Sword steels

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by David Stifle, Sep 17, 2017.

  1. David Stifle

    David Stifle

    Nov 20, 2008
    Someone on another site mentioned they are making several choppers and swords from Elmax and S30v. I don't think I've ever seen big blades made from these steels. Are they suitable for swords or choppers? Superior? Just curious.
  2. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    They aren't my first choice of steels for that role. I would go with 3v or even just carbon steels like 1095.
  3. tryppyr


    Feb 5, 2010
    That does raise the question of which qualities are best suited for longer blades. It seems to me toughness would trump hardness, and edge holding ability would be less important than the ability to dress the blade in the field.

    But what do I know?
  4. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder

    Aug 12, 2005
    If you require stainless, we have seen a couple of guys experimenting with AEB-L for blades like machetes of late. The downside is that you are limited to stock no bigger than say .190. As for the more complex PM stainless steels, some say that Elmax is one of he toughest.
  5. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    12C27M would probably make a good machete but availability and sizes might be limited.
  6. kuraki

    kuraki Fimbulvetr Knifeworks

    Jun 17, 2016
    I would think the biggest reason you don't see many sword sized blades in advanced PM steel is because of the expense and the difficulty (or extremely low practicality) of forging them. Not because they wouldn't make suitable swords.

    If someone wanted to give me a sword, and I could either have it in 10xx or Elmax, I'd take the Elmax.

    Can't say I would relish making a 30" Elmax blade though.
  7. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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

    Aug 20, 2004
    I have made tanto on S35VN ... because I have it on hand. I have some shorter swords in the works in Damasteel.

    In most cases, a carbon steel near the eutectoid is the best choice. The exception to that is a san-mai blade with a high carbon core and softer sides.

    If I only a had one choice, it would be 1075.
    Lapedog likes this.
  8. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder

    Aug 12, 2005
    I have seen some rather wicked katanas made from 1075.
  9. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    They wouldn't be my first choice, but properly heat treated, most modern steels are "tough enough." How many people will ever get into a steel on steel sword fight? Training through various cutting mediums should be fine with Elmax or S35VN, assuming tailored heat treat, meaning austenitizing on the low end of the scale prioritizing fine structures.

    I would think a-series steels would be a better choice, as well as 3V, z-tuff, or S7 if air hardening was preferred.
    hugofeynman likes this.
  10. David Stifle

    David Stifle

    Nov 20, 2008
    Thanks guys. The post, on another site, mentioned he was making swords from Elmax, and S30v, and that he was getting really big dollars for them. I read it without commenting, but out of curiosity, asked here. Your responses echo's my understanding as well.
    hugofeynman likes this.
  11. hugofeynman

    hugofeynman Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 18, 2011
    Using a comparison made by someone I respect A LOT in knife world, you can do your jogging in working boots or in mountain boots, but is that the most appropriate footwear for that activity?
    David Stifle likes this.

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