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Joshua MacDonald




Location: Chiba City, Japan
Joined: 16 Nov 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon 20 Nov, 2006 9:39 pm    Post subject: Altering a sword         Reply with quote

Hello all.

I am wondering if it is possible to have a sword altered.
Basically, I have a blunt sword and I would like to have it made into a cutting sword. Can I just have it sharpened?


More details:

My sword is a Katana. We say Iai-to, a sword used to practice Iaido (Japanese sword drawing).
It is very cheap and probably low quality. I don't feel the need for a super expensive, wonderful, $10,000 shin-ken (real sword). I just want something to practice cutting with.

Any thought??


Josh
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Nate C.




Location: Palo Alto, CA
Joined: 13 Jun 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 301

PostPosted: Mon 20 Nov, 2006 10:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Altering a sword         Reply with quote

Joshua MacDonald wrote:
... a Katana. We say Iai-to, a sword used to practice Iaido (Japanese sword drawing).
It is very cheap and probably low quality.


Because of their use as "practice" swords, most iato swords I know of are aluminum or untreated (not hardened) steel and therefore CAN'T be sharpened or won't hold an edge. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Either way I'd feel pretty uncomfortable using a sword I perceived as low quality for any cutting period.

Cheers,

Nate C.

Sapere Aude
"If you are going to kill the man, at least give him a decent salute." - A. Blansitt

If they ever come up with a Swashbuckling School, I think one of the courses should be Laughing, then Jumping Off Something. --Jack Handy
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Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Nov, 2006 1:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I too would avoid using a iaito for cutting or even just hitting something... They are not made with this in mind.

Aside from the metal of the blade, the hilt construction could be a problem. Many cheap iaitos I've seen have a plastic handle wrapped quite loosely with nylon ribbon. I've seen some handles that were beginning to crack just from dry handling, I wouldn't trust them to withstand impacts from cutting. Plus, it will be practice cutting, which means that maybe some cut will be less than perfect and will put quite a strain in the sword.
I also suspect (from the balance) that the tang is not quite as long or thick in those as they could be in katanas.

So even though you could manage to cut something with it (even without a real sharp edge), it would probably be dangerous, and not representative of what you'd get with a katana.

I'd recommend getting a katana built for cutting. I haven't been looking for them, but I'd believe you can find some for less than $10,000... Even if they are not super-quality, at least they will not be so dangerous to work with.

Regards

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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Scott Hanson




Location: La Crosse, WI
Joined: 19 Jul 2006
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Posts: 154

PostPosted: Tue 21 Nov, 2006 6:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For a katana built for cutting, I'd check out this site: http://www.bugei.com/index.htm

I'm not a big katana enthusiast, but I have heard good things about this company from friends who are. These run in the neighborhood of $1000.

There's also Cold Steel, which puts out katanas at about half that price. I'd expect the quality to be correspondingly lower as well, but I have heard good things about Cold Steel katanas.
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Hugo Voisine





Joined: 25 Feb 2006
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Posts: 336

PostPosted: Tue 21 Nov, 2006 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe you can go with a cheeper Paul Chen or Hanwe´ if you don't wan't to spend 1000-1200 on a nice Buge´...

I own one myself (the Dragonfly). Very nice sword but I won't use it for extensive cutting (due to the price and the fact that it is a delicate weapon).
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Robert Zamoida




Location: Davis Monthan AFB, AZ
Joined: 06 Oct 2003
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 228

PostPosted: Tue 21 Nov, 2006 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Given your location it might be difficult to get a steel katana for cutting purposes; I have a friend currently in Japan who like you wants a sharp steel katana but related to me the difficulties in obtaining a license to possess one. An alternative you might consider is to go to Tozando, go to the Iaido page and then to the Miscellaneos page and look for Mr. Tameshigiri; it's basically a cardboard target that you can cut with an iaito. They also have a good selection of quality iaito with a good price range.
Rob Zamoida
"When your life is on the line, you want to make use of all your tools. No warrior should be willing to die with his swords at his sides, without having made use of his tools."
-Miyamoto Mushashi, Gorin no Sho
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Joshua MacDonald




Location: Chiba City, Japan
Joined: 16 Nov 2006

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue 21 Nov, 2006 8:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys. It's pretty much as I expected.

Rob. As I understand, getting a real sword here in Japan is not so difficult. Taking one out of Japan, however, can be a problem.

As for prices here in Japan, they are getting cheaper, but as fas as real swords go the lowest you are going to pay is about $5000 (maybe 4000) and Japanese people are very suspicious of such a price...

The http://www.bugei.com/index.htm website was pretty cool

Thanks again.

Josh
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John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Tue 21 Nov, 2006 8:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hugo Voisine wrote:
Maybe you can go with a cheeper Paul Chen or Hanwe´ if you don't wan't to spend 1000-1200 on a nice Buge´...

I own one myself (the Dragonfly). Very nice sword but I won't use it for extensive cutting (due to the price and the fact that it is a delicate weapon).


Are the Bugei swords not Hanwei weapons in fancier dress?

Some of them are nice, tho. The Dragonfly is very sweet-looking. Of their line-up, the Shobu Zukuri would probably be my choice . . . .

For a relatively inexpensive cutter that is very well put-together, I'd spend my money on one of the Cold Steel weapons.
(if I lived in the states, and not in Japan, that is).

I have handled a few of the Fred Chen swords imported under the Cold Steel label, and they were all very sturdy blades with solid fittings and assembly. E-bay prices on these are very good, as well.
If I just wanted a good sharp, strong cutter (without regard to certain nuances of handling), I wouldn't feel poorly armed with one of these swords. The grips are a bit fat, though, and some complain that they are too heavy (particularly the Chisa).

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Kjell Magnusson




Location: Sweden
Joined: 10 Jun 2004

Posts: 123

PostPosted: Wed 22 Nov, 2006 1:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:

Are the Bugei swords not Hanwei weapons in fancier dress?


Bugei's swords are made by Hanwei, yes. From what I can recall, they're designed by Bugei though (mostly at least), and there seems to be some extra quality checking done as well. This might put them a slight step ahead of Hanwei's own high end.
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Sam Barris




Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
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Posts: 616

PostPosted: Wed 22 Nov, 2006 5:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bugei's swords are generally regarded as having exceptional quality for the price. They are made by Hanwei, but the quality control is much tighter since Bugei is run by some rather serious JSA practitioners.

When I lived in Yokosuka, the wardroom of my ship had a basic katana forged to specifications as an end of tour gift for a departing CO. This was done by a smith in Kamakura (if memory serves there are three or four swordsmiths who operate in the shadow of the Daibutsu) and the price fell out in the neighborhood of 80,000 yen, or roughly 800 dollars. There weren't many frills, and we used a Captain's silver eagle rank pins as menuki, but it was a sharp and servicable blade. It might be worth a train ride to check them out. He also took it out of the country with no difficulty. As I understood it, only antique nihonto were required by law to remain in Japan. I might be mistaken on that score, though.

Your sensei should be able to give you more information, though, and possibly a letter of introduction to take to the swordsmith so he doesn't mistake you for a mere tourist.

Edit: You may want to post this question on Bugei's sword forum, now that I think of it. One of the board's moderators is a professional togishi. But personally, I think the other members here have already given you a good answer. Iaito are not built to take the stress of cutting, nor are most katana under a certain price point. The last thing you want is to have a blade shatter on a sloppy cut, and it happens. My advice would be to keep using the iaito for its intended purpose, keep training and save up for a good sword. That will make your tameshigiri all the more rewarding. And ask your sensei about these things. That's what he's there for.

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." ŚThucydides
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