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Bob was in the process of figuring these out for some years, and seems to have nailed it down fairly well. They did crack, every now and then, just to keep him humble. He used a crack detector spray to avoid any flawed blades reaching a customer.

YAKIBA means flamed edge, or hardened edge when taken literally. On our offerings, this means that there is a cutting edge with a RC 56 to 58 hardness, about 1/3 of the blade, supported by the mass of the blade which is in the mid-40's of the same RC hardness range. This gives a very high shock resistance and allows the blade to bend quite a bit before getting damaged. (Remember the term "bend". Japanese blades do not have the spring qualities of European types.) Best of all, it can be polished to a finish which will reveal the hardened part of the edge in sharp contrast to the body of the knife. Bob added a hardened area along the spine for several inches, either side of the guard notches, to help reduce bending at the stress point where the grip joins the blade. A poor cutting stroke often causes extreme stress in that part of the blade. Historical, or sometimes, hysterical, writers have greatly exaggerated the cutting abilities of these blades and some customers have been surprised to discover that they do not have magical properties.

We offered quite a variety of patterns in the YAKIBA blades. All were authentic, copied from Bob's collection of Japanese texts, which he cannot read. Thank goodness for detailed photos. He also tackled full sized swords and pole arms right up to 30 inches in length on the cutting edge. All blades are measured from the guard notch to tip, in a straight line.

Our illustrated offerings are by no means all that you could get and they show only a single version of each form. Virtually any custom design of yours could be done with the hardened edge patterns. Delivery on any Yakiba order may be as long as a year.

Properly polished, the unique hardened edge is the most striking feature of the blade. No two will ever be exactly alike, and Bob admitted that there are often some surprises when he checked how patterns worked out in hardening. (There were also some that he threw right back in the stack to do over again.)

Steel - 1045-1050 with an edge hardness of RC 56 to 58. Body hardness is from RC 42 to 46.

Finish - flats of the Vee grind, 220 grit, back 120 grit, guard notches ground square, cutting edge is belt sharpened (and dangerous).

Production - flat ground from new bar stock.

Hardening - individually clay coated to create the edge pattern, heated in a slot top gas forge and water quenched.

Weight - A standard 29 inch blade of average width will weigh about two pounds, two ounces. These are 34 mm high at the Machi and 24 mm at the Yokote.

Edge pattern - Notare is standard. We have a lot more control of the pattern on shorter blades. With long blades. you pretty much have to take what you get. Tips generally have a turnback, and there will be some small hard spots along the spine of the blade.

To figure Yakiba prices measure from tip to guard notch in a straight line and times that by the price per inch. We do not offer fittings or sheaths for these blades, but can make recommendations for reliable sources if needed.

You may order specially ground blades, soft or hardened, or have the blade you've made hardened with a YAKIBA edge ( If it's the right kind of steel.) We are a service oriented shop and will tackle any project that you want, assuming we feel that we are experienced enough at the job to do it right.

HIRA ZUKURI style with MU ZORI, meaning no curvature on a plain, Vee ground blade. Edge and spine might be parallel or there might be quite a taper towards the point. Ground rather narrow and very thick, this would be an example of the traditional armor piercing style, Yori Toshi. No, the clipped tips similar to swords were not for armor piercing. About 95 % of all authentic antique Tanto were this style. Average was 11 inches, but found from 7 to 13 inches.

HIRA ZUKURI with SORI, or some curvature. About the same sizes as #1 but more versatile in that it could be used better in the slashing stroke. Normally ten or more inches long. At eleven or twelve inches, they'll lay back along the forearm and cover the elbow for martial arts practice. Both versions of the Vee ground blades were made in lengths that qualified them as short swords, and occasionally as a full sword.

SHOBU ZUKURI appears to be double edged but isn't. Most had straight backs, but some specimens show a slight curve. Not very large, about six to nine inches long. This style was also made as either long or short swords and may be ordered in those lengths. They make a terrific Daisho.

KEN is one of the oldest shapes with double edges, a rather broad point and the distinctive wasp-waisted look. Antiques range from four inch daggers to full sized swords. Sometimes seen with a strong banana curve. Can also be done with a distinct break at the tip for the older, temple style blades.

KAMURI OTOSHI has the tip that gives it extra weight for a slashing stroke, and looks absolutely great from the top where it flares out at the tip. Most were straight and from ten to twelve inches long. Many variations in curvature, but hardly any taper in width. No matter what you read in the ads, this is not the tip that Samurai used for piercing armor.

KO GARA SU looks somewhat like a modern bayonet, but dates way back. Some had a much blunter tip and a few were curved. Occasionally seen as a really heavy blade. There are many variations. The most attractive has a near straight back with more taper towards the tip.

MORO HA meaning two edges. This one has a ton of variations. The grind line may be straight or curved, and the back could be as you see, or straight. Size varied from four to ten inches. Can also be done with the grind line crossing from side to side, a striking variation. The oddest have a banana curve.

NAGINATA was a pole arm, from fourteen to twenty inches of blade mounted on a six foot pole that could really clear a path in a crowd. This strongly curved version with the heavy tip is from the later period of Japanese arms when this style had become a peasants' or womans' weapon. Tangs were quite long. I make a few of these up as really wicked Tanto. Irreverently referred to as a "hockey stick". I also make a very non-traditional model of this blade as a wicked tanto with a short tang.

NaginataOrNagimaki >BR>NAGINATA or NAGIMAKI, but in the earlier style, with less curvature and not nearly so heavily weighted at the tip. Sometimes appears very close to a sword blade. A few had tips resembling the KO GARA SU. These were longer than the late ones, running from 16 to 30 inches. Originally used for cutting down mounted cavalry. This pattern may also be ordered as a short or full sword.

YARI or spearpoint with a diamond cross section. This type ranged from four to twelve inches. The illustration shows a rather broad version, where most are somewhat more slender. We briefly offered the triangular type but came to our senses after making about a dozen. They warped like crazy.

NINJA style blade, near perfectly straight with an abrupt chisel tip. From 14 to 24 inches, but can be made as a Tanto too, if needed. We cannot recommend using one of these for a ladder as they suggest in the ninja manual.

KATANA or WAKAZASHI shape with the name depending on the length. Katana were over 24 inches. Slight curvature, either over the entire length, or more pronounced towards the tang. Moderately long clipped tip for slashing. From 16 to 30 inches. Shorter blades are scaled narrower and thinned for the proper balance. Many variations of weight, tip length, width and taper are available.

CHISA KATANA was an indoor model, with a full sword cross section and weight. ( Normally, short swords were quite a bit lighter in cross section and narrower.) Curve gave it good slashing characteristic in cramped quarters, with the weight to make it effective. A completely nasty item, sometimes referred to as a bodyguards' blade. Only royalty and samurai could possess a classic, full length sword. Available in the NAGAMAKI grind shown, the SHINOGI grind, like a regular sword, or the plain Vee grind, HIRA ZUKURI. All have the peaked spine.




This web page was created by Zoe Martin
Copyright 1997 By Blades 'N' Stuff - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED