Perhaps the most forgiving of any knife quality steel other than the very simple alloy types, and produces a blade of excellent quality for most normal use. It can be heat treated very easily. Further references? Well, the ole' master, Cooper, used it for many years and folks do love his blades because they're tough. Awhile back, one of the best of the blade smiths said that well treated 0-1 would out cut any Damascus, and no one argued with him. Edge holding is exceptional. 0-1 is precision ground unless you're lucky enough to stumble across some mill bar. Goof up the heat treat and 0-1 will let you try again as often as you like, as long as you don't overheat the metal. Tough on grinding belts.
Step up from 0-1 easy heat treat but pure hell to grind. It's significantly tougher, with finer crystalline structure and hard graphitic particles that resist wear. Stock is both hot rolled and precision ground. Hot rolled prices are reasonable. Very tough to grind. Edges are incredible, lasting even longer than the best Damascus and even 0-1. Has an odd, rather orange spark.
W-1, W-2, and the series of 10-- steels from 1045 through 1095
The ultimate in simplicity and very shallow hardening so they may be used to make a selectively hardened edge as one sees on old Japanese swords. Toughness is outstanding, with these alloys being used for grader blade edges, truck springs and files. Uses up grinding belts at quite a rapid rate. Edges are acceptable with 1045, good with 1060, nice with 1084, and excellent with 1095, W-1 or W-2. Those last two are often referred to as O-F, old file. It is very easy to get the higher carbon end of this series way too hard to make a good knife.
Common spring steel, basically 1060 with one per-cent of chromium added to make it deep hardening. (It may still be selectively drawn with a softer back, if desired.) An excellent steel for swords, or any other blade that will have to take some battering. The choice of Jim Hrisoulas who makes some of the finest working swords in the business. Long blades are best around the mid 50's on the Rockwell scale, while small, working blades can be put into service at a full 60 RC. Forged blades with a well packed edge seem to cut forever! Rough on grinding belts. Jokingly called O-C-S, old chevy spring.
Ball bearing steel, generally not found in useful grinding sizes, but terrific in edge holding and toughness. 52100 is 5160 with an attitude, more alloy and more carbon that makes it harder and tougher. Like 5160, throws a brilliant yellow spark. Ed Fowler has developed a superior heat treating technique for this steel.
Band or circular saw blade steel used in most lumber mills and downright hard to find in any other form. Hardens in oil to about RC 57 and takes a fine edge for most cutting, particularly where the edge might be steeled back into shape. Outstanding where flexibility is needed but rusts easily, like virtually all of the simple carbon steels. L-7 is the same stuff with a little more carbon.
An exceptional steel, with fine wear-resisting qualities plus excellent resistance to annealing and warping. Grinding is noticeably harder than 0-1 but not extremely difficult. Sawing is tougher and relates to the five percent of chrome in this steels chemical make up. Really nice to finish with the grinder and very little grain appearing in buffing. Excellent flexibility. Phil Hartsfield get incredible cutting ability out of this steel. Several other of the A series will also make fine blades.
Another air hardening tool steel, but with 12% chrome and excellent, if not superb, wear resistance. The resistance also holds true in both sawing and grinding, even while the steel is fully annealed. While using belts up at a faster rate than average, D-2 is not particularly hard to grind with fresh belts. Using old belts causes enough heat to work harden the steel. D-2 anneals at somewhat higher temperature than A-2 and will not take a true, mirror polish. Definitely a steel for the advanced craftsman. It's major drawback is the orange peel appearance of the surface when finished to a high gloss. One knife maker is often quoted as saying that D-2 takes a lousy edge and holds it forever. Often found as surplus wood plainer blades. D-4 and D-7 are also good cutlery alloys, but darn hard to find in the right sizes. Air hardening steels can work harden while you're grinding them if you get the stock too hot. This doesn't mean much on the grinder, but when you try to file a guard notch, the file will just slide.
High temperature steel made for lath cutting tools, which has darn little to do with knives, but allows you to really cook the blade in finishing after heat treat without annealing it. M-2 is perhaps a bit better in edge holding than D-2. It is also rather brittle and not recommended for large knives.
The first generally accepted knife makers' stainless and remains quite popular, particularly since the sub-zero process was developed to add toughness. On the grinder, it's gummy and gets hot fast, but it cuts a lot faster and easier than any of the carbon steels. Your belts will cut about 2 to 3 times as much 440-C than 0-1. Using hand hacksaws on it will wear out a lot of blades in a hurry. But with the proper care, good heat treating and finishing, 440C produces an excellent, serviceable and durable knife, even for the new knife maker. Anneals at very low temperature. Please note that 440A and 440B are similar alloys, often confused with 440C, but not worth a damn for knife making use. Commercial knife companies often mark blades 440 when they're one of the less desirable versions, giving the real stuff a bad name. 440C is also available in more sizes and in more places than just about any stainless alloy suitable for knives. It is also essential to remember that collectors hate to see one of their prizes turn brown in the sheath, and 440C handles corrosion resistance very well. While the variation, 440-V doesn't seem to get quite as hard, but holds an edge for much longer and is much more difficult to grind.
Considered by many to be super-steel, if you can find some of the old production stock. The new batches are not manufactured to the standards that we've come to expect for knife steel. While excellent in use, 154 CM eats up the finest hacksaw blades in one across-the-bar cut of 1-1/2". It's machining and grinding qualities are similar to 440C and won't win it any awards for ease in working. In use though, this alloy has a definite advantage in both hardness and toughness over 440C. 154 CM is not an accepted standard grade designation, rather a manufacturers trade name.
Japanese made stainless considered the equal of 154 CM. Import restrictions have been eased somewhat, although they were forced to raise the price by 50%. Cleaner than the 154 CM. (154 CM is no longer used in government specified applications and is not the vacuum melt product that we once appreciated.) ATS-34 is virtually the exact same alloy as 154 CM, minus 0.04% of one of the less essential elements. ATS-34 is double vacuum melted and very clean. It also comes with a hard, black skin that will put a shine on your grinding belt before you know it. We recommend knocking the skin off with old belts before tapering the tang or Vee grinding. One fellow tried to take the skin off with an industrial motor driven wire brush wheel. All he did was polish it. We now stock a belt the is specifically designed to remove this scale. ATS-34 is a trade name. The three, 154 CM, ATS-34 and 440-C, all have a small, reddish spark that has a distinct, but hard to see carbon fork. ATS-34 is also a trade name. That super hard black skin on some of these steels, as well as forging scale, can be "pickled" to remove it. Buy a gallon of inexpensive white vinegar, and leave the steel in it overnight. Works like magic. If it doesn't work, or makes the shop smell like a salad, blame Doug Brack, who gave me this hint.
Extremely easy to grind. Heat treat like 440C. Edge holding is best when heat treating includes a freeze cycle. Very easy to polish and buff. Very nice choice for miniatures, kitchen knives, etc. AEBL has several quirky habits in grinding that make it difficult to use on thicker or larger knives. Makes nice kitchen knives. "Hoss" uses this in his beautiful stainless Damascus and reports that it holds up very well.
Modified stainless, has been successfully used by some commercial knife producers, but availability is not practical for the hobby knife maker since darn few of us order steel in mill rolls.
Rather expensive but very, very good in edge holding. Resists grinding very well too! You'll swear your belts have all gone dull when you try it. Do everything you have to before heat treating, cause you sure aren't going to be able to do much afterward. Priced like lobster tails, when you can find it. Try Vasco-Pacific in the Los Angeles area. Vasco - Pacific uses their own series of names for their alloys.
A widely made product that it is impossible to make too many general statements about it, other than it seems to catch collectors better than any other type. Each smith does his in a slightly different way, ranging from the fellow who toughs it out, starting with three layers, to the guy who welds a 300 layer sandwich of shim stock into a billet with one hit in a 40 ton press. They're all pretty. Reese Weiland suggests that the last etch of a Damascus blade be done with phosphoric acid, which will sort of, parkerize the metal and help protect it. He said that you have to play around with the concentration of the acid and immersion times a bit, depending on the steel you're using. This will also work on most carbon steel blades. If a Damascus blade has been hardened with a softer section at the spine or guard, you will get a much better looking etch if you use muriatic acid first, to get the depth you want, and then ferric chloride for adding color.
Same category as Vasco Wear in the wear resistance area, but doesn't need heat treating since there is no iron in it at all. The trick is exceptionally hard particles embedded in a rather soft alloy. Very flexible and easy to bend. Virtually cannot be brought to a mirror finish. Stellite blades are very much in demand by some collectors. The alloy best suited for knives now must be ordered from Canada and costs about a hundred bucks a pound. Part of Stellite's toughness comes from the rolling process used to form the bars. Cast Stellite is not nearly as tough.
TITANIUM is only a marginally acceptable metal for a knife blade. It cannot be hardened much past the mid 40's of the Rockwell C scale, and that's spring, or throwing knife territory. Aside from that, I'm sure that there will soon be collectable titanium knives on many custom makers tables, designed to catch collectors, and not for cutting.
Copyied from Blades 'N' Stuff
The belly of a blade is the curving section under the point. Some knives do not have a curving section (e.g., Americanized tanto), others are mostly curve (e.g., skinner). The belly increases the knife's ability to both slice and slash. It presents an ever-changing angle to the material being cut, and this means slicing efficiency is preserved across the cut.
If slicing and slashing are important to you, you want to look for a nice curving belly. However, there are always tradeoffs. Typically, the more belly a knife has, the less acute its point. So you get better slicing, but piercing ability goes down. A knife with tons of belly is the Emerson Commander (which actually has a recurved belly), and you can see the point on this knife is not very acute. Trailing point skinners are basically all belly, because you do nothing but slice with them. A knife with little belly is the classic F-S dagger, and this knife has an incredible point for piercing but is not a great slicer/slasher.
So you trade off belly (slicing) for point (piercing). There are some games that can be played here. For example, if the knife design has lots of belly for slicing, the designer can clip the point and add a falsed edge to make it a bit sharper.
The Re-curved Belly
When the belly of the knife is S-shaped, it is called a re-curved belly. The Emerson Commander has a very sharp re-curve, so does the Cold Steel Vaquero Grande. The Darrel Ralph Krait has a more subtle recurve.
The recurved belly presents more edge to the material being cut, and in slicing forces the material into the edge. It is an even better slicer/slasher, and in a big knife (see some of Walter Brend's knives), can make for excellent chopping geometry as well.
The downside of this design is that it is *very* difficult to sharpen. Freehand on a big stone, it's nearly impossible. Some of the sharpening rigs available make the job easier, but in any case it's still difficult.
Bellies and Angles
Another way to improve edge angles without introducing the hard-to-sharpen recurved blade is by playing with the angles between the edge and handle. Ond way to do this is with a forward rake. This means that if you're holding the knife in your hand, spine parallel to the ground, the knife's edge is *not* parallel to the ground, but rather angles down toward the ground (from handle as it goes towards the tip) before it goes up towards the tip. A forward rake provides more edge for the blade size. The Mad Dog ATAK is a knife with a forward rake. The BM spike shows the opposite -- a negative rake -- where the edge just goes straight up towards the tip right from the beginning. A foward rake generally provides more edge and belly, a negative rake provides a sharper point. Another method is to join the blade and handle at an angle.
This exaggerates the angle change for slicing, slashing, or chopping, and this in turn increases performance. The chopping ability of the kukri, the chopping/slashing/slicing ability of the ATAK, and the slicing ability of the AFCK are due in part to this.
The point is, obviously, what the knife pierces with. Like everything else, designing the point is a game of compromises. To pierce really well, there needs to be as little metal as possible up front, so a piercing point is thin and incredibly sharp. The downside is that the sharper the point, the weaker it is.
For some designs, like a dagger, the objective of the design is to pierce. So a dagger has a thin point, sharp on both sides to decrease the profile and to enable the knife to cut its way in from all sides. Other designs, like the skinner, put the point up and out of the way since the objective of the design is to slice. The Americanized tanto has a very strong point, due to the spine being full thickness very close to the point. This means it won't penetrate anything like a dagger into a soft target, but the massively strong point can survive a thrust into a very hard target that would break a dagger point.
Some tricks can be employed to make the point stronger (and worse at piercing) or sharper (and weaker). A false edge can be ground into a point to make it pierce better, for example.
The other important decision about the point is where to put it. It can be placed to provide a number of characteristics. Some knives place the point down almost at the edge. For example, the Japanese-style chef knife, the santuko, has this format. The knife is used to chop food and do long slices, so a low point means maximum straight edge length. The trailing point hunter, which is used for slicing in a way which requires a belly, puts the point way up high and out of the way. Knives whose points require maximum control -- a hunter used for dressing out game, or a defensive knife -- want the point to be in line with the users hand. This usually means the point must be below the spine of the blade. There are a number of methods to achieve this, such as dropping the point in a convex curve (drop point format), a concave curve (clip point format), or straight line (still called a clip point, usually).
Blade thickness or thinness is important to both strength and cutting ability of the knife. A thick blade will generally be stronger. But a thin blade will generally have a thinner edge -- and thin edges cut easier and better. So the choice of blade thickness is driven by the compromise of strength vs. cutting ability, just like the choice of point type.
Once the blade thickness is chosen, the particular grind type (see below) can reinforce the attributes of that thickness, or try to make up for any weakness. For example, on a thick blade, a flat or hollow grind can be utilized, so that even though the spine is thick & strong, the edge is thin and cuts a bit better than expected. Or on a thin blade, a sabre grind can be used to make the edge a bit stronger than it would otherwise be. Of course, the grind can reinforce rather than counteract the blade thickness.
The thickness of the edge is another tradeoff in strength vs. cutting ability. The thinner the edge, generally the better it will cut, but a thin edge is weak and can chip out or roll over faster than a thick edge. A thick edge is strong, but doesn't cut as well.
The blade shape, plus the thickness of the blade spine, combined with the grind type, determines the edge thickness.
The edge thickness is one of the only factors that can be modified easy by the knife owner (rather than the maker). Remember that if you're not happy with the way a knife is performing, there's no reason you're stuck with the factory edge. Feel free to re-sharpen, grinding a lower-angle thinner edge into the knife. At some point, if you go too thin the edge will start chipping out, that's an indication that you need to thicken the edge back up. Also see the Sharpening FAQ.
The Primary-Bevel Edge
Normally, a knife has two bevels. If you look at, say, a kabar, you will first see a bevel at starts from the middle of the knife and goes most of the way towards the edge. I'll call this the primary bevel. Then at the very edge itself, there is *another* bevel. at a higher angle, that forms the actual edge. I'll call this the secondary bevel. Most knives have this kind of geometry, where a shallow primary bevel meets a bigger secondary edge bevel. This leave the edge a bit thicker for robustness.
However, some knives do not have a secondary bevel to form the edge. Scandanavian knives, like the Finnish puukko, only have a single bevel. So ostensibly, the puukko is a sabre grind (see below). However, because the primary bevel goes all the way down to the edge, the edge ends up being a thin high-performance edge rather than a thicker stronger edge. Combined with the normally thin blades on the puukko, the edge ends up being thin enough to cut really well.
Similarly, some chisel-ground knives also feature a primary-bevel edge. Again, it guarantees thinness and sharpness at the edge. The most popular chisel-ground folder, Benchmade's CQC7, has an edge that is formed by a secondary bevel. However, many other chisel-ground knives do not have the secondary bevel.
The Hollow Grind
The hollow grind is done by taking two concave scoops out of the side of the blade. Many production companies use this grind, because it's easier to design machines to do it. But many custom makers grind this way as well. Its great advantage is that the edge is extraordinarily thin, and thin edges slice better. The disadvantage is that the thinner the edge, the weaker it is. Hollow ground edges can chip or roll over in harder use. And the hollow ground edge can't penetrate too far for food-type chopping, because the edge gets non-linearly thicker as it nears the spine.
For designs where slicing is important, but the slice doesn't need to go too deep, this grind is an excellent choice. Many hunting knives are hollow ground, because field dressing is often best done with a knife that slices exceptionally well through soft tissues. Unfortunately, if you hit a bone, you can chip the edge, so the flat grind (see below) is also used often.
Another advantage of the hollow ground knife, at least at the beginning, is ease of sharpening. Most hollow grinds thicken slightly towards the edge. That means that as you sharpen (at least at first), the blade gets thinner and easier to sharpen. After this, however, the blade begins thickening non-linearly and sharpening will become more difficult.
The ultimate push cutter, the straight razor, is usually hollow ground.
The Chisel Grind
The chisel grind is a knife which is not ground at all on one side. So it is completely flat on one side, and has a bevel on the other. It is simple to produce (the maker need only grind one side), and simple to sharpen (it is sharpened on one side only, then the burr is stropped off the other side). It is also typically very sharp, due to the single bevel design. Whereas a blade ground on both sides might be sharpened at 20 degrees per side, for a total of 40-degrees edge angle, a chisel ground blade is often ground at around 30 degrees, making for a thin (and thus sharp) edge.
Accurate slices are very difficult with the chisel grind, due to the fact that the non-symmetrical design forces the knife to curve in the medium being cut.
The Sabre Grind
The sabre grind is a strong edge format. The bevel starts around the middle of the blade, and proceeds flatly towards the edge. This leaves a strong edge for chopping and other hard use. But it also means the edge will be fairly thick, so this design will not necessarily slice all that well.
The sabre grind is found on many military classic designs such as the Randall #1 and the kabar.
The Flat Grind
The flat grind endeavors to provide an edge that is both thin and strong, and leaves a strong thick spine. The grind is completely flat, going from the spine to the edge. This grind is harder to make, because a lot of steel needs to be ground away. However, the edge ends up being fairly thin and so cutting very well. Because the bevels are flat, there is plenty of metal backing the edge, so it's much stronger than a hollow grind. It is not as strong as a sabre grind, but will outcut that grind.
The edge on this design also penetrates better for slicing and chopping. The hollow grind expands non-linearly as you go up the blade, the sabre grind expands linearly but very quickly. The flat grind expands linearly and slowly. Kitchen knives are usually flat ground, because when chopping/slicing food you need to push the blade all the way through the food. This grind is an outstanding compromise between strength and cutting ability, sacrificing little for either.
The Convex Grind
Also called the Moran grind, after Bill Moran. This grind is as you would expect, the grind arcs down in a convex curve down to the edge. This means the point can be very sharp, because there's no secondary bevels to create the edge itself, just two intersecting arcs. There is also a fair amount of steel behind the edge, because the convex arcs cause the edge to widen non-linearly. This is a strong-edge format, which won't penetrate like a flat grind but will be stronger. Knifemakers form this grind on a flat-belt grinder. A disadvantage of this grind is if you don't have a flat-belt grinder yourself, it is difficult to touch up the edge.
The Dual-Ground Reinforced Tanto
The Americanized tanto as executed by Cold Steel shows multiple grind types. Along the long flat, the knife is hollow ground, for a thin edge and incredible sharpness. However, along the front up to the point, the grind switches to a flat grind. This provides incredible tip strength. The result is a knife with a very keen bottom edge, but a strong profile towards the front where it pierces. Of course, the reinforced front edge is strong but doesn't pierce easily.
Blade Shapes, and What They're Good For
The Clip Point
A great all-around format and one of the most popular, it's used on everything from the famous Buck 110 folder, to the Randall #1 fighter, to most bowies. The format has a concave or straight cut-out at the tip (the "clip"). This makes the point sharper, and also lowers it for more control. Clip point blades usually also provide plenty of belly.
The tip is controllable and sharp, and the belly provides good slicing/slashing, and so this format is popular on formats from utility knives to camp knives to fighters to hunting knives.
The Drop Point
Another great all-around format, this pattern is used on many knives but is most popular on hunters. The tip is lowered (dropped) via a convex arc from the spine. This lowers the point for great controllability. The point retains great strength. Most drop point patterns also retain plenty of belly.
Due to the very controllable point, this pattern is very popular on hunting knives, where it's important to keep the point from nicking an organ. The inclusion of plenty of belly makes it a good slicer and slasher. This format is also popular on utility knives and even fighters, where the strong point can hold up to heavy use. The point on a drop point usually won't be quite as sharp as that on a clip-point, but will be stronger.
The Tanto (Americanized and Chisel-Ground)
The Americanized tanto, popularized by Cold Steel, is usually dual-ground for point strength and sharpness along the straight edge. The point is directly along the spine. The front edge meets the long straight edge at a sharp angle, forming the "secondary point". The blade is often dual-ground, with a hollow grind along the straight edge, and a flat grind of sorts up front.
The point on this format is incredibly strong, due to the spine keeping its full width until very close to the point, and then a strong flat grind being used to create the point. There is a lot of metal up front at that point, which makes this format not the best piercer into soft materials, but incredibly strong and able to survive thrusting into very hard materials. The high point also provides less control than the drop- and clip-point formats.
The hollow ground straight edge is very sharp. There is no belly per se, so slicing can be awkward, and this is not the best format for general utility use since a belly is so useful for that. For hard use where a very strong point is needed, this format is exceptional. The very sharp hollow-ground straight edge performs very well for any job that doesn't require a belly. For slashing, the promotors of this format claim the secondary point positively reinforces the slash, so even though the design is bellyless it still slashes well.
A hot trend today is chisel-ground tantos. These knives usually have a basic Americanized tanto shape, often with the point clipped. But it is ground on one side one, usually a sabre grind (rather than the dual-ground Americanized tanto popularized by Cold Steel). Many chisel-ground tantos have one a single bevel to the edge, with no secondary bevel to form the edge itself, which leaves the format very sharp. Aside from the lack of belly, the non-symmetrical grind makes this type of knife difficult to cut straight, making it even less useful for general utility. The extremely thin edge cuts well for shallow cuts, but the edge usually reaches full spine thickness relatively quickly, so deep-cutting performance can suffer.
I have not discussed the classic Japanese tanto shape, because that design is not seen much in everyday cutlery.
The sheepsfoot blade really can't be said to have a point. The spine curves down to meet the edge. The objective of this format is to provide an edge that can be used for cutting, while minimizing the chances that anything delicate will be accidently pierced by the point. For example, it is marketed to emergency personnel, who may have to cut a person out of their seatbelt at an accident scene, and don't want to risk stabbing the victim in the process. Also this pattern is popular among sailors, and the explanations here vary depending on who you talk to. It may be because when their knife is out, the sailors don't want to risk accidently puncturing a sail. Or, as the legend goes, it may be because when sailors have pointy knives, they end up stabbing each other with them. Pick your fave.
The Japanese style chef's knife, the Santuko, also is close to this format, though the belly on that knife curves slightly. There's no need for a point for the usage of this knife, so the dropped point maximizes the straight edge length.
The dagger's format provides the ultimate in piercing soft targets. The format tapers to a very thin very sharp point, which pierces easily and deeply into soft targets, but is weak and can (and does) break on hard targets. The dagger usually has two sharp edges, to reduce the profile and let the knife cut in on both sides.
The dagger usually has little or no belly per se, instead tapering in relatively straight line towards the point, though you will see great variations in the degree to which there's a curve towards the point. In addition, both edges are ground from the exact center of the blade. The geometry, between the lack of belly and the quickly-thickening edges, is not good for slicing/slashing.
The Spear Point
A "real" spear point is what you would find on a spear -- point exactly in the center of the blade, both edges sharpened. But when knives are described as "spear point", this describes a special case of a drop point. In a drop point, the point drops slightly from the spine of the blade. In a spear point, the point drops all the way to the center of the blade. Point controllability is excellent, and the point is strong (but dull if not double-edged), and with the point so low the belly is rather small.
The Trailing Point
The trailing point format has a point that's as high or higher than the blade spine, and a big long curving belly. The belly is the objective of this format, and it's used for jobs where slicing is the most important function. It is very popular on skinning knives, where lots of belly comes in handy for slicing. The point is high and out of the way, it may function slightly as a piercer, but on some trailing point knives the point is nonfunctional.
The Hook Blade
The edge on a hook blade curves in a concave manner. This type of knife was traditionally used for gardening, and it has gained some acceptance for utility use. For shallow slicing, the material to be is place on the edge near the handle. As the knife is pulled, the geometry of the curve forces the material into the edge nearer the tip, and slicing performance is good. Or you can just pierce material with the tip and just pull the knife, the edge will function the same way. This format works well as a slicer when you can get the material positioned in the "sweet spot" of the curve (e.g., pruning). This basically means the material to be cut needs to have a smaller radius than the blade itself, so hook blades work well for pruning but would have a harder time slicing a tomato.
The Rockwell scale is a hardness scale based on the indentation hardness of a material. The Rockwell test determines the hardness by measuring the depth of penetration of an indenter under a large load compared to the penetration made by a preload. There are different scales, which are denoted by a single letter, that use different loads or indenters. The result, which is a dimensionless number, is noted by HRX where X is the scale letter.
When testing metals, indentation hardness correlates linearly with tensile strength. This important relation permits economically important nondestructive testing of bulk metal deliveries with lightweight, even portable equipment, such as hand-held Rockwell hardness testers.
This sword has a beautiful line with a delicate curve that is continued through the handle. Sharp on only one side it was predominantly used as a slicing tool but an interesting thing to note about the katana was that its wielder considered the blunt side also a very effective tool for subduing an enemy without maiming or killing. (14th century to modern day)
Shows the height of the late middle ages. the blade was very thin and very strong yet flexible. This allowed for very fast combat and the ability to find weaknesses in an enemy guard and armor. Notice the very large hand guard. Began its development around the 15th century -predominantly in Spain and had its heyday in the 17th.
Very popular in Italy and had its peak around the 16th Century. Its curved and thick blade is reminiscent of an elongated axe or a machete. And it was this machete like action that made it popular among sailors and pirates because it was sturdy enough to quickly cut through ship ropes.
Bronze Age Sword
This size, shape and style of sword was very common for two thousand years dating all the way back to the early bronze age and surviving into the early iron age (roughly 15th century) The bronze working and early iron working of this weapon made it only a stabbing weapon, it was not suitable for slicing. It had neither the ability to hold an edge or the strength to withstand hacking attacks. This type of sword is probably an extended version of the dagger. Bronze working allowed daggers to become longer thus swords. ALthough this type of sword came in many versions and shapes the shape I have drawn here is the typical styling of a Roman Centurion sword.
Typical Middle Ages Sword
This style and shape of sword ranged from the 11th - 16th centuries This is the common refined form of the sword and what we most picture when we think sword. The blade is strong, long and well edged. It had a solid and extended cross piece and was the typical sidearm of the medieval knight. This type of sword did change quite a bit over the centuries and it was much dependant upon the metal working technology of the period. Generally as the centuries progressed the blades got flatter and longer as did the grip and crosspiece.
Two handed Sword
This was a large weapon wielded with two hands. Something that I should point out is that this drawing shows a bit of the development of swords as art and not just function. Swords became a piece to show symbolic meaning and wealth. this sword has a bit of fancy lines to it and its crosspiece. It could also have detailed carvings in silver and gold and even gems embedded in it. This shows the development of the sword in the late middle ages as they transformed from a weapon to a dress and show piece because other weapons using gunpowder made them obsolete.
This sword could be as long as 5-6 feet overall and came to it was used in Germany between the 14th and 16th centuries. In normal function it was a two handed weapon that could be wielded in large arcs. But the requrements of combat sometimes necessitated very close in-fighting where there was little room to swing a large weapon. The zweihander had a unique leather wrap just over the handle that allowed the wielder to choke up and swing it in smaller arcs. This section at the base of the blade was called the Ricasso or Fehlscharfe. And this type of sword often had a pair of hooks (shown) at the end of the ricasso which would catch and stop an enemy blade from sliding down to wielders hands.
The blades of Medieval swords which were used in England were usually straight with two sharpened edges. The history of Blades shows that they were first made of Bronze, then iron and culminating in the steel Medieval swords
The Crossguard or Quillion
This was the handle of the sword resembling the shape of the Christian cross. Expensive to produce and sometimes covered in precious metals - bronze, silver or gold
The cutting part of the blade. Medieval swords were designed to be used for blows directly against the opponent's body or shield and in the edge to edge style of sword fighting
Unsharpened edge on a single-edged sword
The tip of the sword's blade
The strongest part of the swords blade, nearest the hilt
The central shallow on a straight double edged blade - also referred to as the 'Blood Gutter'!
The hilt of swords held in the hand of the Knight. The Grip was often made of horn or wood, covered in leather and contoured to fit in the hand
The Hilt is the handle of the sword made up of the cross guard, grip and the pommel. The personal engravings on the hilt, and its expense, would often ensure that when a blade was disguarded the hilt would be re-used
Finger Guard/Finger Ring
Enabling a knight to loop their finger over the guard increasing point control
The pommel was part of the hilt which acted as a counterweight to the blade on Medieval swords
The tang was the unsharpened end of the sword blade covered by the hilt
Referred to any narrowing, or thickening, of a sword's blade, which remains unsharpened, at the base of the blade
Japanese sword parts
*Copied from 2-clicks-swords.com*
The pommel or the knob found at the bottom of the sword handle.
The handle or hilt which is tightly wrapped with a cloth called the tsukaito.
The art of wrapping the sword hilt is called tsukamaki which requires patience, persistence, and attention to details. In this art, the materials needed are glue, the cloth (ito), paper, and the tsuka.
wrapping under the tsukaito of the samurai sword handle. It is made of samekawa or stingray skin. Some, however, use shark skin.
Small ornaments or sculptures (usually of animals) under the tsukaito but on top of the samekawa. Traditionally, this is used to signify the character of the sword owner. Menuki nowadays are primarily decorations on the samurai sword.
Bamboo pegs that work like screws keeping the tang or nakago in place under the handle. These pegs should be durable but flexible enough not to break when the sword is hit.
This is the section of the blade held within the tsuka by the mekugi or bamboo pegs. A full tang makes a stronger sword.
Metal sleeves that lock tsuka together.
They serve as spacers on the sides of the hand guard that allow adjustment on the tightness of the handle.
It is in itself a fine work of art made by clans and dynasties of tsuba makers. This sets the blade apart from the handle so to protect the hand from slipping through the blade.
A square metal collar found at the base of the blade connected to the tsuba. This adds more stability to keep all the samurai swords parts tight altogether.
Blade of the Japanese sword is a remarkable piece created through a traditional process of Japanese sword smith. Only the best quality of high carbon steel are made into samurai swords and the procedure would take a long time of forging – repeated heating, hammering, quenching, folding, tempering, clay coating until the installing of all the other parts.
With forging, one is assured that no two swords could be the same because they are made individually and specifically for a certain person or samurai. Nowadays, forging of a real sword is not very much practiced especially for commercialized and mass produced swords.
The blade has different parts:
The wave-like markings found on the edge of the blade resulting from the heat tempering and cooling during the clay coating process. The parttern of the hamon should not be predictable or else, it is a fake hamon.
Part of the blade that cuts. It is so sharp it could cut without much effort.
The rounded tip of the sword. This part is very difficult to forge and polish. A good quality of kissaki would mean a fine quality of sword.
The scabbard mainly protects the blade from deterioration and protects anyone who comes near the blade. They are, by tradition, made of honoki wood. This wood is not too hard nor too soft making it easily worked with hand tools when shaped for fitting the curved sword.
A belt cord that secures the saya and the waistband so it does not slip when carried along.
"It is not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart."-Jesus Christ, Mark 7:15