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Japanese Swords

I have finally slowed down enough that I may have a little time to explore Japanese Sword Making.  I have always admired Japanese blades and after many years of making other blades I feel like I am at a place where I can try to learn the Japanese blade style and aesthetics.  Now, I am not talking about the full on creation of Tamahagane steel and the ancient forging ways I am just talking about doing the style a little justice with my work and turning out respectable swords in more modern ways.  To that end, does anybody have a suggestion on a book or two to study.  I do not need as much of the spiritual content as I would like to see more modern techniques and examples.  Don't worry I am not going to grow a man bun and start wearing robes (that does not match the redneck aesthetics) I just want to learn the style because I admire it.  Thanks

I never claim my way to make something is the best way. I only claim that it is my way...

I don't really know of any books that actually cover the techniques fully..... in my experience it seems that most books written on "Japanese Swords" always leave out key elements necessary to be successful.  Surprisingly, even in this day and age, online information on building Japanese swords is scarce.   I was fortunate to learn just a few days worth, years ago, on a TDY to Japan.   I spent a couple of years laying the groundwork, before I was offered the opportunity to visit the individual's shop in Japan.  For me, that visit dispelled a LOT of myths about Japanese swords, and how they are produced.

All that being said, the best thing I can tell you is to locate a Maker who specializes in those type swords, and take a class. (if you can find one who is willing)  Doing so will put you light years ahead of trial and error, and trying to sift through what is real, and what is not.  ;)

Here are a few things I do know....

-I believe that ANY literature on Japanese Swords has key elements of the process intentionally left out.... I know when I first gained interest in this area, I found more myth then truth, until I gained access to someone who actually knew/did it.

-Your shop needs to be "setup" to build swords.  Positioning of tools/equipment is a major hurdle to overcome, and ideally, you'll want forging equipment that is sized/setup to produce swords.   From my experiences, a shop that is setup to build typical knives needs to be totally renovated/changed in order to practically produce swords of any type.  I only do swords via commission, but always included in the quote is money to not only change the shop to build that sword(s)....but also to put the shop back the way it was when the project is completed.

-There is a HUGE difference between an individual Bladesmith producing this type of sword, and the reality of how the Japanese produce them.  In Japan, there are no less then 5 individuals involved in the production of a swords....each with their own area of expertise, which is, I believe, one of the major reasons that complete information on how to do is so hard to find.

Wish I had more, but I've not leaned that way in years, so hopefully someone else can offer more/better information for you.

Ed Caffrey, ABS Mastersmith "The Montana Bladesmith" "Nobody Cares What you Know, Until they Know You Care!"

I have studied what I can find and I have made a couple Wakizashi and had a lot of fun cutting with them.  I am not really interested in selling swords I just want to make them.  After I made my first Wakizashi I quickly realized the amount of damage you could do with it very quickly so I really will not be looking to sell them.  Maybe an Iaito or two but I am not sure we have a demand here for those.  I made the Waki out of 6150 and I beat the crap out of that sword to test it and I was hooked.  I actually cut down a sweet gum, dogwood and a small Oak tree lumberjack style and it damaged nothing.  After that, I sharpened it and topped/ harvested an entire field of sugarcane with it for my in-laws (yearly syrup boiling) and all it did was make the blade sticky.  I have never been so proud of the performance of one of my blades as I was with that sword.  It hangs on my shop wall now waiting for a more attractive sibling.  Since my knife sales are in the toilet right now, I have a little time to just play in the shop so I figured on making a Tanto over the next few days.   

I never claim my way to make something is the best way. I only claim that it is my way...

It's a little late here, but I saw bits of Walter Sorrells Japanese sword dvd a good while back, and it might be what you're looking for.

Thanks, I have watched several of his youtube videos and thought about getting his DVD stuff.  May have to get them.

I never claim my way to make something is the best way. I only claim that it is my way...

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