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W2 shobu zukuri tanto WIP

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Some time ago now I purchased some W2 from the New Jersey Steel Baron, and set up a little project to be doing, while I got my head round heat treatment for it.

As I quench on water, lots of cracking, warping, through hardening, and failures to harden occurred before getting where I needed to be.

So with this one I was having a little friendly contest with another smith, we settled on a sugata, and the Hamon was to be saka choji.

First successful run, seemed very promising, the sugata was a little slim, but I kinda liked it, so desided to run with it.

However as I got through the stones polishing, it became clear something was wrong, so decided to etch and see a little clearer, and there it was, the hamon had gone right up to the mune.

Some nice effects, and a little more learnt, about the material.

So stopped there, and started again.











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So on to mark two, few pictures of the story so far.

After yaki ire, very little sori, in fact just 1.5mm, other than that, I was a lot happier with this take, following tempering, put her to a stone and the hamon height was revealed, and goes to just where I wanted it, so removed the rest of the clay, and scaled, drilled the mekugi ana, and desided to send this one for a polish.






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Edited by Andrew Jones
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So, if you dont mind me asking, what was different about clay application and yaki-ire from the first blade to the second. The first has the hamon pass quite high above the shinogi and all the way up to the mune. Was the blade too thin and just hardened too thoroughly?

Regardless, the blades look great, and glad the second one turned out as you want.

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I believe that the first one was either caused by the clay lifting or uneven heating, as the first blade was 7mm thick when quenched.

I do however quench on water, and with the Aldo W2, I need to use a fast dipping motion to quench, so the blade isn't even submerged for a second at a time, so the clay is repeatedly shocked, drying and wetting in very fast repetition.

The second time I was able to work in much darker conditions ( I don't currently have my own forge ), so heat control was easier, and even once the blade was completely cool, all clay was still in place, normally for me by the time a blade is cool about 70% is gone, which I like, as I can move straight to initial tempering, with little more than a quick rub with a scouring pad.

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7mm is pretty thick though... I am kind of surprised that even with the clay falling off that the auto-hamon would have been so high. Like you said though, your heat control was much better the 2nd time around. I don't do water quenches, so I am always curious as how to people do them. I have seen videos of Japanese smiths doing yaki-ire and keeping the blade submerged in the water for a quite some time. I wonder if Aldo's W2 is less amenable to that. I use Parks 50 for Aldo's W2 and have had good luck with it so far.

If you dont mind another question... what do you use for clay?

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If I used the straight plunge and wait till it stops bubbling, that I use with oroshigane, on Aldo's W2 the blade would just be full of cracks, I tried lots of different methods with it, but fast repeated dip, was the only way I found to get a hamon without cracking on water, I'm sure people have other ways though.

I have never liked quenching on oil, mainly as I don't like unpredictable bursts of flame, and I find the clean up after quench messier.

As for clay I find with factory steels it makes little difference to use custom mixes now, previously I used a mix one part clay, one sand, one charcoal, as small amount of scale mixed with water and sodium silicate (helps it stick and makes it a little more elastic), and would add one part chalk for making ashi. While this mixture makes a big difference with oroshigane, it offers no advantages on modern steels, so now I use refractory clay watered down to the correct consistency, and make the line for ashi thicker.

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I have zero experience with oroshigane, so I will take your word for all of that. I know that there are at least a few people that have successful water quenches with W2, and I wonder if they use a similar technique. I know that Jesus Hernandez uses W2 for some of his swords, and does water quenches (and the magical positive sori oil quenches :) ). Maybe he will read this and weigh in.


As far as oil is concerned, Parks has a pretty flash point, so I rarely get flame ups (I am actually struggling to remember any with the Parks 50), but you are totally right about clean up. Oil is a messy pain in the ass, but kitty litter goes a long way to sopping it up from the shop floor.

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  • 1 month later...

So the blade returned from polish, the result was not good, the shinogi had been softened, the sugata altered, the niku changed to the point of almost a bevel, and the hamon almost totally suppressed.

Disappointed I had a conversation with my teacher, and he has taken it to correct the polish. In the meantime here are some images of what went wrong.

As soon as she is back I will post the improved images.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So here are a few quick shots of the sashikomi polishing, hamon is now visible, and as a customer has come forward for this,I have started to make a shira saya for it.

At this point this thread splits to two projects, as one of the people I train with wanted the first version, as a dojo blade.

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your dedication and attention to detail is impressive (and makes you right at home in our eccentric bunch). I appreciate that you share so much of your process. I bet you are a good teacher.

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Thanks folks.

Kevin I show process, as not only can it help people out, it also encourages others to talk about variations, which I can adapt to what I'm doing, improving my method.

As for teaching, I am still a student, and a long way from teaching smithing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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