What does “improve them twice as much” mean with respect to smithing perks?

Most of the perks on the Smithing skill tree seem to unlock new material/construction types that can be crafted. The description is always along the lines of:

Can create <material> armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.

As far as I can tell I can still only perform a single upgrade of these items at the grindstone or smithing bench, and many items still only improve in damage or protection by 1.

So what does “improve them twice as much” mean in this context?


The Smithing perks are a touch misleading.

First, consider this major point:

You don’t need any smithing perks to improve any (non-magical) piece of armor. If you have the right material, you can improve it at the appropriate place. This will temper your weapons to (e.g.) (Fine) quality descriptor.

The smithing perks let you be more effective with your tempering at lower smithing skill, so instead of upgrading your gear to (Fine), you can upgrade it to (Superior).

The UESP has compiled this handy table to explain the effects of tempering.
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Source : Link , Question Author : DMA57361 , Answer Author : Raven Dreamer

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