TheoRockNazz

WIP first katana

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My first several blades were swords, and what a mistake that was. It took me a wasted year to truly understand what a monumental challenge a sword truly was, at which point I focused on knives. I would forge a sword once or twice a year because of adamant customers, but they were unrefined and crude. 
This will be my first real sword, confident enough to attempt it only because of my recent success with 3D printed cast bronze components. Luckily the customer was eager to embrace the technology/technique, and we had a great time coming up with the perfect gift for her husband. 

A tiger themed katana with paw tsuba and roaring head pommel. There will be a small sapphire in it's mouth. Handle and scabbard will be wenge, which I will be CNCing some accents into.
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Some rough 3D modeling 

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The initial billet was a twisted wrought iron spine with counter-twisted 15n20 and 1080 edge... however I must have pushed the old iron too far because as it drew out into the final shape it turned to pulled pork... so sad. Only thought to take one picture, which was before the final weld.

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I had used twisted wrought iron spines in several blades before with success, so I was really disheartened by the loss. I decided to take a step back and went with an even more familiar san-mai of W2 and 15N20 with 1045 shims for contrast and a little pattern - after all, it was a tiger themed knife, so a stripe felt appropriate. 

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I brought in my good friend Marco to do a little bashing on this piece; he had wanted to try blacksmithing for a few years, and I wanted help drawing out the 2.5"x1.5" cross section monster billet this started as. I also had a secret agenda of wanting his noob hammer blows to impart a more random pattern. I think it worked.

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Comment and critique always welcome, more to come soon

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So far looking awesome!  Definitely say the pattern of the san mai goes with the tiger theme.  Tiger 'tana?  :D

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I like idea of bringing in a beginner as a striker on a significant project like this. It's a great confidence builder and you get the advantage of the Marco the Newb in the finished product.

Couldn't resist the straight line Theo. I'll be watching for progress and finished product pics.

Frosty The Lucky.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4bC8nwATLM

Benton: I actually threw 1045 shims between each layer to help the steels stick and embolden the pattern. 

Frosty: Marco has helped me in numerous ways - he shot parts of the above video in addition to striking. It also gave him the confidence to replace the knife on his leatherman with a more substantial one he made himself (I'll post pictures soon, or better try and get him to post).

 

Gotta get me an IFI hoodie for the next video.

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It's cool seeing you in your shop Theo and if you talk slowly enough I usually learn something. Marco is pretty darned good with the camera, he has a good eye for framing and lighting so the pics are good.

It's a funny thing about confidence, they can hold all the self confidence courses they want but the only real road to confidence is knowing HOW to DO things. If you can DO you can handle most anything. You and Marco have a real win win thing going on. Good on ya both.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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Haha... I talk too fast? Seriously, please let me know if I need to slow down.

Marco also brews beer, so it's hard to pull him fully into knifemaking; I don't blame him of course, brewing is just as cool as forging.

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Last week I made this video, and took a couple more pics since then that I wanted to share.
https://youtu.be/8uF5UGooKwo

This blade is a mixed bag of traditional and modern techniques, especially the handle. In addition to a pommel-sized kashira, the handle and saya will be CNCed out of a giant piece of wenge. I did a test in MDF, and while there will be a lot of cleanup afterwards, the shape can be made 90% by machine including the kurikata... although it will take nearly a full day since the wood is quite dense.

I only brought the blade up to 1000 grit before taping it off and mounting the tsuba. I spent longer on getting the friction fit perfect than I have on entire knives, but hot xxxx if that doesn't look slick (it's not fully mounted in the exposed blade pic, only in the taped off pics).

Because the blade is san mai with a hamon (why the customer opted out of etching the blade is beyond me) it's hard to tell if the line you're looking at is where the layers meet or the grain shifts... which is a positive and negative. In reality the hamon wavers around .25" to .5" away from the cutting edge and shifts in clarity as is goes in and out of the laminations (W2 edge to 15N20 and 1045 shell). 

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Well, I just learned that this was a bad combination of steels in terms of TTT... thankfully not the hard way, but by someone vastly more experienced than myself pointing it out. He said even with the differential HT the steels are just too different, of course which is now painfully obvious.

I suppose now to a degree I am happy this will most likely just go up on a wall. The welds are clean, acid etching earlier did not reveal any small cracks, so maybe I got lucky, who knows.

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Finally the sword is complete!

https://youtu.be/rQo-HQ83LdE 

This has been the most ambitious project I've ever attempted, and I am happy with the results.

Right now the things that bother me the most about it are the finish on the saya and seeing the 3D printing lines on the tsuba and pommel.  There is one small (purely aesthetic) flaw in the sword, which I have been calling "the eye of the tiger" because it coincidentally looks like there's a tiger's eye on the blade. 

Critique is always appreciated :)

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It's beautiful. Very well done Theo. The printing lines might bother you but I think they actually look cool especially on the habaki. Now if you want critique from someone who has never made a sword but likes looking at them ....These are purely opinions of an aesthetic nature. Obviously your craftsmanship speaks for itself.

 I , personally, don't like the gem thingy in the mouth of the pommel. Some might but I don't think it fits. Secondly ... I am not sure about the menuki or koiguchi material on its own either. It sticks out in my opinion...especially on the saya which is somewhat minimalist in nature. I think carvings , inlays or even something as simple as changing the color of the sageo and tsuka-ito to a mix of blue and black would have tied it together perfectly.

You consistently awe me and I look forward to your next projects!

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Thank you both for your kind words.

I hated having to add the sapphire, it felt way over the top, but the customer's always right, haha. The whole pommel thing is just totally out of place on a katana, and adds eight I'd rather not have there. I like the idea of an engraving/relief coming out instead of menuki, that would have matched the saya for sure.

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I received a wonderful phone call last night from Stephanie, the woman who commissioned this sword. She thanked me profusely for perfectly capturing the blade as she imagined it, and assured me that she and her family will be especially careful when handling it, or using it for practice tatami cutting (or home defense haha), and that they intend to pass it down through the generations to come. Hearing her say these things really made my weekend (even better), and is one of the reasons I pursue this craft.

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Well deserved Theo, it is a beautiful piece worth becoming a legacy. Even with the sapphire. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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