The Katana sword is one of the most iconic weapons in history. It was the weapon of choice for samurai warriors of feudal Japan and is recognized by its slender blade that reaches between the arm and shoulder, allowing it to be drawn and struck in a single motion. It is also known for its elegant hilt and scabbard, with craftsmen adding gold inlays, intricate carvings, or other decorative elements to the fittings of the sword.
Unlike other swords, the katana is made of folded layers of metal that are heated and hammered into shape before being refined with files and planes. The smith creates an outer layer called kawagane that is wrapped around a softer iron core, or shingane, to give the blade its combination of strength and flexibility. The wavy line or “hamon” that runs down the middle of the blade is a visual sign of this differential heat treatment process called yaki-ire.
While other cutting tools are quenched in oil, a katana is heated and cooled in water. This gives the blade superior hardness along its edge and a softer, more resilient spine for shock absorption. The sword is then sent to a polisher, who uses a series of progressively finer stones to bring out the beauty of the hamon and the grain pattern of the folded steel. The polishing of a katana can take as long as the forging process itself. The final step is to create and assemble the hilt, or tsuka, and scabbard, or saya, which are also completed by other specialized craftsmen. buy the katana here