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David Stifle

Sword thickness

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Hi All! I just finished forging my first full length sword, 28" blade of A2. I was totally focused on making a useable, good handling sword, and well...when I finished forging/grinding the spine at the hilt was only 6mm, halfway down the blade it is still 6mm, and then of course it tapers accordingly. It's a curved scimitar style blade, about 1.25" wide at the base, or hilt. It feels like a substantial piece of steel, but I'm afraid I went too thin. Am I within the norms of sword making, or did I get carried away?

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Of course it's going to depend on the heat treatment but from what I've read you are probably a little on the thick side. My main concern is the steel that you chose to make the blade from. I'm a little worried that the A2 lacks the toughness that a sword blades needs. Something like 5160 or 1075 would have given you the toughness and the flexibility more suited to swords. Maybe you can raise the tempering temperature to bring the blade to a target HRc in the mid 50's.

 

Doug

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Doug, Rob Criswell has been making katana's for years from A2 steel. They are very tough blades with extremely sharp edges. Of course, as I understand it, his earlier work had 5/16's spines at the hilt and the swords came in at 3 pounds or more, later he went thinner and lighter. This is all what I read on the internet, but as I'm sure you know, people aren't allowed to lie on the internet. (smile)

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Yeah, but katana are supposed to be thick and nonflexible. Your blade sounds about right for a sabre/scimitar, maybe a bit thick even. I also worry about A2 for that purpose, but only because I am not familiar with it and it's a pain to forge.

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Thanks Alan,

 

I think you are right, after all, 6mm is only slightly less than a quarter of an inch, about .023 inches. I'm going to proceed to get my Ht done and test it.

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If it's 1/4" thick or anywhere near that halfway down the blade, you have about a pound of material to remove still. It should maybe be 1/4" at the very base of the blade and taper from there.

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If it were straight and double-edged I'd agree with Sam, but a lot of single edged curved swords have very little distal taper. Depends on the style.

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If it were straight and double-edged I'd agree with Sam, but a lot of single edged curved swords have very little distal taper. Depends on the style.

There's a full length fuller right below the spine, giving an I-beam construction. The bevel is an apple seed grind, and no more than 5/8's wide. The blade at the base is 1.25"'s wide. I'd post pictures, but they always come out too big and I have a dickens of a time getting them sized correctly.

 

Think I re-sized it correctly, and I hope the picture, while horrible, will give a better idea of the blade.26298cca-d46a-4d11-b994-9fb8e4b1e6bb_zps

Edited by David Stifle

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Nice looking blade there. What does it weigh in at?

 

I think that you'll find that toughness is a relative thing. It usually exists in an inverse relationship to edge holding so when someone talks of an alloy having good toughness and edge holding ability I always have to ask "in relationship to what". Jim Hrisoulas, who has made many katanas and other swords lists A2 in his book The Master Bladesmith, Advanced Studies in Steel as having medium toughness while he gives 5160 a high toughness rating with high resistance to shock, another thing that you need to look at when choosing an alloy to make swords with. Also when you talk about a sword having good toughness and edge holding ability you need to ask how the blade was tested. Cutting pool noodles and rolled up newspapers is not realistic and cutting pig carcasses in half is expensive and inconvenient. Cutting peasants in half is frowned upon by the authorities. So Rob Criswell may well have been making katanas from A2 for years, respectfully, I'm not buying that it's the best alloy to use. But you're free to use what you want.

 

Doug

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