This page will document the forging of my first full-sized katana from start to finish. This is a shinogi-zukuri no-hi style.
This is actually the fulfillment of a dream. I used to train regularly in Japanese martial arts. One of the arts was Meishin Muso Ryu Iaido. I loved the swords, and purchased several different swords of varying quality but was always stymied because really good quality swords were simply not within my financial reach. I spent many an evening fantasizing about how cool it would be to be able to forge my own katana. At the time (approximately 14 years ago) the notion of actually being able to do this was straight-up ridiculous, but life is funny and you never know where its constant twists and turns will lead you, and as fate would have it here I am 14 years later preparing to do that very thing. Life gives, and life takes. Life has taken much, but this is one thing its given.
This project will be the whole enchilada. From rough forging a billet of 1095 high carbon steel, and differential heat treatment (clay method) to final polishing, as well as making the tsuka and saya, making the fittings (tsuba, fuchi, kashira, habaki, seppa), and finally mounting the blade. I’ll be doing it all and documenting it in this web page.
The blade will feature a real hamon resulting from the differential heat treatment, rather than the fake, acid etched hamon found on many low-end production katanas.
So, lets not fuck around any longer.
I’ve got my tenugui on, the forge is hot, and I’m ready to hammer. Lets get started 🙂
Into the fire it goes
My initial blows to thin down the width of the billet which is 1.3″ x .375″. The width of the sunobe will be 1.125″ at the machi tapering down to .875 at the kissaki, so clearly 1.25″ is way too big even at the big end of the blade. Not any actual forming here. Just squashing 🙂
This is the kissaki end of the billet hammered down to .875
Sadly, I cant take pictures and forge at the same time so there are big gaps in the action. This is the finished sunobe. Tghe sunobe is a “preform” shape that has no bevels, but contains the basic lines and tapers.
Here I’ve ground most of the forge scale off so I can make sure I have clean, straight lines and even tapers before I start forging the bevels.