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DaveKuzminski
02-03-2006, 08:54 PM
This is a technical question. Glass can be colored or made clear by the addition of other substances. Can the same be done for steel? If so, does anyone know of a chart listing what colors are possible?

Julie Worth
02-03-2006, 09:03 PM
This is a technical question. Glass can be colored or made clear by the addition of other substances. Can the same be done for steel? If so, does anyone know of a chart listing what colors are possible?

No, not really, though with copper alloys you can get a range from red to gold to almost silver. And with heat treatments, you can get many colors on steel, bronze, titanium, and other metals and alloys (which is often used in jewelry). But these would be surface colorations, due to oxide, sulfide, or nitride films.

MadScientistMatt
02-03-2006, 09:14 PM
I've seen all kinds of unusual steel - moly alloys, tool steels, you name it. They're all the same silver color if you polish them. Changing the color of the metal itself is pretty much an impossibility, if you want steel that's colored all the way through. Most anything you can mix into a steel that does any good is gray or black anyway, and even exotic grades are close to 70% iron.

Unusual surface colors are pretty easy, though. There is, of course, rusts in dark brown to pale orange. Deliberate oxide finishes range from black to very dark blue - you're probably familiar with these. Some hot rolled grades are almost purple. Zinc chromate plated steel is common on bolts and gives them a grainy yellow finish. I don't think I have ever seen steel in a green or red (other than rust red) color.

DaveKuzminski
02-03-2006, 10:31 PM
Yes, I want it to be throughout the metal, not a surface coloring. As much reading as I did on steel today, it doesn't look like it's possible. Now I have to decide whether to go out on a limb with the story. It's not really critical, but it could add a new facet to the overall story.


Thank you.

Andrew Jameson
02-06-2006, 05:47 PM
Does your steel *have* to be steel? Like Julie says, you can get copper alloys with a wide range of reddish/goldish tones. Some of these alloys can be quite strong. Not really in the league of steel for holding an edge and so forth, but they'd probably hold up pretty well against medieval-technology steel (if your story is a fantasy setting).

DaveKuzminski
02-06-2006, 07:29 PM
For it to be a sword, I would think so. Otherwise, it won't stand up to other weapons that are hand-forged of steel.

alleycat
02-06-2006, 08:54 PM
Iíve never really heard of a steel colored all the way through, but Japanese swords and Damascus-twist gun barrels often have coloration (blue predominately, sometime a slight reddish tint) that are more than surface depth. Iím thinking it would be quite plausible to have a uniquely colored steel caused by how the weapon was tempered.

ac

Noob
02-06-2006, 09:00 PM
If you write a totally fantacy story, there is no more limitation then you personally set to it imo...

Just take the serie Star Trek.. lots of the words they used on things not even evented at the time - are now a reality.. Lots of "words" they used, have sneaked into to real world.

:)

LloydBrown
02-06-2006, 09:19 PM
For it to be a sword, I would think so. Otherwise, it won't stand up to other weapons that are hand-forged of steel.

You're right there. The master craftsmen of the ancient world did make bronze weapons that were superior to the original iron weapons, but forged steel is so superior that the craftsmanship couldn't make up for the difference in metal quality.

TheIT
02-06-2006, 11:24 PM
Does the metal need to be colored all the way through, or does the sword just need to have different colors within it? There's a Japanese metal working technique called "mokume gane" which involves layering different colored metals together in extremely thin layers. I believe the technique was used for Samurai swords. Nowadays, polymer clay artists use the technique for jewelry.

You can find out more from the following websites:

www.glassattic.com (http://www.glassattic.com) (Online encyclopedia of polymer clay techniques - under "M" look for mokume gane)

Also:

http://www.mokume-gane.com/Pages/What_is_Mokume.html (about the original metal working technique)

Hope this helps.

dlcharles
02-07-2006, 12:17 AM
Dave: First; the best made swords in the Roman era were those which were quenched in the blood of a Christian. Serious. The newly made sword was then 'baptised' or quenched by driving it though a Christian. The belief was it imparted an 'edge' which water or oil could not. I make custom knives of various types and have found using an old power hacksaw blade gives me the best knives and the best 'shine' throughout. Another good option is to take a circular saw blade and make throwing stars or knives - they don't break or shatter and you get three or four from each blade. Great skinning knife material.

Have you considered using the joined alloy concept? Example: Joining copper to steel for the decorative effect, such as the hilt and down the blade as a sort of blood groove.

DaveKuzminski
02-09-2006, 06:59 PM
Good ideas, thanks!

lharbaugh
02-09-2006, 10:08 PM
If you're looking for something that be be pretty much any color, how about titanium? It can be heat-treated to many, many diffrerent shades, is lighter and stronger than steel and if properly treated, can be harder too.

Logan

DaveKuzminski
02-09-2006, 10:16 PM
Can it be produced with quality in, say, an old blacksmith's shop? Can it conduct electricity?

UrsusMinor
02-09-2006, 10:37 PM
Titanium has a very high melting point, and isn't a great conductor of electricity (though it does conduct). It's as strong as steel, but I'm not clear on how well it takes an edge.

If I had to solve your problem, I'd consider meteoritic ore. A lot of the earliest uses of iron/steel were from meteorites (word for "iron" is "sky metal" in some languages), but these are already complex alloys--iron, nickel, chromium, titanium, and various other materials, all readily workable with even rudimentary technology. I don't know your story, of course, but unless your readers are expecting a chemical analysis, I'd think that a natural alloy from a meteor could have just about any properties you'd like to give it--including color. (Despite advances in metallurgy, I don't know any materials-science people who think we have a complete understanding of all possible alloys.)

DaveKuzminski
02-09-2006, 10:51 PM
The culture isn't ignorant, but they're regaining lost knowledge. Essentially, their world was slightly more advanced than ours. Now they're back up to a Medieval equivalent level so steel isn't impossible in small amounts, so they're not forced to rely upon sky metal like some Eskimos did. Still, their production is small scale.

TheIT
02-10-2006, 04:05 AM
FYI regarding lost technology. I was watching a documentary about swords and they said something about having to recreate European medieval sword making techniques because so much knowledge has been lost. Modern day sword makers are trying to figure out how they did it based on surviving examples. In Japan, however, because sword making is an almost spiritual exercise they're still using the same techniques handed down through the centuries. The chain of knowledge was never broken.

MadScientistMatt
02-10-2006, 06:50 PM
If you're looking for something that be be pretty much any color, how about titanium? It can be heat-treated to many, many diffrerent shades, is lighter and stronger than steel and if properly treated, can be harder too.

Logan

Heat treatment, however, does not color a metal all the way through. It can, however, produce colored surface oxides.

One other possibility occurred to me - although you'll have a beast of a time duplicating this with medieval technology (It wouldn't be impossible, though, if someone rediscovered the principle.). That would be a cermet. They're sort of like the feet of the nightmare statue in the Book of Daniel, only done a bit better.

The basic idea is to mix ceramic powder with powdered metal. Then it is squeezed into a shape by a press (hydraulic, maybe a screw press in a medieval world) getting something that will sort of hold its form. Then the part is fired in a furnace. The result isn't the same as an alloy - it's a kind of composite, as the two components don't melt together or react. Just like in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, iron does not mix with clay. A cermet is sort of like a chocolate chip cookie where the ceramic is the chocolate chips and the metal is the dough - only on a near-microscopic scale.

Since ceramics can be any color, you can have a color that's all the way through. It may not be a very saturated color - you'll get a lot of gray from the metal binder. They take a great edge but are on the brittle side compared to steel - the properties are somewhere in between those of metals and ceramics. They'd make a pretty good knife but I'm not sure of how it would do as a sword. Then again, I've heard of neolithic people making machetes out of obsidian...