Jump to content

Tanto or Wakizashi?

Recommended Posts

Hey guys I just wanted to show off my blades some more and to ask a question.


What is the cut off for a tanto as far as length goes?


As where does a Wakizashi start?


This particular blades is styled after the kata-shinogi style of blade making.


I wanted to try something other than buke-zukuri, or shinogi-zukuri.


The habacki was a pain to make as the copper did not want to conform to the blade, but a little tlc and the hammer and away she went.


Any way if anyone else has used this style of blade making please reply.




Edited by John Smith
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks I am only at the 1500 grit stage, I have 2000, 4000, and 6000 grit to go and then a nice ferric chloride dip to whiten the hammon.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The border between tanto and wakizashi is blurred. In some cases length means nothing.

There are 40 cm long sunnobi tantos just like there are 35-40 cm long ko-wakizashis.

Wakizashis and tantos are different in use. Normally, a Wakizashi would sport a longer nakago >>> longer tsuka.

Mounting style plays an important role in making the difference between these two as well.


Your polish is very good but bear in mind that (contrary to what Holywood shows you) there are no mirror-polished Japanese swords. The Japanese sword polish is soft and only the shinogi-ji (if present at all) is mirror polished. Traditional polishers apply the mirror polish on the shinogi-ji by rubbing it with small polishing bars and wax (migaki).

Grit 4000 sand paper would make the blade look like a decorative wall hanger and would kill its traditional look and its beauty. Just a personal opinion, you may like it mirror polished.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice, thanks for the info.


As for the polish do not let the picture fool you, the steel looks mirror polished but it is not the area above the hommon is darker than the hammon, I use the hybrid polish method, once I get done with the polish I will take a better photograph of the blade. I am going to dip the blade in ferric chloride to whiten the hammon a bit as well. And I do agree on the hollywood types of blades, as I have studied enough antique blades to see the difference in tradition togi polishing and buffing. Any help in making the blade look more traditional would be greatly appriciated.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Any help in making the blade look more traditional would be greatly appriciated.

Use natural Japanese mud stones for the polish and genuine Japanese techniques. This is the only way to make the stuff look a little bit more traditional.

It is almost impossible to make modern steel blades look like genuine Japanese blades and the modern sand paper & etch kind of polish is just one of the many obstacles.

A genuine blade's Hada, produced by folding tamahagane adds to the authentic look of the blade and the forge-welded pattern on modern swords produced by sandwiching 1095 and 1045 is quite far from its look.

If you are after the traditional Japanese look, you may want to try making your own Tatara and producing your own tamahagane. There is plenty of swordsmiths that do that nowadays.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I am not quite at that level yet, I use only mono steel for my blades, one day I will forge fold my steel, Money is an obstacle as it is for most people so the traditional japanese way is on the wish list for now.


I do a hybrid polish which is fine for now as alot of bladesmith's do this type and it does produce outstanding results, I look at it this way the paper or stones either way the steel is being cut into and buffed over.


So my main goal is to become proficient in serveral art forms, as far as blade construction and fabrication goes. Which is why I am here asking my many question, to which you have answered with some extremely useful information. Thanks

Link to post
Share on other sites

Round steel rods and hybrid polish are OK.

Most bladesmiths (even the high-end ones) use them anyway and the market is so saturated with them that people are used to etch-enchanced hamons and monosteel blades and don't mind owning/collecting them.

After all, let us not forget that getting a cool looking Hada out of the bilet was not the primary goal of a Japanese swordsmith. In fact, Japanese swordsmith folded the steel to even out the carbon content and burn out the malicious inclusions, i.e. they were trying to purify the steel and turn it in a homogenous piece of... MONOSTEEL! :D

The hada was just a cool looking side effect (not that it was not controlled and intentional in some cases!).


Now, seems that we both are after the traditional look.

I've seen people acheiving pretty "traditional" looking grain by folding steel cable. Well, at least the folded cable "hada" looked a tiny bit more traditional than sandwiched damascus.

I like to forge cable but I've never tried folding it. This is definitely a must-try and maybe it is the cheapest and the easiest shortcut towards *somehow* traditional looking pattern.

Still, genuine Tamahagane has a really varied carbon and inclusions content and I believe that even cable, with its many strains and different level of decarburization, won't be able to get that cool look most Japanese swords have.


Anyway, your blades are really cool, keep on with the good stuff and show us the final results!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Svet, thanks for insight I have several books on the Japanese sword and what goes into them, as for me I will one day achieve my goals but as Mr Jay Hendrickson said to me start small and get some expierence under your belt. I have a load of W-2 about to be delievered to me 5 to be exact 4 feet long and 5/8 thick, I am planning to make a few blades and to drive my wife crazy while doing it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...