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Rob Criswell Sword Questions

Discussion in 'Sword Discussion' started by GrReaper, Feb 27, 2018.

  1. GrReaper

    GrReaper

    487
    Sep 22, 2014
    I have a couple of questions about Rob Criswell swords, for those who are in the know.

    1. Did he differentially heat treat his A2 steel? I know A2 is an air hardening steel and it would be difficult to differentially heat treat, but some like Phil Hartsfield allegedly were able to do it.

    2. Were some of his swords wrapped all the way to the end of the handle with the paracord? I have a Criswell wakizashi and it has the pommel end as a sandwich tang with two stainless pins and it's not wrapped all the way. If he did wrap some all the way, were those made earlier in his career?
     
  2. Triton

    Triton Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 8, 2000
    Admittedly this is reaching way back in the memory banks, but I'm pretty sure he through hardened all of his swords, I've certainly never seen one with an etched hamon.

    His early swords had a ring on the end like some of the ancient Chinese choppers. It seems like I remember seeing some of those that had paracord wraps all the way down to the end and around the ring. The later ones were constructed more like you are saying with a sandwich tang end. His later efforts were certainly more elegant than the earlier ones.

    I think he is still around somewhere, it seems like he was designing knives for someone, Benchmade maybe?
     
    GrReaper likes this.
  3. GrReaper

    GrReaper

    487
    Sep 22, 2014
    Thanks for the info. The last I heard, he had stopped making swords because of an injury, I think it was carpal tunnel, a kind of repetitive stress injury. Hope he's still working in the knife industry in some capacity.
     
  4. Triton

    Triton Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 8, 2000
    Glad I could help, I hadn't thought about those swords in years.
     
  5. Bimmer1

    Bimmer1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 30, 2000
    Criswell supposedly was able to heat treat his blades where the edge was harder than the spine. Here’s his description—— “All my knives are made of A-2 Steel, vacuum heat-treated and hardened to a Rockwell Hardness of 60HRC on the edge for maximum toughness & edge holding durability, then the back spine is softened for some flexibility to 58RC.” He did his swords the same way.
    I had a huge Criswell collection once upon a time and there were a few different handle configurations along with different tsubas and sheaths over the years.
     
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  6. Triton

    Triton Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 8, 2000

    Good to know. So I guess if he had etched one of his swords a hanon of sorts might have been visible.
     
  7. Bimmer1

    Bimmer1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 30, 2000
    I followed and purchased his swords for years and never saw one that had any kind of hamon. I don’t think he did any kind of traditional heat treating to achieve such......unless I somehow missed that. Everything I saw was A2 steel with no hamon.
     
  8. Triton

    Triton Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 8, 2000
    Me either, but if he was differentially heat treating something might have been visible with an etch. I would not expect something like what one would get with clay treating.
     
  9. horseclover

    horseclover Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 21, 2000
    Isn't A2 an air quenched steel? Drawing the temper back at the body and spine a similar torch routine? So, I wouldn't expect a hamon, or visual difference. Add that the thinness difference between edge and spine will be differential in hardness when air hardening. I think....no?

    Cheers

    GC
     
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  10. Triton

    Triton Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 8, 2000
    Maybe? A2 is air quenched whether you would actually get a visible temper line I have no idea. I've always left the metallurgy to the Cashens and Furrers of the world.
     
  11. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 17, 2016
    Tempering the spine back to 58 RC would still be martensite and not show any kind of line when etched. Hamon or temper lines develop from a transition of martensite to pearlite in the blade, and that pearlite doesn't form at the low temperatures used to draw A2 back to 58.
     
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