Dienstag, 18. März 2014

What a bronze knife can do....

 The other day I had that little itchy twitchy troll at the back of my mind wanting to know it again, and so, during our last hammer - In I just made another bronze knife. I wanted it primarily for harvesting herbs and elf-watching (they just hate iron, you know;-)). I wanted to know also why it might be that humans were so reluctant to adapt to iron (the European bronze age endured thousands of years, and some good thousand years after the first iron products were made, bronze tools were still widely used throughout all classes and castes and regions). Could it be that bronze makes for good backwoods tools after all?
 The blade is hot forged to a certain degree and then hammered out cold to work - harden it. I was able to get the blade shaving sharp, and it whittled fire sticks and delicate flower work well.

 The knife. I estimate the hardness in the ultimate edge about 50 HRC. It could easily be maintained using a sandstone for grinding and a quartz for finishing, a good thing in the wilderness. I then asked myself whether it would stand up to some abuse. Prying and digging with it bent the tip slightly, but with little effort the blade could be straightened.
 I batoned it through some dried birch wood, and did some chopping to twigs. Chopping dented the blade a bit in the hind part where I could not do as much cold-working due to lack of experience with the material. Also, this is a bearing bronze and not ideally suited for the task due to a high copper content. A traditional knife bronze (98% copper/2% tin or 1%/1% silver) would come out way harder
But even as is, you wouldn´t have any problem whatsoever surviving in the woods with this knife. I guess bronze tools simply were doing the job well enough so that humans simply did not feel the need to swap. This need only arose when weapons were concerned, for a steel weapon e.g. made from ferrum noricum (not iron, mind you!) will ultimately shear through a bronze  sword. Bello pater omniae seems to apply in this case.

Bronze as a foraging tool has its advantages, though. Herbs harvested with a bronze knife or sickle will not take to a metallic taste so easily and, according to hearsay, will be more effective in healing. So this one will see use for foraging herbs.

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