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Austin Mys

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Posts posted by Austin Mys

  1. I have come very far in my research of these swords as it relates to the construction thickness wise. This due to finding incredibly detailed photoshoots on Japanese websites of sword dealers. I discovered the following:

    1. The originals were thick. The most unaltered example I could find still had a thickness of near .34" at the machi and around .216" at the kissaki after 500 years. Most the swords without bohi were around .3" at the machi and .24-.25" at the yokote, though I haven't found a blade without bohi in such healthy condition as the one I found with bohi.
    2. The precision of the shinogi beveling and distal taper is pure craftsmenship, particularly in the graceful way the beveled shonogi flattens out before terminating in the kasaki. Contrary to the way I first learned to make it, the leveling of the shinogi happens so gradually that viewed from the back you can not decipher much curvature (the tip doesn't look like a diamond). The bellow drawing even has more curve than some of the pieces I looked at, but is close to what I'm shooting for. Flattening the shinogi gradually allows for easier shaping of the kissaki and room for wear as the sword gets polished down.


  2. Thanks Chris!

    On Suburbs... they are certainly are not ideal! I am thankful that my neighbors have been very supportive. though I also have other more spacious places to go when I am planning on a noisy week (my whole setup is currently very portable). Some of my neighbors are close friends, most are gone at day jobs during most my forging hours. Lately I've been too focused on my main job (piano tuning) to do much smithing anyway, so the occasional day setup in the driveway isn't interpreted as such a big deal. Kooky... I have a feeling that a handful may think that! Most the men who've talked to me get real excited about what I do though, which helps me (a natural introvert) make conversation and get to know people I would never otherwise meet.


    • Like 1
  3. Alright, after a lot of various life circumstances keeping me from starting sword # 2 (including my old forge being totally worn out and building a better one) I have finally got the ball rolling again! I am once again working with 1075 from New Jersey Steel.

    Here is the sunobe (preform) finished yesterday:

    Sunobe 2.jpg


    Hizukuri got off to a bit of a rough start as I haven't forged since January... I finished half the blade then took some rest and went back at it the next day.



    I finished the rough forging today. Next I will go back over all the surfaces to make sure all planes are as smooth and flat as I can get them--that will help with the filing and scraping later. Going straight for the water quench this time, so the blade is only slightly curved at this point.



    Blade is now 27.5" long, 1.5" longer than I wanted. The tang is 6.75" long where I was shooting for 6.5, so I'll probably lengthen the tang slightly to maintain the exact proportions I'm going for. With these short tanged Bizen blades the tang got progressively longer in relation to the blade from the 1400s to the late 1500s at a fairly linear rate. If the nakago is original, I've found you can actually reasonably date the sword based on it's nakago:nagasa ratio. Same is true of other schools due to the overall changes in fighting styles, though I haven't studied their proportions as in depth as the Bizen blades. I'm trying to stick in the time frame of 1530-1575 in Sue Bizen style as was the original goal when I started this project last year.


    • Like 2
  4. For hard use I prefer a fine satin, around 1200 grit to minimize rust and friction during cutting. For looks, I like Japanese sashikomi finish (you'll have to google, I don't have a great photo).

    This knife is an old knife with some combination of the two...



    Most my user knives get a 5-600 grit satin though to keep the cost down.


  5. I've debated on whether to start a new topic for the new sword, but since it is the same project to me, and the discussion is still going, I think I'll just keep it all here for simplicity.


    Realizing it would be hard to organize photos of forging techniques as I work (take tons of extra time) I decided to just show some things in diagrams. I'm currently on vacation, so I've got lots of free time to do that kind of stuff right now anyway :)


    When you forge any single edged blade, you run into the issue of induced curvature due to the expansion of the edge. With knives, we use a preform with a negative curve to compensate. With Japanese swords this is not really a good option, so we must straighten as we go. I used to do this like the picture bellow, striking the edge then chasing out warps

    Bizen Katana 1.jpg


    Recently I've been working on learning to forge the mune better, whereas before I left it square and filed it to shape later. With doing this, I learned a much more efficient way to counteract the expansion of the edge.


    Step one is to forge the mune itself, which expands the mune slightly

    Japanese forging 1.jpg


    Creating a mushroom effect on the shinogi

    Japanese forging 2.jpg


    Then forge out the shinogi, taking care of the mushroom, and expanding the mune.

    Japanese forging 3.jpg


    By controlling the angles of mune and shinogi you now have an incredible amount of control over the amount of curvature you put in. A cool finding, it seems to work out with Bizen blades to have the exact same hammering angle between the ji, the shinogi, and the mune.


    This was the practice blade for trying all this out. As far as I remember, the hammer never touched the edge. It's the same concept with hiro-zukiri as shinogi-zukiri, just forging the mushroom out at the same angle as the ji. Keep the correct angle with the hammer and the strike point high away from the ha to keep the curvature down.




    • Like 2
  6. Hi Kevin, what you are seeing was only visible after an hour or so with hazuya under very careful lighting, it's caused by ashi. All the extra details became invisable with smallest use of nugui (powder grit/dye of various recipes suspended in oil). In a typical hybrid polish it looks more like you're probably used to, bright white with a distinct habachi and pretty boring underneath the habachi. Hazuya work shows all the little details created by ashi, but hazuya also clouds the ji which makes the ji look white against the ha. Which is why in a full polish jizuya is normally used to make the ji clear again. Then nugui is used to selectively blacken the ji and whiten the hamon (sashikomi), or blacken everything and then selectively re-whiten the hamon with hazuya (hadori). I don't have better photos of that particular knife but I can confidently insure the quality of hardening from seeing and working with it in person if that was your concern. I wouldn't add as many full length ashi (keeps chips from hard impact such as steel on steel from being too large) on a modern work knife perhaps, this was a showcase fighting knife for a martial artist though. Also a bit of editing was done to the last photo to show the affect of the ashi which came across very hard to see on the raw photo. I mostly shared those photos to give an idea of what I'm working on, but those are very poor quality photos so I apologize for confusion because of that.

    ​Hope that makes sense



  7. Thanks Caleb, I hope to share much more in the future! I have already started my work on katana 2, and have adjusted my forging techniques while working on tanto and other knives. I hope to share some more by the end of February, including some observations on forging straight that I think will help people new to Japanese blades. For now, here's a sneak peak of where I'm heading with the hamon :)


    T knife 3.jpg

    T knife 2.jpg

    Hazuya finish on this knife to show all the hardening details



  8. Obviously each part of that knife is downright impressive, but out of it all I really love the work you did on shaping that handle. I hope to get good enough to produce so many facets and curves with so much control some day. Reminds me of some carved handles on old swords, but taken to another level. Outstanding all around!

  9. Wes, exactly! Just a bummer when you get to heat treat and things go down hill, but I guess it's an inherent part of the craft whenever you do something new.


    Kevin, thanks for sharing that! I think this is the missing piece of the puzzle for me. I finally managed a decent hamon (over 3/8" high) after getting the steel a little hotter, but it still wasn't as high as I would have normally expected. When I have smaller knives I usually soak for at least 5 minutes, but did not think it would be that necessary with the 1075. Plus I had a heck of a time getting it all up to temp... I'm really wishing I had the space to build a charcoal forge again for this purpose, I'd feel much more comfortable controlling the heating with that than propane at this point. Really loved the last Japanese based forge I had.


    Jesus, thank you for the input, I have followed your work for a long time and it's pretty neat to get direct advice and encouragement from you. This forum is great! I get new steel in Thursday (more 1075) and plan on making a couple of tanto or a wakizashi in addition to a fighting knife I'm currently working on with the same steel to dial in my heat treat before trying a katana again.

  10. I'd also like to say thank you to everyone who has taken a look, and given input to this thread. Making a katana has been a long time dream and passion of mine, and this has been a very fun and rewarding process even though this blade wont have so glorious of an ending. It has certainly jump started me on the path to making something I can be very proud of. I hope I have provided some level of valuable information to people here, and hope to refine my abilities to share knowledge in a more streamlined fashion in the future.


    Thanks again!


  11. Well, I said I'd quench until I get a good hamon and that's just what I did!

    ​The sword itself is bent out of shape past any amount of worth, but it still had value for learning. I ended up quenching 3 times last night, once with clay, two times without. After the first which yielded the same result of too low a hamon near the point of percussion, I brought the steel up to 1800, then 1600, then quench heat in an effort to eliminate the grain size variable that had me worried. Same Result. After the 3rd try, which yielded the hamon bellow, I figured out my problem... Up until this point the only steels I've heat treated by eye in recent times is W2. W2 can harden from just barely over nonmagnetic. However, it appears this 1075 really needs to be around 1500 degrees to harden the way I wanted. This is a noticeably brighter color. The video bellow is of the area I thought I over heated in the last quench, when in reality it was the only area I got hot enough. I figured this out after deciding to bring that whole half of the blade to 240 grit to check the hamon everywhere. I'm planning on quenching this mangled mess one more time a bit hotter so that I have practice and know for sure what I'm doing with the next katana I do. I'll probably then hang this guy in my room as a reminder of how hot I need to heat this steel!


  12. Hey Connor, that's exactly what I did. I need to adjust the hot spot in my forge (I'm thinking of converting it to a double burner) so I don't have to draw the blade in and out as much, that way I can run it closer to the exact temperature I need and the edge won't heat up too fast.

  13. Haha! Exactly Brian!


    Unfortunately, I may have to scrap this sword :( Hamon was not high enough, so I forged the curve back down and normalized at 1600 thinking I got the grain too fine. Same result on the next quench. Took me a third try without (this time no clay) before figuring it out. The ha and mune were up to temp but the ji was not as it turns out. This was partially on purppose trying to go for utsuri (a blackish area above the hamon that looks like a reflection of it), but that heat zone was exaggerated too much. I was able to see utsuri though, but could't get it on camera with such a rough polishing. Anyway, I'll quench this again until I get the hamon where it should be but the sword itself is not going to end up looking pretty at this point. I'll be ordering more 1075 and starting again from scratch... at least I don't have to make my own steel first!




    Also, I think when I got positive sori I had too much clay on the spine which heated the oil up too fast. I didn't have this problem on the last 2 quenches.

  14. It's finally born!

    26.125" nagasa, 1.825", a healthy sword with lots of personality!

    20170104_195049 (2).jpg

    It just didn't want to curve downwards this one! I think this is due to needing more oil in my quench tank. I'll try to get some pics of what the hamon looks like tonight, I've been traveling with all my gear so I need to get my grinder and stones unpacked from the car before I can clean it up and get a look...

  15. Well, I have been real busy preparing for the retry on yaki-ire.


    So far I have built a new heat treat forge, heat treated a cheap 1060 katana several times as practice (then broke that up to check grain and make tools out of), made 2 small W2 knives playing with hamon patterns, and 1 1084 tanto purposefully broken in a water quench for curiosity's sake.


    I ended up having to do a bit of re-forging on my katana in order to get the excessive curve out and re straighten every thing. I then normalized 3 times, ground the scale out, filed it down, and clayed it up. After a bit more study I also adjusted the proportions a little bit and did a lot of work on the kissaki to get it right. Now it is a bit thinner than I originally wanted, but still thick enough to make a solid cutting blade. I am hoping to do yaki-ire tonight, but there is a lot of wind and snow going on so I'm just waiting on the right time at this point.







    PS I scared myself today while doing some Google research on Sue Bizen Katana finding my pictures and thread coming up everywhere, so I reread through everything and edited some posts to make sure my information is as accurate as possible for other people researching the subject. For anyone researching the subject, it should be noted that at this point my sword is not as close to the Sue Bizen style as initially intended due to mistakes on my part, and more represents an interpretation than a replica of any sorts at this point. I plan on continuing to learn and make attempts at recreating the style of Sue Bizen smiths in the future, and already know a few things I will do differently in the forging steps. I will also continue to pursue the Kani-no-tsume (crab claw) hamon, this sword is more notare based than gunome based as you would find on Sue Bizen katana featuring the Kani-no-tsume pattern.

  16. While, it didn't go too hot... Literally! Forge not big enough, so I'll be building a bigger one and will update when I have successful yaki-ire. In my stubbornness I tried it anyway and the top 6" did not harden. Also, I got positive sori with parks 50 oil... I'll have to grind out decarb, fix the curvature, normalize, stress relieve, and retry I suppose. Probably not before Christmas...




    Editing to say, sori went from about 1.25" to about 1.5" in the oil. Reread through Jesus' post "Inducing positive curvature (upward sori) in a shinogi-zukuri katana using OIL" and figure I got my oil too hot. My temperature probe in the tank I believe is broken as it would not go higher than 30 degrees Fahrenheit last night after quenching a bar of steel twice before I put the blade in. So I will be switching that probe out as well before continuing with this project.


    RIP clay

    kat fail.jpg

  17. Al, you are right. I was just reading through the heat treating section in "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" and sure enough he talks about fine tuning the curvature by heating or hammering the spine. This is significant because it shows that the final shape can be very finely controlled if the smith desires, which adds weight to the idea of exactly planned curvature.

    As I understand it, curvature was frequently adjusted post-quench, by various means.

  18. Well, I got the mune completely filed and all the high spots leveled. However I did not get to thermocycling or putting clay on as I decided to rebuild my forge this weekend (it was getting real rough). I ended up converting it to a vertical forge with a 6" diameter chamber, plus 3" long chambers where the doors are. So I should have a 12" long hot area with a 6" even hot spot. I'm hoping this will be enough to get the whole thing up to even temperature with passing the blade back and forth, but ordered extra inswool to make a bigger forge if needed. Hoping to quench Monday night depending on if I need a bigger forge and weather.

  19. Update:


    I have almost finished all my file work! Today I finished getting the sides symmetrical, with the shinogi placed right where I want it. Now all that is left before heat treat is to finish filing in the mune and file a high spot out near the tip on the left side. Then I may or may not go over everything one more time with a fine file to make sure everything is even. I expect to be putting clay on tomorrow night. Not sure on when heat treat will happen due to weather here in Michigan...


    Dimensions pre heat treat:

    Nagasa (blade length tip to machi): 26.5" (67.31cm)

    moto-haba (width at machi): 1.295" (32.9mm)

    Saki-haba (width at yokote): 0.886" (22.5mm)

    Moto-gasane (thickness at machi): 0.310" (7.87mm)

    Saki-gasane (thickness at yokote): 0.241" (6.12mm)

    Kissaki: 1.588" (40.34mm)

    Sori: 1.25" (3.175cm)


    Sorry for blurriness, I will start borrowing a nice camera once I start polishing and such.









    Edge alignment


    • Like 1
  20. Jesus, I appreciate the reply! I will continue to look for such opportunies. For this sword I think I will try not to change what I have too much as I seem to be real close to what Sukesada smiths' made based on some additional photos and measurements I was able to find.


    J Broddrick, thank you for the photo! What a place to visit that would be!

  21. I applied the idea of relating the radius of the mune to length preportions on a Mino school katana also of the Muromachi period, and the resulting circles gave me nagasa and nakego perfectly, but not an obvious placement of the funbari. However, the placement of the funbari change near the machi as well as a change in radius further down the length were placed at exact 1/3rd increments of the total length. This is getting quite interesting.

    Mino Katana.jpg


    Editing to say "funbari" is correctly spelled with an "n". My bad, I have seen it spelled both ways and did not check which was correct. Also, this word seems to always be used when talking about the change in width near the base, not overall length even though I have seen a few sources translate it to sound that way. I will use it to describe the area near the base only though, so as to simplify my own wording.

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