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Steel Comparison

Steel Comparison

Which Sword You Should Get?

For beginners who are just starting to collect and use Japanese swords, one of the most commonly asked question is what kind of steel is used on these samurai swords?

The next question is usually about the differences between the steel properties on different Samurai blades.

Before you make a purchase, ask yourself what do you want the sword for?

If you think you might want to learn Japanese swordsmanship and want something useful but not sharp – then you might want a iaito sword (blunt sword)

The other option is having a shinken katana (sharpened sword) that can stand up to the rigors of real test cutting.

A functional samurai sword should stand up to a certain amount of abuse, keep a sharp edge, and be constructed correctly.

Shinken are functional katana swords made for real use. If you need a katana that will stand up to the rigors of real training in the dojo, or your backyard practice cutting, these are the swords you should be looking at.

Iaito are used for basic training practicing such as swinging and kata (forms). They are not made for banging together or cutting anything.

Iaitō are unsharpened practice swords with no cutting edge that are designed and manufactured much in the same way as Shinken. They are frequently made of materials other than steel.

During checkout you can always decide whether you want your sword sharp, not sharp or ultra sharp.

Continue reading to find out about the different steel types available for your sword.

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Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel

Most functional samurai swords are made out of high carbon steel. and Most of them are very high in carbon content.

Stainless steel is excellent for making knives, however when it comes to longer blades, it tends to be very brittle, and usually swords made of stainless steel are for decorative purposes only.

Some of the most commonly used high carbon steels are 1050, 1060 and 1095. As suggested by the number, a 1050 carbon steel has 0.50% of carbon content, a 1060 carbon steel has 0.60% carbon content, and a 1095 carbon steel has 0.95% carbon content.

As carbon content rises the metal becomes harder and stronger but less ductile and more difficult to weld.

Steel can be heat-treated which allows parts to be fabricated in an easily-formable soft state.

If enough carbon is present, the alloy can be hardened to increase strength, wear, and impact resistance.

The purpose of heat treating carbon steel is to change the mechanical properties of steel, usually ductility, hardness, yield strength, or impact resistance.

Another modern steel that is superior than most other swords made of high carbon steel in terms of hardness and durability is the T10 tool steel.

T10 Tool Steel has gained notoriety because of its toughness. All of the elements that make up the T-10 made it stronger and it’s the most preferred by many collectors and sword enthusiasts.

1060 Carbon Steel

1060 Shirasaya Set  002
  • 0.60% carbon content
  • Found on most entry level samurai swords
  • suitable for cutting soft objects or medium targets

Folded 1060 or 1095 Steel

1060 High Carbon Steel Samurai Sword Set 011
  • 0.60% - 0.95% carbon content
  • a subtle hada (grain) in the surface of the blade.
  • High artistic value
  • suitable for cutting soft objects or medium targets

9260 Spring Steel

9260 Spring Steel Nodachi 005
  • 0.60% Carbon Content
  • Flexible, and can bend, twist and revert back into its original shape.
  • High shock absorption
  • Great compromise between hardness and flexibility
  • suitable for cutting advanced target like bamboo poles.

9260 Folded Spring Steel

Folded Spring Steel
  • 0.60% carbon content
  • Flexible, and can bend, twist and revert back into its original shape.
  • High shock absorption
  • The subtle hada (grain) in the surface creates tradition and cosmetics value
  • Great compromise between hardness and flexibility
  • Suitable for cutting advanced target like bamboo poles.

Folded or Non Folded.

The folding process used for nihonto (traditionally made Japanese katana) was part of the refinement process for the steel in ancient Japan.

When the steel is folded, It produces a subtle hada (grain) in the surface of the blade. If you want a blade that has those characteristics – you want a folded blade.

With modern steel, the folding process does not improve the hardness or performance of the sword. It is mainly for artistic value.

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Folded blades are much closer to traditional nihonto made of Tamahagane and that is worth the price for many people.

Many production shinken are not folded. They are made from a single monolithic piece of steel. There’s no correlation between folded vs. monosteel swords and cutting ability, durability, or edge retention.

The steel used and the tempering process are much more important for the functionality of the sword.

The downside of folded blades is the possibility of weld failures between layers. Unless done correctly – the folded blade may be much less durable than a mono-steel equivalent.

It seems like everyone want to know how many times the blade is folded. Some manufacturers make the number of folds a big selling point.

You get 2 layers when you fold it once, 4 layers when you fold it twice (8,16,32,64,128,256,512,1024, etc…) You get 8192 layers if you fold the blade 13 times. You get a million layers if you fold it 20 times.

However, with today modern steel the folding process does not improve the sword. if you like your sword to feature the beautiful Hada grain pattern, then you should choose a folded blade, we offer the folding process for all types of steel.

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The Importance of Clay Tempering

Many traditional forged Japanese swords have a hamon (a visual effect created on the blade by the differential hardening process) or temper line artificially added. They use a purely cosmetic surface treatment that makes the katana look like it was differential hardened. These to make the katana look more authentic (well not really if you know what you are looking at).

A clay tempered hamon katana (as opposed case hardened or tempered) has a hardened edge and a soft spine.

The edge is hardened so it will retain a razor sharp edge while the spine is left softer so it will bend and not break.

This is usually done with a traditional clay coating tempering process. Most practitioners believe that clay tempering (differential hardening) is key to making a sword that will be used for extensive tameshigiri (test cutting).

Expectations are that a functional sword should survive at least 10,000 tatami omote cuts (10 years of heavy use) and only need minor sharpening after every 500 (six months of heavy use).

1095 Clay Tempered Hamon

1095 clay tempered
  • 0.95% carbon content
  • Edge of the blade has HRC Hardness around 62.
  • Suitable for most target cuttings such as bamboo, tatami mats, tree branches
  • Designed for extensive Tameshigiri (test cutting).

T10 Clay Tempered Hamon

T10 Tool Clay Tempered Katana  (2)
  • 1% carbon content
  • All our non-folded T10 blades are mirror polish (shiny surface).
  • Edge of the blade has HRC Hardness around 62.
  • Suitable for most target cuttings such as bamboo, tatami mats, tree branches
  • Designed for extensive Tameshigiri (test cutting).

1095 or T10 Folded Clay Tempered

1095-Clay-Tempered-Samurai-Sword-Set-002_resize
  • Carbon Content: 0.95% for 1095 and 1% for T10
  • Edge of the blade has HRC Hardness around 62.
  • Increased value due to the traditional grain patterns on blade surface.
  • Suitable for most target cuttings such as bamboo, tatami mats, tree branches
  • Designed for extensive tameshigiri (test cutting).
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Alejandro Diaz

I chose and bought a Katana in T10 Clay Tempered on this site, are excellent, good quality, finishes and materials. The first quality, excellent service, I had no problems with shipping to my country Chile, I recommend.

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Jack D.

My wife, absolutely, loved this sword! Purple is her favorite color, and the way the handle is done is superb.
My favorite part is how the blade is acid washed red, and it makes the Damascus steel, stand out.
Thank you for an excellent product.

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Matthew Palmer

My custom 9260 spring steel nagamaki came in today, Andy couldn't be happier. All the fittings are snug and very attractive. The steel is tough, flexible and has a very nice polish on it. The customer service was excellent like other testimonials have said. When I requested a heavy niku sharpening they were quick to respond to inform me of what I requested, and double checked to make sure that's what I wanted. Shipping was very quick as well. If your in the market for a sword, please give these guys a shot and get their name out there. Good stuff fellas, keep it up.

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Chase Clarke

I ordered custom katanas for my groomsmen and I cannot say enough about the overall experience with this company. Tony helped me in selecting individual pieces for all 4 swords and was patient throughout the whole process. He had all of them complete and on my door step (Arizona) within a few weeks of ordering. These are incredibly well made and was truly a unique gift to present during my wedding and went over very well. Thank you again Tony and I'm sure we'll be talking soon on my next order! I've also recommended you to some of my guests from this weekend and they are excited to order some swords as well.

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Jimmy Merle

I received my first purchase from Katanas For Sale last week. I bought a Katana and am very happy with it. It was a 5 Star experience in all aspects. It only took about a week and a half to prepare my blade and about another week to arrive here via the shipping method they used. When I received it I found it to be well packed and without any damage. Upon opening the package I was very pleased with my new sword. I highly recommend this company to anyone intending to buy a katana. Sincerely, Jimmy Merle 3/2/17

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Rob

Hello

I just wanted to say the katana is gorgeous and perfectly done. I WILL be purchasing from you again in the future!

Thank you so much,

Rob

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Anonymous

5 ***** stars
Great customer service with prompt shipping and great variety of customization options. Everything arrived great to the last detail, the white ray skin looked amazing complimenting my other sword. overall 5 star outstanding craftsmanship will definitely buy again.

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Fred C.

Just a note to let everyone know that the quality and service from katanasforsale cannot be duplicated. I recently ordered a Tanto and Box. the service and attention to detail could not be duplicated. Tony walked me through the process of putting together a custom Tanto which I love. his opinion and help made the process effortless. in the end I received a great masterpiece. a blade that I can display and be proud of. Katanasforsale is a company that I would highly recommend and would look foward to doing more business with again. a great experience.
sincerely,
Fred C.
New York, USA