Heat Treating

For quite some time, we have utilized the expertise of Kevin Cashen of Matherton Forge to perform precise tests on our blades. Kevin has a fully equipped lab for testing blade steels.

The tests that Kevin utilizes include hardness testing, impact testing, and grain structure evaluation.

During one of Peter Johnsson's visits, we traveled to Kevin's home to review his findings and seek his advice on any changes that might be warranted in our blades.

We were very pleased with Kevin's report. Kevin confirmed that our blades are on average 54.4 RHC.

In addition, Kevin pointed out that the grain structure in our blades was consistent and uniform. In other words, there were no flaws or anomalies present in our steel.

Kevin had a very difficult time breaking our samples in his Riehle impact testing machine. This indicates that our samples were extremely shock resistant.

We routinely evaluate out heat-treating and steel by testing flexibility, edge retention, and shock resistance. We intentionally "torture test" blades to the point of destruction in order to assure that our blades are as tough or tougher than any blade of similar geometry can be. We have, over the years, published a number of videos showing the tests we perform (the Castellan Point Test and Viking Destructive Test are two examples), and the most recent example being in the Discovery Science Channel's "How Its Made" television show.

In the 6 years I've worked for Albion, I have never seen a sword returned because it failed catastrophically under normal or even extreme use. This is not to say we are perfect. Sometimes we make mistakes, but we have made it our goal to try and meet the expectations of our modern customers - far exceeding the standards of period smiths in every respect. We obsess about it. We are always refining our processes and trying to improve our swords so we can continue to make the best production swords on the market.

When it comes to the heat treating of our blades, it is no different. Each blade is individually heat treated. Our salt baths are digitally controlled, and we routinely test the hardness, flexibility and durability of our blades. We do all of this to ensure that we are creating the highest quality swords possible.

Thank you for your interest in our swords.

Eric McHugh
Head of Research and Development
Albion Swords

Please note: Many customers (and competitors) have used Rockwell Hardness files to try to determine blade hardness. I have personally used these files here at Albion. They are a good tool to test the general hardness of a piece of steel, but there are some inherent problems with these files that make obtaining an precise Rockwell hardness number nearly impossible.

First, the files are in 5 point increments. 5 points on the Rockwell C scale is a large range. Second, the results can be quite subjective. The instructions for these files talk about "scratching" the surface, but in my manufacturing classes the instructors point out that it is when the file "bites" into the steel and not just scratches the surface that you have the correct hardness file. If I was to go by what the instructions say on the files, the result would be a much lower Rockwell number than the actual hardness of the samples.

The bottom line is that these files are typically used in the industry to give a worker a ball park idea of the hardness of a particular steel. For situations that require an precise Rockwell number, a Rockwell hardness tester must be used. Kevin has verified that our hardness is on average 54.4 RHC.

- Eric

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