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Question for you sword guys

Discussion in 'Sword Discussion' started by Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith, May 23, 2017.

  1. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    What are you chaps thoughts on doing a damasteel wakizashi ?

    I received two batches of steel this week.
    One batch was my order of meter long bars of Hitachi katana steel from Dictum ( white paper edge steel honsanmai with the sanmai sides in suminagashi). These will obviously become Japanese style swords and knives.
    The other batch was four bars of Hugin pattern damasteel from a group buy with Ron Wilson.
    When unwrapping the bars of damasteel ( 48" long bars) I had a thought about making a wakizashi in Damasteel. I know it is in no way traditional, but it sure would look stunning. A katana would be just too crazy, but a wak might work.

    My concern is the likelihood of selling it. I have made more than one knife/sword that everyone picked up and said, "Wow, that is really something.", only to set it down and look at more normal ( and cheaper) knives/swords.. Some nice things just don't sell fast. The costly steel will obviously add a good bit to the price. I figure it will end up around $1200-1500 depending on the koshirae.

    Am I crazy to do this?( well, maybe we better not go there :) )
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  2. gga357

    gga357 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 3, 2007
    What are the characteristics of that steel? If it is capable of use on tatami mats and bamboo then I think it would be interesting.
  3. Triton

    Triton Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 8, 2000
    Do you have a site or gallery showing your work? It might help answer the question, although I am not sure how much help we are really going to be on this.
  4. Mecha

    Mecha Madscienceforge.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    This stuff here?


    That could look pretty amazing, almost like a fantastical venomous sea snake!

    If that steel is going to yield a really nice, tough blade, then it could really be something, and also make for some interesting visual possibilities when making the hilt. Only if the steel isn't really excellent for nice sword somehow, then I wouldn't do it. :]
  5. fishface5

    fishface5 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    I don't know, but since sword guys are pickier about performance than the average knife fan, unless it performs really well as specifically as a sword steel you might end up with a beautiful but expensive and hard to sell wallhanger. I love the look of damasteel in a knife, but swords need extra toughness and usually carbon is the way to go
  6. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    I don't have a website.

    Your comments support my main concern that if it is a Japanese style sword it would likely be used for cutting. Damasteel should do that just fine, but it wouldn't be as good as the ones forged from in Hitachi white paper edge steel. No purpose in making it in the damasteel if you can make it in something else that will work better.

    I have decided to make a yataghan in the damasteel. I had a project for the future that would have an ornate gem accented handle. I had planned on doing it in damascus, so this will not be far out of the original plan .... just prettier. If it cuts really well, maybe I'll revisit the wakizashi idea later on.

    I will try and do a WIP as I get the project going. I will post it here as well as in shop talk. I never rush a sword project, so it may be a good while before you see anything beyond sketches about this project. I have sword blades I forged 10 years ago in the corner waiting for the bug to strike me to do the fittings.

    Thanks for letting me bounce thus off you chaps.
    David W Babcock and Lapedog like this.
  7. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    In don't think I've ever seen a yataghan Damascus. I have a yataghan sword bayonet ,but with Damascus ? How about a sketch please.
  8. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    I have an antique yataghan in damascus steel (very tightly forged) with a carved horn handle; unfortunately no scabbard.

  9. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Let me get the sketches redrawn a bit neater and I'll post them.

    I have thought of using ram's horn slabs for the scales, as the ears would be easy to shape. It also should be more or less authentic.
    I have some nice size sections of musk ox, too. I may take a look at shaping it for the handle.
    Ivory, figured wood , or burl wood are other options.

    The Shop Talk guys are voting for the wakizashi, so I may eventually end up making both.
  10. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    Very interesting ideas, I'd love to see what happened to the yata and the wak? :) Any final photos to share? (or updates?)
  11. althesmith

    althesmith Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 9, 2015
    Damasteel, iirc, is a stainless alloy, very high in chrome. It'd be okay in a wallhanger but wouldn't be great for a working sword.
  12. horseclover

    horseclover Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 21, 2000
    My yataghan is crucible steel
    touch.jpg mew215e.jpg aayatf.jpg yataghan 002.jpg yataghan 005.jpg

    My sweetikins :D my babydoll :cool: an early foray into antiques, watched for several years before scooping it up. The phone rep said "oh ya, that machete thingie" Sold American, in a New York minute;) Walrus ivory, Turkish and roughly from the 1800 timeline. Wootz/Damascus of a sort. Compare to a fallen meteroite steel. Or, a folded steel spear.

    New Lance 009.jpg

    Mecha likes this.
  13. althesmith

    althesmith Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 9, 2015
    Have you thought of polishing and etching a section of the yataghan to check for wootz patterning?
  14. horseclover

    horseclover Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 21, 2000
    I don't really need to, as the dendritic structure is quite apparent under magnification. Crucible/cast without necessarily being classified as wootz, per se. The Wooley&Deakin blade on one of my eagle pommel swords is from cast/crucible steel.


    For Huntsman and crucible steel during the 18th century, a good article aside from wikis
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  15. horseclover

    horseclover Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 21, 2000
    See also Daniel Pettibone and his patents in America. Although the swords are scarce, he did a lot of pikes and some bayonets from crucible ingots.

    From an old (not too old) Heritage Auction listing

    Exceedingly Rare Daniel Pettibone Cast Steel Horseman's Sabre Circa 1808-1812. In 1802 Daniel Pettibone, Ezekiel Chapman, and Josiah Nichols, Jr. were granted joint patent rights for a process of "welding Cast Steel to Iron, in such manner as to be applied to edge tools or other purposes where steel is required". In 1804, Pettibone, by changing the process of the original patent specification slightly but significantly, was able to obtain an improved patent and break from his joint patent holders. Pettibone sold licenses for his welding process throughout New England and the Middle Atlantic states. Research indicates that Pettibone was employed for a time at Springfield Armory and was also an arms inspector for the U. S. Philadelphia Armory. During the opening phase of the War of 1812 the War Department suffered from a shortage of swords. It may be at this critical time that Daniel Pettibone received a sabre contract and produced this example using his cast steel process.

    This heavy sword features a 35" flat, curved, single-edged blade with riveted tang and clipped point. The blade width is 1½". The obverse ricasso features a stamped "U.S."; the reverse ricasso is die-struck "PETTIBONE'S PATENT / CAST-STEEL" surrounding a Federal-style eagle. The forged iron hilt features a knuckle guard slotted for a sword knot. Leather is stitched around a grip of cedar. This example retains about 80% of the original leather wrap. Though the blade markings are strong and distinct, the blade has been buffed at some point in its life. Otherwise it is in very good condition.

    lf1.jpeg lf.jpeg

    So, going from crucibles baked in caves to early American crucible steel, imo the more distinctive wootz blades from old cakes vs "modern" ingots develop the patterning (in part) by the way the cakes were drawn out for blades.

    Ric Furrer and Kevin Cashen doing the ULFBERHT blade from crucible an example, without being patterned wootz.


  16. althesmith

    althesmith Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 9, 2015
    I think that there was a pronounced difference in the carbon content of wootz vs. the British cast steel ingots- the latter tended to be around 1 per cent or less C iirc whilst most wootz is around double. It's partly the very high C along with the impurities that makes that particular patterning. I have an old wootz khanjar which is fairly soft in the blade but holds an excellent edge due to the carbides. I had to repolish it when first I purchased it but once polished the patterning was very quickly restored with a quick wipe with dilute ferric chloride.
    That being said, I think the British and other cast steel was a much "tougher" product, actually better suited for blades seeing hard use.
  17. althesmith

    althesmith Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 9, 2015
    But I still don't believe that the commercial product, Damasteel, is a good selection for long blades, mainly because of the high chromium level.
  18. althesmith

    althesmith Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 9, 2015
  19. horseclover

    horseclover Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 21, 2000
    Yes, hence my mentioning even my yataghan, which exhibits dentritic structures, it is not necessarily of the same composition of proper (and patterned) wootz. Albeit, carbon content unknown. All I can be sure of it is Turkish vs Balkan make and walrus ivory. The Penn State article I linked goes into the carbon distribution, crucible make up and a whole lot more.


  20. althesmith

    althesmith Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 9, 2015
    Here's a shot of my wootz khanjar. Picked it up in Turkey back in '98.

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