My name is Glen Drane and my passion is Japanese style blades. My blades are made from simple carbon steel like 1050, 1075, and some stock I have of antique crowbar steel. I prefer not to forge my blades, rather I use the stock removal method using flat bar. As my forging skills are not great this method means I can have a greater control over the blade shape and the blade will remain straighter after a water quench, reducing the need to re-straighten a blade once hardened.
I make Tanto and Wakizashi, I do not make Katana at this time as our forge is not long enough to evenly heat a blade of this length.
I make all items of my swords with the exception of Menuki and Shitadome.
Frank Heine is my mothers partner and a good friend. He has been a huge help and input into my knife making. After I made my first knife Frank also caught the bug and we now both make blades from his shed. Frank prefers making Bowie knives and large hunters, although he has dabbled in the Japanese style of blade making with good results.
Frank made the forge we use for forging and heat treating. Frank has also made some decent damascus blades from this forge.
(photo is of Frank heat treating a carbon steel blade by quenching in oil)
This is Charlie, commonly referred to as "Charlie Brown" a Brittany Spaniel. He quite frequently would help us by dropping his tennis ball at our feet while we worked. If ignored too long the dropping of a ball would turn into a barking fest until the ball was thrown for his entertainment.
Charlie is getting a bit older now and he his content to sit on his mat and chew a bone. Occasionally he will wander into the shed for a pat and check that progress is being made. If too many beers have been had and progress turns into idle chat, then it is made quite clear to both of us that it is time to down tools and have a game of ball in the back yard.
I will give you a quick rundown on how my Japanese blades are made in this next set of photo's.
Hear is a blade that has been file shaped and sanded ready for the clay coating prior to heat treating.
Here the Tanto blade has a layer of clay applied to both sides. This should give a reasonably straight hamon and the "ashi" lines running down to the cutting edge should give a bit of activity to the hamon once polished.
The blade is now being heated in the forge after the clay coating has dried. The aim here is to get the whole blade to a red heat then turn it cutting edge down. The blade is then pulled back and forth through the fire to get an even geat through the blade. A magnet is used on the blade edge to check that it has become non magnetic prior to dipping it, edge down, into a quench trough filled with warm water.
Here is the blade after the water quench. The blade was submerged in water and held until it had cooled enough to be held. Any clay that had not fallen off in the quench was removed ready to be sanded with the linishing belt. The deep markings on the blade will give a good indication of the hamon that has been created.
This is the finnished blade. It was sanded on the linishing belt to sharpen the edge and shape the profile. Then it was sanded using wet sand paper starting with 600 grit and working my way up to 2000 grit. This refines the blade shape and sharpens the edge even more. Finally the hamon is polished using Japanese "Hazuya" finger stones to bring the "Hamon" out and give the cutting edge a milky look to define the "Ashi" or lines falling down from the hamon.