Carbon Steel katanas are appreciated pieces. Forged according traditional methods developed in the Old Japanese civilization, these particular samurai swords have a lot of features and so many secrets. According to the Carbon Steel type, the sword inherits lots of particularities and properties commonly known to be characteristics of the material. He, who needs to have a sword, should know exactly why and how he needs his sword to be, which will guide the choice of the material to use in the forging process. Moreover, the material properties can implicate the parts to mount on the sword to obtain the desired design and serve the intended purpose.
When looking for a combination of quality and price the high carbon steel katanas seem to be most preferable and common in the market. These types of katana swords are usually favored due to their strong durability as a result of their chemical makeup. High carbon steel blades lack the chronium component that you’d find in stainless steel which does allow for the carbon blades to be stronger yet on the flip side they are susceptible to corrosion because of this missing component.
Despite their name, carbon steel swords do have less carbon than typical stainless steel swords do which allows them to be more compatible with other metals. Carbon steel is much harder than stainless which creates the ability to hold a sharper and more acute edge. As a result, they are quicker to sharpen and can achieve a sharper edge than the stainless do.
As the percentage of carbon in the blade rises the steel has the ability to become more durable through heat treating; however, it also becomes less pliable. Additionally the higher the carbon content the lower the melting point is. So the higher the carbon content the stronger and less pliable the blade is, the lower the carbon content the softer and more pliable the blade is.
Within the carbon steel swords there are numerous types of metal grades, far more than I will take the time to mention and put you through the long, boring definition of the slight variances in each. Instead I’ll let you know the most common high carbon steel blades you’ll probably come across in the katana market.
10xx Steels (where xx could be any combination of numbers signifying the carbon density). The numbers following the ’10’ signify the carbon percent in the sword. For example a 1055 carbon steel means that the sword is 0.55% carbon content, a 1095 is as you would guess…0.95% carbon content.
1045 Carbon Steel
1045 is what most cheaper swords are made from, they are softer and in my mind I wouldn’t go with anything less than a 0.45% carbon content otherwise it’ll be too soft for functional use unless you’re looking for another wall hanger. At anything below a 1045 sharpening and maintaining an edge becomes more difficult.
1060 carbon steel
1060 (0.60% carbon content) is probably your best bet of the 10xx carbon steels. It is hard enough to be durable yet still soft enough where it is pliable. These swords will hold up pretty well in almost all normal katana uses.
1095 carbon steel
1095 is also a common carbon steel yet you’re more apt to find this in knives. This is a harder more brittle carbon steel that is easy to sharpen and holds an edge better than lower carbon content swords. The disadvantage is that if it is simply 1095 steel then if you hit another hard target with it there’s a greater chance it could break.
9260 Spring Steel
The name gives you an indication of how this metal behaves, spring like. Meaning that it has more flexibility and can recover from bends and vibrations better than other steel blades. A little fun fact about the name is that it comes from the same steel being used in the suspension coils of vehicles, hence the name ‘spring steel’. 9260 spring steel adds an additional component to it’s composition – silicon (2%). By adding silicon to the chemical make up it gives the sword added flexibility.
T10 Carbon Steel
T10 is a newer steel being used in katana sword manufacturing. It is a Tungsten alloy (tungsten is also what some wedding bands are made of) with a high carbon content (0.90%-1.0%) combined with a smaller silicon content than the spring steel (0.30%-0.35%). Due to the mixture of silicon and high carbon content these swords perform better than other 1095 carbon steels and are more durable.
Remember, having a higher carbon content provides for a sharper edge, adding silicon to the composition slightly helps reduce the brittleness of the blade.
One of the more popular types of katana swords is the combination of 1095 high carbon + folded steel. This combines the two powerful methods to create a sword that is hard at the core yet durable to avoid breaking on the outer layer.
These combinations usually feature the 1095 as the core component providing the internal structure that is hardened with the 0.95% carbon content. They are then layered in folded steel to protect the inner hard, yet usually otherwise more brittle core. The benefit of this method is that once you sharpen the sword past the folded steel layer you reveal the hard edge of the 1095 component which as I described earlier will hold a sharper edge longer.
So in summary a hard long lasting sharp inner element protected from breaking by the folded steel outer layer.