How the Katana Sword is Created

The Katana is the sword of choice for Samurai, the military nobility of feudal Japan (1185-1600) up through the Edo period (1603-1868). Known for their upward-facing cutting edge and ability to draw and cut with a single motion, it is also prized for its artistic qualities found in its fittings.

The smiths of the katana create it from a combination of high- and low-carbon steels called tamahagane. These are fired at high temperatures in a traditional smelting process that results in multiple layers of metal with differing carbon concentrations. This allows the back edge and core to contract more freely than the blade, resulting in the characteristic curved shape of a katana.

Once the steel has reached its critical temperature, it is pulled from the fire and plunged into a trough of water in a rapid cool down known as quenching. This allows the metallurgy of the sword to balance three conflicting characteristics: it must be hard enough to cut through iron and other tough materials, but also flexible enough to bend and absorb shock.

The sword is then tempered to produce its hard spring temper and polished to a mirror finish, making it razor sharp. The handle is wrapped with ray skin and bound with silk or cotton cord. The scabbard is made of lacquered wood and can be as simple or ornate as the owner wishes. When properly maintained, a katana can last for generations. Manga Katana collection

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