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nixonhacker

Writing a story, need some help

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Hi, I'm a writer of short stories. Right now I have a problem. In my current project, a private investigator is looking into a fire that has destroyed a bunch of valuables in an office building. One of them was a 17th century Japanese sword. I need to know this:

 

What kind of steel did 17th century Japanese bladesmiths typically use and at what temperature does it just up and melt? If it did melt and was then cooled to a solidified state after the fire died down, what would it look like (would elements of the alloy separate from other elements, for example)?

 

Also: Is there a common modern steel alloy that melts down at a lower temperature than the 17th century Japanese type?

 

I don't know a thing about metallurgy, so I kind of feel stupid asking these things.

 

If anybody can answer this, I'd really appreciate it.

Edited by nixonhacker

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Sounds like an interesting story concept thus far -- I'll help ya out a bit.

 

Generally the japanese used "tamahagane" - a type of steel they made for blades using a charcoal tatara smelter. Most steel ( not just tamahagane) generally melts at about 2800-3000 degrees fahrenheit, this is however, a "ballpark" figure.

 

Even if your office building did manage to become a blazing inferno above those temperatures, I dont think the sword would just up and melt unless it was in the hottest part of the fire, and that area was a very consistant and soaking heat, for a long time. This would be quite an anomaly - maybe a small part of it, the edge or the tip MIGHT go.. And I cant think of what modern alloy would be very different in melting temperatures than japanese tamahagane.

 

Let's say the blade got soaked for a long time, it's saya (scabbard) burnt away completely, and it heated up to about 2400 degrees -- it wouldnt exactly melt, but it'd start burning carbon off and eventually would look like it gooified a little bit, then once it cooled down again it'd have a dark black/blue layer of oxide scale on it, for sure.

 

Actually, more than a few japanese swords WERE however, indeed messed up by fire -- What happens is the heat ruins the heat treatment of the blade, overtempers or even anneals it, and as a result "Erases" the blade's Hamon (differential heat treatment lines). If your imaginary blade got out of an office fire, I'd imagine it'd look a dull gray or blue colour, or depending, coated with black oxide provided the entire blade got hot enough.

 

Anyway, hope that helps -- If you like I'd be willing to give the part of your story dealing with this a look-over... I always enjoy a good read :-D

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I've seen an old pocketknife that somehow wound up in a fireplace for months that endured a winter's series of fires. Since the blade was forged in the late 1800's, its steel would be fairly similar to tamahagane. In addition to the above description, you could expect to see a little rust from exposure to fire-fighter's water. Might be a bit warped from uneven heating and crud falling on the softened steel. An afficianado of blades would weep and consider seppuku!

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Guest MPerks89

All of the above information is wrong. Here's the truth:

 

Japanese swords are, and always have been, made of a magic gold-steel alloy known only as "yashagoowi". The entire Japanese stockpile of "yashagoowi" steel was created in the early 8th century by a ninja-sorcerer.

 

Also, "yashagoowi" does not melt, it sublimes at high temperatures and recondenses as a carbon-based compound that looks like sawdust.

 

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me.

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I've got an ''old'' signed wak blade that a metal detectorist friend found at the site of an old home fire. According to him, the home was razed to the foundation. The blade has warped about 1/2 inch to the left and has at least one fatal crack on the edge. The tip and tang are fully intact. I can take pics if it will help your story.

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Thank you all! I'm amazed at how quickly everybody jumped to help me! Pics won't be necessary, but this has been really informative! If I have any more questions about metallurgy, I know where to come. Everybody continue having fun and when I've got the tale written up, I'll give you all a link to it.

 

Thanks.

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All of the above information is wrong. Here's the truth:

 

Japanese swords are, and always have been, made of a magic gold-steel alloy known only as "yashagoowi".  The entire Japanese stockpile of "yashagoowi" steel was created in the early 8th century by a ninja-sorcerer.

 

Also, "yashagoowi" does not melt, it sublimes at high temperatures and recondenses as a carbon-based compound that looks like sawdust.

 

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me.

22565[/snapback]

 

Excuse me for asking, but where the h**k did you come up with that? "The Great Hollywood Bible of Samurai Hyping", perhaps?

:lol: It did put a smile on my face if nothing else.

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