1090 steel samurai sword

I have a swordsmith who is willing to make me a reverse blade sword. When I asked him about the folds, he told me that he doesn't fold the blades and that there's "not really any reason to with the 1090 metallurgy...."

Is this true? I'm new to the whole sword thing. Although I don't plan on ever USING my blade, I would like to know that the money I PAID for the blade will be in the quality of the sword itself.

Basically... Will my blade be strong enough to withstand or will it be an overpriced cheap blade?


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Do a search for "tamahagane" Blade steel for a samurai sword contains about 1.6% carbon. Very few sword makers can achieve the correct mix in the steel. Mike Petersen in Australia is so dedicated in his endeavour to make the ideal steel for his blades sent samples to a master sword maker in Japan. The Japanese craftsman wanted to buy steel from Mike.

Without the folds, 1,000 in Mikes swords, the finished product will always look like a fake.

The story on Mikes Swords is in a book Rare Trades by Mark Thompson. If you have troble sourcing the book I'll probably be able to point you in the right direction.


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Reply to
Glenn Cramond

Stop right there.

A sword is (or should be) a major purchase. Unless it's some dreadful "Dragon Pronger of Ptharn" gimmick, then you ought to be spending a fair chunk on it (if you can afford more, spend it and get something better). Part of this is to understand and learn what's available, before you buy it.

Two definite things to read before purchase are:

Leon Kapp's "The Craft of the Japanese Sword"

Hrisoulas' "Complete Bladesmith "

and probably Sato's "The Japanese Sword" too

Lets assume you're only interested in something Japanese. Then two obvious buys are a modern Paul Chen katana (probably in 1090 itself) or a wartime shin-gunto from eBay. Both are well made pieces of homogeneous factory steel, with traditional shape and attractive fittings. Either of these would be cheaper than a one-off forged by a decent smith, although that has obvious attractions of uniqueness.

If you read Kapp (or Yumoto) then you'll find something about the structure of Japanese swords. A blister steel (tamahagane) is prepared with two levels of carbon content. Billets of each are cut, folded and welded, to make this blister steel near homogeneous. The two billets are then wrapped together and welded, making a sword with a high carbon edge and a lower carbon back.

Note that Japanese swords (and most others, such as Norse swords) are _not_ folded. Once the pattern-welded billets are assembled, no more folding is done. This leaves a sword that is inhomogeneous at two levels; it's composed of two distinct materials, one hard but brittle and one more resilient. These materials are themselves also inhomogeneous, at a smaller scale.

Now compare this to the pattern welding described in Hrisoulas. This is done with modern melt-alloyed steels that are homogeneous on this small "damascus" (sic) scale. Where pattern welding is done, it's done at the macroscopic level as a decorative or edge-hardening measure.

Where does this leave your 1090 sword ? It's a homogeneous steel, and it's only one billet. It doesn't _need_ the microstructure of Norse wrought iron or tamahagane, and it doesn't have the visual distinction for an aesthetic pattern weld as Hrisoulas describes.

If you want to pay for the considerable extra work of pattern welding a blade, then do so by all means - whether this is a simple Japanese wrapped core, or afull-blown Jacobs Ladder. It'll cost you (it's a lot of work, and few smiths are capable of it) but it's a piece of craftsmanship that's well worthy of it.

But don't pay someone to pattern weld one piece of 1090, where the results will be invisible and insignificant. As your smith says, for simple metallurgy like this, there's just no point to it.

Well that's a damn shame. I use mine.

BTW - Try looking at rec.knives too, especially the FAQs.

-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods

Reply to
Andy Dingley

I believe (from what I hear) the Paul Chen's are made of the 1090 steel and people seem to be pretty happy with these swords. However, I believe that you can get a Paul Chen for around 600-1100 (depending on the blade and seller) on EBay. However, I am looking to buy a reverse-bladed sword as I've found these to be more appealing. The swordmaker I'm speaking to is the same guy who does the custom work for southwest blades

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He's told me that his reverse blades will probably go for about 1700-2000 on SWBlades but is willing to sell it to me at cost (which I won't mention for reasons, but it's cheaper than 1700.00).

What would you, personally, expect to pay for a blade made of 1090? I'm willing to spend the money if it's worth it. But if I could get a better blade for around the same money, I would obviously rather purchase that.

While talking to the guy he seems to be on point and seems sounds like he's giving me a good deal.

HEHEHE Maybe if a bunch of evil ninjas came out of the trees and tried to attack me I'd have to use my sword :)

Reply to
[Some huge amount of untrimmed Usenet post.]

Why do you need a sword, when you don't even cut your postings ?

They're cheap and ugly, but they do the job.

You can pay any amount, for anything.

Here's a quiz. Tell the difference between this:

Modern piece of Chinese crap

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or this honest-looking gendaito at a _bargain_ price.
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or this (which is a little weird, with that hot stamp and that same on the saya, but the seller is known)
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Five minutes ago, I had no idea what a "reverse bladed katana" was. Now (after looking at that site) I see no point in continuing any dialog. 8-(

Blade or sword ? The mounts on the web site you listed are a load of crap. Those hilt wraps wouldn't last 5 minutes for iaido.

Personally I just wouldn't buy one. Why would I want a factory-steel gunto that wasn't even a gunto ? I can buy good wartime gunto for $500, or gendaito for $1000.

If I ever did pay money for a modern smith's work (rather than forging it myself, or scrounging it in exchange for something else) then it would be for something pattern welded and rather more expensive. I'm not likely to ever do this - but it's less likely that I'd overpay for some low-end hunk-o-junk.

Last weekend I was on a smithing course at Fire and Iron gallery Now they don't really do blades, but with $1000 burning a hole in my pocket, I can get some _much_ nicer pieces of real smithing from them, than for some half-assed fantasy ninja deathwish with the edge on arse-about-face.

There are some really talented smiths out there - and you won't find their work on any site selling LotR tie-in merchandise !

-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods

Reply to
Andy Dingley

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