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Stainless vs Carbon Steel Sword Blades

Discussion in 'Sword Discussion' started by KnifeMakeReplicate, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. KnifeMakeReplicate


    Jun 14, 2015
    I was told by a seasoned knife maker that most alloys of stainless and stain resistant steels are not suited for battlefield swords because the stainless steel is not as elastic, not as shock-resistant, and carbon spring steel is the best type of steel for actual battle-worthy swords. Is this correct or are there some forms of stainless steel that would work as a decent sword for actual battlefield fighting?

    Also, I read that contrary to what some may think, titanium would make a poor sword because, while it is lighter than steel, it is not truly as strong in the areas where a blade needs to be strong; for vehicle bodies and things it works great but for cutlery it is not as viable, is what I read, though there are some niche exceptions such as the knives made for special forces and such. Any thoughts?
  2. Mecha

    Mecha Madscienceforge.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    I've had good results making swords and other large blades from titanium alloys. Titanium alloys are strong to the extreme, and they can hold many of the right attributes for a sword. The common dismissal of titanium alloys for use as a sword that one finds on the interwebs isn't based on experience with titanium swords, it's mostly just theory and conjecture.

    That said, it does seem better suited for large blades than small ones, and it did take quite a few failed attempts to get the ti to cooperate. If it's not worked correctly, it can seem too brittle OR too soft...just like steel alloys that aren't properly handled.
  3. gregorio


    Nov 9, 2007
    While generally I would agree I think that a lot of the stigma surrounding stainless steel and swords is due to the preponderance of very poorly made stainless steel production swords on the market. I had a few katana like objects made of stainless 440C that I used to chop down trees as a kid. This is not advisable; however they held up to serious abuse.
    Torrin likes this.
  4. Klok


    Nov 26, 2010
    I would recommend against Cheap stainless swords in general.

    Though there exists a couple of decent swords I have seen that are "stainless" or at least close enough.
    GrReaper likes this.
  5. Professor_Jack


    Jul 5, 2015
    The problem with stainless is that it's indestructible until it isn't. You can batter them like crazy and they seem like they're holding up, but then the metal gives up and it shatters with a VERY sharp break. It makes it very dangerous to use. Go check out youtube fail videos, you'll be able to find a Home Shopping thing where the salesman whacks a katana on the table and the blade breaks it half, the front bit actually bounces backwards, and flies into his shoulder.

    So, it's a combination of unreliable, since you can never tell when it'll fail, and unsafe, since it has such a sharp break pattern
    wizrd and GrReaper like this.
  6. aznalan15


    Feb 1, 2015
    So is it better to use those 1095 carbon blades to chop down trees?
  7. BitingSarcasm


    Feb 25, 2014
    If a reputable smith or company says their stainless sword can take some punishment, I would believe it unless there was evidence to the contrary. I think "poorly made" matters far more than stainless or carbon steel, and it seems that most of the junk blades out there are mass-produced from stainless. But there is a tool known as an "axe" that works far better for attacking trees than any sword known to man, though given the state of global warming one should think carefully before casually committing tree-icide.
    DunRanull and Lapedog like this.
  8. Wolf_1989


    Mar 30, 2007
    I have zero experience with a titanium blade of any sort, but it seems to me a sword made of titanium would have a very odd
    balance because of titanium's light weight.
  9. Professor_Jack


    Jul 5, 2015
    Also, I have yet to see a full-titanium blade made (though this may be more a fault with the smiths, so let me know if that's the case) that didn't come out pig-ugly with hal a million kinds of discoloration.
  10. Mecha

    Mecha Madscienceforge.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    Professor Jack, first of all you have never seen a forged titanium alloy sword blade in person, guaranteed. Secondly, I selectively leave forge and heat discoloration on most of my titanium swords because it's beautiful. Thirdly, any of them can be buffed like a mirror.
  11. Lycosa


    Aug 24, 2007
    I'd buy a sword, of any metal, from this^ guy.
    BlackKnight86 likes this.
  12. gsx-rboy750


    Jul 3, 2014
    I see this all the time in motorcycle turbo game people posting with no actual experience or usage. And dam sure no techinical knowledge. Most people have not even held titanium. I personall have machined and welded it. Most peiple say how light it is having no idea what they are talking about as far as a comparision.
    After some thought I most certainlly think it would be a valid sword material if done right etc etc.
    I am surprised noone has made a SM100/titanium sanmai whatever yet.
    Titanium has many many many desirable qualities. I think as time progresses and it is better understood and once a superalloy is created you will see it all over.
    I use E85 and 90% of people posting this or that about it have 0-3% experience using it and probably have little experience tuning it. I think after you have use tr sword and compared it to steel then the info is valid.
    Titanium really is very new and once thing are worked out we will see as far as edge holding.
    A sword made of TI still has mass and weight.
    I would also want one of his TI swords.
  13. crimsonfalcon07


    Dec 27, 2010
    Mecha has already proven that Ti can make a perfectly good sword, IMO. Anyone who thinks differently probably hasn't been around long enough to see his work yet.

    Wolf_1989, a sword made from Ti can be balanced however the maker desires, just like a sword made from any other material (wood, for instance). It's just a matter of balancing the design with the handle materials, etc. Eventually here, I hope to collaborate on a project with Sam. I'm still refining designs I'd like to see in Ti, but when I come up with something worth getting a Ti blade to use, he's going to be hearing from me.
  14. Mecha

    Mecha Madscienceforge.com Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    The sentiments are appreciated, gents.
    I'm not trying to raise a stank, and am certainly no expert on sword materials, but there is already way more than enough completely wack information on the internet concerning titanium alloys for use as a sword/big blade. :D
  15. Lycosa


    Aug 24, 2007
    Keyword: wack.
  16. Professor_Jack


    Jul 5, 2015
    No, not an ALLOY, just a solid titanium sword. I've seen four different swords that were (at least according to the men who made them) solid titanium. Each had made two swords, and each had really terrible discoloration. Like paint or cow patches.
    I have never seen a titanium allow blade, and do not presume to know how differing metallurgical mixes affect color. As far as color goes, I know aluminum is silver, iron turns red, and magnesium burns bright white XD
  17. horseclover

    horseclover Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 21, 2000
    Post the specifics.
  18. Professor_Jack


    Jul 5, 2015
  19. Wolf_1989


    Mar 30, 2007
    The largest chunk of titanium I've ever handled was a titanium crowbar one of our local volunteer firefighters has. While it's not exactly a featherweight, it's definitely lighter than steel.

    A titanium dagger would be groovy.
  20. Lycosa


    Aug 24, 2007
    Go to the Mission website and read about the attributes of a Titanium blade or watch Lorien's vdo of a Ti blade in action.

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