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AnaphoricReference t1_j1pkmwb wrote

Yes. They had no almost no control over how hard the iron would turn out. The real cost would be in fuel and skilled labour. If the weapon turned out too brittle or soft for its purpose, you had to start all over again.

If you compare the standard types of side arms armies used in those days:

- The small hand axe (Franciska, Tomahawk) needs one hard edge, but is otherwise not prone to bending or breaking.

- The long knife (Seax) needs one hard edge and a stiff back.

- The short short (Gladius) needs two hard edges and a stiff centerline. This is an order of magnitude more difficult to achieve. Needs to be stiff enough not to bend or break when stabbing a shield or armour.

- The long sword (Spatha) needs two hard edges and a long stiff centerline, that is stiff enough not to break or bend when blocked halfway with another weapon. Again an order of magnitude more difficult than a short sword.

The small axe was a weaponized common tool that was within reach of any household. Owning a seax was fairly common as well, but would have been more expensive. A functioning long sword was really something else. Not because of the amount of material, but the amount of trying (and fuel) that went into it.

The main advantage the Romans had, was centralization and industrialization of weapon making. More fuel and labour dedicated to it.

Edit: To gain some insight into how involved weaponsmithing would be in those times: Try to build a fire of 1500 degrees celsius using just wood. It is impossible.