Tuesday, August 21, 2018

'You can't always get what you WANT...'

but you get what you * PAID FOR *

On 2018-08-20 7:46 AM, N. S. wrote:
I recently received a damaged “Sword of Saladin and Scabbard” made of 1065 High Carbon Steel:
from the original seller's web site (1)

By Windlass (meaning made in India).
Here is how Windlass describes itself (taken from their own web site)
Founded in 1943, Windlass is today the premier supplier of military dress and sabers and accouterments, motion picture props, and a whole lot more. We are proud of our military contracts with governments in six continents and the excellent replica props we deliver to Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
You will not find this specific item still listed on the actual Windlass web site (2)

Check around the inter-web:

From the Museum Replicas web site:

Sword and Scabbard of the Great Saladin

from the Museum Replicas web site
$444.95 US

This sword has the unique "fork tongue" blade crafted of 1065 high carbon steel. Features 24K gold plated pommel and cross guard. Includes wooden scabbard covered in leather and accented with 24K gold plated fittings. Overall length of 41-1/2 inches. 

a) Any time the description and the product images centre almost entirely on the *furniture*, not the actual *blade* you had best understand what you are paying for is the *flash* NOT the *function*.

b) The blade description? *Crafted* is what it says. Not *forged*. Not a word about the heat treating. Best assume this will be perhaps a suitable (if simple) metal alloy. But most likely ground out by machine from annealed bar stock - with no hardening or tempering undertaken. Meaning not at all *combat* ready. 
(I do realize that this was not the question given to me!)
c) This item is shown as discontinued (Museum Replicas & original seller). It is not listed or described on the actual Windlass site at all! 
What was not provided was if this purchase was made at the full retail - or at some discount. If at a discount - then 'buyer beware' certainly needs to apply.

Both edges of the sword and the scabbard. I tried cleaning it with Lysol, Windex, Brake Cleaner... nothing worked. Took it to a local blacksmith who only works with military swords and he was able to remove a lot of the gunk on the blade, but scratched the sword in the process. Please see pictures.
image from N.S.

image from N.S.
image from N.S.

So here is the problem:

If the corrosion effect I see in the image (just by the lion pattern etching) is the problem?
You should have returned the blade to the seller and required a replacement.

The marks look suspiciously (to me) like finger print created corrosion. (Touching the blade and not wiping it off afterwards.) This is a corrosion / rust deposit right into the steel. The surface is actually pitted.
The only way to correct this is to re-polish / grind the surface down below the level of the pitting.
Normally this means reducing the level of the surface down for the entire length of that edge. Otherwise there will be a noticeable 'divot' at that point.
Do note that the imperfection is right beside the etched design.
How to shave the surface down below the pitting - without actually effecting the shallow etching?
You might be able to remove metal just at the pitting, by carefully using a set of small grinding / polishing burs via a dremmel style tool just at the corrosion site. Given the high surface polish down the rest of the blade surface - this will always reflect light differently - and so be visible.

1065 carbon still will *always* rust - unless you constantly keep that surface lightly oiled. Even WD40 would prevent this.
Fingers touching the blade surface are to be avoided on almost any steel surface - especially carbon steels.

The first bladesmith has cleaned out the existing corrosion. That pitting is right into the metal at this point.
The surface has been scratched? To be expected unless the entire blade surface was ground down below the pitting.

'Made in India' ? (2)
To ship items overseas, usually some kind of lacquer is applied to the metal to prevent surface corrosion during long shipping. These coatings are often not evenly done. Removing the *lacquer * sounds like what you attempted. (Noting that none of the solutions you applied will effect lacquer - maybe try actual 'lacquer thinner'?)

Overall ? - I am not surprised.

I would be quoting in the range of $600 + : JUST TO FORGE THE BLADE.
The cost of the elaborate carved hilt, cast cross guard would easily push the quote into the $1000 + range.
This is a mass produced item - made 'offshore'. The selling cost reflects this  - and also the relative quality for that price.

And no - I would not be willing to undertake the kind of repair work being requested. (3)
a) With corrosion pitting into a metal surface, there is no real way to completely remove this - without also visibly effecting the surface.
b) The imperfections on the thin 'gold' plating on the hilt detail are either a result of poor application of the plating at manufacturing, or possibly damage after the fact. In either case, the underlaying metal (likely brass) would have to be re-finished, then new plating applied. This involves taking the metal collar seen completely off the sword. Given how gold reflects off surfaces, this also makes it likely the repair would also be obvious afterward.

(1) I have deliberately NOT cited this supplier - who is also in the business of selling primarily *costume* pieces. I have personally ordered various things from them in the past. With care in selection, my choices have represented good value for the reduced prices. I have found their service excellent. My working relationship with that company remains very good. 

(2) Look - this company does have a 75 year history. There are smart people in India, and family operations there who have been making blades for *hundreds* of years. This is not intended as a snark about 'made in India', in any way.
Look what Windlass actually specializes in, makes and sells. 
*Costume* pieces. 
Even their 'Military' lines are *dress* blades - not *functional* weapons.
(The exception to this may be the 'Kukris' they have described as 'Genuine Gurkha Regimental'. This appears to be how Windlass established its original reputation. They do provide detailed specifications for these blades, but the low price (quoted at $50 US) makes this perhaps questionable?

(3) Increasingly, I get requests to 'beat the price' or 'fix the mistake' related to what are nothing more than cheap 'wall hangers'. Surprisingly - I am not at all interested. 
Please take the effort to at least look at my body of past work, and decades of experience?

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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