Is Toledo steel still made? Any knives similar?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by NWPilgrim, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Basic Member Basic Member

    112
    Aug 1, 2019
    Toledo was famous for their sword steel. As I understand it they achieved this by hot welding a soft and hard steel together to produce swords which could have a sharp durable edge while also having good flexibility.

    Is this still being produced? Brands? Just swords, or also knives? Are the Fallkniven knives similar to this with their VG10 or CoS core and outer layers of 440C? Other knife brands using something similar to Toledo steel?
     
  2. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Basic Member Basic Member

    112
    Aug 1, 2019
    Also, I would be interested in any further background or details of Toledo steel: steels used to make it, the process for welding them, is it dual layer or multi layered, etc.

    When I was in Spain a few years ago I asked about it at a couple of shops in Toledo and they gave me blank looks. The closest I got was a couple Muela knives, LOL!
     
  3. Triton

    Triton Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 8, 2000
    Toledo is no longer a cutlery making center, although it does have enough marketing savvy to sell cutlery (often chinese junk) to hopelessly romantic tourists. So in that way "no" Toledo steel is no longer made.

    Are pattern welded or so called damacus steels still made? Well yes if you spend any time at all on this forum you will see innumerable examples.

    Here's one:

    upload_2019-9-21_9-11-49.png

    This one happens to be on a Viking style sword. This pattern welding was a way to combine different steels with varying properties to make a sword that exhibited some of the better properties, like toughness and edge retention of both metals. There are also credible arguments saying that so called Toledo and Damascus steels were actually wootz steels sent in ingots from India... another topic for another time perhaps?

    Japanese swords are designed for the same purpose although the methodology was different:

    upload_2019-9-21_9-16-1.png

    With Japanese swords a softer core and harder edge is created by differentially heat treating the metal used. Same problem different solution.

    Today, superior steels and superior heat treat render the techniques noted above largely obsolete in terms of making superior blades. However, the aesthetically these techniques hold a place in the hearts of many of us. So in that way "yes" Toledo steel is still made... but not in Toledo.
     
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  4. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    A search for Toledo steel turns up a lot of sources, and a lot of nonsense. I remember a high school teacher saying that Spanish swords were case hardened by using calcium (ground-up bones), but I don't know what the exact technique was.
     
  5. numbersman

    numbersman

    543
    Nov 28, 2010
    I once read that the British had trouble with the steel made from iron ore from certain mines. It turned out, from memory, that the problem was with nitrates in the ore, causing the steel to become brittle. They solved it by smelting the ore in lime pits, and the calcium would remove the nitrates. Maybe the Spanish had a similar problem and solved it in a different way.
     
  6. Legendary_Jarl

    Legendary_Jarl

    498
    Feb 8, 2010
    What you described in that first part was pattern welded steel and I've never heard that process being attributed to "Toledo" steel. They used to make good swords and daggers. But the industry experienced a decay in the late XVIII century or early XIX century. The second is more likely given the French invasion. There are companies that go back at least 100 years. Their focus nowadays is stainless steel comparable to 420HC and 440A. Some examples of these companies are Aitor, Muela, Joker and Nieto. I have had several Jokers and I have liked both design and quality. Stay away from JKR which are their knives imported from China. With Aitor the quality is 8/10 as far as fit and finish. But they are an official supplier of knives to the Spanish army and NATO. They are designers of knives that have been plagiarized by the Chinese, etc. such as the typical $7 survival knife and the Oso Negro knife. Aitors are made in the Basque Country and Joker in Albacete(another big knife making center in Spain since antiquity).

    There are companies that focus on more traditional designs such as Exposito. There are companies that produce cheap knives for kitchen and folding penknives such as Pallares.

    I have also heard of Cudeman and Hen & Rooster as being Spanish but I don't have much info.

    There are also blacksmiths that produce high quality historical pieces. One example is Javier Solé from Soria. Look him up on facebook. His prices are honest too. He is certified to repair and study antiques. He knows a lot about the Spanish sword and Spanish steels and may answer any questions you may have better than the rest. He speaks English very well too. His business is called 'Ancient Forge'.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
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  7. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    Helle (Norway) are still made with laminated (3 layer) steel as are the older (1950-60) Mora (some a still made). I have a few and they take and hold an awesome edge. Of course Japanese swords (true Nihonto) are also laminated and differentially tempered (see my webpage at:

    http://www.japaneseswordindex.com/laminate.htm.

    Rich
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
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  8. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    I forgot to mention Fallkniven. Good knives/expensive IMHO. Several types of laminated steels.
    Rich
     
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  9. microbe

    microbe

    458
    Apr 6, 2016
    Toledo was not only about the top quality of their forged steel, but also about the detailed finishing of their blades. Numerous royals over centuries had swords made by the Toledo craftsmen, many of these now in museums around the world. There are still local craftsmen around Toledo today, making swords the traditional way, but the steel will be more modern and not have the historical steel composition. One of the oldest is Mariano Zamorano, Toledo based for over a century. They create some very nice pieces, from a couple of grand down to a few hundred Dollar. Do a websearch and have a look at what they make.
    Still, even with the historical fame of the true Toledo steel, being the best of what was available in those days, I doubt it was better then today's steel variants.
     
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  10. GIRLYmann

    GIRLYmann

    Nov 7, 2005
    classic response :)
    i suppose toledo's golden era
    isn't apparent any longer.
    https://www.stripes.com/travel/toledo-cutting-edge-of-souvenirs-1.747
    https://www.martoswordstoledo.com/swordarmorblog/toledan-steel/
    i have those touristy miniture toledo sword
    letter openers to remind me of what is ;-)
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
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  11. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Basic Member Basic Member

    112
    Aug 1, 2019
    Very interesting. Looking at their products the swords are mostly in the €300-€500 range with “forged carbon steel” blades and iron and/or brass guards. Looks like only a few styles of blades with most of the variation in the grip and guard styling. Kind of disappointing that the original method is no longer done except perhaps by much smaller craftsmen. Apparently modern steel is so much better than what was available back then.

    From Wiki it appears that Damascus Steel was created in response to the Toledo steel (laminated? Clad? Pattern weld?). Also interesting to learn the Japanese also used lamination of different steels with the addition of differential heat treatment to attain similar results. Really a fascinating period of sword making and innovation to create superior weapons.

    I only recently bought a Fallkniven S1 but this history of steel makes it even more interesting that a Swedish company is again using laminated layers, this time with modern steels.
     
  12. microbe

    microbe

    458
    Apr 6, 2016
    In the old days, the iron ore and the local mineral variations contributed a lot to the final quality of the swords that where made from it. I think Damascus steel came from specific mines where the iron ore and its specific geographical mineral contaminants gave the steel a performance that topped different mineral contaminated ore. Related to Toledo steel, a (not proven) local feature was the local river and the river mud used for quenching may have helped forming the final product properties.
    Today, steel production got rid of contaminants in the process, and adds different elements for specific properties. Geographical location of the ore and it's mineral contaminants are no longer a factor.
     
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  13. cbach8tw

    cbach8tw Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    Fallkniven knives are from a Swedish company but are Japanese made steel. Good stuff.
     
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  14. K.O.D.

    K.O.D. Traveling at the speed of smell Platinum Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    About 25 years ago a family friend was an exchange student and was taken in by one of the Tolédo sword making families. He told that they have focused more on their famous gold plating than the steel of the sword. 90% of people were just buying as a display piece.

    However, as he was preparing to leave, they gifted him the real deal. It is ridiculously gorgeous. Now this was a long time ago, buy you have to ask, and it's often a custom order.
     
  15. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Basic Member Basic Member

    112
    Aug 1, 2019
    Thanks guys for the additional info! Great to know the tradition is still being carried on if only in very small private sales. Also enjoy the historical geographic background. If I make it back to Spain I am going to try to dig a bit deeper in this matter. Last time it was just a spur of the moment idea. I’ll take much more money too!
     
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  16. GIRLYmann

    GIRLYmann

    Nov 7, 2005
  17. KenHash

    KenHash Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
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