Copyright Robert Cole 2014 - No copying or distributing - Note: Missing graphics

Blade Structure

Japanese swords were made of laminates. Laminate structure was used to create a synergism of differing elements.

Folding carbon into iron creates steel. Making good metal by hand, however, is an art. Artist's hands created these steels. A good smith applied his art to each laminate planned for the sword body structure.

Hard steel holds an edge but is brittle and will shatter. Soft steel (comparatively lead-like) will never hold an edge but with it, one could beat a road through a mobbed army and not worry about breakage.

Soft stays together, hard holds an edge.

Various laminate structures of hard and soft steel were married in every conceivable way. Usually in certain basic configurations:

KOBUSE Two piece. Hard steel wrapped around a center of soft
SAN-MAI Three piece. A center strip of one or more laminates sandwiched between skin steel
GO-MAE Five layer sandwich of laminates
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        sword structures

The folding pattern or grain is called HADA. Differing grades of steel were folded separately and each laminate may have its own pattern. It is common for polishers to leave the JI plane unburnished to reveal the grain in that area. The revealed grain is referred to as JI-HADA.

The pattern of the HADA is that of the exposed laminate. When made in such a way, the variation of pattern exposes the laminate sandwiching structure; often a straight-grain is seen flowing along the cutting edge, or along the SHINOGI, or the MUNE.

Sword structure is one of the key identifiers of origin.

Grain pattern may vary within a laminate, but structure is easily noted by observing lengthwise lamination lines.

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        Grain patterns

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