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Posted: 10/9/2007 11:11:23 AM EST
Examine the thousand-year-old art and science behind the making of a Japanese warrior's key weapon.




www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:12:35 AM EST
Thanks, sounds like good viewing.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:26:48 AM EST
DVR is set to stun.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:31:30 AM EST
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:34:07 AM EST

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.


Umm...steel?
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:36:02 AM EST

Originally Posted By Kylaer_:

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.


Umm...steel?


Thats what mine are made of!!!
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:37:20 AM EST
REAL ones are made of steel and iron, folded a few hundred times.

Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:46:37 AM EST
Damascus steel.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:48:35 AM EST

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.


how they were made is the real question ..


its a lost art ..
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:51:24 AM EST

Originally Posted By cluster:

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.


how they were made is the real question ..


its a lost art ..


Actually, there are several Masters still making swords in Japan. Some are paid by the Govn't to pass on the art to willing students.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:58:37 AM EST

Originally Posted By cluster:

how they were made is the real question ..


its a lost art ..


They know exactly how they were made. There are still people making them in the traditional manner; not many, admittedly, but they still exist.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 12:12:20 PM EST
A few smiths did continue their trade, and Dr. Honma went on to be a founding figure of the Society for the Preservation of the Japanese Sword (日本美術刀剣保存協会, Nippon Bijutsu Tōken Hozon Kyōkai?), who made it their mission to preserve the old techniques and blades. With the efforts of other like-minded individuals, the katana avoided disappearing and many swordsmiths have continued the work begun by Masahide, re-discovering old swordmaking techniques in the process.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 12:17:02 PM EST
Masamune Okazaki[1] (岡崎 正宗 Okazaki Masamune), also known as Goro Nyudo Masamune (Priest Goro Masamune)[2], is widely recognized as Japan's greatest swordsmith. As no exact dates are known for Masamune's life, he has reached an almost legendary status. It is generally agreed that he made most of his swords in the early-to-mid 1300s, 1288 - 1328. He created swords, known as katana in Japanese and daggers called tantō, in the Soshu tradition. He is believed to have lived and worked in the Sagami Province. An award for swordsmiths exists called the Masamune prize which is awarded at the Japanese Sword Making Competition. Although not awarded every year it is presented to a swordsmith who has created an exceptional work.[3]

Link Posted: 10/9/2007 12:22:29 PM EST
Gonna tune in because I make my living with steel.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 12:28:35 PM EST

Originally Posted By chronium76:
Masamune Okazaki[1] (岡崎 正宗 Okazaki Masamune), also known as Goro Nyudo Masamune (Priest Goro Masamune)[2], is widely recognized as Japan's greatest swordsmith. As no exact dates are known for Masamune's life, he has reached an almost legendary status. It is generally agreed that he made most of his swords in the early-to-mid 1300s, 1288 - 1328. He created swords, known as katana in Japanese and daggers called tantō, in the Soshu tradition. He is believed to have lived and worked in the Sagami Province. An award for swordsmiths exists called the Masamune prize which is awarded at the Japanese Sword Making Competition. Although not awarded every year it is presented to a swordsmith who has created an exceptional work.[3]



I'll bet they still don't know the answer to the "Riddle of Steel".
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 1:06:47 PM EST

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.



Even with modern steels and techniques you really can't beat the way they were actually made back then.
Modern science is still learning how to copy thier 1200 year old techiniques.

A sword with different heat treatments for the front and back, diffrent metals for the front and back, inside and outside. Just the right mix of strength and flexiblity, rigid yet able to absorb and transfer shock without breaking. All mixed with a design and construction technique that has almost no room for improvement, even today.

About the only thing modern steels can add is silcon spring steel, and powder steel. But they don't improve it much.

A proper nihonto blade is stronger, lighter and sharper than any modern steel blade. Thier incredible beauty is simply a side effect.

A better question would be: what modern steel designs could be improved with techniques from the samuri sword?
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 1:35:42 PM EST

Originally Posted By LoginName:

Originally Posted By chronium76:
Masamune Okazaki[1] (岡崎 正宗 Okazaki Masamune), also known as Goro Nyudo Masamune (Priest Goro Masamune)[2], is widely recognized as Japan's greatest swordsmith. As no exact dates are known for Masamune's life, he has reached an almost legendary status. It is generally agreed that he made most of his swords in the early-to-mid 1300s, 1288 - 1328. He created swords, known as katana in Japanese and daggers called tantō, in the Soshu tradition. He is believed to have lived and worked in the Sagami Province. An award for swordsmiths exists called the Masamune prize which is awarded at the Japanese Sword Making Competition. Although not awarded every year it is presented to a swordsmith who has created an exceptional work.[3]



I'll bet they still don't know the answer to the "Riddle of Steel".



"Flesh is stronger than steel! What is the sword without the hand to weild it?" Thulsa Doom
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 1:43:17 PM EST

Originally Posted By StudentofLiberty:

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.



Even with modern steels and techniques you really can't beat the way they were actually made back then.
Modern science is still learning how to copy thier 1200 year old techiniques.

A sword with different heat treatments for the front and back, diffrent metals for the front and back, inside and outside. Just the right mix of strength and flexiblity, rigid yet able to absorb and transfer shock without breaking. All mixed with a design and construction technique that has almost no room for improvement, even today.

About the only thing modern steels can add is silcon spring steel, and powder steel. But they don't improve it much.

A proper nihonto blade is stronger, lighter and sharper than any modern steel blade. Thier incredible beauty is simply a side effect.

A better question would be: what modern steel designs could be improved with techniques from the samuri sword?




I don't know enough about sword steel to counter or add-to your post.

But I DO know that modern knife blade steels are getting better all the time. Tough, yet hard. Able to hold an edge, yet easier to sharpen.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 2:02:18 PM EST
I thought the riddle of steel was:
To see your enemy driven before you and hear the lamentation of the women?
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 3:15:09 PM EST

Originally Posted By Kylaer_:

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.


Umm...steel?


There are dozens of classes of steel defined by American, European and Japanese standards.

After that, there are heat treatments.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 3:16:34 PM EST
The riddle of steel is "no living thing can you trust, not man, not beast. This- *hefting sword*- this, you can trust".

Ancient damascus steel is a pretty darn good steel for swords, and they finally figured out how to make it again. It took a certain type of steel to begin with; without the technique, the steel wasn't any better than what regular forges turned out. Without the steel, the technique didn't turn out any superior blades. It required both, and they finally figured out the lost secret to true damascus steel.

Note that nearly all 'damascus' blades are simply etched to look like damascus steel.

Angel Swords makes some pretty good swords in the traditional techniques, including genuine damascus swords. Hefty price though, and while the wood is beautiful, I don't like their scabbards. Too bulky/block-of-wood for my taste.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 4:58:53 PM EST
Good show.

Obviously most of us will never see let alone own a sword like we saw on the show

Patrick
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:02:06 PM EST
height=8
Originally Posted By Cpt_Kirks:
REAL ones are made of steel and iron, folded a few hundred times.



not just a few hundred times, its folded 2 to the 32nd power. I watched a show on PBS similar to the one that aired tonight. The thickness of samuri swords are unbelievable.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:03:40 PM EST
any chance of a youtube link?
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:04:00 PM EST
Originally Posted By Swindle1984:
The riddle of steel is "no living thing can you trust, not man, not beast. This- *hefting sword*- this, you can trust".

ahhh...Conan the barbarian..what a flick! theres no other like it in my book! :)
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:06:02 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/9/2007 5:08:49 PM EST by CarbineDad]

I'll bet they still don't know the answer to the "Riddle of Steel".



Found on the battle field by man , not Gods, not Giants, just men.


ETA All your Page 2s are crushed and driven before me
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:07:38 PM EST

Originally Posted By Cpt_Kirks:
REAL ones are made of steel and iron, folded a few hundred times.



Wrong.

There may be a few hundred layers, but the metal was not folded a "few hundred times"
Just folding the metal 25 times will give you 33,554,432 layers.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:08:19 PM EST
Good show, if you missed it it is worth wading through the folklore crap to watch the artists at thier craft.

The traditions of metal working was broken down into simple ideas with enough detail to keep it interesting.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:17:25 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/9/2007 5:19:53 PM EST by M14chud]
Surely you have all seen this gem.


Japanese neck chopper VS Ma Duece
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:19:54 PM EST

Originally Posted By Swindle1984:


Angel Swords makes some pretty good swords in the traditional techniques, including genuine damascus swords. Hefty price though, and while the wood is beautiful, I don't like their scabbards. Too bulky/block-of-wood for my taste.


They invest all that effort into the blade and use crap castings for the crossguards and pommel and then wood grips on the hilt.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 4:51:22 AM EST

Originally Posted By StudentofLiberty:

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.



Even with modern steels and techniques you really can't beat the way they were actually made back then.
Modern science is still learning how to copy thier 1200 year old techiniques.

A sword with different heat treatments for the front and back, diffrent metals for the front and back, inside and outside. Just the right mix of strength and flexiblity, rigid yet able to absorb and transfer shock without breaking. All mixed with a design and construction technique that has almost no room for improvement, even today.

About the only thing modern steels can add is silcon spring steel, and powder steel. But they don't improve it much.

A proper nihonto blade is stronger, lighter and sharper than any modern steel blade. Thier incredible beauty is simply a side effect.

A better question would be: what modern steel designs could be improved with techniques from the samuri sword?


How about keeping the high carbon steel deep V, but use an alloyed steel core like Aermet or a resilient cromoly alloy?
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:03:22 AM EST
Good show...saw most of it. What really impressed me was the initial part where they showed the handmade furnace...adding the iron and carbon and cooking it for three or four days until it is just right. Then they tear down the furnace with hand tools to get at the steel that has been "cooked". I could not understand how they tolerated the amount of heat that must have been present, wearing only regular clothing and hats (cotton?). Amazing stuff. The amount of human labor that goes into one sword hand made in the traditional way...affordable by only the weathiest today.

I saw the part on polishing the sword...by a skilled sword polisher, but don't remember anything about the sharpening step. Did the polisher also do the sharpening of the sword?

dvo
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:05:44 AM EST

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.


L6/bainite

You take L6 steel and heat treat it in molten salts. If you do it properly the crystalline structure will be bainite.

Howard Clark (the Swordsmith) pioneered this technique, although I’m sure there are other people doing it now.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:06:41 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/10/2007 5:07:13 AM EST by LvFreeRDie]
If you are ever in Tokyo I know if a real cool little shop that has authentic samurai swords and armor. It's a really neat place...except everything in it is RIDICULOUSLY expensive.

I have no idea if it's worth what they're asking, but it's fun just to look.

Anyway, if you ever go to the Asakusa Kannon Temple in Tokyo there are a hundred tourist trap shops out front in a long row in front of the shrine. Skip all these. Go straight to the shrine, walk around the shrine to the left and find the tourist bus parking lot. Go just past the bus parking lot and around the corner. The shop is tucked away on the right.

Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:14:57 AM EST
damn it I missed it
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:19:41 AM EST
I made a cool knife from a old file once.
Came out pretty good for a high school shop major. Some fucker stole it
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:21:22 AM EST

Originally Posted By patsue:
Good show.

Obviously most of us will never see let alone own a sword like we saw on the show

Patrick

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, there are (or at least were) a number of priceless ancient Japanese swords on display. They are a sight to behold.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:26:49 AM EST

Originally Posted By GOBLIN1:
Actually, there are several Masters still making swords in Japan. Some are paid by the Govn't to pass on the art to willing students.


There are a number of Japanese who are known as "living treasures" that are essentially paid by the government to keep traditional arts alive. It's considered vital to maintaining Japanese culture.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:31:18 AM EST

Originally Posted By LvFreeRDie:
If you are ever in Tokyo I know if a real cool little shop that has authentic samurai swords and armor. It's a really neat place...except everything in it is RIDICULOUSLY expensive.


Given that it takes weeks just to polish a traditionally made blade, "ridiculously" expensive starts to make sense.

The swords made in the traditional way have an unbelievable amount of labor involved in their production.

Swords were not throw-away items in Japanese history.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:32:23 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/10/2007 5:33:12 AM EST by John_Wayne777]

Originally Posted By thirsty:
In the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, there are (or at least were) a number of priceless ancient Japanese swords on display. They are a sight to behold.


They are even better to hold.

The balance on a truly well made blade is amazing. Balanced properly they feel almost weightless in the hand.

I wish SteyrAug was here. He knows a bunch about real Samurai blades.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:36:23 AM EST

Originally Posted By dvo:
Good show...saw most of it. What really impressed me was the initial part where they showed the handmade furnace...adding the iron and carbon and cooking it for three or four days until it is just right. Then they tear down the furnace with hand tools to get at the steel that has been "cooked". I could not understand how they tolerated the amount of heat that must have been present, wearing only regular clothing and hats (cotton?). Amazing stuff. The amount of human labor that goes into one sword hand made in the traditional way...affordable by only the weathiest today.

I saw the part on polishing the sword...by a skilled sword polisher, but don't remember anything about the sharpening step. Did the polisher also do the sharpening of the sword?

dvo


Yes, the polisher makes the cutting edge.

Regarding the show; which I really enjoyed, here's something they didn't talk about.
It's my understanding that the Japanese have made it something of a national mission to purchase back all antique samurai swords now in non-Japanese collections.

As far as the "new production" swords (the real ones made by the living master craftsmen), are they available for purchase by non-Japanese at any price? Or are they for domestic consumption only?
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:39:30 AM EST
I still mess around with custom knife building. There are some fantastic Damascus steel, the term for folded and hammer welded steel, makers around. The fancy designs only come with an acid etch. The acid reacts differently with the different kinds of steel causing the design.

Damascus steel is horrible expensive since it is very labor intensive, even with an auto hammer like a little giant.

A lot of the sword blades strength comes from the heat treatment methods. The wavy line (sorry I'm not a sword guy I don't recall the name) is from the dip into water to heat treat it. This leaves different parts of the blade at different hardnesses.

Considering that real samurai swords were built over 1000 years ago they are truly amazing, irreplaceable artifacts.

Joe


Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:42:04 AM EST

Originally Posted By StudentofLiberty:

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.



Even with modern steels and techniques you really can't beat the way they were actually made back then.
Modern science is still learning how to copy thier 1200 year old techiniques.

A sword with different heat treatments for the front and back, diffrent metals for the front and back, inside and outside. Just the right mix of strength and flexiblity, rigid yet able to absorb and transfer shock without breaking. All mixed with a design and construction technique that has almost no room for improvement, even today.

About the only thing modern steels can add is silcon spring steel, and powder steel. But they don't improve it much.

A proper nihonto blade is stronger, lighter and sharper than any modern steel blade. Thier incredible beauty is simply a side effect.

A better question would be: what modern steel designs could be improved with techniques from the samuri sword?


That’s not really true…

The Japanese techniques were good when you had crappy metal to work with and needed to make a functional sword.

The Japanese couldn’t make large quantities of good steel. They used a kind of sand for iron ore and smelted it into a low grade iron called tamahagane. They would break up chunks of the tamahagane and divide it up by quality. The harder stuff (high carbon steel) they used for the edges and the softer stuff (iron or mild steel) they used for the spine. All that folding was done to spread out any impurities in the metal as concentrations of impurities could cause weaknesses.

Once the blade was forged it was coated in clay with the edge exposed. Then the clay coated blade was heated to red hot and quenched. This caused the edge to harden while the spine cooled slower. This quenching process also gave the blade its curve. The blade was then polished, which is an art in itself, and fitted.

The result was a sword with a hard edge, a soft spine, and a lot of interesting patterns in the steel from where it had all been welded together and folded. The polishing is what brings out the patterns in the blade as well as the temper line (hamon.) They work quite well when the user knows their strengths and limitations. They tend to bend quite easily with a bad cut and the edges can easily chip when cutting something hard, such as armor. But, they will cut very well.

The techniques are not, in any way, a lost art. Blades are still being made in the traditional way in Japan and elsewhere. While there were some past masters of the art who are rarely equaled, calling it a lost art would be like calling sculpture a lost art because Michelangelo is dead.

Modern steel is simply superior in all respects to the traditional Japanese steel and Japanese swords made from modern steel will outperform swords made from traditional steel. Folding is no longer necessary as the modern steel doesn’t have any concentrations of impurities. Still, for appearances, modern steel Japanese swords often are folded.

Every time you heat and weld the steel you lose some steel and some carbon too. Ten folds will give a blade with 1,024 layers. Swords aren’t folded hundreds of thousands of times. They are folded 10 or 12.

And if you modify the Japanese heat treatment you can get a sword with a spring tempered spine. This makes a sword that is much less prone to bend but that won’t break with use.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:52:50 AM EST
Watched it. Pretty cool show.


Now... as long as we are on the subject.

Anyone know where to get more information about a Katana? We have had one in our family for who knows how long. It's been passed down from Father to first born son for as long as anyone can remember. It shows some wear on the pommel and handle and such, but the blade is still pretty much razor sharp after all of these years.

Never really had anyone look at the thing, its always just been in its case, wrapped in silk. I'll get some pics tonight or tomorrow and see if there are any markings on it that might show a maker stamp or something.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:55:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By Thuban:

Originally Posted By StudentofLiberty:

Originally Posted By SDeadeye:
I'm supposed to watch the show for my Properties of Materials course...our semester project is to decide what material would be best to make a samurai sword out of, and why.



Even with modern steels and techniques you really can't beat the way they were actually made back then.
Modern science is still learning how to copy thier 1200 year old techiniques.

A sword with different heat treatments for the front and back, diffrent metals for the front and back, inside and outside. Just the right mix of strength and flexiblity, rigid yet able to absorb and transfer shock without breaking. All mixed with a design and construction technique that has almost no room for improvement, even today.

About the only thing modern steels can add is silcon spring steel, and powder steel. But they don't improve it much.

A proper nihonto blade is stronger, lighter and sharper than any modern steel blade. Thier incredible beauty is simply a side effect.

A better question would be: what modern steel designs could be improved with techniques from the samuri sword?


That’s not really true…

The Japanese techniques were good when you had crappy metal to work with and needed to make a functional sword.

The Japanese couldn’t make large quantities of good steel. They used a kind of sand for iron ore and smelted it into a low grade iron called tamahagane. They would break up chunks of the tamahagane and divide it up by quality. The harder stuff (high carbon steel) they used for the edges and the softer stuff (iron or mild steel) they used for the spine. All that folding was done to spread out any impurities in the metal as concentrations of impurities could cause weaknesses.

Once the blade was forged it was coated in clay with the edge exposed. Then the clay coated blade was heated to red hot and quenched. This caused the edge to harden while the spine cooled slower. This quenching process also gave the blade its curve. The blade was then polished, which is an art in itself, and fitted.

The result was a sword with a hard edge, a soft spine, and a lot of interesting patterns in the steel from where it had all been welded together and folded. The polishing is what brings out the patterns in the blade as well as the temper line (hamon.) They work quite well when the user knows their strengths and limitations. They tend to bend quite easily with a bad cut and the edges can easily chip when cutting something hard, such as armor. But, they will cut very well.

The techniques are not, in any way, a lost art. Blades are still being made in the traditional way in Japan and elsewhere. While there were some past masters of the art who are rarely equaled, calling it a lost art would be like calling sculpture a lost art because Michelangelo is dead.

Modern steel is simply superior in all respects to the traditional Japanese steel and Japanese swords made from modern steel will outperform swords made from traditional steel. Folding is no longer necessary as the modern steel doesn’t have any concentrations of impurities. Still, for appearances, modern steel Japanese swords often are folded.

Every time you heat and weld the steel you lose some steel and some carbon too. Ten folds will give a blade with 1,024 layers. Swords aren’t folded hundreds of thousands of times. They are folded 10 or 12.

And if you modify the Japanese heat treatment you can get a sword with a spring tempered spine. This makes a sword that is much less prone to bend but that won’t break with use.


I'd like to see them make a prison shank out of a bed slat. That's an art form!
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:58:19 AM EST
markings will be on the tang under the grip.Don't know how to take the grip off though!
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 6:06:03 AM EST
Very fascinating stuff. Saw a short glimpse once of Steven Segal's impressive sword collection. I'll google around and see if I can find some pics. It was a very complete collection.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 6:07:43 AM EST

Originally Posted By GOBLIN1:
markings will be on the tang under the grip.Don't know how to take the grip off though!


There should be a one-way pin holding the grip. It's just a slip fit but might take some persuasion to knock it out.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 6:10:01 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/10/2007 6:10:53 AM EST by Zeon46]
Great program. I like the way they used to test and rate the swords according to how well they sliced through criminals limbs and torsos. I suspect the 5 body sword was most excellent.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 6:17:12 AM EST
Anybody know where to find a reasonable faxscimile of a sword that won't break the bank? Obviously probably never own a real one, but I love the look of the Japanese sword.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 6:45:27 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/10/2007 6:46:43 AM EST by Thuban]

Originally Posted By Mudruck:
Watched it. Pretty cool show.


Now... as long as we are on the subject.

Anyone know where to get more information about a Katana? We have had one in our family for who knows how long. It's been passed down from Father to first born son for as long as anyone can remember. It shows some wear on the pommel and handle and such, but the blade is still pretty much razor sharp after all of these years.

Never really had anyone look at the thing, its always just been in its case, wrapped in silk. I'll get some pics tonight or tomorrow and see if there are any markings on it that might show a maker stamp or something.


The markings will be on the tang and probably written in Japanese. The tang will probably be rusted… it’s supposed to be as that rough surface helps hold the grip on. DO NOT oil the tang or do anyhting to try and clean the rust off.

Some of these blades are very valuable but if you don’t know what you are doing you can destroy the value in an instant. I haven’t lurked over there for years but www.swordforum.com used to be the place to go for information on swords. Someone there should be able to tell you how to get the blade appraised and what to do to care for it.
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