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The Making of a Samurai Sword

The Art of Making a Samurai Sword

the art of making a samurai sword

“The sword is the soul. Study the soul to know the sword”

The samurai sword, Katana is not like ordinary swords but in fact a masterpiece and impressive marvel of engineering and design. The Katana is one of the most loved curved swords in Japan made up of tamahagane, “jewel steel” or “pure steel”.

Summary

Jewel Steel:

The preparation of tamahagane is the first step in making samurai sword. A rectangular shaped furnace known as tatara is fed with iron ore and charcoal where it is heated to about 1600°F – 2500°F, the charcoal acting as a fuel source in the process and also in hardening steel.

Jewel steel

It takes around three days and three nights of continuous shoveling with tons of ore and once the temperature is reached, the iron ore is converted into steel, not an ordinary steel but of course tamahagane.

Dissolving Carbon:

dissolving

The dissolution of carbon in the steel (tamahagane) of the samurai sword is of utter importance. During the heating process, the tamahagane is never let to be melted completely to make sure the amount of carbon dissolving in tamahagane is in the perfect amount.

Depending upon the type of tamahagane prepared the number of carbon ranges from 0. 5 to 1.5 percent.

On the basis of the amount of carbon content in the tamahagane, it may be either high-carbon steel having razor sharp edge and much hardness or low-carbon steel being tough and used for resisting opponent’s blows.

On the third night, when the tatara is opened for tamahagane exposure, the pieces of steel are removed with hammer and chisel to make it free of any extra carbon content.

Impurities Removal:

This is an important step in the preparation of the tamahagane and is considered as the most tiresome work in the entire process. The recovered tamahagane pieces are again heated, hammered and folded periodically to deeply merge the iron and carbon content along with the removal of slag. The slag may include other impurities like Sulphur etc.

The removal of slag is very important because if it remained in the steel would greatly affect its quality and make it much weaker. Once all the slag is removed, the tamahagane is checked for the perfect concentration of carbon which is done by progressive pounding.

Forging:

After getting the required form of tamahagane free of slag, the next step is the shaping or forging of the samurai sword. The forging of the samurai sword or blade is done by heating the high carbon hard steel into a long U-shaped structure. Then the tougher low-ca

forging-samurai-sword

rbon steel is hammered to snug fit it in the structure and forging together the two metals.

The outer shell of the deadly razor sharpened blade is made of hard high carbon steel while the core of the samurai sword is made of tough low carbon steel.

Both the steel types for katana are well placed at their proper places.

The unique properties of this awesome sword give it the finest and perfect status in all the weapons. The characteristics features of the blade of the samurai sword is very carefully observed and experimented to get the perfect results and quality of the sword.

Coating:

coating-samurai-sword

The Katana’s body is almost complete and now the blade is coated with the mixture of charcoal powder and clay which is a thick insulator mixture. The front sharp edge of the blade is lightly coated with the mixture while the upper side of the blade coated deeply leaving the back edge dull. This coating helps in the protection of the blade of the sword.

After the coating, the Katana is again kept in a furnace at a temperature of about 1500°F. This is a very important step not to exceed the temperature than this level or the Katana will have the risk of getting cracked or, decrease the temperature level which will eventually result in the non-supportive respond to bending in the next step.

Steel Curving:

The Katana is in the form of a long straight steel and it is now the time to give it a distinct curved form. For this purpose, the quenching technique is used. Quenching is actually a rapid cool down process in which theKatana is put instantly into a water trough after removing it from the furnace.

steel-curving-samurai-sword

As the back edge and core of the sword comprise of low-carbon steel,

therefore, it is easily contracted as compared to the front edge of the sword having high carbon steel. It is, of course, the difference in degree and speed of contraction in both the front and back edge.

Curving is one of the most technical steps in the entire process and almost 1 in each 3 swords are ruined during this stage.

 

Polishing:

The Katana is almost ready and out of its crucial phases requiring high skills and expertise. The polishing of the samurai sword takes

polishing-samurai-sword

about two weeks in which the polisher rubs the blade with different categories of grinding and polishing stones.

Sometimes, the “water stones” composing hard silicate particles suspended in clay are also used. Water stones are much valuable and often passes from generations to generations.

The use of water stone make the clay wear away and more amount of silicate particles are exposed providing equal resistance degree and excellent quality of polishing throughout the life of the stone.

Finishing:

The polished piece is provided with a metal or iron guard at its hilt by experienced metalworkers. Then it goes to the carpenter who creates lacquered wooden scabbard.

The designs and adornments work is carried out by the artists while some other workers wrapping the handle with leather. The handle of the samurai sword is as much of importance as the steel of the blade and once it is finished, is sent back to the swordsmith for a final check.

The entire struggle of six months may either be rejected or accepted at this stage.

Once the samurai sword is approved by this man, one of the high quality and excellent weapon of worth hundreds or thousands of dollars is ready.

Video – The art of making a Samurai Sword

 

 

 

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