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Dienstag, 19. März 2013

Another day in the smithy-Damascus mayhem;-) and something archaic

 On Saturday it was a bladesmithing day again. You know that kind.... you wake up, see that the weather´s foul, and then you sit there drinking your morning coffee, and start thinking. Might be you read a blade magazine or any such like, and out comes the sketchbook and  you start drawing, and thinking some more. One phone call later I was packing my pack with 40 kg of smithy and straddling my steed and off I was to Volker´s place. I virtually met noone on my way to the shop, weather was that foul, albeit quite warm. I had a nice chat with the old man;-) and before you could say "degasing" the forge was alit and the coal was coking, and I started some projects.
 Top to bottom: Zwissler damascus, 15N20 and 1.2842. Then I tried something out: An Andronovo / Sintashta replica out of silicon bronze, which amazed me a bit. It was the first time I forged bronze, and okay, I was one of those techno weenies always crying out "bronze is way too soft for blades". I used a combination technique of hot- and cold forging, and achieved quite a sensible hardness. If you work-harden bronze, you get a useable hardness, definitely on a par with a conventionally treated mild steel. It came in as a bit of a surprise. Of course, you won´t get the edge-holding capacity of highly tempered steel, but the knife got sharp enough to achieve a serviceable edge for woodcarving, making fuzz sticks and even batoning through a piece of dried ash with but minor damage. Plus, I find it really good looking. The next one in line is an own wire damascus. Next lies a piece of wire damascus that ultimately (hopefully) will become a Naalbindning-needle for the magic troll. Aaaand, something I am quite fond of, a folder blade out of Zwissler damascus, 1.2842 and 15N20, for some kind of friction folder. I plan on doing something with liners this time, maybe even with integral bolsters... we´ll see how it goes;-).
 Closeup of the bronze knife. I used it some, and already did some servicing. If the need arises, you can maintain the edge by polishing with a smooth piece of haematite, or by work-hardening some more, as it was done with scythes.
 I forged the spine somewhat thicker and finished the blade with a ball peen.
It was a bit of an eye-opener. I daresay bronze IS inferior to steel, of course it is, but bronze was in use for a long time, and by cultures whose individuals gave their tools quite a beating. But this led me to some thoughts about ultimate hardness. For use in the woods, the edge has to be harder than herbs, rope, hardwood, softwood, meat, and hide, i.e. the material you need to cut and process. You do not always need a harder knife. It´s good, but not absolutely necessary, to use the knife in one edge condition for more than one work. Many indigenous people use knives out of utter crap, as traffic signs (Papua).

This is not to say I will from now on only use bronze. Steel is definitely better suited for the task. But as a reality check, it was an eye - opener. Plus, bronze has the advantage of having an anti-diffusion effect when cutting herbs (no funny taste of iron carbide;-)) or vegetables. And, proverb says, you won´t see any elves when you carry out iron into the woods, "that old know-it-all"*ggg*.

I look forward to all those projects. Life´s too short to forge mono steel... it seems to me these days  *ggg*. Watch this place!


  1. Bronze may not as good as steel, but it sure wouldn't break like flint in a fight with man or beast!

  2. It is funny, though, that you can make do with as little as flint and bone, too, as well. Having made bone tools too, I can say, that they can be made to work. It just depends on how you build ´em. With an intelligent construction, even flint spears are very durable.

    What I want to say is, that we seem to restrict our minds to a very narrow path, and depend so much on the most optimal version, that we tend to forget what we are capable of.


Now go on, discuss and rant and push my ego;-). As long as it´s a respectful message, every comment is welcome!

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