I am not sure how sharpness is measured, but I do know that certain materials can be designated sharper than others, for example obsidian is said to be the sharpest material:

The prismatic glass blade is infinitely sharper than a honed steel edge

So my question is, will a honed edge of high-tin bronze be sharper than a honed edge of low-tin bronze, and if so why?


1 Answer 1


Unfortunately I don't have a solid reference for this, but what I remember from my undergrad courses is that the limit to sharpening is basically determined by the porosity and tensile strength of the metal you are trying to sharpen. At some point you will just run into the microscopic roughness of the metal itself and that is where sharpening ends.

Low- and high-tin bronze are pretty rough classifications so I couldn't tell you which will result in a lower porosity or higher strength, but if I would have to guess than I think low-tin bronze can be made sharper, because copper has a higher strength than tin.

Maybe if you can get your hands on this book chapter, you can find out a more exact answer.

  • $\begingroup$ So why do so many articles and sources claim that higher tin bronze can be made sharper, higher tin bronze is used in the edges of the blade in bimettalic swords. the edges have more tin content, making them harder and capable of retaining a sharper edge $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2013 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, so apparently my GUESS was wrong and apparently high-tin bronze does not behave 'more like tin' as I assumed in my guess. Maybe adding more tin will lower the porosity and will therefore allow higher sharpness. I am still convinced that the explanation of porosity and tensile strength of the metal is correct, it is just hard to apply these 'rules' if you don't know the exact details of a metal alloy. $\endgroup$
    – Michiel
    Mar 30, 2013 at 15:22

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