Thursday 22 June 2017 at 09:44 Posted by Shadley Hax 0 Comments

To quote American McGee's Alice and more specifically, the cat; 
'Every adventure requires a first step. Trite, but true, even here.'

Current condition. photo taken several years ago but nothing has changed :)

And that's true with my 7 year addiction as well. I've _always_ liked bladed implements, and therefore have always wanted a katana, but I never thought I'd end up collecting and remounting them. Nor did I realise that this would end up with me behind a belt sander, bench grinder, pillar drill, lathe, milling machine, heat treat kiln, forge, you name it. But it all had to start somewhere and this was it.

I had two swords in mind, this was choice number 2 but even now eventually after 6 years, owning the sword that had been my other choice, this one continues to be my favourite sword. It's got memories attached to it that will never fade. I can be fairly sentimental at times 

(to my detriment as well as it being cute and charming) 

Did nothing to make me relax. first sharp and all that.

When I first received the sword, I was like a child at Christmas, all my birthdays had come at once. I remember taking it out of the box and tentatively holding the thing like it was a lightsaber that if I slipped slightly I'd end up decapitating something.

It's in the box! A real sword. In a box! :o

Me. Trying not to accidentally make anything more dead than it should be.

Now the sword is called 'Steve', which is a rather unusual name for a sword, but there _is_ a reason as there is oft want to be.
 During a phone call with my ex whilst we were still dating, (now one of my best friends) I asked about the sword as I was away back in London for some reason or other and she thought I said 'Steve' rather than sword. In fact I think she still believes I said 'Steve', and the rather unfortunate sword had been christened. 

The sun was with me for this shot! :D 

Trying to fit the whole thing in the picture was difficult. I think I was using an old HTC Hero at the time. awesome phone for its day btw. not so much now though :p

One of the things you're going to find with most production katana is that the yokote is merely polished on. That is to say, if you close your eyes and run your finger down the flat of the blade, you wont be able to tell where that delineating line (illustrated below) actually starts. its just been polished perpendicular to the polish on the rest of the sword. This gives it the appearance of a sudden change of angle geometrically.
  It brings down the costs of forging and as much as it is slated by the sword community sometimes, it is actually historically OK. Many Samurai of the period had problems affording such luxuries.

The benefits of the geometric yokote are that because of the change of angle, the end of the blade becomes far more stout and therefore stronger in its ability to puncture in a thrust/stab. Of course the trade off is a slight loss of sharpness because of the more obtuse angle. swings and roundabouts eh?

So yeah, scientifically; geometric = more stabby :)

Faux yokote, but I mean, this happened even back in Japan in period times. I didnt care. still dont. Its actually polished up as if it were shobu atm. looks nicer imho. On the right, Brass habaki as is standard with production kat's.

Another thing I will be doing is adding a patina to the habaki. This sword deserves an upgrade so much. Love it so much :) <3 and it's been a long time coming. If you want to know how to patina brass to look like copper, click here.

Enjoying the sun. Malvern had it's redeeming features and the scenery and weather could be two of those things. I wish I had to hand a picture of the Malvern 'mountains'.

Shoelace Sageo. But I didnt care. I was caught up in this. I still look back on 'opening day' with fond affection. Also, it forced me to learn how to tied these sort of knots.

Well, I had this new sword, but nowhere to show it off and no real idea what to do with it. This is standard with me. Impulsive behaviour has led me into as many fascinating places as it has dangerous ones. I suppose this was a mix of the two ;) But it took me a fair while to realise that I could find things to cut up. Once I'd realised that milk jugs were a valid target, the cat was out of the bag and I set about filling milk jugs. I placed them on the side of the bin outside the flat and was off.

Not the first cutting, I didnt record that, but this wasn't far off.

Jugs fell apart with ease and eventually I realised I needed something a little tougher and thats when I stumbled upon the FSC or Freestyle Cutting group. This was back in the day when the 'Cutting Mechanics' team were also still involved. I cannot give enough thanks to that group and all the people behind it as they basically catapulted me into the game.

Once I realised I had a knack for it (quite a while from this point) I became quite a well known cutter in the group and was able to offer advice/support as well as receive it when I frequently needed from other cutters. Quite the social group was the FSC. Leon, my ex's son has shown an interest in this peculiar activity as well. Its addictive.

However, lack of common sense and overswing was an issue for the newly learning Shad. And thats when Steve received his first battle injury. Overswing on a target on the bin meant that the sword continued on to hit a washing pole very close to the target and it chipped the kissaki. I wasnt happy especially being as, at that point, I had no idea that swords could be so simply fixed. I learnt quickly though and some wet and dry sandpaper allowed me to fix the chip fairly easily.

left: Steve enjoying Christmas. right: Steves winter wear.
You can see how happy he is :)

Steve always enjoyed Christmas, as evidenced by his christmas cheer on the left hand side. His count dracula look on the right though could happen randomly throughout the year regardless. Whatever the weather, he always enjoyed dressing up.

So Steve was well received, everybody loved him. Everything was awesome.... almost....

The tsukamaki on the practical _was_ however.... Rubbish. 

And so Steve was changing quite a lot. he'd gone from being a wallhanger, albeit a functional one, to a functioning, used, damaged and subsequently repaired sword. He was earning his scars and having the best time doing it. The only thing that was holding him back was his clothes. The tsukamaki that it came with moved around, the folds started to untwist and so on and so forth. it was quite upsetting until I realised it could be fixed. 

I don't often give definite advice when it comes to things like tsukamaki, merely suggestions, but I will say this again and again and again....


Without your hishi, the wrap will fall apart. not only that, getting it tight just wont happen properly. Of course I was new to all this back then and so Im glad I decided to do my research beforehand and folded my hishi.

I mean, this was a challenge for sure. I'd never done this before and I didnt know where to start even. So a lot of research was done. I mean a ton. And then I bought silk ito and went for it.

Steve's new clothes are holding up well, but he will get rewrapped soon.

Steve rarely gets used nowadays as I really don't want to damage him or wear him out. The other swords can be replaced. Steve, not so much. However, now my tsukamaki skills have improved and I have also demonstrated that I can successfully carve a tsuka, I will be removing the tsuka and redoing it from scratch. it will give me a chance to properly polish the blade, restore him to a razors edge and make him beyond beautiful.

He deserves it after all the abuse he's suffered from this klutz learning to cut. He even has his own katana-kake as it were. Once he's redone and I have sorted out my housing properly, he will get pride of place once more.

And so, that was the rather brief history of Steve, complete with contextual tangents and how he helped to kickstart not only my cutting hobby, but also gave me the confidence I needed to start with tsukamaki. Thanks Steve. We all love you.

And to the rest of you, have a bloody awesome day, OK?
Refuse to let life grind you down. Get out there and enjoy the sun.
If it's raining, Improvise. ;)


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