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Top 10 Smiths Best Swordsmiths in the World

#1 User is offline   Axeslinger 

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 12:36 PM

This is in response to the Buccaneer Katana thread, where y'all started naming all the smiths, and how good their stuff is. This question is mainly directed toward Daniel of course, but please everybody post who you think the top 10 smiths in the world are, regardless of the style of sword. Don't be modest Dan smile.gif
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#2 User is offline   2old2rock&roll 

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 01:45 PM

Amada Akitsugu and Osumi Toshihira would be at the top of my list...

My importance to the world is relatively small. On the other hand, my importance to myself is tremendous. I am all I have to work with, to play with, to suffer and to enjoy. It is not the eyes of others that I am wary of, but of my own. I do not intend to let myself down more than I can possibly help, and I find that the fewer illusions I have about myself or the world around me, the better company I am for myself.

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#3 User is offline   Daniel 

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 02:01 PM

By what criteria are you judging?
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#4 User is offline   Axeslinger 

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 03:24 PM

Just, who makes the best blades, worldwide. It doesn't matter whether it's European, or Oriental or anything.

Sorry if this is a little vague
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#5 User is offline   The Grey Swordsman 

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 04:20 PM

My guess would be over all sword quality, being, the ability to withstand combat, prettiness not being up there.
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#6 User is offline   Daniel 

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 10:09 PM

QUOTE (Axeslinger @ Oct 14 2005, 03:24 PM)
Just, who makes the best blades, worldwide. It doesn't matter whether it's European, or Oriental or anything.

Sorry if this is a little vague

It is a very good question. How would that best be judged? Steel specs? Breaking tests? Cutting tests? Popular acclaim?
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#7 User is offline   Username 

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 10:45 PM

Daniel,
What is YOUR criteria for the list you compiled?


I need this knife:

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#8 User is offline   Daniel 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 07:56 AM

My first set of criteria was metallurgical.
1) proper choice of steel for that use
2) full understanding of proper forging or grinding methods so as to not cause greater problems
3) heat treat
4) end result
a) edge hardness above 55 RC (enough to hold a good edge)
cool.gif sufficient toughness (should be able to be struck full power against a tree)

Most swordmakers not on my list fail here.

Only after that do I consider straightness and evenness of lines, warpage, alinement of grip, tightness and solidity of hilt construction. Defects here could cause the sword to fail to cut properly.
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#9 User is offline   The Grey Swordsman 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 08:27 AM

Daniel,

every now and then you'll give us some specs on BK, such as hardness rating and so on, and then just state that Avatar is better. Exactly where on that line do your Avatar blades fall? I know you say constantly that they're better, but comparing hardness, and all of the other ratings, how far above BK does the Avatar line fall?



Shawn
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#10 User is offline   Username 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 08:40 AM

QUOTE (The Grey Swordsman @ Oct 18 2005, 08:27 AM)
Daniel,

every now and then you'll give us some specs on BK, such as hardness rating and so on, and then just state that Avatar is better. Exactly where on that line do your Avatar blades fall? I know you say constantly that they're better, but comparing hardness, and all of the other ratings, how far above BK does the Avatar line fall?



Shawn

I second that.
I need this knife:

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#11 User is offline   Nick 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 09:28 AM

Daniel has actually handled the hardness questions in previous discussions - Avatar steel tests simularly perhaps slightly harder than BK S7 when rockwell tested, but this is not fully explicitive of its properties. The microcarbides making up the visible lattices in the steel are too small to register to the rockwell tester, which onliy impacts the steel matrix, but some are hard enough to scratch glass. "Diamonds in pudding" is the analogy he used, I believe.
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#12 User is offline   The Grey Swordsman 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 09:39 AM

This makes it sound like S7 BK or Bumon would actually be a better buy if you're not interested in looks. Especially BK as it's so much less expensive. I'm sure Daniel will clear it up. I've seen him say in previous replies that he'd prefer an Avatar blade to defend his life over S7. So, the "diamonds" must have far impact than the "pudding."
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#13 User is offline   Bithabus 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 09:51 AM

A blade of Techno Wootz will cut better than a blade of S-7. The Tungsten carbides in the wootz would test to a Rockwell C of 78 (other carbides will be almost as hard), and they are supported, as Nick says, by a softer matrix. The Rockwell machine will only read a hardness in the high 50s, because it is not sensitive enough to read only the Carbide structures, but when you cut those ultra high hardness carbies will tear apart your target at the Chemical level. Ultimate cutting performance is an emergent property of an Avatar sword.

I believe toughnes (of the blade steel at a macro level) will be about comparable.

Value is another matter. If an Avatar sword cuts with 25% less resistance than a Bright Knight is it worth the 100% price increase? For some people, no. But, there are those for whom only the best in the world will do, and in a real life and death situation, we would all want the best tool for the job.

And then there are the aesthetic differences.
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#14 User is offline   Daniel 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 10:08 AM

QUOTE (Bithabus @ Oct 18 2005, 09:51 AM)

I believe toughnes (of the blade steel at a macro level) will be about comparable.

Toughness is substantially higher.
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#15 User is offline   Bithabus 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 10:09 AM

QUOTE (daniel @ Oct 18 2005, 10:08 AM)
QUOTE (Bithabus @ Oct 18 2005, 09:51 AM)

I believe toughnes (of the blade steel at a macro level) will be about comparable.

Toughness is substantially higher.

I stand corrected.

Do you have the figures?
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#16 User is offline   Darksong 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 10:41 AM

QUOTE (Bithabus @ Oct 18 2005, 09:51 AM)
The Tungsten carbides in the wootz would test to a Rockwell C of 78 (other carbides will be almost as hard)

It's probably worth mentioning here that Molybdenum carbides are comparable to Tungsten carbides in hardness, while Vanadium carbides are notably harder.

Has there been any consideration given to going over to a higher vanadium steel, to take advantage of the improved hardness?

Also, is there any clear way to explain the difference between what goes on in Techno-wootz and what goes on in "normal" modern high-alloy steel? I've been looking alot at some of the newer Crucible Steel products, especially their CPM lines, and it looks like they're getting close to a modern version of wootz, in a way.

The CPM steels are all very high alloy, with very even dispersion of the carbide forming elements. This results in a very fine carbide pattern imbedded in the steel matrix, which still has enough carbon to get to pretty much whatever hardness you want, unlike most of the old-style wootz I've seen.

Is this what is going on in Techno-wootz? Super hard carbides in a hard (but not as hard) matrix?

It seems like old-style wootz maybe just had a lot of these carbide formers in the ore used, and that's what people are re-discovering today.

Wootz is such a neat topic. :-)
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#17 User is offline   Bithabus 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 10:55 AM

Yes, my mistake. I meant to say, the Vanadium carbides would test to 78 Rockwell C.


I'd like to see how CPM-3V reacts to Angel Sword thermal processing. It boasts near S-7 toughness at slightly higher hardness, according to Crucible. Daniel, what happened to your samples??


It seems to be the popular theory that historical wootz, as you say, was arrived at by mistake. "Impurities" such as Vanadium or Molybdenum allowed for Carbide segregation, and not until recently were people intentionally alloying their steel with these elements.
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#18 User is offline   Daniel 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 11:41 AM

In the modern tool steels the even distribution of the carbides still leaves much more brittleness than when the carbides are arranged in bands and sheets as in wootz. This leaves the carbide free zones as shock absorbers.

Another factor is crack propagation. A complex arrangement of banding forces stresses to follow a longer path, thus absorbing more energy.
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#19 User is offline   Darksong 

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 11:59 PM

So you might say that wootz (and techno-wootz?) is much like a modern high-alloy tool steel, with the notable change that the carbide zones are larger and arranged in a complex fashion?
I find this very interesting, since some of the micrographs I've seen seem to show that older styles of steel manufacture actually produce more of this large, complex carbide zone, while the new powder metallurgy actively seeks to avoid it.

It would indeed be interesting if the industry was actually avoiding a potential benefit.

Also, do the carbide free zones work better as shock absorbers if they're left softer (more like annealed steel) as opposed to harder (like fully hardened and properly tempered steel)? It seems like leaving would work better, but even fully hard (carbide free) steel will still be a lot softer than the carbides themselves, so I can see it either way.

Hrm. More answers lead to more questions. The way of the world.
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#20 User is offline   Nick 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 06:08 AM

As I undestand it, the arrangement of percipitated carbides in bands is the definitive characteristic of wootz, while modern tool steel doesn't have high and low carbide zones of of any sort - its carbides are distributed throughout the steel matrix, and thus is usually shows improved characteristics with smaller carbides and thus a more homogenious structure.
Since a piece of wootz is still a single piece of steel, it wouldn't be possible to heat treat the shock absorbing portions any different from the carbide banding areas, so I can't think of any way to make their hardness more differential than it is now.

Also - I have a question of my own, for anyone that may have tried it - does wootz show a hamon if quenched properly?

This post has been edited by Nick: 19 October 2005 - 06:09 AM

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#21 User is offline   Daniel 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 07:31 AM

QUOTE (Darksong @ Oct 18 2005, 11:59 PM)
So you might say that wootz (and techno-wootz?) is much like a modern high-alloy tool steel, with the notable change that the carbide zones are larger and arranged in a complex fashion?
I find this very interesting, since some of the micrographs I've seen seem to show that older styles of steel manufacture actually produce more of this large, complex carbide zone, while the new powder metallurgy actively seeks to avoid it.

It would indeed be interesting if the industry was actually avoiding a potential benefit.

Also, do the carbide free zones work better as shock absorbers if they're left softer (more like annealed steel) as opposed to harder (like fully hardened and properly tempered steel)? It seems like leaving would work better, but even fully hard (carbide free) steel will still be a lot softer than the carbides themselves, so I can see it either way.

Hrm. More answers lead to more questions. The way of the world.

No the carbides produced are extremely small.

http://www.angelsword.com/techno_wootz_steel.php

I prefer a tempered martensite matrix.
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#22 User is offline   Darksong 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 10:35 AM

Quoting Nick (since the quote tool makes it hard to comment on specific statements):

"As I undestand it, the arrangement of percipitated carbides in bands is the definitive characteristic of wootz, while modern tool steel doesn't have high and low carbide zones of of any sort - its carbides are distributed throughout the steel matrix, and thus is usually shows improved characteristics with smaller carbides and thus a more homogenious structure."

From what I've seen, "modern tool steel" can actually be a lot of different things.
High-alloy steels produced in traditional (well, modern-traditional vs. old-trational...argh. I hope I can make what i mean clear) large melts and rolled out show a mish-mosh of regions, some with lots of carbides, some with very few. All in all, it's rather inconsistent and irregular.
More modern methods (I'm thinking spefically of Crucible's "Crucible Particle Metallurgy" steels) consistently produce an extremely even, extremely consistent dispersion of very fine carbides. This seems to improve every testable aspect of the steel.
I just wanted to clarify that "modern tool steel" can be produced in more than one way, and that those ways can make a big difference in the final arrangement of the carbides.

Still from Nick:

"Since a piece of wootz is still a single piece of steel, it wouldn't be possible to heat treat the shock absorbing portions any different from the carbide banding areas, so I can't think of any way to make their hardness more differential than it is now."

Sorry I didn't explain what I meant better.
Daniel said that the carbide free zones act as shock absorbers.
The carbides themselves are going to be as hard as they are going to be, based on what the non-carbon part of the carbide is (molybdenum, tungsten, vanadium, whatever it is). However, the carbide free, shock absorbing zone could be played with to produce any number of hardnesses, either by altering the carbon content in the steel, or probably through controlling the heat treat.

"Also - I have a question of my own, for anyone that may have tried it - does wootz show a hamon if quenched properly?"

This sort of plays into your previous paragraph...if there was no way to get differential hardness, then you wouldn't be able to show a hamon.

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#23 User is offline   Darksong 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 10:41 AM

QUOTE (daniel @ Oct 19 2005, 07:31 AM)

No the carbides produced are extremely small.

http://www.angelsword.com/techno_wootz_steel.php

I prefer a tempered martensite matrix.

Okay, I hadn't read that page in a while, and a re-reading was very worthwhile.

So, in techno-wootz, you see the extremely small carbides typical of modern high-alloy tool steels, but instead of the even dispersion seen in those steels, you see zones of varying carbide density, forming complex bands.

This microstructural banding, in turn, plays an important role in the properties of the final techno-wootz blade.

Is that all accurate? Thanks.
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#24 User is offline   Bithabus 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 10:48 AM

There have been several differentially hardened Avatars, with faint, but visible, hamon.
The differential hardening, I believe, yields a slightly harder supporting matrix and does not affect carbide banding.

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#25 User is offline   Daniel 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 11:23 AM

QUOTE (Darksong @ Oct 19 2005, 10:41 AM)
So, in techno-wootz, you see the extremely small carbides typical of modern high-alloy tool steels, but instead of the even dispersion seen in those steels, you see zones of varying carbide density, forming complex bands.

This microstructural banding, in turn, plays an important role in the properties of the final techno-wootz blade.

Is that all accurate? Thanks.

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#26 User is offline   Axeslinger 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 04:31 PM

I have a question

For pretty much every great Japanese swordmaker I have looked up, they use Jewel Steel for all their blades. Which they apparently extract from sand somehow, but you all know what I am talking about. I was wondering what exactly makes Jewel steel so good that so many famous smiths exclusively use it, and also, why AS does not use it.
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#27 User is offline   Bithabus 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 04:48 PM

QUOTE (Axeslinger @ Oct 19 2005, 04:31 PM)
I have a question

For pretty much every great Japanese swordmaker I have looked up, they use Jewel Steel for all their blades.  Which they apparently extract from sand somehow, but you all know what I am talking about.  I was wondering what exactly makes Jewel steel so good that so many famous smiths exclusively use it, and also, why AS does not use it.

Very basically, it's not good at all. That's what they used traditionally in Japan because that was the best they could do. Today in Japan smiths are forced to follow tradition at the cost of innovation. Modern steels are infinitely superior.

Angel Sword has used steel made from iron sand in the past, for the sake of art and as an omage to traditional Japanese swords.
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#28 User is offline   Axeslinger 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 05:32 PM

So would that make an Avatar Katana superior to any Jewel Steel Kat from a Japenese smith costing up to 50k+?
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#29 User is offline   Bithabus 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 05:38 PM

QUOTE (Axeslinger @ Oct 19 2005, 05:32 PM)
So would that make an Avatar Katana superior to any Jewel Steel Kat from a Japenese smith costing up to 50k+?

Concerning cutting performance, durability and bending/breakage resistance, Avatar swords are far superior to any traditonally made Japanese style swords.
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#30 User is offline   Nick 

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 06:51 PM

Thanks for my answer on the hamon, my question was as to visibility, not possiblity, on the hamon - so it does show, but the banding makes it a little less of a primary feature of the edge.
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