1. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    Possibility?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CadillacXLR8r, Sep 2, 2011.

    Is it possible for a pirate sword (I'm thinking along the lines of a cutlass?) to have the blade made of obsidian? If not, is there any metal out there that either is black or looks to be black? Backbiter and I were trying to find out.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Obsidian has been shaped into blades, although I don't know of any obsidian swords. Obsidian is brittle, very much like glass. As a sword, it would easily shatter.

    An anodized steel sword would be black. And lack paint is also a possibility. On the other hand, whether anodized or painted, the edge would by shiny after sharpening.
     
  3. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    Well considering it is a pirate wielding this, I think that the anodized steel sounds better. Thanks. I guess a sword wasn't the best idea. Okay, better make my story a little bit more realistic. (But, I'm sure to add in obsidian later :p )
     
  4. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Obsidian is a glassy black stone, and as such it's not just brittle, which is a pain for swords, its also extremely heavy and hard to give a clean sharp edge to. Like glass it tends to fracture along fault lines in the crystal matrix.

    I'm guessing that you want the sword to be black for effect. My thought would be a high carbon, stainless if possible depending on the technology available at the time, sword with some sort of treatment to darken the blade but not blunt the edge. There are a number of steel burnishes that are applied to armour, copper for a start, but if you oxidise some of them by putting them through a fire they will go quite dark. Also there are resins for armour as well, and some are quite awesome.

    If you really want to pursue this in more detail, I'd suggest asking it on the Fantasy Forum. They have a number of people there who specialise in medieval armour and weaponry.

    Cheers.
     
  5. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    The aztecs used obsidion for their swordlike makahuitl, arrowheads, and non-war cutting purposes. The reason it could serve as a reliable swordlike weapon without shattering is because it did not undergo the same crystalization that regular crystaline substances do because of its contact with viscuous lava. The articles below explain it in detail. Here are two excerpts.




    BTW
    Not saying that it can be shaped and used as a full-fledged sword. Only saying that it' s not as brittle as other crystalized material.
     
  6. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    That's kind of awsome. I'll have to do more research about this, and I appreciate the help guys!
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, but this is not correct. Glass is not crystalline. In fact, it is not even a solid, in a materials science sense. Glass is a highly viscous liquid, with no crystalline structure (a vitreous fluid). Obsidian is essentially a natural volcanic glass, but with less sodium and potassium compounds. Thus obsidian has a higher melting point and a higher viscosity than glass.
     
  8. DBTate
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    I'm not sure if you're writing fantasy, or something more historically accurate in terms of pirates. Most people have covered the science behind what you've mentioned, so I'll explore a more 'fantastic' way of assessing your character's weapon of choice.

    If you were writing fantasy, the 'black sword' could be whatever you want it to be. Perhaps this unusual blade is what has helped your pirate conquer the high seas relatively unopposed, and is the focus of many an attempt at capturing him. Perhaps his sword is the stuff of legends!

    Fantasy allows you to turn plain objects in to incredible weapons, so I wouldn't shy away from exploring these possibilities.

    However, if you were looking for a more scientifically accurate way of depicting your pirate's sword, the advice so far will suffice.

    DB.
     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Cogito,

    Sorry, shouldn't have described it as crystalline since like other mineral glasses its not. However, obsidian like other glasses does tend to fracture along established fault planes in its mineral (viscous liquid) structure to give that peculiar rippled edge effect - choncoidal fracture lines from memory.

    These can be incredibly sharp, but the one thing they aren't is straight like the edge of a sword. And of course they are brittle edges, which means if the edge were to come into contact with something else hard, it would fracture again. As weapons like the arrow heads, they would be incredibly effective against soft tissues, but a sword also has to deflect other swords and maybe beat against armour, and that would be an obsidian sword's undoing.

    Cheers.
     
  10. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Yep.

    My dad has always been really into gemstones. When I was little he got some obsidian for me and my sister. We were playing with it on the driveway and some of it got broken. Unfortunately my dad stepped on it because his feet are like magnets for anything sharp. :p

    I say stick with steel. I've mostly heard of obsidian arrow heads. Obsidian can be sharpened but it is very brittle.

    There really aren't any gemstones hard enough for that kind of force barring things that probably couldn't be tooled in that way back in that time. Though I'm not entirely sure about what kind of tools they'd have for that sort of thing.

    I do work with gemstones and know even with good equipment anything with a Mohs hardness of 9 (diamond being 10) is incredibly time consuming and difficult to work with. It's more if you have the strength to sit at polishing wheels for hours on end. And that's with electricity and specially made wheels.

    So anodized steel would be easiest and definitely the most plausible. :)
     
  11. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    I would, but I don't think that was around yet... I am going towards the fantasy aspect, but still trying to be somewhat realistic...
     
  12. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I'm not sure if it was or not. I just read it was first used on an industrial scale in the 1920's but that doesn't mean it wasn't used before then. Unfortunately everything I find suggests the only way to do it is by electroplating with a direct current..

    What about black oxide?
     
  13. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    What's black oxide??
     
  14. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    This is a pretty good explanation here-http://www.swdinc.com/black_oxide.htm Long story short it's a chemical that blackens steel and a few other metals. It's used to prevent corrosion and causes the metal to look black.
     
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  15. Talitha
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    I assume you want to it be a rich, glossy black. Otherwise it could just be tarnished!
     
  16. CadillacXLR8r
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    That is correct.
     

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