Mad Science Forge - Forged Titanium Swords and Knives - FAQ

Titanium-Niobium alloy bar stock after the beginning of the sword forging process.
Titanium alloys are the subject of much mystery, mistique and misinformation. This class of alloys is sometimes lauded as indestructible and the strongest metal on earth, and other times scorned as weak or brittle.
In truth, titanium alloys are unique and difficult to compare to other types of metal alloys. The following addresses some of the common questions and misconceptions concerning titanium alloys and why they are used to make Mad Science Forge swords and other blades.
Titanium is a light weight, strong metal that can be made much stronger and tougher by infusing it with other elements, making it a titanium alloy. As an alloy, titanium is the base metal to which other elements are added, just as copper is the base metal for bronze and brass, and iron is the base metal for steels. The characteristics between titanium alloys are as varied as they are among iron, copper, aluminum, and other classes of alloys. Like steels (iron alloys), only the right types of titanium alloys can make a good blade.
Certain titanium alloys have the right combination of characteristics to make what I see as a perfect sword. The weight, mechanical properties, and beauty are altogether mesmerizing. Without using titanium, I could not fashion a sword how I want it to be. In short, a well-made long titanium blade is so light and easy to control, so quick in the hand and tough, that it can be used in a cavalier manner, a purely joyful and fun way that is difficult to capture in a heavier steel cutter, or a light but more delicate thin steel blade.
Out of many alloys assessed, a small handful of titanium alloys have been identified as making an exceptional sword blade. The very best so far are a titanium-niobium alloy left over from a Boeing aerospace project and made in the U.S., and a Russian ballistic armor plate alloy. Both are from the late 80's or early 90's. There are a few other alloys that also make a great blade as well; some make fantastic knives, but aren't quite at the top for a sword. The latest developments are multi-layered swords made from several titanium alloys at once.
Normally, titanium is not brittle, quite the opposite. It will not get brittle even in deep freezing cold. However it can quickly be made brittle through improper processing. Care must be taken to keep the titanium alloy strong when being made into a sword.
The right titanium alloys can get quite hard through processing and heat-treatment, plenty hard enough to make a durable and very sharp blade. Like steel, they can be either soft or hard (or both in one blade), but must be the right alloy for use as a long blade that is subjected to heavy shock that must also be hard enough to stay very sharp.
Sword smiths throughout history labored ingeniously to make sword blades light in weight while still remaining strong. Titanium alloys are roughly 65% the weight of iron. Compared to a steel sword, this allows the titanium model to be either larger and more robust for similar weight, or lighter weight in a sword of the same size. Speed of movement is an advantage for a sword wielder, and a prized trait in edged weapons.
Titanium swords can cut very well. The sheer toughness of the metal allows the sword to have a thin yet strong blade that cuts easily, and the blow feels heavy due to the natural shock deadening effect of the alloys, which transfers nearly all of the energy of the strike into the target. Mad Science Forge swords and big blades have been refined in design to take advantage of the subtle nuances of titanium alloys and make a vicious blade.
All Mad Science Forge sword blades are forged, by hand and power hammer. The forging process is important for making a proper titanium sword. Although it looks similar to forging steel, it is not the same, and titanium that is treated as if it was steel will not make a good sword blade.
The swords and other blades are individually heat treated by hand and eye, the result of much research and trial. Like with steel, the blades undergo several phase changes in order to achieve the final result: a differentially-hardened blade with a hard edge, tough skin, and springy, stiff spine.
The blades can be sharpened using most common methods, and are easy to sharpen. They retain the sharp edge well. Generally, they are low-maintenance items. New blades come sharpened with a 2000 grit belt or 6 micron belt.
Titanium is rust-proof and will not corrode even in acid. While not indestructible, the swords should last for thousands of years or more, and can not be destroyed unless lots of work is purposefully put into the task, or through some bizarre occurrence such as a meteor strike. They can not be bent out of shape like the swords found in Viking graves, and even if buried, could be unearthed far into the future with a gray patina on the blade and otherwise in good form, even should the hilt be completely dissolved by time. Titanium is truly the metal of the Gods.
Ask sword maker Mecha through the Contacts page.