For this Gladius project I decided to make my own historic steel for the blade as an experiment in historic techniques.
I started by cutting strips of wrought iron and packing them into a tube filled with bone charcoal. Then I sealed the "can" and heated it. First in the gas forge for a few hours at read heat, then a few days in the bottom of the wood stove.
After I felt the iron had absorbed as much carbon as it could I forge welded the strips together in a simple pile to form the blade blank. Here you can see the edge of the bar after cutting and etching. The dark edges of each bar is the high carbon layer with the soft iron still visible in the center.
After forging to shape and grinding the blade showed the beautiful lines of high and low carbon banding often seen in archaeological examples of these swords.