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M&J 07-14-2018 11:52 PM

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I must be crazy, back in the day I told myself that this would be a good project once my abilities reached a certain point. IDK...:lol Those I've talked to say it is A LOT of work.

jimmontg 07-15-2018 11:25 PM

Mike, making a 12" double edged dagger is a lot of work too.
But I did it anyway, most of the second part of getting the bevels perfectly even was by hand too. I also ground out a Wakizashi out of O1. Using the knowledge I acquired from that I could go longer in length if I had a reason to like money in the 4 digit range, but not just to try for the sake of trying. I'm older now and don't want to spend that much time and trouble just to show I can.

Now I would guess a Katana would not be much different than those two and you'll have only two bevels, not four like the dagger. You may want to budget twice as more time than how long you think it will take, just to be safe. I presume you're going to forge it? If you forge you will have to give decarburization some serious consideration.

You might consider doing a Wakizashi first, I made one out of a bar of O1, 3/16" x 2"x 24" using stock removal which I think is easier, or at least faster, it was 18" long with a 8" handle when I was done. I had access to a power roller with a groove in it for bending a piece of bar to a curve and managed to give it almost two inches of curvature. Without a power roll and to use the stock removal method you would have to buy stock 4" wide at a minimum (example; a one inch wide blade and up to three inches of curvature) and that gets to be expensive, so you see why forging at least some may be preferable by heating it up to bend it.

I could have made that blade longer, but the oven was only 24" deep. I sold that Wakizashi rather quickly, but not for as much as I hoped, because I didn't know how to do a proper handle wrap. That's important if you wish to maximize its value and don't forget the sheath, or maybe scabbard might be a better term? Finishing a sword is where a lot of time is spent if you want it to be perfect, or at least the best it can be. I decided after hand sanding a linear grain onto the Wakizashi for 8 hours that a satin finish would be best. O1 is a lot more abrasion resistant than 1084 it would seem. LOL

Oh if you want to get fancy and make it out of Damascus it will take longer still. If you just try stock removal I would suggest S5 or S7 tool steel as it is a shock resisting steel even at higher hardness. S5 is capable of reaching Rc 63 with an oil quench and Rc 65 with a water quench. Both are available at Cincinnati Tool Steel. They also have L6, but only in 3/8" plate or thicker, but they will shear it to size.

Michael, have you ever worked with A11?

M&J 07-16-2018 11:04 PM

Thanks for the steel suggestions!

I'd acquired one of Bob Engnath's blades many years back and that is the one pictured. Been sitting in the corner of the shop waiting for me. A bit back I'd taken in an unknown maker's tanto blade with other knives on a trade. The hamon on that tanto is faint. Was going to get some practice polishing his blade out. Then was considering if that turns out well I'll look into those steels for a tanto type project and work up a bit. That will lead into polishing and building up Bob's blade.

No time line on this. The suspicion is that this may be a year long+ project. :eek:

jimmontg 07-17-2018 09:29 PM

Very nice Tanto.
It looks very well made and detailed. A Bob Engnath blade too? Shoot I think I'd clean that up and sell it.
I'm working off memory from the 90's, but I seem to remember a knife maker who used the S series steels for knives and he used a water quench and didn't have any cracking issues. I have only heat treated it in an industrial situation and quenched it in oil, but they were thick punches and dies for punching through metal. Pretty much by the machinist's book.

M&J 07-19-2018 12:47 PM

This will be an interesting project. The tanto is nicely crafted lacking only in the blade polishing. Is well polished save for some 600 grit scratches that run diagonal to the blade. I suspect that the prior owner may have attempted clean something on the blade damaging the original finish. I applied a bit of white vinegar to see if that would bring the hamon out and it does.

This is a well crafted piece just that it doesn't show any signs of a maker's ID mark. I've had the handle off unless the maker marked it under the habaki. Will take the tanto apart this week and study.

M&J 03-10-2020 09:09 PM

I rubbed it a bit today and along the way dipped it in a mild vinegar solution to check the hamon. It doesn't want to come out. Any suggestions on etchant ratios or solutions? The vinegar is at 1:1 ratio.

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