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Blake Davidson

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Kentucky
  • Interests
    History, playing guitar, learning about the fascinating field of metalwork.
  1. What a great way to be inspired to start smithing! I particularly like that beautiful pre-viking age spearhead. Thank you so much for sharing the pictures. I am also new to the world of bladesmithing. And I've learned so much by reading through these forums. And if you pose a question, everyone seems to do their best to help you out. So I think you came to the right place, Bård.
  2. Thank you for the quick responses, gentlemen! This site and its users never fails to satisfy. Myles, I figured a book such as that would cost a pretty penny. But I'll certainly be picking it up ASAP. In the meantime, I'll make use of the online version. Thank you for the links and info. Jeppe, even a source that is in Danish or Swedish is very helpful. So I'm grateful for the links.
  3. Hello, all! It has been quite some time since I last posted on this message board. I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in History back in December and I've been quite busy job hunting (a job is necessary to fund an aspiring smith's hobbies, I'm sure you'll all agree). As a result, I've not had much time, nor energy, to partake in the activities on this site. Still, my passion for history demands attention, so I spend my time researching and pondering on various aspects of medieval culture. Unfortunately, certain questions are left unanswered on scholarly databases like JSTOR and turning to wikipedia or blogs people written by people who project personal fantasies onto history serves more to infuriate than enlighten. However, I remembered how many of you are like-minded in your passion not only for blades, but for the history of people who made them as well (perhaps the latter is a prerequisite for the former?). You guys really helped me with my last thread here, so I hope some of you might try to point me in the right direction here. But, enough rambling. I wanted to see if any of you know of any comprehensive texts (book, article or otherwise) with a complete list of runestones, their inscriptions, and translations. I realize that may be asking for a bit much. Credible comprehensive texts on anything are extremely valuable to the history buff because of just how much work goes into them. If you don't know of one, but do know of a smaller study of some of (preferably older) runestones, I would be thankful if you could share. If anybody at all has something to contribute, feel free to. Thanks, folks.
  4. I don't post here frequently as I've yet to actually begin smithing. But I can't resist reading through these threads and absorbing all the amazing information that is so difficult to find outside of this forum. Anyways, since nobody has responded to your question about the ISBN yet, Julia, I decided I would lend a hand. If you'll take a look at the bottom right corner of the image Darrell posted, the ISBN has been listed along with the title and author's name. I was about to do a search on WorldCat myself before I noticed it. Just thought I would point it out. Unfortunately medieval and ancient pocket knives are usually overlooked. But I'm glad to see others who are interested in them as well.
  5. Thank you for your responses, gentlemen. Ric, I've always assumed the knife was something low carbon, as instead of being springy as I've always expected tempered steel to be, it bends ever so slightly when pushed too far to the side and then must be straightened. I'd do a spark test, but I'm sure my mom would slap me silly. It is quite thin, though. So you're probably correct. It also has what I suppose would be called a half tang. No discernable marks, though (we've never sharpened it, but my great uncle might have). I'd like to find out more about it. I hope my 'sword and couch' analogy wasn't too far off base. It's a little silly. But I just wanted to use something modern in contrast with something older. Alan, I've got a very long way to go for that coveted fiery beard (I don't even have an anvil yet XD). I appreciate the encouragement, though. Good to know I'm at least on the right track with the way I think about these things.
  6. So, I've managed to get my hands on a copy of the Tylecote and Gilmour book (inter-library loan is such a great resource when you're starving for new material). I'm amazed at how early heat-treating was used just from the relatively small sample size given in the book, from one country no less. It's fascinating. The book also makes it easier for me to understand the different phases or structures of iron and steel (ferrite, pearlite, etc.). What I find most interesting, and of course this is only a small sample of the finds in Britain, is that, while there are differences in the creation of blades between different eras, it seems the differences are not particularly huge. It almost seems like what you would expect from any product today. The majority of the items available commercially today are serviceable. Only a handful of producers make great versions of those items. I think, but I do not know, that the same was true back then. Simplicity, quantity vs quality, availability of resources, and knowledge may all be factors, for example, in both creating a sword and building a couch. I know I might be dreaming, but I would love to see a similar book published with larger sample sizes (and perhaps focused on one particular kind of tool or weapon). I'd like to see some better preserved pieces as well. It seems like a sizeable majority were poorly preserved which might obscure some of the details better preserved ones could provide. Of course, I'm talking without knowing too much about archaeometallurgy, so I'm obviously ignorant about a lot of the specifics. But again, I can dream. Also, if its okay, I have a little nitpick about the language I see used so often in books, articles, websites, etc. referring to blade materials other than high carbon steel as inferior or worse. Properly heat treated carbon steel can make for some fine blades. But, I think other metals (iron, low carbon/mild steel, bronze) can also be made into quality blades with the right skill. My favorite kitchen knife to use is an old knife my great uncle gave to my mom. It's just wrought iron (maybe mild steel). None of the modern steel kitchen knives I've bought cut up a potato half as well. Unless that knife is a rare exception, I would think the same could be said of other blades. I feel like we get caught up in our modern, post-industrial, and romantic mindsets about what makes quality metal. I apologize if this kind of tangent is something frowned upon on this forum. It's just something that's been nagging at me. Feel free to tear my post to shreds if you think my newbie ignorance warrants it. I should also be getting another book from ILL soon (Knives and Scabbards, recommended by Alan). I look forward to reading it and seeing what else I can learn about iron and steel in the Middle Ages.
  7. Kristopher, you didn't come across as condescending at all. I appreciate your advice. I'm actually going to request some materials at mu University's library through inter-library loan next week. Unfortunately, I've already browsed through the only archival collection on campus. There was nothing on metallurgy, smithing, or anything else. I'm an intern at the library (and museum!) on campus, so I've had the privilege of handling some wonderful materials that most people only get to view photocopies or pictures of (mostly things related to Mammoth Cave). Alas, in my searches during free time, I found nothing related to metalwork. Still, inter-library loan is an excellent tool to make use of. Again, thank you for your sound advice.
  8. I echo Doug's sentiments. Thank you very much for the links (and the recommendations for other works). I'm gonna have a library of all this stuff in no time. I'm extremely thankful for all the information you fine folks have shared already. I hope this thread will continue to spark some interesting discussions or contributions. It is definitely helping me find out more about one of the fields I'm so interested in.
  9. Jeroen, thank you for the info. I want to make sure I'm understanding the basics of what you're saying. Higher quality steel was present from the iron age and it was known how to make it. However, broader cultural and technological shifts allowed for greater quantities to be available over time. So overall, when discussing historical iron production, an awareness of its larger context should be maintained. Am I understanding this correctly? If any other members have words of wisdom, I would welcome them. Whatever knowledge you have on the subject is very much appreciated. This will all help me, and anyone else curious about the subject, to understand everything better and to have better starting points to reference for research. I could even apply a lot of this to bladesmithing when I can finally start and have worked at it for a few years.
  10. Outstanding stuff, gentlemen. Thank you all for your contributions to this thread. I'll certainly start reading more about the hearth steel processes and whatever other smelting and refining processes I can. You've all given me some great stuff to think about.
  11. Thank you for the clarification on Ulfberht swords, Ric. I suppose I sound like the newbie I am. I think I probably complicate things more than most because I'm a history major. The one thing that has constantly been hammered into my head is that I'm supposed to "challenge the historical narrative" of years past to paint a more complete picture. I also appreciate the material you recommended. I'll do a search straight away. Thanks!
  12. Greetings, everyone. This is my first post here. I joined because I'm a history major with a fascination with metalwork and because I plan on trying my hand at bladesmithing beginning around December/January. I'm also a little bit of a fanboy when it comes to some of the members here. I was inspired by a few of them. So I'm quite happy that I finally decided to join the forums. However, because I'm not even a beginner smith yet, I'll probably mostly be reading what the rest of you have to say and learning what I can for the time being. That said, I do have some questions on some of the historical aspects of bladesmithing. I did a number of searches on the forum to make sure this subject hasn't been covered too extensively. I only wanted to make a new thread as a last resort, but I feel it's necessary if I want my questions answered. My questions deal primarily with the quality of the iron and steel used in blades during the Viking Age as opposed to the later Middle Ages. I was considering covering this subject for senior seminar, as this is my last semester of college. But the few sources I was able to find in my university's library and online databases that mentioned the subject at all were written during a time in which the historical narrative was not quite as objective as it is today (though it's still not perfect or even consistent by any means). So I probably won't be covering that topic for my class, but it still interests me enough that I hope some of the members here who are knowledgeable on the subject might chime in with whatever information they can provide. So, something that piqued my curiosity was one of the constants I found in the aforementioned books as well as various places online that discuss older forms of weaponry. It was the idea that the iron and steel from blooms in the Viking Age, as well as construction methods, were somehow overwhelmingly inferior to those in the later Middle Ages. I think it's natural to assume that metallurgical knowledge would progress as time goes on, but I don't know if it really increased so greatly between these two time periods. As I currently understand it, smiths of the Viking Age were aware of the benefits of quench hardening and perhaps even tempering. If I'm correct, weapons in the later Viking Age also began to be made less from pattern-welded steel and more from a single type that would allow for more consistent and controllable production of weapons. This is where the whole "Superior/Inferior" thing starts to come into play. The ideas presented in those books and websites noted that a single type of steel yielded better weapons in the later Middle Ages as this type of weapon production replaced pattern-welding altogether. However, that doesn't seem to me like it would yield better weapons as much as something of a more consistent quality. I understand that swords of the Viking Age had a wide range of quality where construction and material was concerned. That makes it difficult to make any sort of generalization about them in that regard. But with one type of steel being used, it does seem that more control could be had over the production processes which could lead to a better understanding about that one type of steel. With that said, would I be somewhere MAYBE close to correct in saying that the quality of steel and iron used for weapons wasn't necessarily "better" in the later Middle Ages, but rather more consistent? I understand that what makes a quality sword or spear is more complicated than just the steel that goes into it. And I hope I don't come off as one of those people who argue that one type of sword is better than another for whatever reason. It's just something I'm very interested in. I apologize for the rather lengthy first post. This is just something I've been trying to get a better understanding of and I think many of the members here could chime in and help me understand this a little better. Especially those who have handled older weapons or have studied older methods of smelting ore and crafting weapons. I would also like to leave out too much discussion of Ulfberht blades and the Wootz that was used to create them if at all possible. I'm more concerned with the more common steels and irons used. I look forward to your posts and to a long, enjoyable experience here on the forums.
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