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What Was The Process Employed In Creating A Traditional Samurai Sword?

A Guide to Buying a Real Katana (Samurai Sword)

Samurai swords are one of the most famous and iconic natural symbols around the world. Centuries after centuries, these words have been marveled at for their impeccable engineering and immaculate beauty. These swords are known to be the warrior’s soul, defining the warrior socially and spiritually. And they have been passed down from generation to generation. This makes us wonder how these deadly swords were made?

How were they made?

The traditional Samurai swords making process of the samurai sword was complex and required deep knowledge and skills that the great swordsmith of Japan possessed. A single samurai sword required the efforts of a dozen swordsmith who worked for months or sometimes more than that. The steps that these swordsmiths take include the following:

1) Production of steel

They started off by producing the steel tamahagane, the finest high carbon steel, in a 72-hour process of smelting sand consisting of iron ore with charcoal inside a large furnace. When the optimal temperature is achieved, the furnace needs to be monitored while putting in charcoal and iron ore containing sand as needed.

2) Separation the steel

After this 72 hour process of smelting is complete, the clay furnace is opened to extract the steel. The steel is broken and separated depending upon its carbon content. Using only one type of steel to forge a sword will result in a dull and brittle blade. This is why high carbon steel was merged with low carbon steel to produce a blade with razor-sharp edge, strength, and durability.

 3) Purification of steel

The best type of steel, tamahagane, is purified by a swordsmith. A hot hammer is used to fold the steel up to 16 times to merge the carbon and iron together while also drawing out impurities.

4) Forging of the blade

After all the impurities are removed, the high carbon steel is heated to allow being shaped into a long blade with U shaped channel. While the low carbon steel is heated and shaped into a strip, which is fitted into the channel.  Both these steels are then forged, with the high carbon steel forming the sharp-edged outer surface and the low carbon steel forming a durable and tough core.

5) Blade coating

After both the steels are forged together, one last firing is given. Charcoal powder and clay are mixed to form a thick paste, which is then applied heavily on the dull back and upper sides but slightly on the primary edge. Then the blade is fired under 1500 ˚F. The application of the mixture in such a way will protect the blade while giving it a signature design known as Hamon, seen upon polishing of the blade.

6) Blade curving

The blade is directly plunged into the water after being taken out of the fire. The sudden difference in temperature and the way the two types of steel contract makes the sword bend and curve.

7) Blade polishing

After this, the blade is polished with grinding stones and polishing stones to keep the razor-sharp edge of the sword. This step can also take weeks and months.

8) Mounting of blade

The blade is mounted with its handguard at the hilt. Then the blade is fitted with a wooden holder that is decorated. The finishing touches include it being designed with gold, stones, or leather.

9) Last evaluation

After the artisans and carpenters delicately design the sword, the sword goes through final evaluation by a swordsmith.  If it’s perfect, then only it is presented to its owner.

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