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Peter Lyon
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Location: New Zealand
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Jul, 2015 5:53 pm    Post subject: Source of good quality katana blade?         Reply with quote

I may be looking for a katana blade shortly and want to know what are some good suppliers. I want a bare blade with fairly even curvature, as close as possible to traditional Japanese manufacture (clay tempered, layered, ideally composite construction) for around US$1000. This probably means no chance of getting an actual Japanese blade, but more likely a high-end Chinese blade or some other source. Any recommendations? Links to detailed close up photos of the surface would also be appreciated.
Still hammering away
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Jul, 2015 6:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do you want a sharp, suitable for cutting targets and yourself, or a display piece?
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Peter Lyon
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Location: New Zealand
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Jul, 2015 7:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sharp. The person who will own the sword can be trusted.
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Peter Lyon
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Location: New Zealand
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Jul, 2015 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am also prepared to buy a whole katana and dismantle it if necessary.
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Tim Harris
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Jul, 2015 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Peter, you might try Michael Fechner in Adelaide - although his blades are monosteel, and I don't know what heat-treating arrangements he has these days.
http://fechnerblades.atspace.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TimHarrisSwords
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Thu 30 Jul, 2015 10:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter,

I don't know how it works for Australia as far as import/export goes, but Hanwei/Paul Chen (not the same Paul Chen as Cheness blades, obviously) makes some very excellent production katana at MSRP's both below and above $1,000 USD in both through-hardened and differentially tempered versions. They tend to be of quite good and consistent quality.

If you want something more custom, such as a fancy temper job, you could try Sinoswords or Ryansword. Sinosword recently did a very large and heavy dao for a guy on one of the sword forums I frequent on Facebook for only around $600, and while it took longer than expected due to being a custom job they were extremely accommodating. If you use Ryansword, I would contact Donnie Reed on Facebook, he's their American representative and can probably talk to the company for you. You could quite likely get a nice blade for below 500, even, since you only want a blade. For that price you might even get it in shirasaya, which is a simple unfinished storage handle and scabbard.

Hope that helps.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Jul, 2015 11:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Howard Clark, without a doubt.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Jul, 2015 5:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been happy with my Bugei dragonfly. It's a little more than 1000, but they have some other options that are closer. I have wondered about their 5160 line; I don't know if that has the right qualities of blade manufacture you are looking for. http://bugei.com/bugei-exclusive-5160-swords-171-ctg.htm

There are some decent cutting options you don't need to pay 1000 for, but they won't have much in the way of hamon, traditional manufacture, etc. There are some decent Chinese ones with these but they start around 1500 USD. Then custom, which I do not think you could find under 2000.

One other option is to get a bare blade and have it mounted. My Walter Sorrels custom katana was far more than 1000, but I found a Sorrels wakizashi bare blade that was about 800. Need to figure out what to do with it. Anyhow, Sorrels has excellent work, traditional techniques and I think he did a great job on the blade. I would say he is in the top tier of American smiths. Each of them has a different strength, but they are all good.

One Polish smith, przmek has listed a few of his bare blades, but again you'll have to figure out how to have it mounted. He might be able to do that or have it done in Poland. I have a tanto from przmek, but although it has nice steel and good qualities, it needed to have the nakago reshaped and the mounting is costing more than twice as much as I paid for the tanto.

Just trying to throw out ideas, hope some of them help. I have not handled any of the sub 2000 chinese shinken, but some of them have good reviews. Look up Thaitsuki. Also, SDK Supplies has one for 1400, but I think it is better suited for sharp iai practice.

Hanwei and Paul Chen are examples of the sub 1000 group that have a very wide range of offerings. You'd have to do some research of reviews across different forum for them I think.

Good luck, hope you thought this helpful. Of course Australia is a different game, I don't know how to get swords into AU or how all that works out.
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Rod Walker




Location: NSW, Australia.
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Jul, 2015 4:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Australia- Great big mostly empty island that is somehow still full of dropbears, huge crocodiles, man eating sharks and bands of marauding biker gangs in search of the gasoline.

New Zealand- Smaller islands that look a lot like Middle Earth. Also where Peter lives. Wink

Cheers

Rod
Jouster
www.jousting.com.au

"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Fri 31 Jul, 2015 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's some good blades coming out of China these days, for practical cutting. They're not fancy but they're phenomenology cheap for the quality. Well made and extremely well packaged semi-customs. It's all a matter of where you get it from. You can get good ones anywhere from about $200 to $500. More than that gets you fancier but not appreciably better.

I saw some reviews a few weeks ago that were very interesting, but I guess it's back on my work PC. I'll try to dig it up monday.
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Jul, 2015 7:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
There's some good blades coming out of China these days, for practical cutting. They're not fancy but they're phenomenology cheap for the quality. Well made and extremely well packaged semi-customs. It's all a matter of where you get it from. You can get good ones anywhere from about $200 to $500. More than that gets you fancier but not appreciably better.


I'd like to see those reviews when you get a chance and you can pm them to me if you don't want to post them here. However, I am dubious Mr. Lyon can get a differentially-hardened katana made in a traditional fashion for 1000, fully mounted. I think 2000 is an easier target.

I don't think a Howard Clark katana can be had for 1000. The last used one I saw in basic and nice koshirae with some miles of cutting behind it was over 4000...used!
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Paul B.G




Location: Victoria, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Jul, 2015 8:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ronin Katana are also worth considering;

http://roninkatana.com/katana-bare-blades/

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person

O====[::::::::::::::::::::::::::::>

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

—Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
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Lee O'Hagan




Location: Northamptonshire,England
Joined: 30 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Sat 01 Aug, 2015 4:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a good handful of katana for sale over at SFI on the classifieds, priced under your budget,
might be an odd folded one,
been impressed of late with the Hanwei stuff I've seen in hand,
custom blades,
Matt Venier, Venierforge
also posting at Don's,
he might be able to bring in a mono steel at your budget, and bring it in at the size/measures required,
do you know the rough size you need, customers height etc,
the market tends to see far more 27" blades over the 29"+ for example,
good luck and please post the finished project for us to see,Wink
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Peter Lyon
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Location: New Zealand
Joined: 20 Nov 2006
Reading list: 39 books

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Sat 01 Aug, 2015 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the replies and options. There is a huge variety of makers, with their own differences in construction and temper at differing prices; I haven't really looked into katana for a few years now, and it really looks like the quality of non-Japanese katana blades has leapt forward in the last 5 to 10 years.

Since tamahagane is something I would really like in this blade, and up to US$1000, it has helped to narrow my search quite well. There are some top makers in the US that do gorgeous work but will be outside my budget, and plenty in China and elsewhere that do more budget work, but it looks like Sinoswords and Ryanswords meet my needs best, and it looks like I can get a fully specified custom tamahagane blade for under US$1000, with only a two month wait. I wouldn't have believed this was possible even a few years ago. Now I need to go and learn a bit more about the options available, as katana haven't been my "thing" before.

By chance, a friend showed me his low-end (US$100) fully mounted Ryansword katana yesterday, and I was very impressed with it for the price. It tightens in the scabbard before being fully sheathed, so a little awkward to draw and sheath, and the edge isn't dead straight (and of course a fake hamon at that price) but the fittings were tight and nice and the scabbard nicely finished. Ten-plus years ago for that price, the sword would have been junk.

Still hammering away
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Paul B.G




Location: Victoria, Australia
Joined: 01 May 2011
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PostPosted: Sat 01 Aug, 2015 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've never delt with Ryan's sword myself but I do know they have a checkered reputation. Search Ryan's sword over at the sword buyers guide forum for more infirmation.

There is a lot of info about Ryan's Sword over at SBG but this is the most recent one from a couple of weeks ago;

https://sbg-sword-forum.forums.net/thread/45125/faked-sanmai-katana-ryansword-heavy

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person

O====[::::::::::::::::::::::::::::>

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

—Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
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Peter Lyon
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Location: New Zealand
Joined: 20 Nov 2006
Reading list: 39 books

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Sat 01 Aug, 2015 6:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, I went down the rabbit hole and started reading up more on Ryanswords and others to see what people think of them. Well I have just scratched the surface, but I can see I could spend forever going around SBG and other forums, so time to come up for air.

Overall it looks like buying high end blades from Sinoswords and Ryanswords is pretty safe and you get what you pay for; it looks like a lot of problems happen with low and mid range swords via resellers and ebay. The other sites I've looked at don't impress me that much. Now I need to learn a bit more about period blades and look through museum catalogues etc that have been gathering dust on my bookshelves see some real examples of old blades (I'm thinking 16th century, when they routinely would be expected to face armoured opponents).

Still hammering away
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Edward Lee




Location: New York
Joined: 05 Jul 2013

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Sun 02 Aug, 2015 2:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I second Ronin katana's sanmai construction. It's $550 ish for each piece that's mounted on shirasaya. I'm not certain how accurate a sanmai construction would be at this price range, but according to them only one is made every year.
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Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Mon 03 Aug, 2015 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I return with promised linkage! These are all folded steel, differentially-hardened (though not tamahagane) from China. The quality is surprising.

HanBon Sword ( swordsmith668 on ebay)

Lyuesword semi-custom

Knight Swords

I wish the author had posted his promised follow-up articles, sadly they are yet to show up.

I don't expect any of them would have problems providing a blade in shirasaya.
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Mon 03 Aug, 2015 1:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ryansword does have a reputation, but that's being repaired. What happened was that back in the 00's they were offering a lot of substandard cheap swords that people got burned on, and as a result their name got blackened somewhat. Though not as bad as Yaori Hanzo or whatever he's called... *that* guy didn't do his own reputation any good. Anyway, the current American custom services rep of Ryansword seems to be a decent guy and he's working on fixing the American side of things as far as their reputation goes. Other Ebay sellers are variable in quality, of course, but generally they all follow the same pattern--

--Cheap blades with cheap fittings that are OK for the price ($100 or so).
--Cheap blades with better fittings, a slight mark-up on the price
--Medium quality blades
--Higher quality, usually custom, blades.

The catch though is that usually custom orders are produced in batches in order to make sure they have at least one or two good blades to send to the customer. Once the customer gets their blade, Ryansword, Hanbon, Sinoswords or whomever, will fit out and sell the other blades to recoup costs. So blades will not be extremely unique like, say, a Howard Clark or Jesus Hernandez, because there will be other similar blades out there from the same batch. Some people don't like this, but it's not a problem for most.

They're a good source of higher end katana blades since they can produce them for quite cheap compared to a custom smith elsewhere. It's a common tactic to pick up a blade from a Chinese smith and then fit it out elsewhere; generally ends up being cheaper than getting a package deal from Hanwei, Thaitsuki, and so on.
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Robert Môc
Industry Professional



Location: Zvolen Slovakia
Joined: 15 Mar 2013

Posts: 74

PostPosted: Tue 04 Aug, 2015 1:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My friend-http://radoswords.com/
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