Where can I buy a good quality katana?

Discussion in 'Japanese Swords and Sword Arts' started by Tarrycat, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master of Arts

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    Sounds exciting! (by that I mean scary!)
    Has it been getting worse do you think? Is the diving still worth it? :)

    Tamahagane actually refers to a type of steel that is produced using a tatara, or clay tub furnace. The quality of the tamahagane, as steel, is only as good as the abilities of the person producing it and the ore that they use. Lots of places toss the word tamahagane around because that is what the Japanese sword makers use to produce traditional Japanese swords (by government mandate, not by choice). Modern steels are, in general, much cleaner and much more uniform (not to mention simpler to work with!), and so will produce a better quality of steel for sword use.

    Visually, they look pretty much like a lot of the katana coming Chinese forges. I have never actually handled one of his swords, nor do I know anyone that has. Based strictly upon his ebay ads, I do not think I would spend the money on it myself, due to too many unknown quantities. Here are the things that make me personally leery ...
    1) He pushes the fact that he makes his own tamahagane. This just means he doesn't have to actually buy any steel, and we have no idea how well he controls the amount of carbon in his swords. Too much carbon in the steel will make it brittle, not enough will make it too soft.
    2) Just because he can forge a sword does not mean that it is properly shaped and balanced. The forge that produces blades for Cold Steel makes very tough and nice looking blades, but all the ones I have held have felt very much like sharpened pry bars to me. :) We have no way of knowing whether his are the same or not.
    3) He says he's been practicing traditional polishing, and shows many examples. However, we have no way of knowing if his edge geometry is actually correct for a Japanese sword, or if they are as properly sharp as they should be. (the polish is what shapes and sharpens the edge). Also he states that he traditionally burnishes the shinogi (flat of the blade), but his pictures do not look like it. His pictures look like they are machine burnished as other Chinese made swords are. Traditional burnishing looks either completely black in pictures or like a mirror if there is something for it to reflect as it comes out extremely smooth and shiny, which is the point of burnishing.
    4) The most important aspect of a sword (if you're planning on actually using it) is how it is put together. He mentions almost nothing about that in his ads, and his fit and finish looks about on par with other Chinese forges.

    The only way to really tell what is good quality and what isn't, is by actually getting a sword in hand, taking it all apart, and giving it a thorough inspection. Even then, questions will remain. :)
     
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  2. Tarrycat

    Tarrycat Green Belt

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    Clearly you know your swords, so I thank you for analysing all of the details in such an articulate manner, it's MUCH appreciated! It takes time to analyse all of the information, so I'm VERY grateful for all of your effort, really. :)



    You're right. The best thing to do is to actually purchase a katana that I've seen & handled, yet perhaps when I'm more experienced. Even then I think I would need to take someone with me (with more experience) to help me make the right decision. So, my best bet would probably be to purchase a katana in Japan then? To be safe? Perhaps invest in a custom-made one?



    If you know of anyone, or can refer me to some credible & talented katana manufacturers, please let me know. :shamefullyembarrased:



    I'll have to think of another birthday gift now... Damn... I think books should do & more bonsai's. :hilarious::facepalm:

    I wanted to ask you what your opinion is on 1060 carbon steel? It's apparently known for its durability & strength? :happy:
     
  3. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master of Arts

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    If you wanted to purchase a useable katana now, (everyone has reasons), there's no real reason you couldn't. I would suggest not buying from an ebay seller though, and purchasing from a reseller such as Nihonzashi. As long as someone that you can trust (and that knows what they're doing) has inspected it before you buy it, you should be fine.

    When you start talking about steel and properties, you start getting out of my area. I know a bit about them through my own research and talking with people that make swords, but I'm not a bladesmith, I just use the things. :) That being said, 1060 is a typical oil quench tool steel. It can be hardened sufficiently to make swords. Same can be said for a number of different steel types. With steel, the first two numbers, 10, mean that it is an un-alloyed steel. It has no other ingredients such as chromium or silicon. The last numbers refer to the carbon content, .60%. As I mentioned earlier, higher carbon content results in a harder blade that can be more brittle. Japanese swords are traditionally hardened in such a way that the edge is very hard so it can be made quite sharp without rolling over, but the spine is softer so the sword does not break since harder steel is more brittle. This is where the hamon comes from on a differentially hardened Japanese style sword, it is the harder steel of the edge so it looks a bit different than the softer steel of the spine. Swords that are folded tend to be made of higher carbon content steel like 1095, since quite a bit of the carbon is lost when folding and forging the steel.

    Anyway, the internet is your friend. There are a great many sites out there that discuss katana, making katana, steels, forging, and heat treatment. The more you read about it, the more you'll know and the easier it will be for you to learn.

    Good luck, and let us know how the hunt for a sword instructor goes.
     
  4. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    IMO, this is solid practical advice for anyone who wants to buy a sword and doesn't have the requisite knowledge to assess their quality.
     
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  5. Hyoho

    Hyoho Black Belt

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    Three foreigners shot in my area within the last year. Two were close friends. Mostly over locals losing face in legal disputes they lost. Best not to mix with them too much unless its a mayor or a judge. They are what they are and its a third world country.

    Yes the diving is great. Get on boat and going underwater is a good place to be.
     
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  6. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Chicago?
     
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  7. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Melbourne where I grew up, people loved a sword attack.
     
  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    The diving in Lake Michigan is fantastic...
     
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  9. Tarrycat

    Tarrycat Green Belt

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    So, you suggest that I should rather purchase a katana from Nihonzashi?

    I have browsed their website a bit & I am impressed by it. I see they like the Hanwei brand. I also saw that most of their katana (at least those I saw) are produced in China?

    If I spend at least $500, I could just as well save up for a better katana, that's how I'm thinking at this very moment. So, when I'm ready, I'll definitely buy the best. I want to avoid disappointments as much as possible. I want to buy sensibly. :D

    As for sword schools, I will probably do it at a time in my life where I'm not so occupied. At the moment I'm doing horse riding, Ninjutsu, & I'm studying a master's degree; but I will definitely make time for it, as there is no point to me in purchasing a sword when I know nothing about the art. I don't want to make a fool of myself or look like I'm pretending to be something I'm not...:hilarious:

    Thank you so much for your wise advice. I will follow it. It's much appreciated! Oh, & thank you for your patience & kindness! It means a lot. :shamefullyembarrased:

    Take care. :)
     
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  10. Tarrycat

    Tarrycat Green Belt

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    Is Chicago THAT bad? :eek:
     
  11. BrendanF

    BrendanF Orange Belt

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    Hi Paul - absolutely, when it comes to PC, Hanwei etc I'd certainly agree. But with the smaller ebay vendors I would be highly suspect of their heat treating methods.

    As Paul said, 1050, 1060 being relatively lower carbon content is commonly used in sword length monosteel blades (along with other tool steels like 5160). With Japanese swords being differentially hardened (where 'clay' is applied to the spine as a heat sink to slow the cooling rate in the quench, creating the hamon) shallow hardening steels like T10/W1 and W2 are often used, as they create a more dramatic hamon. Forge folded blades more often use higher carbon steels like 1084 or 1090. Be very wary of Chinese 'tamahagane'.

    And of course, again as Paul mentioned - the quality of the fittings - particularly the tsuka, will play a vital role in determining whether you should do anything other than look at the thing.

    Woah - I didn't say kendo is very one-dimensional.. just that this has been (the loudest) criticism I've heard. The motivation for the creation of modern Iaido was (by most accounts) largely to give kendo exponents some experience with a real sword in their hands, rather than a shinai or bokuto. But kendo can be practiced to an extreme intensity, which provides (in my opinion) some of the best Japanese sword training there is. Look into the Haga dojo in Tokyo, for example; empty mind films did a wonderful documentary featuring their training.

    Yes, wise words from Hyoho. Good on you for taking the time to research and ask questions - and best of luck finding the art that works for you. By all accounts there are some decent Japanese sword groups in SA - doing gendai and koryu arts. And why not.. I visited a few years ago; what a beautiful place.
     
  12. Tarrycat

    Tarrycat Green Belt

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    You visited SA?... :eek:

    Thank you so much for the kind words. I appreciate it. I will continue to do my homework on the katanas.

    I didn't mean to assume Kendo is one-dimensional; it's just that I know nothing about it.. :rolleyes:. I 100% trust everyone's advice on here, so pardon my ignorance. :):bag:
     
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  13. Billy02

    Billy02 Yellow Belt

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    Hi Tarrycat
    Well it depends on what you are looking for, if it is originals they are hard to get and certainly not cheap, but if you are looking for replicas, which i will suggest as you never owned and you must gain knowledge before jumping into the main thing, as you can get con if not much knowledge. I found this on google they got Katana, but i am not sure of the quality, but i guess will be good for the start, Buy Ninja Swords | Samurai Katana | Buy Knives & Swords Cheap Online have a look at this maybe you find something you are looking for. hope i could help.
     
  14. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master of Arts

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    Hey Billy,
    The original poster specifically stated in the title of the thread "Where can I buy a good quality katana?
    That web site you linked to wouldn't recognize a good quality katana if you bounced one off their head several times whilst yelling "THIS IS A GOOD QUALITY KATANA!"
    They are selling wall hanger swords to people who don't know any better, which is why the OP asked the question here rather than just Googling for it like you did. :)
     
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  15. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    I don't know what the exchange rate for the pound against the dollar is at the moment but I do know a 'Ninja' sword for under $12 isn't going to be very good!
     
  16. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    At the time of this post $12 is £8.96...

    That ninja sword is such a bargain you won't see it coming :bag:
     
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