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This is a katana I completed recently. It's a hira zukuri blade, meaning that it doesn't have the characteristic secondary bevel found on most long Japanese blades. Some martial artists claim that hira zukuri blades are too fragile to use for tameshigiri or "test cutting." Most test cutting is done on tatami mats or bamboo, which by and large are not super tough to cut, so I think they're being a little over-cautious. But just to play the empiricist card, I did a little video showing a more rigorous (i.e. semi-abusive) test to the sword to see how this sort of blade holds up under use that goes well beyond "normal". I don't recommend anybody do what I did with this sword, but I think the test gives a pretty fair sense of what even a relatively thin blade like this is capable of. I really did the test more to see if the blade would blow up, but it turned out -- in an incidental fashion -- to also be a pretty good edge-holding test. I have to admit I was pretty confident of what the results of this test would be (having done much nastier and more extensive meanness to various similar blades over the years). But still, any time you start rolling a video camera, Murphy has a way of leaping into the fray. You can find the video below the photos of the blade.


The katana is about 28 inches long and forged from W1. I'm normally a W2 man, but I just had some W1 laying around and thought I might as well do something with it.


hira fogg.jpg


vid kiss fogg.jpg



EDIT: Well apparently I don't know how to embed a video in here. I'll try to get it sorted out. For now, though, the link is:

Edited by Walter Sorrells
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Very well done! Impressive performance after the abuse, and a great looking blade.



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those shapes aren't that different from the tens of thousands of daos that the Chinese sent to war through the years. Yeah, some of them are a little thin, but of course they will hold up. Add a couple of small fullers and a false edge, and you have a willow leaf dao.


Nice sword, by the way.


The one time I ALMOST didn't test a sword because I had made several like it successfully, was almost a horrible embarassment or worse. I took it out to wage war on the maple saplings near my shop, and the tip went flying off into space at the first serious cut.


Thank God I tested that one!


thank you for sharing.



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Can't beat a 2x4 for shock and edge test. That blade held up like it was properly made! I would expect to see something bad happen with full force swings into knots.

I made a nearly flat ground hira-zukuri katana with W1, very wide and flat with almost no sori. It's very light and fast cutting.

I quench W1 and W2 exactly the same way, 1430f soak for about 2 minutes at temp, then interrupted quench in water or Parks #50.

I don't have a particularly scientific tempering schedule. I've been putting them back in the HT furnace when it drops to 600f, keeping it around 4-500f for an hour.

Great looking blade Walter.

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forgot to say, that is really impressive edge geometry, heat treat, etc. Very good. Show no mercy to the 2x4!


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Years back, I tried that same test with a well made WW 2 Japanese sword. It did not do half as well. Great Job Walter!!

Wonderful sword.



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Great video and blade! Was curious how wide/thick it is?




It's a fairly beefy sword -- about 1.4" wide at the machi (the juncture of tang and blade) and about .28" (.75 cm) thick in the same location. The first hira zukuri blade I ever made (over a decade agao, now that I think about it) was similar to this, but just a little heavier, and I found that one to be tip heavy and hard to manage. This one's not. But it is about at the limit of what I, at 5'9" or so, feel like I can comfortably handle. Of course any sword is easy enough to swing in one direction. It's being able to change directions and go back the other way that distinguishes the nimble sword. I've made whippier swords than this...but those swords vibrate and and flex a lot more when you really lay into a reasonably resistant target.

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