At Work

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5 Replies to “At Work”

  1. man, i really wanna make my own sword, i wanna make a shinken, but, i don’t know what is the material for make the hamon, can you tell me the components and which is the way to make that mixture please?
    I’ll be waiting for your reply, thank so much

  2. and something more, can you tell me how do you make the tsuba ? please, i don’t know how make it, and where can i found the fuchi and kashiras sets cheaper and quality?

    Forgive me for so many questions and thank you very much again, see you

  3. Dear Abdid,

    On a Japanese sword the hamon is not actually a different steel alloy, but the hardened edge. Japanese swords are differentially-hardened so that the edge is hardened, while the back spine remain unhardened and therefore ductile, in order to help prevent breaking (a blade should bend before it breaks). The hardening is all created during heat-treatment, known as yaki-ire in Japanese.

    The difference in color from the hardened edge and unhardened back is really a difference in reflection caused by the crystalline structure of the steel: in the hardened Martensite phase on the edge, with the Pearlite and/or Ferrite phases along the back.

    As for the steel, there is no “mixture”. To be quenched in water using the traditional clay-resist method, the sword should be forged from a carbon steel with a carbon content of approximately .5%-.8%. We generally recommend 1050 (which has a carbon content of about .5%) for beginners. Modern high-alloy steels may not survive a water quench.

    For those with little experience smithing, forging a blade from a single bar of steel is going to be very challenging. More complex constructions, like the four piece hon-san-mai style, may produce a blade with different steel and grain (hada) along the edge, but the smith must forge-weld together multiple billets of steel (which may have been folded and forge-welded many times themselves) and are probably outside the scope of less experienced smiths.

    If you are seriously interested in learning to forge your own sword, you may be interested in the 5-day Basic Forging Course at our swordsmithing school, Tomboyama Nihonto Tanren Dojo. Although a few other bladesmiths do offer forging classes, as far as we know, our swordsmithing school is the only one of its kind, offering a full curriculum in the Japanese sword. Our Basic Forging Course gives students a chance the learn firsthand with an experienced teacher. The knowledge learned during class should allow students to build their own inexpensive, yet efficient and effective propane forge fire, and to begin forging and learning on one’s own afterwards.

    As for fuchigashira, for our swords we generally prefer to use our own handmade pieces or cast copies of such. Although we can offer our metal sword fittings, kodugu, in several soft metals, we have a strong fondness for shibuichi, an alloy of copper and silver favored by Japanese soft metal artists, which develops a wonderful black patina. At this time we cannot offer fuchigashira separately, although we may in the future.

    You may interested in the fuchigashira and other fittings the Fred Lohman Company has to offer.

  4. Good day Gabriel

    It is truly fascinating to hear a master speak from the heart. I have a different path, but it is highly inspiring to hear you speak about your craft.

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