How the Katana Sword Is Made

As a symbol of Japan’s national identity and an embodiment of its traditional craftsmanship, the Katana is revered for its beauty and deadly cutting prowess. Its unparalleled sharpness comes from a special smelting process and a unique sword-making technique. But despite the legendary nature of this cherished weapon, its crafters face challenges from modern production techniques that can produce similar weapons faster and more cheaply.

To create the perfect Katana, a blacksmith forged two different types of steel together. The hard, high-carbon steel forms the blade’s exterior and deadly razor-sharp edge, while the tough, low-carbon steel is used to form the core of the sword. This combination – known as tamahagane – gives the Katana its highly sought-after qualities: not to break or bend, and to be sharp as hell.

Once the smith has forged the tamahagane, he or she must forge it into the shape of a sword. The smith hammers the hard, high-carbon steel to shape it into its famous curved form. He or she also hammers the softer, lower-carbon steel to create its ridge line and to give the katana its distinct shape.

The smith then attaches the tang to the handle, which is made from wood, using a wooden peg called Mekugi. The Mekugi helps to fix the tang to the tsuka and offers the handle its decorative side. The tsuka is then wrapped with samegawa, an outer layer of ray skin. The samegawa can be either genuine ray skin or synthetic material. Ornament pieces, known as menuki, are nailed to the samegawa and serve to further decorate the handle of the katana. Manga Katana collection

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