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metals; making, mixing and strengths

Discussion in 'Research' started by J.C. Bell, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. J.C. Bell

    J.C. Bell Dreamer

    wondering if any one has knowledge of metallurgy? How is steel actually made, or was discovered? What components make it different from a regular iron sword?
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Steel is made; it is an alloy of iron. I think it is generally iron and carbon, but that's about the extent of my knowledge. I supposed to method of making it was discovered, so the answer is 'both.' But it wasn't discovered in the sense than an element is discovered.
  3. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    I believe you are correct that it's mostly iron and carbon, but some of the best steel in the world during the medieval era were iron naturally alloyed with molybdenum and other trace metals making it more supple. Damascus steel used plant fibers when making the ingots, forming natural occuring carbon nanotubes that gave great strength to the blades.
  4. Some information on the basic modern steels used in swordmaking.

    Of course, new steel alloys are still developed and some pretty extreme new steels do show up once in a while, especially in the knife business.

    Also, note that what we think of as "iron" is usually just a kind of steel with low carbon content. Pure iron won't make good tools or weapons as it is actually softer than aluminum and pretty much needs to be created in a laboratory.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2012
  5. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    Pure iron is forged with carbon, up to one or two percent to make what's commonly called wrought iron or cast iron. This is heavy, hard and strong, but also brittle. Not much good for weapons. To make steel you have to increase the carbon content some more, but to make good steel you then have to alloy it with other metals. Manganese, molybdenim, chromium and vanadium are common. These add to the flexibility, ductility and rust resistance of the steel, and there are probably hundreds of different recipes. Swords have to be made of proper steel to be of any use.

    I'm no expert in this, but I frequent another fantasy site sometimes, where there are people who not only know this stuff but some of them actually craft these things.

    The Fantasy Forum

    I'm sure you'll be able to find any answers you need there.

    Cheers, Greg.
  6. Cosmolien

    Cosmolien Dreamer

    How would a person around the medieval actually make a sword?
    What are the processes they need to go through?
    And would it be expensive?

    Does anyone know??
  7. Cosmolien

    Cosmolien Dreamer

    Sorry correction around the medieval time.
  8. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    This happens to be a topic I've researched fairly extensively. Though I don't have the time to write a really exhaustive response, here are a couple of great links followed by a summary:

    Mining In Middle Ages


    As the above articles will explain, metallurgy had advanced decently far by the middle ages. The various types of iron mentioned by psychotick were well known, and there was an established pattern for producing low-quality iron from its ore (in smelters called bloomeries) and then refining that ore into steel.

    Swordsmiths required a very specialized quality of steel with a specific carbon level. Most weapon makers would have known how to judge steel and transform it (either by adding or removing carbon in their own furnaces) into what they need. In some specialized weaponsmithing centers (like Toledo, Spain) there may have been smelters who produced this kind of steel (or close to it) ready-made for the local smithies.

    In general, the knowledge of other elements alloyed with steel came and went throughout history and the making of special steels was often a closely guarded secret.

    Poor early steels were actually less suitable for weaponry than the most advanced metal of the classical world - that is, bronze. Quality bronzes have properties akin to the steel achievable through ancient means. However, as iron mining became more widespread, the availability of iron made it the preferable metal due to lower cost, and eventually steel making knowledge followed and spread as well.

    In any case, read those links. Good stuff in there. Also, further google searches will unearth a great deal of info - just remember to take anything the internet tells you with a grain of salt.
    Sheilawisz likes this.
  9. Cosmolien

    Cosmolien Dreamer

    Thanks so much:D

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