Folded Steel Swords
In order to evenly spread the carbon throughout the metal, early smiths began to use the technique of folding. Folding steel – by heating it, hammering it, extending it, and folding it back on itself – helps spread the carbon evenly throughout the metal. This results in a blade that is true steel throughout – able to balance hardness and resilience in a way that produced weapons and armor of superior quality. It also produces the distinctive ripple pattern, also known as the “skin” of the metal. Folding techniques were used in many different areas throughout history, and variations of these techniques – including pattern welding and Damascus steel – appear in multiple cultures. In modern times steel can be mass produced with exact levels of carbon, eliminating the need for folding. This has not, however, eliminated the public fascination with the beauty of folded steel, nor the belief in folded steel’s “magical” qualities.