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Modern Steel equivalent to Japanese Tamahagane
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Thread: Modern Steel equivalent to Japanese Tamahagane

  1. #1

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    Modern Steel equivalent to Japanese Tamahagane

    Tamahagane Composition

    C: 1.00% to 1.42%
    P: 0.013% - 0.042%
    S: 0.006% -0.008%
    Mn: 0.006% - 0.11%
    V: 0.004% - 0.015%
    Al: 0.003% - 0.02%
    T: 0.003% - 0.0267%
    C: 0.69% - 1.54%
    Mo: 0.04%
    Si: 0.018% - 0.02%



    Numerous modern steels have been touted as having a similar composition as Tamahagane including White Steel No.1, 1065, K990, 1070/1075.

    However, I believe that the steel with the closest chemical make up to traditional Tamahagane is the French tool steel 100WC10.


    100WC10 Composition

    C: 1.15
    P: 0.018%
    S: 0.008%
    Mn: 0.38%
    V: 0.00%
    Al: Not listed
    T: Not listed
    C: 0.00%
    Mo: 0.02%
    Si: 0.38%



    The problem is I have no idea where to source 100WC10. Does anyone have any insight?

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    I have been told that Iwasaki formulated his famous swedish carbon steel that Shigefusa and Heiji use to be very close to Tamahagane in properties.

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    JBroida's Avatar
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    i wouldnt say so much that he formulated it, but he does say that it is similar. When i was meeting with him we took various steels to a grinder to see how they reacted and felt. The difference in spark patterns makes it pretty obvious. We tested tamahagane, the swedish carbon steel he loves, a 200 year old nail forged out of god knows what, and some more modern types of carbon steel. The Tamahagane and swedish carbon are by far the closest. Here's a picture of what i'm talking about (one the left is the swedish steel and on the right is tamahagane... the hands are Iwasaki-san):

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    Which Swedish steel is he using?

    I've read that Iwasaki's steel has a carbon content of 1.25%-1.35%.

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    It may just be me, but those two might well be similar in properties when treated and handled correctly, but they do not look like a similar make up to me. Plus there's some wide tolerances in the Tamahagane there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBroida View Post
    i wouldnt say so much that he formulated it, but he does say that it is similar.
    May be his father then, he was a metallurgist by education right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainaman View Post
    May be his father then, he was a metallurgist by education right?
    my understanding is that they tested many types of steel from various makes and found this one to have properties most like what they were looking for. Both Iwasaki-san and his father are/were extremely well educated in metallurgy. I believe both studied at Tokyo University as well.

    Actually, Sara and I just finished reading a book written by the elder Iwasaki-san on sharpening... to say that guy knew a lot is a complete understatement

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    Senior Member UglyJoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    It may just be me, but those two might well be similar in properties when treated and handled correctly, but they do not look like a similar make up to me. Plus there's some wide tolerances in the Tamahagane there.
    Of course; it's tamahagane. By the method whereby it is created it has a very wide range of, well, everything... hardness, composition, use, etc. When sword makers get raw tamahagane they sort them by hitting them. Those that break and shatter get moved to a "hard" pile and those that bend and move get moved to a "soft" pile. Unlike modern steel tamahagane requires the maker to be extremely precise in his folding and forge-welding operation, as it has a high content of harmful impurities as well as being basically unworkable structurally in it's raw form. The experienced maker is able to take the raw bits, sort them correctly, forge weld and fold them till he gets a useable bar (usually bars of hard steel and bars of soft), then move on from there. I've wanted a san-mai blade of hard and soft tamahagane for a while now... but don't have the enormous amount of cash it would cost to have it made.

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    I guess what I meant was that the fantastic qualities exhibited by tamahagane blades are really showing off the skill of the person handling, heat treating, and otherwise making the blade. It's like trying to find paint with similar chemical composition to the paint Michelangelo used.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    It may just be me, but those two might well be similar in properties when treated and handled correctly, but they do not look like a similar make up to me. Plus there's some wide tolerances in the Tamahagane there.
    I challenge you to find a steel more closely related in make up to Tamahagane than 100WC10.

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