Before guns dominated warfare, the sword was the weapon of choice for samurai, the fierce warriors of feudal Japan. Their deadly blades, katana, were slender and elegant, and the smiths who created them aspired for perfection in their craft. Today, the katana continues to be prized as a symbol of the Japanese culture and as an embodiment of its traditional craftsmanship.
To make a katana, the smith first heats hard, high-carbon steel known as tamahagane and forges it into a long, U-shaped channel. He then hammers tough, low-carbon steel into the channel, merging the two metals together. The resulting combination of strength and resilience is what makes a katana so powerful, able to take a devastating blow while retaining its shape.
After the sword is forged, it is cooled quickly in water in a process called quenching. This cool-down allows the softer, lower-carbon steel on the body and spine to contract more than the higher-carbon edge, creating the distinctive curve of the blade. It also hardens the edge, making it incredibly sharp and durable.
Once the sword is tempered, it is finished with a Saya (sheath) made by a sheath craftsman and a sword-fittings maker (tsuba, fuchigashira, kogai). The sword-smith modifies the curvature of the Katana with a Sen, and checks for scratches on the blade surface, its thickness and Jiba. He also drills a Mekugi hole for securing the Tsuka to the handle grip with a screw, and polishes it. find out more information