri (my personal favorite) or a Dha. Both would have Hamon with a spring tempered body. Hell! Everything I make; including my hatchets have Hamon. Beside the look, it is functionally superior. The Dha I would make with a two hand grip and 24" differentially tempered blade. Its sort of a wide tip machete. I would place the cutting power of this up against most Katana. Thin, wide blades cut up grass, bamboo, thin trees, and soft tissue better than thick ones. The "overall" utility of a good Kukuhri is hard to beat though.

Sending modern troops into battle with Gunto was bad enough. Sending Troops who didn't know how to use them with trainers who weren't much better was absurd. It makes you wonder how many atrocities were triggered by their NEED to feel they could use the things.


Dan
"who wishes he never saw the pictures from Nanking"





[Edited by Dan Harden on 02-09-2001 at 08:55 PM]

Kolschey
3rd October 2000, 13:46
Yes, we were part of that group. Some of the members of the study group also focused on more modern Iaido forms. We would usually have the opportunity to train with sensei Mark Jones and Sensei Sugawara at least once a year. When I was at RISD (the Rhode Island School of Design, for the non- New Englanders!) I had the opportunity to take a class in blacksmithing with Walter Scadden, a local blacksmith. I would be delighted to participate in a sword forging.

Kolschey
3rd October 2000, 13:56
I can't help but find myself thinking of some of the myths of the infallibility of Japanese Swords and Swordsmen that have been addressed here, and wonder if in several hundred years there are similar myths about the firearm in American society. Four to six generations from now, will scholars be amazed to discover evidence that many firearms, both military and civilian, were poorly made and susceptible to all manner of mechanical failures? Will they discover with some chagrin that many people, even in the armed services and police, were not particularly renowned for their marksmanship? Will they look at the artistic conventions of television and film archives, as pertaining to weapons usage and handling, and suddenly realise that much of what they are seeing is as stylised as an Ichikawa Danjuro play?
Just a few thoughts.

glad2bhere
3rd October 2000, 14:30
Dear Mr. Mathews:

I think the trend you mentioned has already begun There is a distinct subset of vets with whom I work whose Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a function of failing to engage the enemy. I may not have the numbers exactly right but I understand that per DOD statistics some 45% of the individual weapons were identified as not discharged during WW II. This compares to some 35% of the weapons during the Korean conflict and some 15% of the weapons during the Vietnam conflict. Now, I will say again that I may not have the percentages exactly right, and this does not adjust for the nature of the engagement either (ambush vs a wider field of fire). I mention this because there was also the early dysfunction of the M16 due to close tolerances and poor maintainance training. And this is essentially the same weapon which has become the mainstay of the US military today.

I mention all this trivia only as a way of validating your comment, and supporting the position that we humans often strive to put the best possible spin on the facts. After all do you want to remember the Bushi of ancient Japan as elite warrior-poets or as illiterate grunts of their day? Would you want to remember Audie Murphey as one of the most decorated US soldiers, or as the PTSD neurotic who slept with a loaded 45 under his pillow til the day he died?
We Martial Artists want badly to be truth seekers and to face reality for what it is, and yet we are tied to our own humanity along with its fears and foibles. The result is an odd collection of ironies and contradictions between what is and how we experience it. Be honest, now, how many of us still refer to the sun "coming up", when it is really the horizon setting. Truth is funny stuff.

Best Wishes,
Bruce W Sims
http://www.midwesthapkido.com

Joachim
3rd October 2000, 14:43
Originally posted by Kolschey
I can't help but find myself thinking of some of the myths of the infallibility of Japanese Swords and Swordsmen that have been addressed here, and wonder if in several hundred years there are similar myths about the firearm in American society. Four to six generations from now, will scholars be amazed to discover evidence that many firearms, both military and civilian, were poorly made and susceptible to all manner of mechanical failures? Will they discover with some chagrin that many people, even in the armed services and police, were not particularly renowned for their marksmanship? Will they look at the artistic conventions of television and film archives, as pertaining to weapons usage and handling, and suddenly realise that much of what they are seeing is as stylised as an Ichikawa Danjuro play?
Just a few thoughts.

I'm no expert on firearm history, but hasn't that already started to happen? Think about the old gunslinger legends of the wild west. According to a report I saw on television (here in germany), People like Bill Hickock (sp?), Doc Holiday and the like were people who were able to hit someone at 20 feet away without shooting to many innocent bystanders. According to the report, most gunshot wounds during that time, even fatal ones, were self-inflicted.
How does that compare to the image of the wild west gunslinger? :)

3rd October 2000, 17:39
Hi Guys,
Interesting discussion. I must agree with most of the conclusions posted here with only one comment.

I don't believe the miraculous stories that are often attributed to the warrior or hero archetypes in history are necessarily exaggerated in actuality but rather in scope. I don't doubt some of the fantastic stories attributed to samurai, gunslingers or war heroes. It's just that over time and thru history the fantasitic becomes perceived as the norm. The fantastic attributes of the archetype become a perception of what regularly happened. That is generally why we create an archetype. We wish the fantastic was the norm.

I have seen some fantastic things in my short existence here on earth. Things that years later I thought maybe my mind had exaggerated. Upon further investigation or re-experiencing these events, they are found indeed just as fantastic the second time.

At forty one I can state that three individuals I have met were capable of repeatedly doing something that was simply so far beyond the norm that you just could not believe your senses. They have changed they way I percieve ability, talent, fortitude and reality.

The most fantastic of these was the shooting ability of a older cousin of mine. She was crippled by polio as a small child and hunchbacked. She stood no taller than 4'10" and when I was a teenager she was about 55 years old. When I was a kid of maybe 10 she began teaching me how to shoot off the back porch of my familys ranch in Bellevue, Texas. I vividy remember her brushing honey on a piece of plywood and leaning it against a fence in the backyard, and from the porch shooting stationary flys with a 22cal open sights rifle. The distance was about 50 feet! When I was maybe thirteen I saw her shoot a coyote dead in the moonlight at about 200 yards with an old Winchester 30-30 saddle carbine! Being a kid and unaccustom to the realities of ballistics I simply didn't appreciate how utterly impossible this shot was. Years later when I began competitive silhouette pistol shooting I realized that what I had seen could only be achieved in the Twilight Zone. I thought to myself that it must have been a different gun or a much shorter distance than I remembered, or.....or... it simply must have been a figment of my imagination.

I traveled back to Bellevue, Texas frequently to repair the fences on our family ranch so on one visit I decided to investigate this bizarre memory. I found the exact spot where I remembered the coyote was killed just at the cattle crossing. I then walked the distance to the old ranch house and ... Dang it was more like 225 yards! I visited Florence Jones, my old cousin (then almost 70) and ask about the incident. We drove out to the old house and revisited my memory. She barely remembered the specific incident because she said she did it so often! ( But she added I didn't always kill'em. Sometimes I just nicked'em. I missed a couple of times all togerther, at least twice! ) I was stunned! When we returned to her house in Bowie, I asked to look at the gun and sure enough in her closet was the same old Winchester 30-30 saddle carbine I remembered. Iron sights and the bluing rubbed off where the barrell slipped into a saddle holster that belonged to my great grandfather and traveled with him on his mount around the T.E. ranch.

Unbelieveable.... fantasatic..... unexplainable....

Impossible !

A shot in the dark on a moonlight Texas night. A little 55 year old crippled woman without the knowledge of modern ballistics that said this was impossible, whacked a coyote at 225 yards with iron sights on a 30-30 Winchester saddle carbine from an upstairs window of an old ranch house. This is the stuff of legends and I was there to see it with my own eyes. It is engrained into my memory like a movie.

So my point here. It is the individual person weilding the weapon that often creates the magic associated with it. And this individual is almost never the norm, but we want them to be the norm. Most often they are an abberation in our reality but occasionally an abberation of truth. Our legends and archetypes are built around these people in the hopes that we can each achieve similar levels of the magic they seem to possess.

Do the legends that grow up around these individuals exaggerate the truth? Yes and no. But they universally serve to make us strive to find the magic that resides behind the legend. They compel us to investigate and achieve more than we could imagine possible without them. Reality and legend often separate during our journey but it was the legend that made us begin the journey in the first place and it is our mastery of our current reality that will allow us to achieve what will become the legends of the future.

Who knows Dan, maybe in the future a legend will arise about this fantastic sword developed by an American sword smith named Hardeen who was unknowingly inspired to make swords by a mysterious tengu. The tengu had learned of Viking metal forging techniques while visiting in Denmark and was called to you by the spirit of Amakuni living in your smithy.

You see, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and the feats of men and arms are more about the men and less about crummy handles. ( although I do agree about katana handles beings of overall poor design. )

Great thread guys!

P.S. My cousin Florence died about 3 years ago well into her 80's. In my mind I knew a real life Annie Oakley. Thanks for the shooting lessons Florence and so much more.

Tobs




[Edited by Toby Threadgill on 10-03-2000 at 03:48 PM]

bob elder
3rd October 2000, 17:47
Wow what a story! That was great! More, more! Bob Elder

Cady Goldfield
3rd October 2000, 17:51
Wow Toby, great story about your cousin.
It's because people like her are so rare that they stand out as legends. Keep in mind, too, that the greatest minds -- those great philosophers, teachers and warriors who changed the face of entire cultures and societies -- are even rarer. So rare, in fact, that after their deaths their followers build legends around the truth, until the human being has become a deity capable of the supernatural. The Buddha floating on a cloud...Ueshiba stopping bullets...A system's founder being taught his art or craft by a spirit or tengu... :)

As for the Great Swordsmith Hardeen, at the dojo we joke all the time about his being coached by a tengu when we know his real teacher was just a short old guy. That just doesn't sound dramatic enough, though!

Earl Hartman
3rd October 2000, 19:19
Since I am not a metallurgist or a smith, I have been reading this thread with great interest, but avoiding posting. However, a couple of questions have occurred to me.

In most of Dan's previous posts, he makes the case that Japanese swords were, far from being superior to swords from other places, actually inferior. I have heard of the quality of Viking steeel, and to judge from the exploits of the Vikings, who founded the city of Kiev, thereby laying the foundations for the development of Russia (the name "Rus" comes from the word for "rowers"), sailed to the New World more than 500 years before Columbus, and conquered England in their incarnation as Frankified Normans, there is no good reason to doubt that part of this was due to the quality of their weapons. Since I am a fan of the Vikings from way back, I have no problem believing that their swords were on a par with their other artifacts, their ships and jewelry in particular (ah, their ships. Has anyone ever built something so beautiful, yet so functionally perfect?).

Anyway, if I understand Dan's posts correctly, the European method for blending the desired qualities, hardness of edge and durability, was case hardening, where the core of the blade would be softer (more ductile?) and the outer steel harder so as to hold an edge. The Japanese, on the other hand, forge welded differing grades of steel and differentially tempered the sword to combine a hard edge and a more durable body. He holds that the European method is superior. Yet, he states that all of his blades have a hamon and that they are, as a result, functionally superior. Since the hamon, so far as I know at any rate, was found on Japanese blades and not on European blades, this seems to me to be an admission that the European method was not as completely superior as he has been maintaining and that some aspects of the Japanese method were, and are, superior to the European. If they were not, I assume that he would not make use of them.

Regarding the use of the sword in battle, my guess is that the majority of the fighting and dying in Japanese battles was done by the peasant soldier (ashigaru) just as the yeomen and the villeins did most of the dying in European battles. First, peasants have always outnumbered the aristocracy in any time and place, there are more of them available, and they can be coerced by the aristocrats, who were better armed and organized. Second, they were almost certainly equipped with inferior weapons. They're just peasants, right? Third, the aristocrats fought with other aristocrats insofar as they could, leaving the peasants to fight with each other. Poorly trained, terrified peasants armed with inferior weapons are probably going to leave behind a lot of broken and bent swords (as are terrified, poorly trained aristocrats, for that matter). However, since being a well-trained fighter was a bushi's job, he will probably be better at it than an ashigaru. At the same time, his potential opponent will probably have a comparable level of training, so the training levels will cancel each other out.

I doubt that a beautifully polished, razor sharp sword, of any kind, is going to remain pristine after you bash a guy in the helmet with it a few times. Any weapon to be used against an armored opponent is going to have to rely on a certain amount of mass for effectiveness. Hence, a more robust edge for pitched fighting.

Regarding how good people actually were at fighting, Toby's story reminded me of something. Even people who have not read Herrigel's "Zen in the Art of Archery" are probably familiar with the story of how Herrigel's teacher, Awa Kenzo, shot at a target in the dead of night, hitting it in the dead center with his first shot, and how he then hit the nock of his first arrow with his second.

This is even better than Robin Hood, since it was at night and he couldn't see the target, right? Obviously, Japanese archery is better than western archery, right? Because of his mystical Zen enlightenment, Awa was able to tap into the Power of the Universe (read: "the Force") which guided his arrows and allowed him to do feats of magic unknown in the West, right?

Wrong.

Awa later confided to one of his senior disciples that this was a complete coincidence, and that he never intended to demonstrate such a thing. Herrigel, credulous neophyte mystic that he was, thought that he had seen a mysterious, magical feat that could only be explained by reference to some mysterious, unknowable, universal essence that he mistakenly referred to as "It" (which Lucas later turned into "The Force"). Awa was a very skillful archer who achieved his skill after very dilligent and protracted practice. In such a skillful person, there is what seems to be a magical quality far beyond the ken of mere mortals. But you only get that way if you have inborn ability (the "knack"), access to expert instruction, supreme self-confidence (not the same as egotism or arrogance) and the fire in the belly to practice your guts out. Most of us are not on this level, so we think some people are magicians and wish we could be the same. Unfortunately, for every tengu there are a million Joe Blows.

Unfortunately, the Joe Blows are the ones that get the lousy swords that we then bend over somebody's iron hat.

Earl

[Edited by Earl Hartman on 10-03-2000 at 05:12 PM]

Tony Peters
4th October 2000, 01:47
Ok I've read all this with great intrest and have wondered just what is the best steel for someone who will be practicing iaido mostly with an occasional try and cutting. I'm not looking for a supercalafragalistice artistic blade just something that looks good and is well made preferable by a US smith. I've been to japan and seen the wares of the smiths there, nice but so far beyod what I want to spend that I almost ran screaming from the shop. I've read the various types of steels described, L-6, tools steel, Swedish powered, etc used but know little of what that means as far as looks and performance. what I want is just some thing in the $1000-$1500 range for a blade and I'm wondering what I'm looking for. This right now is just speculating as I am probably not good enough to keep from cutting a finger off with a real blade but I am looking at get a "Real Sword" in a year or two...until then my aluminum iai will do.

glad2bhere
4th October 2000, 03:14
Dear Tony:

I personally have decided to stay with the sword I picked-up during a recent trip to England. Found sticking out of a rock (of all places) somewhere in the Glastonbury area. Cuts well, handles nicely, and except for an odd compunction to sit around circular rather than square tables with my friends, there have been no actual problems.

Best Wishes,

Bruce

Dan Harden
4th October 2000, 03:49
Toby

What a shame. That story should be published somewhere. I agree that there are things I have seen that defied my sensibilities. As far as unkowns go. It is my opinion that there are many people of amazing abilities out there who are unheralded and largely unknown. That goes for these things we call martial arts, particularly well.
The incredible "Harden" blade.
Yes I have made many. :) and am still researching and trying to improve.

At a knife show many years ago Yoshindo Yoshihara kept coming back to a table where my Katana was displayed. He was quite taken by the grain and the Choji Hamon. Honestly I think it was the most perfeclty formed Choji I have ever done. The ashi matched so well. I was quite taken with it myself.
I "heard" he kept returning to the table. Hopefully not out of boredom. He finally asked to see the tang. Upon seeing it, he said something like
"An american made this?"
There were several American smiths who got sort of a kick at this.
Jimmy Fikes did much the same thing to a Japanese collector about twenty years ago. They made a tanto out of the worst crap they coud find. An old cast iron pan and some scrap wrought iron, I think it was. After many folds they got it right. They showed it to this Japanese guy at some event and he went nuts. Then they told him how it was made. Supposedly he cracked up and they all had a good laugh. Then he Bought it!!
********************************

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Earl Hartman

[B]Since I am not a metallurgist or a smith, I have been reading this thread with great interest, but avoiding posting. However, a couple of questions have occurred to me.

In most of Dan's previous posts, he makes the case that Japanese swords were, far from being superior to swords from other places, actually inferior.

Earl
Please re-read my posts. My argument is that there were indeed significant metalurgical advances made by OTHER cultures (in fact, I was respondng to a pointed question in that regard).
I believe the Japanese sword as a TOTAL instrument is an excellent weapon and piece of art. For its time, its manufacture was an excellent attempt at meeting the parameters of the tool. It is just that more nonsense has been written about it, as to do IT and other indigenous peoples efforts a disservice.
I won't repeat my several comments that support my statements here, as they are in my previous posts. Perhaps you misunderstood the strength of my response.
I responded so strongly for the simple reason that there is so much MIS-understanding about the Japanese sword. As a matter of fact I think MORE credit should be given to the Japanese smiths who have made such strides in the face of inferior steel and restrictive, recidivist, thinking in their own country. Their skills are so refined that I can only imagine what they could do with better materials.

***************************
Earl writes
I have heard of the quality of Viking steeel, and to judge from the exploits of the Vikings, who founded the city of Kiev, thereby laying the foundations for the development of Russia (the name "Rus" comes from the word for "rowers"), sailed to the New World more than 500 years before Columbus, and conquered England in their incarnation as Frankified Normans, there is no good reason to doubt that part of this was due to the quality of their weapons. Since I am a fan of the Vikings from way back, I have no problem believing that their swords were on a par with their other artifacts, their ships and jewelry in particular (ah, their ships. Has anyone ever built something so beautiful, yet so functionally perfect?).

Anyway, if I understand Dan's posts correctly, the European method for blending the desired qualities, hardness of edge and durability, was case hardening, where the core of the blade would be softer (more ductile?) and the outer steel harder so as to hold an edge.


No, No, Earl!!
If you reread, you will see that I mentioned a lower layer, low carbon (damascus type) steel core that is twisted and then folded back upon itelf. This produces an EXPOSED central core that had a visible chevron pattern. Again, the pattern was VISIBLE. And yet Again!! This is telling in that the structure served a preminate place in the FUNCTION of the blade. BUT! It was also twisted and folded to appear beautiful. The twist and fold to produce the chevron was entirely an affectation for beauty. This is similar to the Gassan filing method, used to produce an undulating grain. Completely pointless except for looks.

**It should be noted here that the entirety of the process far surpassed the welding requirements of a Katana. The methods used were a testement to the highest levels of smithing skills.

Now to be clear, this center core was exposed!!! it was wrapped with an edge steel AROUND the outer edge of the core. Picture it this way. Lay the blade flat on the table. The edges are to the left and right. The core is the body of the blade facing down ON the table and the other side facing UP. The wrapped area is the edges. This was made from medium and high carbon steels in a layered, folded pattern (at least in some of the blades recovered).

Thusly, it was a medium to high carbon edge that was quenched and hardened then tempered. There was no significant hardening of the core since it was low carbon steel leaving the center medium or soft. Viola!! Differential hardening without clay!
There was no case hardening at all.

*note
Case hardening is accompished by taking a piece of low carbon steel and placing it in a reducing atmosphere in the presence of carbon. This can be done in a sealed crucible or done in a commercial gas carborizng tank. I have done this and have taught other smiths how to do it in their forges. In fact, I taught a fellow how to do it in his forge with meteorite. He called me all weekend to get tips and time tables. When done, he took pictures of the process and the steel. A year later I see an article in a well known knife journal with his knives. NO CREDITS TO ME at all!!

People!
you gotta love em


********************
Earl writes
The Japanese, on the other hand, forge welded differing grades of steel and differentially tempered the sword to combine a hard edge and a more durable body. He holds that the European method is superior.

Where did I say that Earl?

I said the Wootz steel was A (A) superior steel. Perhaps the best performing steel of any indiginous people. Wootz is and was NOT! European. In fact, the Europeans failed misreably in their attempts to forge it.


Earl again
Yet, he states that all of his blades have a hamon and that they are, as a result, functionally superior. Since the hamon, so far as I know at any rate, was found on Japanese blades and not on European blades, this seems to me to be an admission that the European method was not as completely superior as he has been maintaining and that some aspects of the Japanese method were, and are, superior to the European. If they were not, I assume that he would not make use of them.

Earl
What I said was, The viking method used different steels to produce a differentially hardened blade. So did the Wootz smelting process (in a way. There is allotto say here aboout pearlite, cementite and what not. But, I fear I am wearing out my welcome).
Differential hardening is and was a significant factor in the performance of tools and weapons. There were and are many ways to get there. In simple steels it is in a clay method. I happen to like the look of a hamon. But I do not *NEED* to produce a hamon to get differential hardening. I could and have used an air hardening steel or a Stainless deep hardening steel and drawn it back to produce a spring body and hard edge. Many of these steels will outperform plain carbon. It just isn't as pretty!!
I want it all!!


****************************

Earl again

Regarding the use of the sword in battle, my guess is that the majority of the fighting and dying in Japanese battles was done by the peasant soldier (ashigaru) just as the yeomen and the villeins did most of the dying in European battles. First, peasants have always outnumbered the aristocracy in any time and place, there are more of them available, and they can be coerced by the aristocrats, who were better armed and organized. Second, they were almost certainly equipped with inferior weapons. They're just peasants, right? Third, the aristocrats fought with other aristocrats insofar as they could, leaving the peasants to fight with each other. Poorly trained, terrified peasants armed with inferior weapons are probably going to leave behind a lot of broken and bent swords (as are terrified, poorly trained aristocrats, for that matter). However, since being a well-trained fighter was a bushi's job, he will probably be better at it than an ashigaru. At the same time, his potential opponent will probably have a comparable level of training, so the training levels will cancel each other out.

Me
I suspect that Japanese fighting was as dirty and unequal as every other culture.

*********************************
Earl
I doubt that a beautifully polished, razor sharp sword, of any kind, is going to remain pristine after you bash a guy in the helmet with it a few times. Any weapon to be used against an armored opponent is going to have to rely on a certain amount of mass for effectiveness. Hence, a more robust edge for pitched fighting.

Me
edge geometry is a study unto itself. That said, some of us
smiths are rather "out there" when it comes to the study and research of the performance curve of their blades.


Dann
"who wishes he could communicate better these days"











[Edited by Dan Harden on 10-03-2000 at 10:44 PM]

bob elder
4th October 2000, 04:16
If Yoshindo Yoshiwara likes your swords, man, that's heavy. Yoshindo Yoshiwara is nobody to sneeze at. He's heavy artillery. My sword teacher let me use one he owns in a Chi Chi Bu tai kai 4 or 5 yrs ago. I had been using the famous multi bent Mr. Ono sword till then but Japanese police confiscated it at Narita. So anyway when I picked up the Yoshiwara blade I knew I could do no wrong. It was fairly thick and heavy and had little sori. But I'm telling you the thing had its own energy. Because of it I ot 2 nd place in nidan / sandan cutting right out of teh gate. and I'm not that good. Bob Elder

Dan Harden
4th October 2000, 04:58
Hi Bob

I don't know much about the man. I do know that a few Japanese and several American collectors have enjoyed the look of my swords. And I do have failures like everyone else.
As well, I have probably done more cutting with them (I have nine acres of missing trees and plenty of cut up elevator cable) :) then perhaps most people. I have learned a thing or two about steel over decades of forging and I have learned a thing or two about fighting with them in a Koryu sword art.
One guy, a recent "return-ey" who lived in Japan for a while and studied Iai. Also hung out with a Japanese smith. He discredited my honorable mention by Yoshihara. Telling me that Yoshihara was a nobody and that many of the Japanese smiths don't think much of him. He also said that Yoshihara was probably just being "Japanese" and polite. The story I got from the smiths present, was that he was genuenly shocked.

Dan
"Who lives in the woods, doesn't get out much, and just keeps trying to get better"

[Edited by Dan Harden on 10-03-2000 at 11:45 PM]

kenkyusha
4th October 2000, 05:01
Originally posted by Dan Harden
Krzysztof,

Sorry not to get back I have been away again

I am in central Mass.
Was the Madison group the TSKSR study group I heard of out that way?
Anyway. Perhaps you could come for forging and train with us as well after. I will endevour to to insure that evertyone gets to hammer red to white hot metal.
[snip]
[Edited by Dan Harden on 10-03-2000 at 12:38 AM]
Dan,

I've been waiting for four years for you to do this... is that invitation still open? :D

Be well,
Jigme

Dan Harden
4th October 2000, 05:16
Dan,

I've been waiting for four years for you to do this... is that invitation still open?

Be well,
Jigme
__________________
Jigme Chobang
Kenkyusha@bigfoot.com

You know. I love your name. I have told people...
I know this guy named Jigme Chobang! How's that for a handle :)
I heard you were into Kempo Now.... Neh?


Of course you would be invited. We talked about it tonight at the Dojo. I moved you know. I got out of the commercial Judo Dojo and renovated a barn on my own property. Dojo upstairs, smithy and wood shop down stairs. Now I just walk out my front door.
We were thinking about a forging and training weekend. I have had several private replies. I must confess, I don't see the "draw." Do you have any idea how hot a smithy is?
I figured I would set up a few welds. set up a blade and clay coat it. Then quench it temper it and clean it up to see the hamon. Next I figure we could burn a piece (always an exciting sparkler!) Then we could get everyone to hammer a few. With the finish being some cutting.




[Edited by Dan Harden on 10-04-2000 at 09:34 PM]

Cady Goldfield
4th October 2000, 05:22
Oy. It's getting mighty crowded in Dan's tiny forge! We got Matt, Chris, Rich, me, Bob E. and his 2 guys, Krzysztov and Jigme. Might need to knock out a wall... :eek:

Dan Harden
4th October 2000, 05:27
Bob E??

Where did that come from.........?
Saint Bob the Elder has to hold down the castle. Besided he would get mighty winded treckin all that way up north. That a fair bit "up" hill you know

Dan

Cady Goldfield
4th October 2000, 05:36
Oops. Guess it was wishful thinking. I have a crush on Bob, you know. A secret one. Oops... ;)

kenkyusha
4th October 2000, 06:34
Originally posted by Dan Harden

[snip]

You know. I love your name. I have told people...
I know this guy named Jigme Chobang! How's that for a handle :)

Yeah, those Tibetans know how to party... :)

I heard you were into Kempo Now.... Neh?Nah, still pluggin' away at the Jujutsu... still suckin' too!


Of course you would be invited. We talked about it tonight at the Dojo. I moved you know. I got out of the commercial Judo Dojo and renovated a barn on my own property. Dojo upstairs, smithy and wood shop down stairs. Now I just walk out my front door.
We were thinking about a forging and training weekend. I have had several private replies. I must confess, I don't see the "draw." Do you have any idea how hot a smithy is?
I figured I would set up a few welds. [snip]
I figure to boot my wife out for the weekend! (by begging) :)


Dan
"Who's wife has him convinced he's in charge"

[Edited by Dan Harden on 10-03-2000 at 11:34 PM]
Training with you guys is always a blast. Sounds great, please keep me posted.

Be well,
Jigme

Earl Hartman
4th October 2000, 19:40
Dan:

Well, I'm glad we've cleared that up. I guess your stated position in your first e-mail on this subject that Japanese swords were "crude smelted garbage" gave me the impression that you didn't think much of them.

It seems that your actual position is that the tamahagane that they started out with was crude smelted garbage and that it was nothing short of a miracle that they were able to produce decent swords with it all, this being a testament to their incredible skills, and that the finished product was quite good, exceeded only by Viking and Wootz steel.

That is a far more reasonable position. As far as extolling the virtues of Viking swords, you're preaching to the choir, man. Vikings rule. Always have, always will. Anybody who can transportage an armada of 2000 ships from Scandanavia, sail down the rivers of Russia to the Black Sea, lay siege to Constantinople, and then force the Emperor to buy them off to end the siege while hiring themselves out as his personal bodyguards (the Varangians) has got it goin' on, warrior-wise.

It does no disservice to the Japanese sword to say that it was ONE of the best swords ever produced, and I personally have never felt it necessary to defend the position that Japanese swords were the only good swords ever made, as some people seem to do. I guess you were responding to those guys.

I have a question, though: why were the Viking smithing techniques not carried on in medieval Europe? Were they lost? It is my understanding that most European blades were case hardened. Were the Europeans unable to recreate the Viking method? If so, why?

I don't know much about Wootz steel, but I am under the impression that it is Indian in origin. What sort of blades was it used in? I think that I read somewhere that the Japnese imported some of it and used it to manufacture katana. True or false? Was this the type of steel used in the legendary Damascus blades?

Also, as far as the Japanese smiths being able to produce better blades if they were allowed to, my guess (correct me if I'm wrong) is that sword-smithing in Japan is carried on so as to stay as close as possible to the traditional methods and materials so as to preserve swords and their manufacture as a traditional art rather than as a modern discipline, since swords seem to be viewed primarily as art objects with no practical value (unfortunately). This strikes me as typical Japanese conservatism. Personally, I've always preferred functionality to prettiness, and have always liked swords that were good weapons, their beauty being a function of their intrinsic nature, as opposed to swords that are art objects made to look like weapons.

Earl

Dan Harden
4th October 2000, 21:09
Hi earl

I am going ocean Kyaking in Acadia national park. I won;t be back till monday Night.
I want to respond to this in depth but I don't have time

I always thought my postion was clear from the begining. Your summary will suffice for now. You can't really make a Katana from wootz. Different properties all together. I will explain why later.
Yes the Tamahagane was crude stuff. NOT the smiths or their finish product......gees Earl:) I LOVVVE the Japanes sword. I just see it in a balanced view.

As far as the current batch of smiths being able to produce better blades? They could if they were allowed. I understand the need for using the old methods to perserve the craft. OUTSIDE of that, they could do better. I make swords out of my own smelted steel as well as two other Maerican smiths I know of. But I realize its limits, and I am not constrained to its use. Too bad they are

more later

Joachim
4th October 2000, 21:22
Man, so much Info in one thread. And not a flame in sight! :D

People here seem to agree that, while the japanese sword was a great weapon for the technology, smithing methods and available material, it could be better. So, what would you do today to perfect the japanese sword, while retaining its basic charateristics (not changing it to a swiss Bidenhander:))?

I know next to nothing about swords (japanese or other), but after following this thread, I'm very interested in your answers to this.

Earl Hartman
4th October 2000, 21:38
Joachim:

By "Bidenhander", do you mean those muckin' great telephone poles with the wavy blades?

Earl

Joachim
4th October 2000, 21:44
Originally posted by Earl Hartman
Joachim:

By "Bidenhander", do you mean those muckin' great telephone poles with the wavy blades?

Earl


Yep. I bet they used the things a tent poles in army camps. :) But the variant with the wavy blade is called a Flamberge, I think. Bidenhander is old german (Mittelhochdeutsch, I think. Don't know the correct term in english) for "beide Hände", "both hands". A Two-handed sword. But as I could be wrong.

[Edited by Joachim on 10-04-2000 at 03:48 PM]

carl mcclafferty
4th October 2000, 23:48
Earl

You stated that Japanese blades are built today as art objects not with any practical value. Next time there's a Tai Kai, and you're going, let me know and I'll bring my "Nobuhide and let you cut with her. Not only is she pretty, she's a great cutter. Expensive but I wanted one that had the best of both worlds. You'll fall immediately in love with her when you see her and want her sister as soon as you cut with her. David Hofhine in Madison saw her (and sharpened her), if anyone wants to know about her up there call him.

As far as the Viking steel my people (celts) didn't get rid of them (Vikings)until we used their own steel against them (great weapon makers). My comment about the Viking axe techniques was "it isn't Japanese swordsmanship". Studing in both Gendai and Koryu sword arts under great instructors and teaching for many decades, I've kept the course laid out for me and will continue to, until I'm no more. I am never too critical publicly about any American that does his/her own thing, but I have no need to travel that path.

Carl McClafferty
PS: I'd love to try one of Dan Harden's katana, might even commission one (if he would agree) if it is as good as everyone claims.

Cady Goldfield
4th October 2000, 23:52
Originally posted by carl mcclafferty


PS: I'd love to try one of Dan Harden's katana, might even commission one (if he would agree) if it is as good as everyone claims.


LOL! Get in line, pal! There are others well ahead of you on the "wish I had one" list. He has a blade he's been working on for 6 years. Kind of a perfectionist, which doesn't lend well to mass production. :)

Earl Hartman
5th October 2000, 00:15
Carl:

I only said that Japanese swords seem to be perceived primarily as art objects, not that modern swords are useless as weapons. Most people I know who collect them collect them because they are beautiful, not because they are good weapons (although I am sure they are that, too). I was only responding to Dan's position that Japanese smiths could make much better swords if they were allowed more leeway in their selection of materials and foging methods. I am sure that, just as Dan says, armed with modern methods and materials they could make even more superb weapons. Anyway, it seems that Dan's point had mainly to do with how a Japanese sword would stand up under really heavy use (sword vs. sword, sword vs. armor) as opposed to using it to cut straw and bamboo.

My point, even if I stated it badly, was that the Japanese smiths seem to be constrained in that, to preserve the traditional integrity of their art, they continue to use traditional methods and materials that Dan seems to feel have been overtaken by modern technology. I personally don't know enough to judge whether this is true, but since Dan is an experienced smith, I assume that he knows more in this area than I do. As I said before, it would be exceedingly strange if modern smiths, armed with the most advanced scientific knowlege, techniques and alloys, unavailable in the past, could not make better swords than people 500 years ago.

Anyway, this has been a very interesting discussion, but I think I had better quit while I'm behind.

Earl

Dan Harden
5th October 2000, 01:24
Janty
I took the liberty of placing your last paragraph first. Thereby respondingto you in that order.


Janty writes

Howard Clark took the idea of the Japanese sword, and re-invented it to make a sword that will last, and take more abuse then the traditional katana of the past.


To be fair, while Howard is an excellent smith, I am sure he would agree that he is merely "on the list" of people who have done considerable research into the forging of steel and swords. With several smiths concentrating on Katana.
While not taking anything away from his well deserved reputation or considerable skills, He is, by no means, a re-inventor of the katana. While you mentioned the L6 he uses, he also he makes blades out of vanadium adhanced 1086 as well as his own Damascus. His damascus will let him produce Hamon (like the other smiths mentioned here) because he knows the differences from using regular damascus to a mix that will allow hamon to form uniformly. Its simple really. Why other smiths haven't figured out why regulare damascus wont make Katana yet is puzzling.
For the topic at hand, the steel he uses and the heat treat methods he uses, L6 and bainite tranformation respectively are well known and documented. I have a book with a diisertaion on it from the fifties. Both the knowledge and the materials are decades old. Dozens of smiths use it, and Howard has mastered it.

Please.
Again
Please.
Do not put words in my mouth.
Howard is excellent. But so are many others whom you do not know.


Anyway, there are about five or so smiths that I know who I am sure, do an equal job as Howard. Some may be better at Hamon, some may be better at establishing grain and or traditional lines. Three of these men do not advertise in any significant way. Two have been at it longer than Howard. One is Japanese and lives a rather secluded life. You wouldn’t know his name if I ran a banner add, and three of us do not even have a listed phone. Two of them (myself included) are successful in their chosen professions, not smithing. They forge for themselves when time is available, and sell blades at their leisure
Some of these fellows, many of us (including Howard) consider our seniors. One case in Point would be Jimmy Fikes. He was challenging the myth of the Japanese sword years before most were out of school.

The names of many famous American Smiths; Moran, Fisk, Fowler, Hendrickson are “out there.”
But! I will NEVER forget going to a blade show in the mid eighties and seeing these rather bland Damascus knives and bowies with simple wood handles winning all these "best of show", and "best forged knife" awards. All this while I stood in awe at a Katana By Louis Mills. It was simply one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, as well as a short sword forged by Hugh Bartug. Then I turned and saw a stainless steel damascus (before anyone else was doing it) Bowie by Cleston Sinyard. Next I find the most incredible folders By this fellow Jimmy Schmidt. All hand carved damascus with various patterns welded into them. All this on carved and worked handles of horn carved into gobblins. I turned to the group of FELLOW SMITHS! (not judges) and said
“My God are these judges blind, paid off or just plain stupid!!
When the public hardly knew of him. Daryl Meire was forging damascus into tiny american flaggs. Replete with stars and stripes. All steel, all hundreds of folds repeating down the length of a blade. Not to mention Al Pendrey and his work in reproducing smelted wootz and discovering how to finally forge it cold without cracking it.
At the time, all relative unknowns. With skills so far above the pack that the pack would never catch up.


It would be a mistake to assume that due to someone’s name being “out there,” or well known, or the company they keep, or the pedigree they may have, that they are somehow unique or even exceptional. Often it just means they are just that........"Known"
As is the case with so many other human endeavors, there are men out there who perfect themselves and their craft in private. Unkown and unheralded, they are called rare jewels when found. But to them their work is just the same old song day after day.It may be a passionate song. But the same song nonetheless.

Oh and by the way……. :)
Did I mention?
PLEASE don’t tell me I am bashing any person or nationality............READ!


*****************************************
Janty says
The thing people don't understand is that katana are supposed to bend if too much lateral force is put on them, this is one of the reasons why they were differentially hardened. They were designed to take a set, instead of breaking.

me
This is not completely true. Ideally they can be designed to be spring tempered in the body and hard on the edge. A spring tempered body with a hard edge would be the ideal. It is very difficult to do. A pearlitic structure DESIGNED to "take a set" was the best that many traditional Japanese smiths could do. Not all. Not all Japanese smiths bought into the eleborate folding processes either. Beyond the refinement of the steel itself things like kobuse folding were not neccesary and contibute to a weaker body, supposedly better able to withstand shock.
I guess this was for cuts against the majority of guys who couldn't afford armour :)
**********************************

Janty says
Howard took all of his knowledge and made an almost indestructable katana (key word is almost).
Howard Clark makes Japanese style katana, and they exceed any katana made in ancient Japan.

me
While probably true That is a bold statement. The Japanese made many, many excellent blades as well as mediocre and crap blades.....just like real people

**********************

janty
He uses L6 (tool steel), and with his expertise, he creates bainite in the spine instead of pearlite.


me
More accurately, he creates Bainite in the body of the blade; not just the spine. I alluded to this in my earlier letter where I said "There are some VERY interesting things that can be done in the heat treatment of carbon steels" and in particular L6. The Bainite should be produced at the lower end of the transformation temperature. If it is done at all. This lower temperature bainite will exceed the toughness of equally tempered martensite. Thus, it is a highly favorably property to produce in a eutectiod steel.
HOWEVER. You cannot make a simple statement that Bainite is tougher than pearlite. In fact, Bainite produced at the upper end of the transformation cycle will be SOFTER than peralite formed at higher temperatures. So, more accurately stated it is the all critical temperature at which the smith controls the transformation that produces the Bainite that is most important. Not the mere presence of any bainite.
*******************
Janty says

His swords can take a bend of 45 degrees and return back to normal without a sign of it ever being bent.
Traditional katana (shinken) were known to take about 2-5 degree bend at most before it will bend. The nihonto of the past were known to bend, but can be bent back do to the fact that the Japanese were known for the proper heat treating within their blades.

WHAT??
The Japanese were more accurately known for the WILDELY dissimilar heat treatment results in any number of blades. That is why so much has been written (and ignored) of their failures as well as their supreme successes (just like many other cultures).

They chip and crack
unresolved martensite or poor tempering

Their edges deform
steel too soft or tempering to high

they bend to easily
pearlitic bodies of too soft a nature

they have large grain structures
bends, breaks, and ………makes beautiful Nie

In Short they are human.


Dan
“ Who knows there are several men out there better than me. And I may never know some of their names either”

carl mcclafferty
5th October 2000, 01:46
OKAY:

I won't hold my breath for six years to see if any Tosho is good, Ezawa Yoshharu would build one for me before that.I'll stick with my ladies I now own and be able to do everything I need. But I admit, I will always wonder until I see one. I'll just join Earl in cyperspace.

Carl McClafferty

Dan Harden
5th October 2000, 02:03
I won't hold my breath for six years to see if any Tosho is good, Ezawa Yoshharu would build one for me before that.I'll stick with my ladies I now own and be able to do everything I need. But I admit, I will always wonder until I see one. I'll just join Earl in cyperspace.

Carl McClafferty

**********************

I don't do this for work. I do it for pleasure.
I have one that has meteorite in it. It was veeery difficult to do and get right. I made a Kukri out of the balance. Another one I had a fairly well known Sensei's blood forged in while he stood there.
After a year I get it done and while polishing it down.....wham
an inclusion in the ji. Small but still......
The blade was so sweet. 29 1/2" 1 1/2" at the machi 1" at the yokote. A real cutter. Much Chikie in the Ji. Very active ha, very bold Nioi. I cut many trees with it, without a handle.
The sensei took it anyway after much hesitation on my part. Now I get the wonderful pleasure of seeing a failure out and about.

Dan
"papa said there'd be days like this
there'd be days like this my papa said"

[Edited by Dan Harden on 10-04-2000 at 09:02 PM]

Earl Hartman
5th October 2000, 02:14
Dan:

Thought you were goin' kayaking?

I go the Renaissance Faires out here, and there are a lot of sword smiths selling their stuff, including a lot of "katanas". They look OK at first glance to someone who hasn't seen the real thing, maybe, but they don't feel right and the curve, proportions, and balance are all wrong. They might cut really well, but...thanks but no thanks.

Love to see some of your stuff one day.

Earl

Dan Harden
5th October 2000, 02:28
Hi Earl
Both the wife and I are beat. Were gonna head out in the morning. Can't wait to se the seals and hike. Acadia is incredible and I desperately need a vacation. Remember the 2:30 in the morning posts? What a year. And next year will be worse....or better on how you look at it

As far as seeing my stuff, or me for that matter:

I don't get out much. And I hate what the Martial arts are becoming. I stopped going to the "thingies" where they all hang out together in their fooforall and do techniques my wife could get out of, or stop dead. And the weapons work? gees......

As Alanas Wrote in "Mary Jane"
"its full speed baby
in the wro---ong direction"............


I just train in the woods in a closed Dojo with a small group and keep trying to improve.

Chances of running into me anywhere where these arts are publicly displayed are about nil.


Dan
"who is very rarely, if ever impressed anymore"

[Edited by Dan Harden on 10-04-2000 at 09:05 PM]

ghp
5th October 2000, 04:17
Earl, this one's for you, man.


Since I am a fan of the Vikings from way back, I have no problem believing that their swords were on a par with their other artifacts, their ships and jewelry in particular (ah, their ships. Has anyone ever built something so beautiful, yet so functionally perfect?).
====
As far as extolling the virtues of Viking swords, you're preaching to the choir, man. Vikings rule. Always have, always will. Anybody who can transportage an armada of 2000 ships from Scandanavia, sail down the rivers of Russia to the Black Sea, lay siege to Constantinople, and then force the Emperor to buy them off to end the siege while hiring themselves out as his personal bodyguards (the Varangians) has got it goin' on, warrior-wise.

http://www.regia.org/images/Oban9721%20Guards&Captivesa.jpg

Kinda like this???

Regards,
Guy

Earl Hartman
5th October 2000, 18:07
Guy:

Yup, something like that. Can you imagine waking up one morning, going to the window to gaze out on the Black Sea (your own private lake, or so you thought) and seeing 2000 ships out there filled with Berserkers, all whacked out of their gourds on magic mushrooms and brandishing some of the best steel in the world? Enough to make you decide to take a quick vacation to that little villa in Crete (you know the one, little out-of-the-way place up in the hills, nice olive orchard and vinyards, a few slaves, far from the hurly-burly of politics, just the thing for a little R&R. Oh, what's that? The shuttle leaves in 5 minutes? Tell them I'll be right there, just need to throw a few things in the old valise here...)

Earl

Joseph Svinth
6th October 2000, 09:53
Earl --

Remember the Scandihoovian's alternatives. He can sit inside the house all winter watching Bergmann movies and eating lutefisk (with his in-laws and the horse in the same room), OR he can head to the Mediterranean in hopes of finding one of those topless beaches. Hmm. Hmm.

Dan --

Are you interested in revising some of your thoughts into an article? I'd love to publish something along these lines in EJMAS.

All --

Way back when, Bruce asked a question about iaito pricing that hasn't been publicly answered. But, from making some searches on the Internet, this is what I found. Where possible, links are to reviews rather than sellers but in a couple cases I'm not aware of any online reviews and so the link is to the seller. If you know additional reviews or brands that should be listed (include brands to avoid), let me know as eventually I'll post a consolidated listing at EJMAS.

NOTE: Prices are listed in US dollars, and are approximate only; obviously hardware, fittings, and shopping affect sword buying as much as car buying.

$350-$500

C.A.S. Iberia
http://www.swordforum.com/swords/nihonto/manchurian-candidates.html

Fujiwara
http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/cat_iaito.htm

Kris Cutlery:
http://www.swordforum.com/swords/kriscutlery/kc-katana.html

$750-$1250

Bugei (Chen swords)
http://www.swordforum.com/swords/nihonto/manchurian-candidates.html; see also http://www.bladeforums.com/ubb/Forum32/HTML/001245.html

$1500+

Dotanuki Shinken
http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/cat_shinken.htm

Nosyuiaido
http://ejmas.com/ejmasreviews.htm

Over $2000

North American custom makers (including some marketed by Bugei)

Over $6000

Japanese custom makers

Earl Hartman
6th October 2000, 17:43
Joe:

You're right. Not much of a choice. That probably explains all of the topless Swedish babes in Eilat.

Earl

Jeff Bristol
7th October 2000, 02:11
Earl, ya had to bring up the mushrooms, which by the way has now become my favorite piece of trivial knowledge.


Jeff Bristol

Joseph Svinth
7th October 2000, 07:34
Earl --

Sven and Ole aren't as dumb as Lena thinks, ya shure ya betcha.

Jeff --

Try Terence McKenna, "Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge" (New York: Bantam Books, 1992). Magic mushrooms get considerable play, but nary a word is spoken of lutefisk.

Neil Yamamoto
7th October 2000, 09:54
Svend: Hey Ole, If you can guess how many katana are in this saya I'll give this one to you.

Ole: Oh, you got maybe four in there?

I grew up with a guy named Stan Boreson on TV. For anyone from the P.NW, you know what I'm talking about.

Jeff Bristol
7th October 2000, 19:34
Thanks, joe, like you two I am a big fan of the vikings, I figure anyone who can handle curdled goats milk is pretty powerful.


Jeff bristol

Mike
9th October 2000, 00:10
Dan,
hope you had a relaxing weekend!

I've read the whole discussion with great interest and have stumbled over the same problem, I have met many times before.
Here in Europe we have completely diffent descriptions and standard names for steels compared to you. Because you seem to be one of the experts around could you either explain shortly what are steels like L6 or ATS34, or on the other hand name a online database which compares American to European standards.

Joachim
9th October 2000, 02:11
Originally posted by Mike
(...) or on the other hand name a online database which compares American to European standards.


Or name a good, solid book. Mike here really adores big books full of tables and formulas, don't you mike? :D

Hey Mike, post more. Don't be so shy. :D

Did you tell Magda, we can't meet her on the EXPO?

:smilejapaSorry for the off topic ranting!:smilejapa

Dan Harden
14th October 2000, 14:48
I took the libery of posting this duplicate from the Koichi wa thread here. It seems applicable to some of the questions raised in this thread.



Winterfox writes
Harden-san, thank you for correcting me on the grade of steel in leaf springs. I checked, and found that I had made the classic mistake of ass-u-me-ing. (we need a seppuku smilie) :seppuku: The 1095 desigation came from having worked with some leaf springs from an older vehicle, that did use 1095. Anyway, I have never had a prolem with tempering on leaf spring. I have done some clay quenching, and found that the temper line really is just a function of how you arrange the clay. Then again, I've been told I'm opinionated.

****************************

Well Two things

First, It isn't a question of whether or not you CAN temper it. You can. You can clay quench many grades of steel.

Two, The comments I made were not necessarily about the application of the clay. It was about the outcome of the hamon relative to both the carbon content and the alloying elements. I am talking about the maximum control to get a very defined and even hamon with defining characteristics!

All things being equal IE: application of the clay identical in a control group. The outcome of the hamon will be excellent to poor in the following order.

simple low to meduim carbon...water quench
simple medium carbon..........water quench
simple high carbon............water quench* your choice
simple low to meduim carbon...oil quench
simple medium carbon..........oil quench
simple high carbon............oil quench*your choice
5160 series...................oil quench*can't be water quenched
L series L6 etc...............oil quenched
O series (O2 etc).............oil quenched
other alloying steels that are deep hardening
_________________________________________________

The "performance curve" list is inversed somewhat. Meaning the ultimate combination of ductility /hardenability, wear resistence and edge holding.

other alloying steels that are deep hardening
L series......................oil quenched
O series...................oil quench*can't be water quenched
5160 series...................oil quench*can't be water quenched
simple medium carbon..........water or oil quench*your choice (AND 99%OF JAPANESE BLADES EVER MADE)
simple high carbon............water or oil quench* your choice
low carbon....................water quenched

Allow me to clarify. I can take A2 (a deep hardening steel) and air harden it, then use a specific welding heat stop product to form a hamon shape and draw the temper back. This will give you a Japanese "style" blade that will outcut just about anything you will EVER lay your hands on. But the Hamon looks like crap. On its best day it will look as bad as the "bad examples" oil quenched WW11 junk.
OR,
I can use various grades of simple carbon steels (shallow hardening) and oil quench those. You will get a far better Hamon then in the first example. In fact by taking the time and applying it correctly. You will get a decent hamon, one that many people may like. At this point you could even make various hamon shapes at will. This is the method used on the Nosuyiaido "steel iaito."
It still looks plain Jane(to me).
Now for my main point.

In all of the above examples you get hamon that perform a function. You have successfully, differentially hardened (and if you know what you are doing secondarily tempered) the blade. But, you have a plain jane hamon with diffuse Nioi, no ashi formation, no yo or sunugashi, forget utsuri (although this is more of a function of temperature control) it still encompasses depth of hardenability an d clay application.
Nothing, absolutely NOTHING will produce as precise control of the formation of ashi or the difficult choji as well as room temperature WATER. There are numerous new quenching mediums that are great and will get close but !!!
I have spent years with fellow smiths telling me try this or that. Then they tell you I got a great looking hamon with this X or that X. Then I see what THEY call a great hamon……fizzle!!

Your example outlines 1095. This produces a very thin line. You can control it but it is thin nonetheless. In fact, if you were to raise your carbon up to 1.00% and over, the line will all but disappear. It will still be differentially, hardened though.
As a side note, once your on this side of the carbon phase diagram you are not gaining in strength, your losing. You will have too much unresolved martensite. That will cause you to sacrifice ductility in the entire blade. This happens at anything over aprox. .80% carbon.

The most common leaf spring material 5160-68 makes and abysmal temper line since it has chromium in it. Great leaf spring or sword though.

If you stay in the 1070 to 1086 range, you get excellent hardness and a much more active habuchi.
Stay away from 1065. Although it says it is water quenching most guys can’t get it to work. It cracks in anything other then oil. This is the steel Bob Engnath and Slobodian used for years before swithcing to the lower carbon water quenching series (with the quality of their hamon increasing dramatically)
The lower carbon series 1050 –1060 make very lovely hamon with a very wide transitional zone. The blades just aren’t as strong.

Please realize this is just a cursory overview, with much that I could say, left out I don’t enjoy writing over coffee in the morning

Dan
“Who spent way to many years alone in the barn smithing and reading”

Dan Harden
20th October 2000, 16:45
In keeping with the current discussion on steel and the comparative methods of forging down throught the ages.. I thought I would tell you a story of a recent find.
I had told ya all I was going to Maine for a vacation. While we were there we stopped at one of many Antique shops. I found a broad axe dating back aprox. 100-150 years (as far back as was logically possible, it could be older) It seems it came from an old guys estate and the ax was HIS grandfathers! The dealer was told by the guy that the axe was handforged.
Anyway.
I take the rusted peice of junk away for $32.00. I bring it home. I re-shape it like a Swedish carving axe. While filing, I notice parrallel lines running down it. I get a little acid...Whammo What do I find?
The thing was forged out of aprox. 200 layers of steel, wrapped around a swage and closed on the other end. Here's the thing. A piece of homogenous High carbon steel was inserted in the end before the smith closed it. It is San mai forged. I have removed most of the rust, but it is badly pitted and will need much work. It is however, quite beautiful to behold. The high carbon is jet black against the lighter layers all around.
I will finish up in a week or so, etch it and take pictures. I will attempt to post them here.
I thought it an amazing coincidence that such an extraordinary piece of work would wind up in the hands of a fellow smith three generations later, instead of rusting in a barn. Perhaps the man said a little prayer that his work would not perish. It represents qite a bit of work on his end, more so then required for a simple tool. He did this for a reason. Perhaps a custom order, perhaps for himself.
Anyway, here we are in New England, with a piece of san mai steel, differentially hardened (I tested it) in a broad axe from the mid 19th century!

Dan
"who has the flu and is home working anyway"

thana
15th March 2001, 11:15
Questions for Dan Harden:
Of steels, how would you rate edge holding and strength on a scale of 1 - 10.

swedish powder steel
forge welded cable
l6
l6 core forged with O1
tamahagane
wootz

What metals can you enhance with vanadium and nickel? How much of each should be present?

What is your personal preference and why? Consider each evaluation with NO aesthetics in mind. I am one of the few, who do not care at all what a katana looks like, only how it functions

Dan Harden
4th May 2001, 15:27
Reply to post to bring up thread.

I did this since this thread has been both a reference and a recurring topic on many occasions, and few people seem to know how to use the topic search and private message features. The commentary, debate and information exchange by so many contributors without any flaming was a rather rare and pleasurable occurrence here.

Dan

hg
6th May 2001, 01:58
I have questions with some of the statements above.........


>The result of the folding did nothing more than to homogenize an impure product. In its time it was the best method to attain an essentially uniform carbon distribution.
??????????

As far as I read, the folding was done up to 12-14 times, so that up to about 20.000 layers formed. Folding more often was considered to produce a weaker blade. I rationalized that that folding was used to induce lattice defects, which prevent crystal planes from sliding and therefore yeald harder metals than the "monocrysaline" ones. An alternative would be lattice impurities
like carbon, mangan, Vanadium. If homogenization would have been the intent, a larger number of folding would have been preferable.



>After the attainment of a somewhat uniform carbon distribution, the complex folding patterns like Kobuse and San Mai, are completely unnecessary for the stresses placed on the blade. This has been proved out in tests performed by smiths in several countries. In fact, they did little more than add another potential for wled failure. The resonances set up in a blade at the moment of impact on hard targets do not require a soft support core (kobuse)or the support of a springy skin (san mai).
???????????????

What tests where that? When you cut very hard material, the resonances probably are the important factor. If you cut not so hard materials, I would imagine that the slow (in comparison to the speed of sound) deformations affect the blade most. The mune of the blade is under tension, so a softer, but more ductile material would be preferable,
whereas the ha is under compression and shear and would be better be made with hard material.

As far as the ability to produce "harder" blades concerned: What is the optimal hardness? The harder a material, the easier it breaks, of course, the softer a material, the easier it is to cut it. Some compromise seems necessary?


As far as Nie and Nioi are concerned: Why are Nioi supposed to make a weaker blade? I aggree that large monocrysals directly on the ha should make a weaker blade,
but away from the ha, I don't know which size distribution of monocrystals would be the optimal one, be it for scattering of "resonances"/ lattice vibrations
on inpact of a very hard target or for allowing still some residual bending when impacting on a softer target.

As far as acid edging is concerned, and what I heard about the practice of the blade sharpener to physically and "chemically" sharpening the blade: Does anybody have an idea/reference of how this affects the blade (from the point of material science, not color etc) , and which substances are used? Surface and thin film properties, as well as whiskers can differ in their properties remarkably from bulk materials, and messing around with chemicals on the blade looks suspicously as if the Japanese would not rely exclusively on high bulk compressibility.

If have seen remarks about water and oil quenching, how about blood quenching?
If have read contradicting accounts, one was that phosphor in the blood gets included into the blade surface (gives a harder blade due to surface impurities), the other that blood has higher boiling temperature and larger heat capacity, so the cooling rate obtainable in the quenching process is considerably higher than at least water.


Thanks
Hans-Georg Matuttis

Just some guy
7th May 2001, 14:21
Not wanting to start a fight here, the thread was so wonderful, a few points.

Mr Matuttis,

As far as I read, the folding was done up to 12-14 times, so that up to about 20.000 layers formed. Folding more often was considered to produce a weaker blade. I rationalized that that folding was used to induce lattice defects, which prevent crystal planes from sliding and therefore yeald harder metals than the "monocrysaline" ones. An alternative would be lattice impurities
like carbon, mangan, Vanadium. If homogenization would have been the intent, a larger number of folding would have been preferable.

Me,
This is were the balance of forging comes in I would think. Excessive folding will weaken the steel but only provided the steel didn't need it in the first place. As Far as I have read Tamahagane is possibly the worst steel in the world. The Japanese Smiths themselves don't even like it and have been know in the past to use steel imported from Europe. Today there are smiths who add different steels to the mix secretly because they want a better product. Also, As I have read most folding was around 10-14 not 12. the folding would differ depending on what the steel needed.

Beyond that, I'll like the Smiths here correct me but, I don't think that folding will have the effect that you are describing. I've read many MANY accounts from smiths from all over the place and every one of them has stated that other than purifying and evening carbon folding doesn't do anything. In fact I've heard some smiths refer to this as nothing more then modern mythology. I'm not an authority here so I'll wait for those who are to say something, but this is what I would think given the information provided.


Mr Matuttis
What tests where that? When you cut very hard material, the resonances probably are the important factor. If you cut not so hard materials, I would imagine that the slow (in comparison to the speed of sound) deformations affect the blade most. The mune of the blade is under tension, so a softer, but more ductile material would be preferable,
whereas the ha is under compression and shear and would be better be made with hard material.


Me,
The Tests would be destructive tests that every smith performs on his own work to find out what works and what doesn't.

Beyond that, you are right, a softer steel is better than a hard steel at the mune. This is WHY San Mai does not help as this can be done without welding. When a steel is Differentially hardened the Spine is already softer then the edge. There is no need to weld a softer steel to the Ha and it wouldn't help anyway as with out said differential hardening, the soft steel would also get hard. That is why the Laminate comstruction just increases the chance of welding flaws.

Mr Matuttis,
As far as Nie and Nioi are concerned: Why are Nioi supposed to make a weaker blade?

Me,
According to Mr Harding's post earlier, this is because Nioi and Nie are evidence of welding flaws in the steel. Hence weaker blade.

Like I said, Mr Harding is the expert here. I hope he gives his opinion here myself as I'd love to learn how wrong I am :).

Dan Harden
8th May 2001, 02:47
Hi Chris

Just to clear up a few things.
My Name is Dan Harden not Harding.
And, Nioi and Nie are not weldng flaws. Someone misqouted me. They have nothing to do with welding.

Nioi is a misty white transtional zone area that is evidence of desirable grain size in the hardened steel.
Nie is or rather are large grains that appear in dots or in a sort of string thoughout the transitional zone and even in the ji; evidencing large and weaker granular structure.
I must confess that I like the look of "occasional" Nie but....... they are not what one should be looking for in a superior blade.
There are methods for creating nie type effects without weakening the blade but that's another story.
The common misconception is that nie were produced at high heat and then quenched at high heat. Quenching at heat much over the criticle zone would in all likelyhood crack the steel upon quenching. What is more probable, (and I know a few smith who can do it at will, myself included) is that the steel was brought to criticle temp. and held there to long-either on purpose or accidently- while the grain grew. Or, it was either over heated while being worked, went through yaki-ire too many times and was never normilized after. It was simply brought back to criticle temp and quenched. Japanese smiths were obviously NOT dumb, and I am quite sure they wouldn't repeat the same mistake often.



folding:
The complex folding methods were the result of smiths working out impurities in the steel. They can also be manipulated to look very nice. However, all this talk of it producing a stronger blade due to the folding and resultent lamilar structure are simply myth.

Today many smiths of different cultures (Japan included) can forge a blade out of select rolled billet stock steel that will match or exceed the performance curve of traditionally folded Japanese Ken. Where occindental smiths are outdone and must concede defeat is in looks. That is; when it comes to getting *everything* right, the "Japanese" forging - finishing techniques and mountings cannot be beat.


I don't have time to respond in depth for a few days.

Sorry
Dan

Dan Harden
8th May 2001, 03:32
The mune of the blade is under tension, so a softer, but more ductile material would be preferable,

answer
I disagree. You would be better off with a hardened edge and a spring tempered body. A spring tempered body would absorb impact better than a soft structure and not "set in a bend" upon deformation. Sorry, but I am no fan of Kobuse, san mai and several other complex folding methods.

***************************

whereas the ha is under compression and shear and would be better be made with hard material.
As far as the ability to produce "harder" blades concerned: What is the optimal hardness? The harder a material, the easier it breaks, of course, the softer a material, the easier it is to cut it. Some compromise seems necessary?


answer
always a trade off. 58-60 C is about right. But it differs for the steel, and its application. And there are powder steels that may probably alter your opinion of the performance characteristics of steel in general.
How about a steel with carbon content aproaching that of cast iron, with 5% vanadium, and 13% chromium? Both of which produce some of the hardest carbides known..................
that is ductile?

*****************************


If have seen remarks about water and oil quenching, how about blood quenching?
If have read contradicting accounts, one was that phosphor in the blood gets included into the blade surface (gives a harder blade due to surface impurities), the other that blood has higher boiling temperature and larger heat capacity, so the cooling rate obtainable in the quenching process is considerably higher than at least water.

Answer
Have any idea how much blood you would need? and it wouldn't last like water or oil. There are more myths, and over-played attempts at new mediums regarding quenching then carter and his pills; urine, bodies, arsonic in water (for small tools) cutting off the hands of people who tested the water temp........blah blah blah.

It isn't rocket science.

Water produces a superior look in the hamon and brings out the inherent structures in the steel at the transitional zone. Too lengthy to go into tonight. However, both it and oil produce fine blades.

Dan

Just some guy
8th May 2001, 09:51
Mr Harden,

Sorry about the name bit, I'm writing from a computer Cafè and this computer can't support a thread this big. Thank you for your corrections though. I look forward to reading what you can post when you have plenty of time.

Dan Harden
19th February 2002, 02:45
Hi Earl
I think I got you covered in this thread


[QUOTE]Originally posted by Earl Hartman
[B]Well, Dan, you asked, so here goes:

What is shear steel?

The Europeans were experimenting with Blister steel. This a prduct where they packed iron into sealed boxes containing a carborizing agent. They were cooked above critical for a predermined time period dependent on the size of the charge. THe reuslt was a very deeply case hardened product. I dislike the use of the term "Case hardened" regarding blister steel for the reasn that too many read it and assume far too much-equating with a more modern tool steel method. These were very deeply infused with carbon. Giving a range of high carbon on the surface to a graduated medium carbon in the core. The resultant surface was "blistered" hence the name. You could have developed quite a fine weapon from this process with a high carbon edge and a spring tempered body.
The next step in the process was the shear steel. They simply took bars and forge welded them together. Sometimes folding (double shear)sometimes not. It resulted in a more uniform steel.
Superior Weapons though- should never be uniformly heat treated. Differentially temepring was done in many different ways in different cultures.


Eearl writes
Also, if the European broadswords were spring tempered, I assume that what this means is that they were less susceptible to taking set bends than a Japanese sword and were thus more durable, if less capable of taking a really sharp edge, and that the edges they took would not last as long under the stress of battle.

I think we've had this discussion before, but it is still a good one, since I haven't really decided which approach was better. I suppose it is impossible to have any kind of head-to-head test with real period weapons.

Tough contest my friend-very tough. Steel did not have to cut steel often. And when it did a softer edge would roll and could be repaired by steeling. Thus preserving the material. Hard edges will chip thus losing the material.
Also softer spring tempered edges will cut flesh and bone for "long enough" won't they?

The dead soft inner core Kobuse method is not a thing I would do. But the forge folded Katana has a lot going for it in cutting ability.

I may be one of a dozen or so men on earth who have tested both-and I can't offer up which one is superior.

Dan

Earl Hartman
22nd February 2002, 02:40
Dan:

Thanks for the information on spring tempered and shear steel. I finally got the answer I was looking for: it seems like your bottom-line position is that both the European and Japanese approaches have merit but it is hard to say which is best. My gut feeling is that I would prefer a spring tempered blade in a battle if my life depended on it; it sounds more durable. I doubt very seriously that you could bend a katana over your knee and have it spring back. However, in a blade-to-blade clash, if the quality of the cutting edge of a katana was as superior to that of a European blade as is generally assumed, then I would imagine that the European blade would get the worst of the exchange. Like you said, hard to say.

Since I am by no means an expert, I can't say much about armor really, unless you have a specific question, other than to say that from an aesthetic perspective I like European transition armors from the 14th century and earlier stuff. From the point of view of metalworking, however, I think that there is little doubt that the later armors were superior, combining lightness and strength. As the armorers learned to work with plate, they developed the use of fluting and convex curves to lighten the armors by reducing the amount of metal they needed to get the requisite strength. Really marvels of engineering. I have often wanted to wear a real harness of period armor just to see how it feels. However, I get the feeling that Japanese armor probably allowed more freedom of motion, at least in comparison to the later European stuff. However, much of the extant armors are tournament armors, which were heavier and could be more restrictive than battle gear since by that late date, tournaments were pretty heavily regulated unlike in the early days when they were just free-for-alls with real weapons. The Church tried to ban them often since so many knights were killed and maimed, but they weren't too successful.

Joseph Svinth
22nd February 2002, 03:59
Earl --

This isn't germane to steel at all, but during the 1950s, NASA used medieval armor as one of its models for space suits. (Hard hat diver's suits were another.) See http://www.polamjournal.com/Library/Reviews/VWXYZ/body_vwxyz.html

Recent US military research appears to be directed toward powered exoskeletons. See, for example, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1112000/1112411.stm .The DOD program, for instance, is at http://www.darpa.mil/DSO/thrust/md/Exoskeletons/index.html .

The applicability of this project to prosthetics is worth thinking about.

Dan Harden
24th February 2002, 22:49
Earl

That sword from the battle of Agincourt was waaaaay rusted and pitted. I bent it over my knee and it sprung right back. Further, as I stated it still had a servicable edge. The hilt was tight as well.
I have many articles here written by modern researches and metallurgists regarding the superiority of stainless steel. I have one article that talks about carbon steel snapping due to pitting. I don't know where these people work with blades. Modern knives can be prone to failure due to mass production methods of manufacture. While stainless has its merits-I marvel at the indegenous cultures of the world who have all used various forms of forge folded steel for centuries and have had great success with it. And they were using them not hanging up somewhere.
Like you, I never "bought" the Japanese blade hype. Yeah its great stuff -but really no better than other methods and in fact it is inferior to some. One thing it has is sheer beauty. But then again to be handed a freshly made twisted strand, chevron cored, and high carbon wrapped skin viking sword would make many a man happy.

Dan

Earl Hartman
25th February 2002, 21:08
You can get such swords? Tell me where.

Actually, my not buying the "myth" of the superiority of the Japanese blade was a direct result of my living in Japan as long as I did. I got so damn sick of being lectured on how superior everything Japanese was to everything Western, I decided to do more research and revise my views, which were decidely more pro-Japanese originally.

I think that the view of the superiority of the katana is a function of how well it is made and is mainly a result of the propaganda of the sword affecionados. In addition to that, the incredibly detalied and accurate records of smiths that were kept, which makes it possible to accurately identify blades that are hundreds of years old, make the Japanese sword world a perfect milieu for serious art collectors. European weapons can be very beautiful if they are well made, but for sheer quality of workmanship and fine detail work, the Japanese beat everyone, hands down, no questions asked. Also, I think that the cult of the sword was more developed in Japan, whereas in Europe the sword wasn't as idolized, perhaps, especially once warfare changed and the gun came to the fore.

Anyway, I like all swords, if they're well made. Since I do budo I tend to the Japanese side of things, but I'm not an ideologue in this area.

Nuutti Kotivuori
5th March 2002, 17:56
Originally posted by Dan Harden
As for the book.Is this the same Sugawara that was Un-invited by Otake after teaching the TSKSR publicly to Aikido people?
As I said, I don't follow Aikido So I would have to get a copy and read it to comment. I will say that Budoka frequently give poor advice relating to smithing. Many of whom still buy into the Japanese "myth" thing. You say the book talks about Aikido and Tai chi chuan, but then discusses the "relationships" of forging methods and metalurgy between Nothern Europe and Japan? Hhmmm. Who did the reasearch? The Aikido guy? The Tai Chi guy? or Jones?
can you scan the pages and email them for comment? If so, I will answer here fwiw.


I happen to also own the mentioned book. Firstly, yes, it is the same Sugawara. And the research was done by all of them, I believe. The appendix is some 50 pages long - and I don't even have a scanner handy.

But in any case, the material published looks pretty solid - if there is the "myth" thing somewhere in there, then I don't see it.

The appendix is titled: Ancient furnace and iron smelting - and it talks about the different techinques for making swords in Japan and in China. There are comparisons about timescales between these two countries and comparisons between many different methods for making the swords. There is also quite a bit about Wootz steel.

If you are interested in the contents more, feel free to ask questions - I might even be able to get a scanner. My knowledge of swords is non-existant - so I can't really evaluate the contents.

Nuutti Kotivuori

Dan Harden
6th March 2002, 12:40
What did they say the methods were for making Wootz? then for forging it. That should be an easy reference.

thanks
Dan

Nuutti Kotivuori
7th March 2002, 16:43
Originally posted by Dan Harden
What did they say the methods were for making Wootz? then for forging it. That should be an easy reference.


Ookkay, here goes:


Indian Wootz steel

How to make Wootz steel

This method was explained by Richard Burton in his book "The Book of the Sword". I'll explain by the help of my Spanish friend who translated and illustrated (lower part) some of its contents for me.

Firstly, moistened broken pig iron was put into the earthen vessel (see lower illustration) and then with small wood chips were added. Put the leaf os Asclepias Gigant or Canvolvulus Lanifolius on top of the pig iron, then cover this vessel with clay. Then the vessel is dried in the sun. After the vessel is dried, the vessel is put about twenty-four vessels into the furnace. Then the pig iron is refined with the fuel for the fire being charcoal which is mixed with cow dung for about 2 or 3 hours. After this refining process, the earthen vessel is broken and the steel retrieved. Then temper is added again forming the steel into long strand-like formations. If a sword is made, we put this strand into a strong fire that uses a bellow, then form the shape of the sword. The sword is forged by simply striking the steel strand flattening it out so as edges can be formed for the blade.

This steel was called Wootz in India. It's called Huncluwani in Persia, adventurer Marco Polo called this Andanicul or Ondanique, and is called Alkinde in Spain. In the explanation by Richard Burton, it did not include chemical properties of the temper fire.

Compared to this refining process, it seems to be another method for making pure iron. After several times refining for taking off the slag, iron becomes purere, and the carbon also diminished. This pure iron is used for making the sword. But it must be contain carbon to make steel, the carbon is add to the outside of the iron.

One of my students contacted to Mr. Alfred Pendray, who is considered one of the top authorities about Wootz steel in the USA, for answer to my questions.

Mr. Alfred Pendray explained that a recent excavation has found the remains an old Indian forge, complete with good clay samples from the smelter (Dates from 800-9000 A). The clay used for smelting pots was a MULLITE-type of clay. This clay does not contain silicates such a mica, etc. Rather it was mixed with rice hulls, etc. to increase the carbon content. This clay is capable of withstanding temperatures of 1550-1600 C. The clay used to seal the top of the pot was a different type of clay.

According to Mr. Pendray, Wootz is not a sanmai-type steel. Rather, it is pure iron that has varying layers of hardness, with results similar to the Japanese method of putting a soft core inside a hard jacket. It has no fold, and welds.

Typos are probably my mistakes, since I didn't really check the text - but the broken english is copied directly from the book. After this, there are chapters "Application of the Wootz steel" and "Transfer routes of the Wootz method".

This is the first time I have actually read the text there - and it seems to contain an awful lot of personal opinions about things, rather than explanation.

Anyway, hope this helps.

Nuutti Kotivuori

Dan Harden
8th March 2002, 00:19
I have had several discussion with Al back when his research was beng done. I think you will find that if he reviewed THAT text and that is all he offered-he was being very polite. In short just beng Al. There are several inaccuries in it.But then again -they were probably trying to givethe readers digest version.

As I said way back in the thread-the history of swords and armors as presented in books containes many false statements and misconceptions. These are for the practical reasons that most just read and site old research that is faulty. It's the way of the world. Naturally it will change as the newer books site more recent research

Again steel is steel.
Thanks for posting. I for one apreciate the effort-anything else you feel like scanning in would be great too. Feel like throwing in the title, date and publisher?
Just so when I cut and paste I will know the source.

Dan

Nuutti Kotivuori
8th March 2002, 09:31
Originally posted by Dan Harden
Thanks for posting. I for one apreciate the effort-anything else you feel like scanning in would be great too. Feel like throwing in the title, date and publisher?
Just so when I cut and paste I will know the source.

Dan

The full title is:

Aikido and Chinese Martial Arts: Aikido and Weapons Training
by Tetsutaka Sugawara, Xing Lujian, Xuexiong Mei (Translator), Mark B. Jones
published by Sugawara Martial Arts Institute / Japan Publications
Paperback, December 1998

You can find the full table of contents by searching for it on Amazon.com.

-

By the way, Sugawara is in Finland now - until 15th of march I think. My first aikido teacher is assisting him here - so I am able to meet him personally if need be.

Nuutti Kotivuori

George Kohler
30th December 2004, 16:26
Bump!

glad2bhere
30th December 2004, 16:44
Always a grreat read.

BTW: I know that there are kits for identifying valuable metals such as gold and silver. I think there may even be kits for identifying the relative weights in alloys though I may be mistaken.

Are there similar kits for assessing the quality of metals used in modern, readily available MA weapons? Thoughts?

Best Wishes,

Bruce

Dan Harden
30th December 2004, 23:45
George!!!
Hoo rah...!
I have nothing to say.
Happy new year big guy.

cheers and thanks
Dan

Cady Goldfield
31st December 2004, 00:27
Originally posted by Dan Harden
I have nothing to say.



...A temporary condition, I assure you. :p
heh heh

It's swell to have this fascinating thread in easy reach now. Thanks, George.

osan
18th January 2005, 02:08
Originally posted by Geoff.
Are stainless steel blades any good to preform tameshigiri? Any suggestions? Thanks.

Contrary to some of the statements I've read here, there is nothing inherently wrong with SS in terms of maintaining structural integrity during live cutting. In fact, stainless steels are very tough. That said, I will add that as with any other material, the safety of the blade will be largely dependent on the skill with which it is formed (if it is in fact forged) and its heat treatment. If they are sufficiently "wrong", you will have a safety hazard on your hands. This is true of plain carbon steels as well.

A composite SS blade with a 440 or ATS34 blade and jacket of, say 420 (just pulling alloys off top of head) could make an extremely tough blade iff made correctly.

That said, I am still partial to low alloy tool steels such as W1, WHC, 1086, and L6. They are easier to work than stainless steels, forge weld MUCH more readily, and respond to simple heat treating procedures. And of course you can obtain a brautiful hamon if that is desired.

I would be against an SS blade only because chances are they were not made competently and may therefore pose a safety risk. One gets what one pays for, most of the time. If you pay $99 for a stainless "katana", you will almost certianly get $99 worth, and you cannot reasonably expect such a blade to stand up to the rirgors of live cutting, especially when one's technique isn't close to perfect.

I've not heard of it happening, but I would neither want to hear that the first 18 inches of a blade went careening through someone's skull across the dojo because the sword flew apart. These activities are dangerous enough when the weapons are the best available. There is no legitimate excuse to buy and use a crappy pseudo-weapon in the presence of other people. If you don't mind killing or maiming yourself, I certianly don't mind if you do it, but endangering others is not acceptable IMO.

osan
18th January 2005, 02:24
Originally posted by hg
I have questions with some of the statements above.........


>>The result of the folding did nothing more than to homogenize an impure product. In its time it was the best method to attain an essentially uniform carbon distribution.
??????????

This is in fact the primary reason for refining the raw steel. The other main reason is grain refinement. Tamahagane as is comes out of the smelter is generally very coarse-grained, which makes for weakness.

>As far as I read, the folding was done up to 12-14 times, so that up to about 20.000 layers formed. Folding more often was considered to produce a weaker blade.

This is due to decarburization.

> I rationalized that that folding was used to induce lattice defects, which prevent crystal planes from sliding and therefore yeald harder metals than the "monocrysaline" ones. An alternative would be lattice impurities
like carbon, mangan, Vanadium. If homogenization would have been the intent, a larger number of folding would have been preferable.

No. The ancient smiths didn't know how to prevent decarburization. Besides, with the material at hand, further refinement was not necessary. By the time you have rewelded a billet 14 times you have about 16K layers, which translates into extensive refinement of grain size, if done correctly.

>As far as the ability to produce "harder" blades concerned: What is the optimal hardness? The harder a material, the easier it breaks, of course, the softer a material, the easier it is to cut it. Some compromise seems necessary?

It depends on the material and what other properties one is looking to obtain. 4140 obtains its maximum toughness at a hardness of about C37, which isn't very hard. It seems most Japanese blades achieve the bese balance of hardness to toughness at C55-C58. Not extremely hard, but the blade is very tough and will survive impacts and other abuses that a harder blade will not.

>If have seen remarks about water and oil quenching, how about blood quenching?

Silliness.

> If have read contradicting accounts, one was that phosphor in the blood gets included into the blade surface (gives a harder blade due to surface impurities), the other that blood has higher boiling temperature and larger heat capacity, so the cooling rate obtainable in the quenching process is considerably higher than at least water.




Thanks
Hans-Georg Matuttis

osan
18th January 2005, 02:30
Originally posted by Just some guy

Me,
According to Mr Harding's post earlier, this is because Nioi and Nie are evidence of welding flaws in the steel. Hence weaker blade.




Nie and Nioi are largely the result of differing rates of quench. I have made blades from solid 1095 with no welds at all and have obtained strong Nie/Nioi. It's a matter of heat treat and nothing more. Welds in the blade may affect the formatio of nie/nioi, but that is more a matter of the analysis of the steel and whether the weld has significnatly influenced it.

osan
18th January 2005, 02:34
Originally posted by Dan Harden

Where occindental smiths are outdone and must concede defeat is in looks. That is; when it comes to getting *everything* right, the "Japanese" forging - finishing techniques and mountings cannot be beat.


Perhaps youu've never seen the work of Bill Fiorini. He will run with any Japanese smith you care to list. His work is superb and very true to tradition.

osan
18th January 2005, 02:37
Originally posted by Dan Harden


How about a steel with carbon content aproaching that of cast iron, with 5% vanadium, and 13% chromium? Both of which produce some of the hardest carbides known..................
that is ductile?



*****************************


If have seen remarks about water and oil quenching, how about blood quenching?
If have read contradicting accounts, one was that phosphor in the blood gets included into the blade surface (gives a harder blade due to surface impurities), the other that blood has higher boiling temperature and larger heat capacity, so the cooling rate obtainable in the quenching process is considerably higher than at least water.

Answer
Have any idea how much blood you would need? and it wouldn't last like water or oil. There are more myths, and over-played attempts at new mediums regarding quenching then carter and his pills; urine, bodies, arsonic in water (for small tools) cutting off the hands of people who tested the water temp........blah blah blah.

It isn't rocket science.

Water produces a superior look in the hamon and brings out the inherent structures in the steel at the transitional zone. Too lengthy to go into tonight. However, both it and oil produce fine blades.

Dan

osan
18th January 2005, 02:41
Originally posted by Dan Harden
[B]

How about a steel with carbon content aproaching that of cast iron, with 5% vanadium, and 13% chromium? Both of which produce some of the hardest carbides known..................
that is ductile?


You can call that D2 :)


[B]

Answer
Have any idea how much blood you would need? and it wouldn't last like water or oil. There are more myths, and over-played attempts at new mediums regarding quenching then carter and his pills; urine, bodies, arsonic in water (for small tools) cutting off the hands of people who tested the water temp........blah blah blah.


Any idea what a STENCH you'd make. Your neighbors and your wife would lynch you on the spot.

Anout the fastest quench you want on a water hardening steel is brine. If you want more violence, use superquench, but you won't have a blade left as it will shatter.