"Have any of you noticed that martensite is not mentioned in the analysis of Wootz blades?" Mr. Fowler, It is a unique property of the internet for me to be able to address you, and I thank you for any time you may devote to this discussion. My understanding of metalurgy is very incomplete. My training in chemistry and a sometimes inconveniently inate curiosity as to why things are as they are prompts me to pursue this further. I have read that working at too high a temperature will destroy the pattern of wootz or for that matter some other "damascus" patterns. Heating a blade to non-magnetic so that it can be cooled to promote maximum formation of martensite via quenching in the edge seems to me to fall in this area. Does it follow that desirable functional properties of the resulting blade of wootz or damascus are also lost, or is it merely a matter of appearance.? I have seen some discussions that seem to suggest that the wootz metal could be described as a dispersion of hard carbides in in a soft matrix. This appears to me (perhaps in my ignorance) similar to the, modern, so called "dendritic steels" which have not been widely accepted so far. Please, if you can, clarify this. I also have to wonder if the pattern of wootz and damascus as a proof of the smith's skill at some point became somewhat perverted as has in our time the current ideal of "sharp, crisp grind lines" even though the actual performance of the blade may be reduced as in the example of very thick hollow-ground blades that bind up when cutting something thicker than the blade. Perhaps the "best" (cynically most expensive) knives and swords are are/were as vulnerable to fashion as everything else? Particularly when they are are a staus symbol instead of a tool/weapon? I don't mean to denigrate collectors, but I wouldn't buy a modern knife if I didn't mean to use and sharpen it, same as I wouldn't buy a painting to lock it in a dark safe. That's what precious metal ingots are made for, and they are all the same. Lastly, to keep somewhat in the topic of this forum, I and I suspect many others, would be greatly appreciative of any comment that you might have on the Nepali heat-treating practices. As I understand it, they take a relatively thick blade of 5160 above critical temp out of the forge, pour a measured amount of water onto the edge, which hardens it, then the residual heat in the thick spine seeps back in to temper the edge. The slowly-cooled remainder of the blade is very tough due to the slow cooling. I appologize for throwing this all at you at once, but it seems perhaps an opportunity for us all to learn something. I thank you again for your time.