Metallurgic Properties of Weapons Throughout Cultures

How did the metallurgic properties of historical weapons vary between different cultures and time periods?

Nicholas Allen   5 years ago • @Latchkey

Were Japanese Katanas folded to compensate for deficiencies in the metal? what kind of ore did Japanese smiths have access to?

Did European countries like Germany have higher quality ore for higher quality swords like Montantes or Longswords? did they use the same metal for swords as they did for armor? How much ore was each country able to mine? was there ever a shortage of materils?

Jeff Hoyle   4 years ago • @mrhoyle

I remember reading once that a katana could break a traditional European sword that was attempting to block it. I’ve never looked into it very deeply. I’d love to know for sure.

Nicholas Allen   4 years ago • @Latchkey

Check this out!
It’s a spectrographic analysis that shows an uneven distribution of carbon along the blade, specifically a higher concentration along the cutting edge. the report concludes that while this makes for a harder and theoretically sharper edge, it potentially weakens the sword overall. The katana is famous for having supposed unrivaled strength due to the metal being folded over again and again during forging. While this is true, it was likely done to correct for poor quality steel; without the folding to add reinforcement and more evenly distribute carbon across the whole blade, the blades would likely be too brittle and shatter.

Nicholas Allen   4 years ago • @Latchkey

Also here are some really fantastic videos.

The first is by a very qualified HEMA specialist in London who analyzes katanas vs. longswords

The second is a really good demonstration that while katanas might be specialized for cutting, they can’t scythe through chainmail or armor like you see in every anime and movie.

Jeff Hoyle   4 years ago • @mrhoyle

Cool! Fantastic info, my friend. Do they you any of those fancy meteorite swords to play with ;)

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Kirk Torren Smith   4 years ago • @Kirk

…hmmm. Upon fully reading the link to the report it appears that the sword(s?) submitted for analysis was a Japanese officer’s sword (circa WWII: the first clue was mention of its “metal scabbard”). Such swords are known to have been mass produced (perhaps fulfilling a roll similar to a Marine Corps dress Mamaluke) and could thus generally be assumed to be of inferior quality when compared to those of a Shoshu master such as Masamune?

Regardless, It would certainly be fascinating to see a direct comparison of the metallurgic properties of an Ulfberht to a masterwork Katana of the same era…

Jeff Hoyle   4 years ago • @mrhoyle

This seems like a good spot to share this article:

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