Pattern welding

History of Pattern Welding
– Pattern welding developed from the process of making blades that were both hard and tough from early iron smelting in bloomeries.
– Early bladesmiths would forge carburized thin iron bars or plates together to form relatively homogeneous bars of steel, creating patterns in the surface of the finished blade.
– Pattern welding dates back to the first millennium BC, with Celtic and Germanic swords exhibiting the technique.
– By the 6th and 7th centuries, pattern welding had advanced to the point where thin layers of patterned steel were overlaid onto a soft iron core, making the swords more flexible and resilient.
– The Celts commonly used pattern welding for decoration and structural reasons by folding and forging alternating layers of steel into rods and twisting them to form complex patterns.
– The Vikings were known for their twisted bars of steel, creating complex patterns in the final steel bar.
– Pattern welding fell out of use in Europe by the end of the Viking era.

Pattern Welding in Europe
– Pattern welding was prevalent in medieval swords, although rust makes detection difficult without repolishing.
– Wootz steel, produced in India and exported to Europe, led to the revival of pattern welding as European smiths attempted to duplicate the Damascus steel.
– The Vikings were known for their twisted bars of steel, creating complex patterns in the final steel bar.

Modern Decorative Use
– Contemporary bladesmiths use pattern welding for visual effect and to recreate historic patterns and swords.
– Modern steels and methods allow for patterns with a higher number of visible layers compared to historical artifacts.
– Bladesmiths can achieve a high number of layers by folding similar processes or by forge welding a small number of layers together and repeating the process.
– Pattern welding can be done using re-purposed objects such as cable Damascus or chainsaw chains.
– Some bladesmiths have taken pattern welding to new heights with elaborate applications of traditional techniques and new technology.

– The term ‘pattern welding’ was coined by English archaeologist Herbert Maryon in a 1948 paper.
– Maryon described pattern welding as an excessively difficult operation and examples of pattern-welding range from the third century to the Viking Age.

Related Concepts
– Bulat steel, a Russian crucible steel.
– Damascus steel, a steel used in swordmaking during the medieval period.
– ‘Forged in Fire,’ a History channel competitive television show on forged knife and sword making.
– Hamon (swordsmithing), a specific form of pattern welding in Japanese sword construction.
– Mokume-gane, a Japanese metalworking technique that produces a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns.Sources: