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Pattern welding

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Title: Pattern welding  
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Pattern welding

A high resolution image of a modern pattern welded knife blade, showing the dramatic patterning on the side below, and the layering of the steel in the spine above. Acid etching darkens the 1080 plain carbon steel more than it does the 15N20 low alloy nickel steel, producing alternating bands of light and dark on the surface.

Pattern welding is the practice in acid etching. Pattern welding was an outgrowth of laminated or piled steel, a similar technique used to combine steels of different carbon contents, providing a desired mix of hardness and toughness. Although modern steelmaking processes negate the need to blend different steels, pattern welded steel is still used by custom knifemakers for the cosmetic effects it produces.

Contents

  • History 1
    • Pattern welding in Europe 1.1
    • Modern decorative use 1.2
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Sources 4
  • External links 5

History

Pattern-welded 19th century Moro (Philippine) barung sword
Close-up view of the blade of the same Moro barung

Pattern welding developed out of the necessarily complex process of making blades that were both hard and tough from the erratic and unsuitable output from early iron smelting in

  • Bladesmith Kevin Cashen's page on pattern welding
  • Ancient carburisation of iron to steel: a comment
  • Mediæval Sword Virtual Museum, which contains close-up images of Viking swords, showing the pattern welding structures.

External links

  • Dona Meilach, Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork, 1st ed. 1984 (ISBN 0517527316), 2nd ed. 1999 (ISBN 0764307908)
  • Ian Peirce, Ewart Oakeshott (Introduction), Swords of the Viking Age, 2004, ISBN 0-85115-914-1

Sources

  1. ^ a b c John D. Verhoeven (2002). Materials Technology. steel research 73 no. 8 http://www.mse.iastate.edu/fileadmin/www.mse.iastate.edu/static/files/verhoeven/steelresearchsize2.pdf . 
  2. ^ a b Ian G. Peirce, Ewart Oakeshott. Swords of the Viking Age. p. 145. 
  3. ^ Goddard, Wayne (2000). The Wonder of Knifemaking. Krause. pp. 107–120.  
  4. ^ Ed Caffery. "Damascus Pictoral". 
  5. ^ a b Ed Caffery. "Bits of Steel". 
  6. ^ Don Fogg. "Damascus". 

References

See also

Some modern bladesmiths have taken pattern welding to new heights, with elaborate applications of traditional pattern welding techniques, as well as with new technology. A layered billet of steel rods with the blade blank cut perpendicular to the layers can also produce some spectacular patterns, including mosaics or even writing. Powder metallurgy allows alloys that would not normally be compatible to be combined into solid bars. Different treatments of the steel after it is ground and polished, such as bluing, etching, or various other chemical surface treatments that react differently to the different metals used can create bright, high-contrast finishes on the steel. Some master smiths go as far as to use techniques such as electrical discharge machining to cut interlocking patterns out of different steels, fit them together, then weld the resulting assembly into a solid block of steel.[5][6]

The chainsaw chains produce a pattern of randomly positioned blobs of color.[3][4][5]

The ancient swordmakers exploited the aesthetic qualities of pattern welded steel. The Vikings in particular were fond of twisting bars of steel around each other, welding the bars together by hammering and then repeating the process with the resulting bars, to create complex patterns in the final steel bar. Two bars twisted in opposite directions created the common chevron pattern. Often, the center of the blade was a core of soft steel, and the edges were solid high carbon steel, similar to the laminates of the Japanese.

Modern decorative use

During the Middle ages, Damascus steel was being produced in India and brought back to Europe. The similarities in the markings led many to believe it was the same process being used, and pattern welding was revived by European smiths who were attempting to duplicate the Damascus steel. While the methods used by Damascus smiths to produce their blades was lost, recent efforts by metallurgists and bladesmiths (such as Verhoeven and Pendray) to reproduce steel with identical characteristics have yielded a process that does not involve pattern welding.[1] However even these attempts have not been a huge success. A similar technique was also employed by Scandinavian Medieval swordsmiths. The Mora knife is today manufactured with a similar technique. Today the traditional crucible steel is seldom used, but the high carbon steel is usually tool steel or stainless steel.

By the 2nd and 3rd century AD, the Celts were commonly using pattern welding for decoration in addition to structural reasons. It involved folding metal and forging alternating layers of steel into rods, which would then be twisted to form complex patterns when forged into a blade.[1] By the 6th and 7th centuries, pattern welding had reached a level where thin layers of patterned steel were being overlaid onto a soft iron core, making the swords far better as the iron gave them a flexible and springy core that would take any shock from sword blows to stop the blade bending or snapping. By the end of the Viking era, pattern welding fell out of use in Europe[2]

Pattern welding in Europe

[2][1]

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