So, who knows anything about swords?
This is a discussion on So, who knows anything about swords? within the Defensive Knives & Other Weapons forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Well, let me clarify. I will not be taking this sword through the Black Gate of Mordor to challange Sauron himself. My life will likely ...
June 23rd, 2007 10:52 AM
Well, let me clarify. I will not be taking this sword through the Black Gate of Mordor to challange Sauron himself. My life will likely never depend on it. When I say a "real sword", I mean a sword that is capable of taking abuse without damage during practice and instruction.
I have no doubt that authentic Samurai swords (those built for and used by true Samurai) are indeed things of beauty and extremely well made, though I've never had the honor of seeing one in person.
I know I'm not enough of a metallurgist to make an authoritative statement on the topic, but I do know that the purpose of differential hardening (for example) is to produce a blade that is simultaneously hard to retain its edge and soft to absorb impact without cracking. There are other methods to achieve the same goal, like laminating a softer steel with a hard one, or "damascus" layering.
I've been trying to research through-hardening also, specifically using alloying agents (like the silicon alloy in the link in my OP) to produce the same or greater impact resistance as one of the non-homogenous heat-treatments, while alloying the steel to go martensitic through the entire blade for hardness.
From what I've found, it seems that non-homogenous heat-treatments (folded "damascus" layering especially) introduce stiffness variations in the metal which can cause stress concentration zones. These must be carefully managed to avoid internal cracks, and this is where the skill and care of the sword-maker becomes so important, as well as the skill and care of the sword's owner.
(As a side note, by my understanding, this problem also comes up when steel is folded and hammer welded many times, because the weld develops slightly different properties than the material around it, despite a uniform carbon (or other alloy) distribution. When starting with a low-quality steel, this is a necessary trade-off because it also forces out any impurities or air pockets, but with a high-purity steel, it would probably be a net loss in durability.)
Through-hardened monosteel blades don't have this problem, specifically because they're homogenous. It seems to me that a properly heat-treated and alloyed monosteel would accomplish the same goal as a differentially hardened blade without giving up any hardness or abuse tolerance. Now I just have to find out if it's true.
June 23rd, 2007 10:52 AM
June 23rd, 2007 02:12 PM
i have a collection of various katanas. i recommend cold steel's imperial version, but don't buy it from them directly. another site to check out is www.kriscutlery.com, as their swords are also fantastic. avoid hanwei/paul chen swords. the quality of their blades are spotty, at best. i own two, and both have chipped edges from tameshigiri (test cutting). if you're going to buy a katana. buy a bokken to go with it. do not buy a $10 POS, get something in oak or hickory, or even a polymer like cold steel's. miyamoto musashi used a bokken carved from an oar to kill at least two opponents armed with swords, so you can't discount their usefulness as a weapon. let us know what you decide!
June 23rd, 2007 02:31 PM
I'm planning to. I'd rather not cut my teeth (to make a pun) practicing with a real one just yet, though I do want to own one.
Originally Posted by jahwarrior72
June 23rd, 2007 04:36 PM
i forgot to mention the suburito. it's a type of bokken used to strengthen and condition the upper body; basically, they're mega bokken. they're actually closer to the weight of a full size katana. i own one made from ash, and it's improved my cutting technique. they don't cost much more than bokken, and will split a skull open pretty easily.
June 23rd, 2007 08:44 PM
Traditionally Katana are laminated steel of 2 or 3 different hardness/densities, with the softest on the inside layers.
This helps the sword remain intact during combat as the softer core flexs while the harder shell penetrates armor and anything else in the way.
If you are looking for "just something cool/semi functional" Then go for a nice surgical stainless sword with a full tang handle. A typical one will run much cheaper but will also be somewhat durable for your uses.
You would also be able to use it against an armed intruder if you had to, although I would recomend a great deal of training before attempting such a thing. Just do not go smacking it up against other swords, and it will last you for a long time...
PS. you really should at least hold a well crafted Katana. Truely is a work or art.
Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.
June 24th, 2007 12:41 PM
My 2 cents here.
For a non-traditional blade, I suggest Rob Criswell. His swords can be found here.
Rob's swords are great cutters and handle well, although they are indeed a far cry from shinken. They are also priced within the reach of the more casual user/collector.
For a more traditionally made katana, my vote would go to Rick Barrett of Barrett Custom Knives. I love Rick's work and someday hope to commission something from him.
There are many, many options out there, especially if a wall-hanger is are that's required.
For iaido, there are also quite a few good options.
If cutting is your thing, finding a reasonably priced katana for tamashigiri is pretty easy, but you'll pay quite a bit if you want differencial heat treat and traditional fittings.
Art swords, battle ready (haha), nihonto, etc, one can get any of these if you're willing to pay.
The Sword Forum is a great resource for you.
June 24th, 2007 05:58 PM
well, I took the plunge. One Cheness Tenchi ordered and on the way. I think it will do what I need it to. Now to start looking for a similarly weighted Bokken.
June 25th, 2007 04:46 PM
I know you've all ready made up your mind, but I thought I'd go ahead and add my own two cents.
You can buy anything you want, it doesn't matter how expensive it is. You can pay for a real Japanese katana made by a smith out Japan operating under all the government regulations and still get a great sword that turns to crap after half an hour of using it incorrectly.
I'm serious, even the really great ten grand swords can be easily bent or chipped if used improperly.
If you're looking to actually have a sword you can rely on defensively (for whatever reason you'd want a sword to use defensively O.o) get a big European sword, or take the time to enroll in classes that will instruct you on how to properly handle the thin and razor-sharp asian swords.
Alternatively, there are now American made alternatives that aren't as easily bent or harmed by mishandle. I remember one American smith with a very good product that was tested on video. The blade was placed in a vice and bent over as if trying to fold the blade on itself. It still took some warp, but not enough to make the blade unusable. They also used it to chop down small trees and repeatedly struck the edge against concrete ( resulting in at least one broken cinder block).
Point that I'm trying to make is if you want something to put on your wall, there's no need to buy a "real" sword. If you want something you can actually use, you need to become educated in how to handle it or be prepared to research something that could hold up to your abusing it.
Myself, I've been using a bokken (without proper instruction) for over a year in sparring matches with my friends and still don't feel I should own a sword. Besides, in a realistic scenario where I might need to defend myself, I'd be more likely to happen upon a stick than a sword.
June 26th, 2007 01:03 AM
Is this the type of test you're referring to? http://rsknives.co.uk/review.html
Originally Posted by FullFreyDog
Durability was a big concern of mine. I'm sure mistakes will be made, and I want the sword to be able to take it.
June 26th, 2007 04:01 PM
Originally Posted by Bob The Great
LOL... dang you. read through that to find, in the end, you can't buy one of their swords anymore. Seems they have suffered some health and financial set backs taking them out of business.
I read some interesting testing of various Japanese swords on types of bamboo and rattan rolls somewhere some time back.
June 26th, 2007 07:44 PM
The older I get, the more I look like Yoda, so I guess I'll wait for a light saber.
"If we loose Freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the Last Place on Earth!" Ronald Reagan
June 26th, 2007 07:58 PM
Well... I do have a buddy thats into Swords. However I sort of got recently interested in collecting a few Knives of WWII special opps types. Found another hobby I couldn't afford there. But did pick up two examples as close as I could get.
One being a Fairbarn and Sykes made by J Nowell and Sons of Shefield England. Closest I could get from an original maker but new one.
And then to get the American equivilent WWII special ops knife I had to go to the Paul Chen made replica V-42 to get the closest affordable authentic example of that one.
June 26th, 2007 08:09 PM
Thanks for the link. Pretty please post a review when you receive the sword.
My main (I suppose only) concern regarding the Cheness katana offerings would be the price. After seeing SO MANY crappy "samurai swords" or even worse, the dreaded "ninja sword" (because it makes complete sense for an spy/assassin to carry a sword that would identify him thusly ) I've become suspicious of less expensive options.
That said, the extreme/abusive test conducted by RS Knives was impressive to say the least.
June 27th, 2007 12:17 AM
I was suspicious about "budget" swords as well, but everything I've read on Cheness swords has been positive, except for some quality issues with the hilt on early models. By all accounts, those have been fixed, and every review of the blade itself has been stellar.
Originally Posted by arawn
I'll certainly post a review when mine arrives.
Here are a couple more interesting links to read for those in the market for budget swords.
June 27th, 2007 10:35 AM
The only thing I know about swords are....don't be the guy that brings one to a gunfight :-)
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