A Civilization advance.
Developments in metallurgy lead to methods of producing steel. When a coal derivative called coke is blown through molten iron, the composition and properties of the metal change. Stronger, less brittle, and more resistant to corrosion than the iron from which it is made, steel was long the material of choice for warships, planes, and many other vehicles.
Prerequisites: Metallurgy and Industrialization.
Allows for: Automobile

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A super-hero created by Gerry Conway for DC Comics

What would have happened if Steve Austin (the Six-Million Dollar Man) had been been operated on by a group of surgeons with no ethics and money to burn? The answer is Steel, a super-hero and former member of the Justice League of America.

Steel was actually Hank Heywood II, grandson to the World War II hero, Commander Steel. Commander Steel was the subject of a government experiment that replaced most of his body with mechanical parts. The experiment gave him super-strength, invulnerability, and heightened senses. Commander Steel fought the Nazis with the All-Star Squadron, and later became a wealthy industrialist. Commander Steel had a son, who was later killed in Vietnam. Commander Steel then decided to take his grandson, Hank, and make him undergo the same process that he had undergone years before, showing once again the danger in not telling a grandparent what you want for your birthday. Hank emerged from the process as the hero Steel.

Steel joined the Justice League during one of their leaner periods. He with a number of other newcomers along with Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, Elongated Man, and Aquaman made up the League at that time. They used an old bunker in Detroit which belonged to his grandfather for a headquarters.

Steel was eventually killed fighting androids sent by the Justice League villain, Professor Ivo. Martian Manhunter and Vixen brought Ivo to justice.

A steel is a long thin round rod, usually about a foot long, made of very hard steel. It is used to keep a sharp edge on a knife. The rod is attached to a handle which should have a guard to protect your hands from being slashed by overzealous steeling. A steel doesn't actually sharpen your knife, but hones it, which means it aligns the molecules (or something like that) so the knife will stay sharp.

To use a steel, drawing the entire length of the knife blade across the steel at a 20 to 30° angle, no more than 5 or 6 times on each side, before each use. If you do this religiously, your knife will remain in excellent condition forever, especially if it's a good quality knife. Investing in two or three good knives and a steel may seem extravagant, but properly cared for, these knives will last you for the rest of your life.

Should your knife get dull, it will need to be sharpened on a whetstone before it is honed with a steel.

What it is

Steel is something we surround ourselves with every single day. Knives, hammers and other tools, but also jewelery, cutlery and your car.

But what is it?

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, along with a small proportion of other elements.

The reason steel was invented was that iron contains impurities, such as phosphor, mangan, silicon and sulfur. The process of making steel removes these elements, and gives the opportunity to add other elements to the iron, opening a chance of making new materials.

Some history and the making of steel

In the beginning, steel was made via a process called cementation. This involved heating iron with charcoal in a closed furnace as an extension of the process of making iron.

Today, we use something called the Bessemer process or the oxygen process.

The latter was developed in the 1950s. The furnace in which this process happened was redesigned, and oxygen was added so the fuel (charcoal) would burn away more cleanly, producing cleaner (i.e more high grade) steel.

The latest developments in steel processing is the electric arc furnace - it has the advantage of not having to include a fuel with the iron, thereby making it possible to make an even cleaner and better form of steel.

Shaping steel

For commercial use, most steel is rolled into the shape needed - usually steel plates that later are cut and formed further into the correct shapes. However, the infamous T-girders and I-girders are often rolled to that shape in the factory.

The earliest steel roller mill was built in Pittsburgh in 1811.

Steel quality

The classification of steel types is often done by carbon content. If a steel has a lot of carbon, it becomes very hard and brittle, good for cutting tools, but this steel can break.

Steel with less carbon is often used in construction for strength. Think about it: It would be better if a girder bent, so you at least had a chance to get out of the house, than if it broke, crashing down.


By adding various elements to the steel, you get steel with special properties.

Aluminium in the steel makes it smooth and gives it a high tensile strength.

Chrome in steel makes it hard, strong and elastic (or "bouncy"), and is therefore good for use in aeroplanes and cars. If there is a lot of chrome in the steel, it prevents rust, and becomes stainless steel

Chrome Vanadium has a similar effect as chrome, but is harder.

Nickel in steel makes it extremely hard, but it also makes the steel non-magnetic and less brittle.

Steels used in knives

Steels that are used in knives get a special scale. You might have heard about the 440c, but the rest is usually unknown to the layman. Not anymore!

0-1 is excellent quality - very tough and hard through repeated heat treatments.

0-6 is the next step up from 0-1 - it is even harder and definitely tougher. It has a strange orangish spark, and a knife edge made with 0-6 stays sharp for a LONG time.

5160 steel is often used in springs, and can be used in swords, axes or other high-impact tools.

52100 is ball bearing steel - extremely hard and tough, but very difficult to shape

L-6 is the steel most often used in lumber mills as the saw blades. Flexible and quite hard, but this steel rust easily.

D-2 is a beast - it contains 12 % chrome and is often used in sawing and grinding tools.

D-4 and D-7 are often used in good cutlery.

440C is one of the few steel types you are likely to know - this is one of the most popular steels used by knife makers, because it is easy to work with and gives strong, reliable blades. This steel was first used by Gil Hibben

DAMASCUS steel is one of the other steel types you might have heard of. It comes in many different forms, and is considered nearly legendary.

There are hundreds of variations of knife steels, this is merely an introduction. Expert knife makers will often have their own personal steel types that they order from steel mills.


Steel (?), n. [AS. st�xc7;l, st�xdf;l, st�xdf;le; akin to D. staal, G. stahl, OHG. stahal, Icel. stal, Dan. staal, Sw. st�x86;l, Old Prussian stakla.]

1. Metal

A variety of iron intermediate in composition and properties between wrought iron and cast iron (containing between one half of one per cent and one and a half per cent of carbon), and consisting of an alloy of iron with an iron carbide. Steel, unlike wrought iron, can be tempered, and retains magnetism. Its malleability decreases, and fusibility increases, with an increase in carbon.


An instrument or implement made of steel

; as: --


A weapon, as a sword, dagger, etc.

"Brave Macbeth . . . with his brandished steel."


While doubting thus he stood, Received the steel bathed in his brother's blood. Dryden.


An instrument of steel (usually a round rod) for sharpening knives.


A piece of steel for striking sparks from flint.


Fig.: Anything of extreme hardness; that which is characterized by sternness or rigor.

"Heads of steel." Johnson. "Manhood's heart of steel." Byron.

4. Med.

A chalybeate medicine.


Steel is often used in the formation of compounds, generally of obvious meaning; as, steel-clad, steel-girt, steel-hearted, steel-plated, steel-pointed, etc.

Bessemer steel Metal. See in the Vocabulary. -- Blister steel. Metal. See under Blister. -- Cast steel Metal., a fine variety of steel, originally made by smelting blister or cementation steel; hence, ordinarily, steel of any process of production when remelted and cast. -- Cromium steel Metal., a hard, tenacious variety containing a little cromium, and somewhat resembling tungsten steel. -- Mild steel Metal., a kind of steel having a lower proportion of carbon than ordinary steel, rendering it softer and more malleable. -- Puddled steel Metal., a variety of steel produced from cast iron by the puddling process. -- Steel duck Zool., the goosander, or merganser. [Prov. Eng.] -- Steel mill. (a) Firearms See Wheel lock, under Wheel. (b) A mill which has steel grinding surfaces. (c) A mill where steel is manufactured. -- Steel trap, a trap for catching wild animals. It consists of two iron jaws, which close by means of a powerful steel spring when the animal disturbs the catch, or tongue, by which they are kept open. -- Steel wine, wine, usually sherry, in which steel filings have been placed for a considerable time, -- used as a medicine. -- Tincture of steel Med., an alcoholic solution of the chloride of iron. -- Tungsten steel Metal., a variety of steel containing a small amount of tungsten, and noted for its tenacity and hardness, as well as for its malleability and tempering qualities. It is also noted for its magnetic properties.


© Webster 1913.

Steel (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Steeled (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Steeling.] [AS. stlan: cf. Icel. staela. See Steel, n.]


To overlay, point, or edge with steel; as, to steel a razor; to steel an ax.


To make hard or strong; hence, to make insensible or obdurate.

Lies well steeled with weighty arguments. Shak.

O God of battles! steel my soldier's hearts. Shak.

Why will you fight against so sweet a passion, And steel your heart to such a world of charms? Addison.


Fig.: To cause to resemble steel, as in smoothness, polish, or other qualities.

These waters, steeled By breezeless air to smoothest polish. Wordsworth.

4. Elec.

To cover, as an electrotype plate, with a thin layer of iron by electrolysis. The iron thus deposited is very hard, like steel.


© Webster 1913.

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