The annealing has been done on our piece of steel, and the smith has done all the work on the blade. Now the blade needs to be hardened so it does not dent on impact with something.
A torch is applied to the metal, and is brought up once more to the temperature it was brought to when it was annealed. I.E, the point at which a magnet will no longer stick to the metal. Quickly, the metal is plunged into a bucket of water.
At the temperature at which the magnet does not stick (let’s call that the “annealing temperature”) the atoms have shrunk together a bit, and when the metal is cooled in the water, the atoms suddenly shrink together and stay there.
As you see, different metals would react differently to the same processes, such as copper and steel. Indeed, some steels react differently themselves! Stainless steel is hardened the same way regular steel is annealed! To be successfull, the smith just needs to know his metals and their atomic content!
I have tested the metal hardness before and after hardening: Before hardening it is about a hardness of 5 on the mohs scale.
In case you don’t remember the mohs scale, it is a hardness scale designed for minerals, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being diamond and 3 being about the hardness of a fingernail. Remember, hardness refers to the difficulty of being scratched; a diamond can only be scratched by another diamond, or some substance (not discovered yet) harder than diamond.
After hardening, the steel was about 7.5! That is even harder than a quartz crystal! Now, the blade is extremely hard, but if it goes under much pressure, it will snap easily. In fact, not long ago, I was making a dagger blade, and just after the hardening, accidentaly snapped it in half with my hands!
Quartz :: Locality: Goboboseb Mountains, Brandberg area, Brandberg District, Erongo Region, Namibia (Locality at mindat.org) :: Size: small cabinet, 8.7 x 2.8 x 2.2 cm ::;Smoky Quartz sceptre on Quartz :: Very unusual quartz crystal! This is a floater, terminated ALL around and on all points doubly-terminated. It has what looks like a smoky herkimer-diamond-styled quartz crystal perched smartly on one end . Truly unique amongst this crowd! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)