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How To Research for Book

Discussion in 'Sword Discussion' started by ResearchBladeDude, Sep 24, 2018.

  1. ResearchBladeDude


    Sep 24, 2018
    Hello everyone!

    I am coming to you because I could not find anything online I felt was reliable, and my researching led me to this forum.

    I am writing a fantasy book and there is a part where they are working to create a new sword out of steel. This is in the early medieval time period (a stretch, I know, but since it's a fantasy story I can get away with it). I know that they would not use water to quench the steel blade (if they are a proper bladesmith) and am wondering about animal fat, but which specifically would be suitable for quenching.

    This is where my research has failed me on what types of animal fat or oil was used during that time frame. If any might have suggestions or helpful information, I would appreciate that.

    While this is fantasy, I still want to keep some accuracy in some aspects of my writing to give it some reality.

    Thank you!
  2. gadunz


    Dec 4, 2012
    Probably the first significant work in
    Medieval Europe was written by Theophilus
    (1125), a 12
    century German Monk. The
    “Diver Arts” describe several good
    quenchants. His recommendations for
    quenchants were very specific:
    "Tools are also given a harder tempering in the urine of a
    small, red-headed boy than in ordinary water."

    There was also an understanding of the
    cause of quench cracking, and the results of
    quenching in other than water for “
    The Temper
    for Instruments to let blood”
    “It is quenched in oil, and grows hard, because it is tender and
    subtle. For should it be quenched in water, it would be
    wrested and broken.”
    Various authors, including, describe other
    quenchants: pigeon droppings, flour, honey,
    olive oil and milk
    . Other quenchants,
    including urine, water and solubilized animal
    fats and whale oil are described by Smith
    , Agricola
    and others:
    "Take clarified honey, fresh urine of a he-goat, alum, borax,
    olive oil, and salt; mix everything well together and quench
    "Take varnish, dragon's blood, horn scrapings, half as much
    salt, juice made from earthworms, radish juice, tallow, and
    vervain and quench therein. It is
    also very advantageous in
    hardening if a piece that is to be hardened is first thoroughly
    cleaned and well polished."
    Excerpts from Von Stahel und Eysen (1532)
    These days, I believe, its often peanut oil
    Mecha likes this.
  3. mross


    Nov 10, 2003
    What's wrong with water? The Japanese seemed to do ok with it, the Nepalese Kami's used on khuks, still do I believe.
  4. gadunz


    Dec 4, 2012
    I believe the Japanese coat their blades in clay, except the edge, before quenching.

    1. Forging A bar of the desired metal or combination of metals is heated in a forge and then it is hammered into shape. This hammering process can take a long time. This is called drawing out the sword. The sword is worked on in sections (usually around 6 inches in length) and repeatedly hammered and heated until the sword comes into the desired shape.This process is repeated and the sword is often heated then allowed to cool without hammering. This is required by the metal to keep the desired properties of strength and flexibility.
    2. Annealing When the final shape is complete the total sword is heated and then allowed to cool very slowly. Often it is wrapped in an insulating material to slow down this cooling. It can take as long as 24 hours and this process is called Annealing and this makes the sword soft and easy to grind.
    3. Grinding Now the blacksmith uses a grinder to work out the edge and point of the sword. This would also be when any engraving is added. This is not a completed sword yet. It is still much too soft.
    4. Hardening Now the sword is heated to a very high temperature and then placed into a quenching tank. This quenching allows it to cool quickly and evenly which will harden the metal.
    5. Tempering Again the blade is heated and quenched. But now the heating is at a much lower temperature than was used at the hardening. This heating/quenching cycle may be repeated several times. This tempering allows the blade to be strong but not brittle. It will have a certain amount of flexibility yet still retain its sharp edge.
    6. Completion The sword blade itself is now complete. Now the additional parts will be added such as the pommel the guard and the hilt
  5. Mecha

    Mecha Madscienceforge.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    I'm totally gonna try to quench a sword in urine of he-goat and liquid earthworms. :D
  6. gadunz


    Dec 4, 2012
    Don't forget the urine of a small, red-headed boy & dragon blood.
  7. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    gadunz. Wilson used whale oil for quenching and the knives were of 1095 IIRC even after WWII
    Pigeon droppings ? not on my sword. The Minneapolis interstate highway bridge was taken down in part due to pigeon poop corrosion !!
    Mecha likes this.
  8. gadunz


    Dec 4, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018

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