A sword is a bladed weapon whose main function is to cut and stab. It comprises of a long blade fixed on a hilt. The thrusting types have a sharp tip on the blade and are rather straighter. Slashing swords have a sharp cutting edge, which can be on one side or both sides of the blade (possibly curved). Many swords are meant for both functions: thrusting and slashing.
Some swords are larger, others smaller; some are curved while others are straight. And these shapes and designs are not merely arbitrary. They are a product of hundreds of centuries of invention and innovation. A sword should be sharp and remain sharp. Besides, it should be tough enough to absorb the impacts and stress it is put through.
A sword should have a number of properties that includes the following:
Hardness, so that it can cut.
Flexibility – so that it is able to absorb impact shock without breaking.
Toughness – to enable it to bear repeated impacts without wearing out and shattering, and toughness greatly contributes to the performance of a sword.
Adequate weight – to give momentum to the cut so that it is not too heavy and hard to swing
When it comes to the properties enumerated above, it is extremely difficult to find all of them in a single material.
However, steel has been found to have a property that enables it to actually combine a number of usually mutually exclusive traits in a single part. It is possible to heat-treat steel to the conversion point and then cools it. When it is cooled very fast, it becomes extremely hard but brittle. On the other hand, when it is cooled very slowly, it is tough, but also soft and springy. Through the differential hardening process, it is possible to make a steel part which is extremely hard on the outside but remains sturdy but springy on the inside. This is ideal for making a sword.
Then, in addition, modern steels can be made extremely pure, be alloyed with different metals such as chromium, molybdenum, nickel, and so on that further change the steels’ properties without them losing the ability to be heat-treated. Since the ductile strength of the alloy is enhanced, it facilitates the making of a thinner part with similar strength. A good sword needs to be forged and tempered.
Modern coatings may be used to add other properties like for instance corrosion resistance as well as self-lubrication. Friction reducing coatings such as Teflon can be applied to the non-cutting part of the blade in order to prevent the blade from binding.
The Best Steel
Traditionally, Japanese carbon steel is typically the best multipurpose steel to use for making swords. Even most swordsmiths agree with this. This is due to the fact that it contains the proper amount of trace elements that gives it the ideal characteristics for an efficient sword. A good number of top grade Japanese carbon steels contain roughly 3 percent trace elements, meaning naturally it would be stronger than other types of steel – actually even if it is thin.