Swedish powdered steel
by Ian Gilham
QUESTION: Great article, and about time someone put all this information together in one place.
I would like to learn a little more about the supposed and experiential qualities of the Swedish-style powdered steels, if only for a good, thorough definition of the term. A look at some example mixes would be interesting, too, if there are any good example blades out there.
ANSWER: Swedish Powder steel is used primarily because it is very pure and has an extremely evenly dispersed carbon content, though to temper it correctly and get the best out of it requires more precise treatment than your average carbon steel sword (hence, part of the reason for the extra cost).
From a practical point of view, one of the main advantages of this steel is that it can hold a much harder edge (around 62 HRC) than most other swords WITHOUT becoming overly brittle - thus it can take, and KEEP a sharper edge than most other production swords on the market.
To make it, requires the steel to be alloyed, melted, and then solidified in a vacuum and compressed before finally being welded under pressure without oxidation - the end result being a perfectly homogenous steel with evenly dispered elements.
It is definitely a very interesting and high quality steel for making swords with when done correctly.