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Thread: Use of copper habaki verse brass

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    United States
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    Use of copper habaki verse brass

    Question and debate. I have been asked why did the Japanese use copper on habaki and seppa? Even if it was ornate or had an appearance of gold or silver it was a foil overlaid on a base of copper. Would it stand to say that no other metal at the time was sufficient for use or just that it was a softer metal to make and shape?
    And would it be practical for modern production swords to use as well other than the standard brass? If a production line offered them would it be a plus in that it would be more traditional and practical? Thanks for any quality education or practical thought on the matter.

    Regards

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
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    618
    There were solid gold and silver habaki (not as common as foiled, and mostly shinto and later judging by extant examples (but maybe old gold and silver ones were recycled). There were also iron habaki. So lots of metals work. Copper looks like a good choice: cheaper than silver/gold, easier to work than iron. Seems to be a lot of variation in colour in antique "copper" habaki - perhaps some are copper alloys rather than copper?
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  3. #3
    Copper is:
    -Readily available from multiple sources
    -cheaper than silver
    -easier to work than soft iron
    -soft enough not to scratch steel
    -strong enough to resist failure under most circumstances
    -work hardens, heat anneals

    Brass is:
    -more complicated alloy
    -tends to be best formed by mold pouring and file finishing
    -easier and cheaper for mass production (a more modern choice)
    Last edited by Russ Gordon; 03-20-2015 at 03:12 PM. Reason: spelling!!!

  4. #4
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    norway
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    Isn't brass also more brittle?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
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    618
    Bronze (i.e., tin bronze) is more brittle, especially high tin alloys. With brasses, it depends on the alloy (really high zinc alloys can be brittle), but generally brass is tough. Copper is tough too. But if brass is more brittle than copper, that "more brittle" doesn't usually matter. (If it does matter, worry about the steel parts of the sword.)

    Copper has an advantage in corrosion resistance.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

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