Katanas are pieces of art. They are no longer used as Weapons by the legendary Samurai, but they are still made in responses to requests of collectors and Samurai trainees, who tend to keep the legend alive.
Requesting Katana is to indicate to the sword smith the purpose of the requested sword, that means the piece will be a decorative item or a functional item -used for training or for displays- and the sword smith will propose his conception and its pre-design of the sword, starting with the Material type to use for making the blade, till the material and the ornaments of the Seppa.
The Katana holder is able to choose within a list of pieces the ones he suits the most and those fitting his budget. But the most obvious customizable feature of the Katana is the Engraving works. Sword Engraving is one discipline that is fully dictated by the Katana holder; he can tell the things to engrave and choose the language to print it.
Of course, there are rules and techniques to apply Sword Engraving and there are charges estimated and determined by the sword smith to have the customization done. Though it is the Katana holder absolute choice, Sword Engraving is submitted to the Sword making laws.
Defining Sword Engraving
Grabado en la Espada is that process that leads to printing some visible patterns, Sketches or texts on different surfaces of the Katana. It is mainly about printing some patterns on the blade, especially in the area between the Hamon line and the Blood grove. It can be done near the Habaki emplacement.
Sword Engraving is a service that the Katana holder cannot request without having priory requested a Katana, certainly the support to engrave. This operation is done according some principles which can vary from sword smith to another.
Sword Smith can have the tradition to sign the Katana they make by engraving their names, dynasties, the dates and some private quotes. This operation is fully customizable, if the Katana is not signed, the Katana holder can request the signature of the sword smith and can provide some additional data to print on the blade through the Sword Engraving process.
The operation is done according a definite process; there is a limited number of lines that are allowed to be printed on the blade, implicating a limited area to cover with the engraving, in order to preserve the blade parts individuality. Commonly, texts are printed in Japanese, but there are some providers who can engrave in other languages, but generally beside Japanese, English is the most frequent.
Sword Engraving Techniques
Sword Engraving was made manually; this way requires a high proficiency level not to alter the blade surface because it is hard to recover a mistake; whether it is in the pattern or in the application of the process. Nowadays there are some other techniques that are applicable on material types used in Katana construction; there are, mechanical, electrical and laser Katana engraving.
All techniques share the first steps prior to begin Engraving. It is essential to prepare the surface to operate on, choose the perfect tools according to the thickness and the material type. When done then it is time to print the design or the text to engrave.
Hand Sword Engraving
It is the fact of using adequate Chisel to remove mass of material to print the pattern on the chosen surface. That operation is essentially conducted by highly proficient operator because any mistake condemns the whole design and may alter the Katana blade, if the engraving is operated there. Sketches are to follow with extreme attention; the details are to print with depth differences requiring a high accuracy and precision.
Using a little hammer, the chisel is conducted by along the printed shape to create the details of the design or the pattern to engrave. It is important to know that the materials types do not have the same toughness and solidity, which implicates the use of the fitting chisel otherwise it may be damaged or in worse cases damages the metal surface.
The cleaning and polishing process is conducted after the engraving is done, to remove the metal debris and bring the surface to a uniform shape.
This technique has evolved by the introduction of the devices that may facilitate the Hand Sword Engraving. It is easier to use the Mechanical Engraver which has the chisel like tool incorporated.
The invention of the Pneumatic system, but it is necessary to know the basics of traditional hand engraving to engage the mechanical processes.
Electrical Chemical Sword Engraving
This method is used for reproducing fast and authentic like sword engraving. It is based on the use of corrosive liquid that is stimulated by electricity. The blade is then placed within the circuit and the use of a particular material to that will carry the corrosive liquid and apply it on the area to engrave. In this way, closing the circuit will cause the liquid to eat in the desired area where the pattern has been already printed.
Laser Sword Engraving :
Among the developed techniques, the use of Laser technology to engrave on metals is also applied for Engraving. The precision that results from the application of this technology is high and can be compared to the hand Engraved pattern.
All the developed techniques of Katana engraving process require the prior knowledge of the Hand Sword Engraving, because it is essential to train the hand to appreciate the reproduction of the patterns.
To preserve the traditional traits of Sword Engraving, it is preferable to proceed by Manual Blade Engraving; it produces unique designs and personalized results and not copies that the machine reproduces continually.
Customizing Sword Engraving :
This part of the katana making process is the most susceptible to customization because the Katana holder can request whatever he needs to engrave on the sword. But there are some Sword Engravers who have straight policies regarding what to engrave and where to engrave the patterns. The operation may implicate extra fees which differ according to the density and the material type. But thinking about that the Sword Engraving is to burn some memories within the pattern, it is worth the price.