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Making a Katana

Making a Katana

The steps below illustrate the main stages in creating a katana

A wall hanging display is available which contains blades from each stage of the creation process, see below for more information

1) Rough Forging

The blade is formed by hot forging a billet
of high-carbon steel. The repeated hammering provides an
even dispersion of carbon throughout the steel for uniform
strength of the finished blade.

2) Rough Shaping

The scale is removed and the blade is shaped
roughly to the required dimensions. At this stage, the steel is still in
the annealed (soft) state and the blade is straight.

3) Clay Covering

A special clay is applied to the blade by
hand, using a thin covering near the edge and a thicker
layer over the rest of the blade. This results in a relatively
quicker cooling of the edge during quenching, producing a
hard edge and softer back.

4) Quenching

This is a critical part of the operation. The blade,
with its clay covering, is heated to a predetermined temperature
and quenched in a water bath. The shape and continuity of the
hamon, the sori (blade curvature), and blade straightness are all
determined by the care and skill exercised in quenching.

5) Sizing

The sori is adjusted if necessary, to set the point
of balance and point of percussion, and de-scaled. Rough
polishing is carried out to size the blade accurately. The
habaki (blade collar) is fitted.

6) Finishing

Careful final polishing and fine finish work are carried
out on the various surfaces to define ridgelines and bring out the
beauty of the hamon.


The saya is carved from two pieces of wood to match
the length, width, thickness and curvature of the finished
blade. The two halves are then wrapped in cambric and
lacquered numerous times. Final polishing gives the saya
finish a high gloss.


The handle core is comprised of two pieces of
hardwood carved to tightly fit onto the tang. Channels are
carved into the sides to facilitate two panels of ray skin.
The entire handle is then wrapped with high quality woven
cotton while small paper triangles are used to help shape
the wrap correctly. The Menuki and Kashira are added during this process.


The sageo is typically woven of high quality cotton
to match the handle wrap. In some cases, the sageo is still
woven by hand (see Paper Crane next page), this process
requires many hours of skilled hand labor but allows thematic designs to be carried into the sageo.


Finally all the pieces can be assembled and the
handle securely fastened to the tang. This is accomplished
with the addition of two bamboo pegs through the handle
and tang.

Parts of a Samurai Sword

The large image below details every part of a samurai sword, giving the traditional name and the english translation

Katana Forging Process Display (OH2154)

This is an elegant display articulating the highly skilled process of forging and polishing a high carbon steel
Katana blade. Each step in the process is clearly displayed and explained, using smaller (18½”) versions of Katana blades that
have undergone exactly the same processes as full-sized blades. This display is both aesthetically pleasing and highly educational.

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