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Katanas

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by falconer, Jan 13, 2003.

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  1. falconer

    falconer Member

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    I recently picked up a set of katana's off of ebay. I collect various sharp pointy things from time to time and have some weapons hanging on the wall.

    I only bought it to really hang on the wall with the sai, kukhri etc..

    My problem is that it isn't as sharp as I'd like. I'd like to sharpen it some in the event that I wanna take it out and play with it some. I know the traditional method for "sharpening" is called polishing, but I really know nothing about it.

    This isn't some antique blade so I'm not real worried about screwing it up, its just a play thing. Is this something I can undertake myself or am I better off finding someone who teaches Japanese sword and have them point me in the direction of someone I could pay to do it.
     
  2. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    What kind of metal are your blades made of? Honestly, having a pro sharpen these will probably cost you more than you paid for them.
     
  3. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Stainless? Cast wallhanger? Forged carbon Hanwei/Bugei?
     
  4. Invisible Swordsman

    Invisible Swordsman Member

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    We really need to know what kind of katana you got before anybody can make a recommendation. If it's a cheap wallhanger it would probably be safer to leave it on the wall and not sharpen it at all. Many of the cheap ones are so poorly constructed that it simply isn't safe to use them for anything other than display.
     
  5. MrAcheson

    MrAcheson Member

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    Have to agree with Invisible Swordsman here. If you bought a typical stainless wallhanger set I would highly recommend leaving it dull and on the rack. There is a reason they are marked "For display purposes only." Some of them have very weak tangs which have been known to break at the least provocation.

    If you bought a "beater" sword then take a look at the edge geoemetry. If its a true curved "moran" edge and you want to keep that feature of the sword then it needs to be professionally polished. More likely its a flatter saber grind or a two-stage saber grind. Swordforum has something on this if you don't know what I mean. If thats the case then you can sharpen it with a stone without damaging the blade much.
     
  6. CWL

    CWL Member

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    To add my 2 cents.

    A legitimate sword polisher usually charges at least $30 PER INCH, and this is for basic sharpening/polish. This price goes into orbit when you want someone in Japan to do it for you.

    Then there is the usual 1 to 2 year waiting period...
     
  7. Arikay

    Arikay Member

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    Yep, first we need to knwo what its made out of.

    If its of high enough quality to sharpen, if it has a more traditional edge, where there isnt a secondary bevel, sometimes you can touch up a dull edge with a diamond stone, without messing up the edge much.
     
  8. Bruz

    Bruz Member

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    Where do I apply for that job! Why does someone need a sword that highly polished?
     
  9. Arikay

    Arikay Member

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    The expense is for a traditional polish, which takes a lot of time and skill to do right.

    On a high quality katana there are many things going on in the blade. The point of the high quality polisher is to bring them out and allow them to be seen.
     
  10. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    The reason the polishing costs so much is the skill and time involved in it. The traditional method of polishing requires years of apprenticeship to learn and it's like the proverbial grading of cotton--a machine can't do it right.

    The traditional edge on a Japanese sword is a continuous convex curve from the edge back to the spine. To take a stone along the edge and create the "bright line" bevel like you would on your kitchen knives would ruin it. In America we call this a "Moran" edge as someone noted above.

    Polishing the blade in such a way as to keep that curve correct on both sides and the edge straight and truly sharp can't be an easy task. It's probably well worth the money (but that doesn't make it any easier to cough up!)

    All this is, of course, based only my own fairly sporadic understanding of Japanese blades. It is entirely possible that most or all of it is wrong. However, if you mistake me for an expert, you get what you deserve.
     
  11. Bruz

    Bruz Member

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    However, if you mistake me for an expert, you get what you deserve.

    Got me sold! So the $30. an inch polishing to a razor sharp edge is just for looks? I know they used to be for liberating the oponints head from the body, but is there any practical use anymore?
     
  12. Arikay

    Arikay Member

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    Well not to a razor sharp edge, as thats not needed. but very sharp. :)

    Partly for looks. a well polished blade looks amazing. Also as someone else mentioned, it keeps the correct blade geometry, as a katana doesnt have a secondary bevel.
     
  13. MrAcheson

    MrAcheson Member

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    The reason behind the convex edge is a combination of strength and sharpness. The convex shape of the blade geometry gives you more metal towards the edge so its stronger, but its still excellent for cutting if you use good technique. Its the technique which is the key because a convex katana is less sharp to the touch than a typical beveled western sword. A similar pointed oval geometry was used on some western swords as well, most notably scottish claymore greatswords.

    Katanas also look really nice if you have them treated to bring out the hamon (temper line). A true katana is differentially temperated with a softer spine and harder edge. A good polish will bring this temper line out as will some simple acid washes.
     
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