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
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
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.
Head of Research and Development
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.