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Thread: L6 steel just a gimmick?

  1. #26
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    Awesome thread guys, very informative and enlightning. I have figured out from reading various things like this conversation, that it's not just the steel, but the whole of the parts. The craftsmen, from making the steel, forging the blade, and even polishing it out to a fine, even finish and edge. And that's just talking about the bare blade, not even getting into combining all the various tsuka compentents, koshira, nagago length etc to achieve a nice balance overall.

    I didn't know the little history behind Clarke's crafting and experience, working with you guys. Sounds like he really did the right things to perfect his craft.

  2. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by X.K. Chen View Post
    Obata Kaiso:

    "I acted as sword tester for the late swordsmith Yasuhiro Kobayashi (who died in 1987). Back then he had a sword shop called Kanuchi near Sen-gakuji Temple in Tokyo. His forge was in Nirazaki in Yamanashi prefecture, near the ruins of Shimpu Castle of Katsuyori Takeda, son of Shingen Takeda. I used to test his swords on the trees in the woods behind the forge and on pieces of firewood stacked in the garden.
    I used to ask Yasuhiro about the carbon content and various other aspects of his swords’ constitution. I later related that information to Paul Champagne. I also gave him a set of whetstones and told him what I knew about sword balance from my experience. He took detailed measurements of my sword’s length, width, curvature, and layering and returned to New York. A while later he showed up in Los Angeles with four swords that he had made. Three of them had a carbon content similar to what I had told him. The fourth had a high carbon content of 0.9. I proceeded to test them on ax helves, thick-stemmed bamboo, wooden 2-by-2s and 2-by-4s, and so on. After we had finished, Paul said that he’d heard that swords with high carbon content would be likely to break, so we decided to do an experiment. We placed a steel helmet worn by Guy Power, a student of mine who is a captain in the army, on the end of a post and struck at it five times. It was very hard, of course, and the blade wouldn’t cut into it. All I could manage was a dent about two centimeters deep and fifteen centimeters long. On the sixth strike, however, the sword broke right in the middle and went sailing into the air, spinning around and making a sound as it went, and stuck itself in the roof of my house. Paul was rather surprised, of course, and I think he must also have realized what I meant when I had told him how dangerous a broken sword can be."
    So it was used to strike a steel helmet six times, and then it broke.
    1095 sounds durable enought to me, can imagine me cutting many helmets.

    It is reassuring to know that 1095 steel is capable of making a two centimetre cut into a steel, providing correct treatment of the steel.

  3. #28
    My interest in JSA and buying swords is a recent.
    I am yet to buy a swords over $500 and wont be for the foreseeable future.
    Most aren't worth it if you do

    Am I being ignorant in saying that a there is little special about the high end production swords made of L6 steel?
    Am I correct thinking that mono tempered steel is equally capable in terms of durability?
    Am I correct in thinking that is just a gimmick and in reality not worth the
    For most cutting, yes...

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Young View Post
    Most aren't worth it if you do.
    I'm sorry, what? Simply getting a decent koshirae and basic fittings can get you into that range to start.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Frances View Post
    I'm sorry, what? Simply getting a decent koshirae and basic fittings can get you into that range to start.
    Absolutely...Not only that but your chance of getting "proper heat treatment" rises considerably the more you spend. If you're going with differential tempering, then the chance of a dud blade in the lower price ranges are even higher.

  6. #31
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    Poster from a few years back here. Not to be contrary but didn't Rob Criswell used to use stainless steel for some of his "tactical" katana style swords? It's been awhile, that might just be a figment of my imagination but I could swear I'd read something about it years ago.
    "Swords are the fangs of men but fangs are the swords of gods."

  7. #32
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    Criswell used (is he still at it?) A2, as did Bob Engnath at times. Not exactly a high chromium steel. Bob did use 440c for some of his blades as have a number over the years including Barry Dawson. The latter is more known for longer lengths done in 440c. Jerry Hossom has used ATS-34 and CPM3V for longer lengths.

    I don't have the Dawson story handy at the moment but sure enough of his blades to startle his patrons. Even Dawson (and his daughter Lynn) has moved on steel wise. 440c use to be the number one premium custom steel use back in the 1970s and the myths regarding all stainless steel will last indefinitely. It has surely gotten enough press on any of the blade forums, sword or otherwise. Let's see where I have the quoted story handy.



    By no means take my words as gospel without doing some legwork on your own but here were my thoughts some time ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    Thanks for taking some time Caleb. Regardless of the original poster's question, it is still wrong to make blanket statements about steel. I'm including a revision of another of my posts here for those not wanting to spend the time reading elsewhere.

    I am taking to offering this as a standard response.The intent is not to offend anyone and provide a couple of examples. There are more out there.

    Stainless Steel is a misnomer anyway and leads to a lot of confusion. There are a lot of variables. Many sword folk associate the term with decorative swords that may, or may not, be rather dangerous to use in any terms of functionality,

    Believe me, there are just as many dangerous knives that suffer a lot of the same characteristics. Some steels are more stainless than others, some are better suited to good cutlery, some have been successfully used in fully functional swords.

    The United Cutlery slab handled 420J2 stainless katana is an example of a low end servicable sword. Other swords made of 420J2 are far from functional. It's not the steel, so much, but the processing and heat treatment.

    Here is an example of a stainless sword that, while not a katana, has kind of wowed folk. Some have managed to chip Jerry Hossom's espadas but it has been deliberate abuse. the steel he uses is kind of a wonder steel but the crux is still the heat treatment. Jerry can be found at www.hossom.com I think I saw an example of his espada selling for about $1500. I believe the one below is 154 cm (ats-34) but he was also using some other wonder stainless


    Pic from www.bladeart.com

    Barry Dawson is often used as an example of a person that can turn stainless steel into katana. This is almost legend now, as the heyday was ten years ago. Barry was working these out of 440C stainless, a designation that sends shivers down the spines of those that don't know better. It can be made both ductile and hard.

    The following little tale is about a customer visiting Barry's shop to check progress on his sword (as told by Barry)
    www.dawsonknives.com


    I couldn't help but remember with a slight smile that day also. Mike had made the mistake of mentioning an article he had just read about sword testing in Japan. I calmly walked over to where his heat treated Katana blade lie on the work bench and proceeded to tighten the end of the blade in the vice. His jaw must have dropped two inches when I began to bend the blade back. I could feel his chest tighten as I grunted against the strength of the blade. About the time he yelled, "What the Hell!!". I slowly released the blade, removed it quickly from the vice and handed it to him with an amused grin on my face. I calmly told him to look carefully down the length of the blade. "I'll be damned"! Mike exclaimed. "It's as straight as an arrow".




    I am continually dismayed when I see folk talking about the 400 series steels being junk. It's not the best choice for swords but there are those that have worked it just fine, thank you. Pointing out that is not commonly used for swords is one thing. Making bold and misinformed assertions of absolutes is just wrong.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; in some cases, doing it right is more expensive than doing it wrong
    So anyway, Criswell = A2 use.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; some of Hossom's old espada were really kinda neat looking like a LOTR elven saber look at times
    Last edited by Glen C.; 04-01-2011 at 08:38 PM.

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Ljungström View Post
    ...
    If my memmory serves me right the arabs would hammer the sword from glowing hot to cold and this way the carbon in the sword to form very strong connections called 'insert name here' that infact are the strongest material on earth(at least at the date I read the article) which makes the sword extreamely strong.

    I've also read that this state in the steel has been made of 5196(think I got this one wrong, but steel most ne production european swords are made of) steel by another smith.

    Here my memmory get's really vauge so this have to be taken by a pinch of salt.

    But if I remember correctly, in an article when making this "kind of stel" they heated the steel to very high temperatures making it liquid almost then proceeded with some techinque and in the end they had gotten an extreamely strong steel.

    Well that was that.

    Ask for a source or quote and I will hurt you.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Powers View Post
    David are you referring to Wootz? If so it's not made that way.

    Yes, the 'real' damascus, wootz, was not made with high heat, but low heat, since it is said a blade of grass was found inside of one of those swords when it was broken...

    New research implies that it was all made possible because of the certain ore with an exact mixture of impurities...

    Here's the source in pdf...

    damascus (click)


  9. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by N. Handley View Post
    My interest in JSA and buying swords is a recent.
    I am yet to buy a swords over $500 and wont be for the foreseeable future.

    Am I being ignorant in saying that a there is little special about the high end production swords made of L6 steel?
    Am I correct thinking that mono tempered steel is equally capable in terms of durability?
    Am I correct in thinking that is just a gimmick and in reality not worth the £/$/€?
    My impression is that L6 when properly heat treated does indeed have some intrinsic properties that make it a tougher sword. It is also difficult to properly introduce differential hardening in L-6, for some period of time I think Howard Clark was the only person that could do it... or at least the only person that advertised that he coudl do it. I think I've heard that this is no longer the case.

    As with most things, I suspect any special properties of the steel probably aren't by orders of magnitude.
    Tritonworks Custom Scabbards
    www.tritonworks.com

  10. #35
    I think Rick Barrett made a good point on this subject:

    "In general there are a lot of mixed feelings and confusion on what performance is and it varies with everyone. L6 is a tough steel but so is S7, 1086m and W2. Is one better than the other? depends on what you want. An L6 blade may make a great training tool, extremely tough and resilient but I could take a W2 blade and shave slivers of steel off the L6 cutting edge to cutting edge. Why? difference in chemistry, more vanadium and higher abrasion resistence. And again what do you want in a blade. If you clamp the two blades in a vice, the L6 will flex to a far greater degree and return to true than the W2. In terms of actual cutting the blades will feel vastly different, L6 being far "springier" and W2 being quite rigid. However with identical geometry, they will cut identically. One will dull quicker than the other, but one will also take more abuse than the other. You have to pick and choose what you want in a blade. But any good smith can make a blade that will outlive its user."

    The quote above was taken from one of the best and most disappointing threads I have seen here on SFI. The information is invaluable, but the direction of the thread is an example why many important smiths no longer participate here. Here is a link for anyone interested:
    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...ving-Tradition
    Last edited by Giovanni R.; 10-13-2011 at 08:57 AM.
    Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. - Steve Jobs

  11. #36
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    Does anyone else see the humour in "any good smith can make a blade that will outlive its user." as it seems for using swords a *bad* smith could quite easily makes a sword that outlives it's owner---or has a nearly simultaneous "failure point".
    Thomas Powers
    CoFounder of the Intergalactic Union of Bladesmiths
    "when you forge upon a star"---you better have your union card handy!

  12. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Powers View Post
    Does anyone else see the humour in "any good smith can make a blade that will outlive its user." as it seems for using swords a *bad* smith could quite easily makes a sword that outlives it's owner---or has a nearly simultaneous "failure point".
    Thats what you took away from the quote.....wow
    Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. - Steve Jobs

  13. #38
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    No that is not *all* I took away from the quote; but I did notice the humour.

    If you would like you can fly to NM and I will discuss in person what I took from the quote---in person so you will not be able to make blanket assumptions based on little data---wow.
    Thomas Powers
    CoFounder of the Intergalactic Union of Bladesmiths
    "when you forge upon a star"---you better have your union card handy!

  14. #39
    It is not an assumption if it was in direct response to your lack of detail. I now know you took more from my post, although it's a shame your comment served little in the way of contributing positively to the thread. Good luck with your intergalactic efforts, perhaps you can contribute there in a more helpful way.
    Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. - Steve Jobs

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