I wish people would stop peddling this lie though. There are nice katanas to be had for $3000 or so, made 200-300 years ago, with tamahagane and decently polished. of course if you're looking for a high-end modern art piece by Yoshimitsu, a million will get you probably half the tang and a wait list of over 15 years by my reckoning now.Katanas are $10000 & up, vs chef knives $100 & up, that would exclude most people.
+1Anyone is deluding themselves, if they think tamahagane is some kind of magical steel with superior sharpness or edge retention compared to modern steels.
I might suggest this is even controversial. It is true that this is a part of the Nihonto art form. Blacksmiths and polishers will deliberately work to allow for creating/exaggerating patterns in the steel. Unique or intrinsic to tamahagane? I dont think so... Monosteel blades (honyaki) can produce intricate banding... and my tamahagane razors have zero interesting features beyond a boring hamon!It is however more asthetically beautiful if polished to the maximum potential.
I think the framing here is wrong... First up the answer is: no. @lemeneid is right. It is a high carbon steel. No magic. There is no marketing conspiracy. 'BIG tamahagane' is not pushing a product. It falls into the same category as unicorns. It is 'just' bloomery steel. That is to say, it is labour intensive and only a small amount is produced - so it has to cost more. Some people romanticise the level of artisanship that goes into producing it (and fair enough!). This again increases the cost.So my question is whether this steel is worth the money and hype or it is just mystified for marketing pourpouse ?
Hmmm.... this thread seems suspiciously close to the oft flogged dead horse: "Are blacksmith X really worth while since they are so expensive and hard to get"I have a theory that unicorn knives such as Kato (shigefusa also following) are a dying breed
I’ve been given the impression in the past, sometimes by vendors that the old way of forging is dying off in Japan.
If the old way of forging is dying off... then 'unicorns' may get more scarce (and grow in value). If traditional smithing is a permanent fixture of national heritage... then unicorns will not get more scarce (though the sought after makers may shift over time). Traditional smithing is a part of Japan's national heritage (or at least so I believe). If you accept that premise... then perhaps the next question is... how far down the chain can the halo be passed? Tokifusa-san is reaching retirement. That will happen (for the most part) silently - the sons now embody the brand. But what about their future apprentices? Is it still romantic if it was only your master's master that was a renowned blacksmith?From what i see the traditional smithing in Japan is there to stay. It's part of their national heritage. The smiths are highly appreciated by their society and the japanese love their traditional knives. It's in their DNA and history.
I mostly agree. They clearly have different design purposes and constructions! Further... a good swordsmith does not automatically equate to a good knife maker. Similarly, a good knife maker does not automatically equate to a good sword maker.Can we please stop with katana comparisons. Kitchen knives and katana have very little in common except that both are made of steel and cut things. The design purposes are so different that to draw any comparisons is just ridiculous.
nope, totally disagree. with modern steels, you can only get banding. in tamahagane, you can get different kinds of hada, depending on how the steel was folded and forged and how the hamon is clayed. how the hada appears is up to the skill of the smith in folding and forging and how the polisher is able to bring out those characteristics. also in tamahagane, a good polisher can bring out different kinds of effects in the steel, dependent on the pieces chosen.I might suggest this is even controversial. It is true that this is a part of the Nihonto art form. Blacksmiths and polishers will deliberately work to allow for creating/exaggerating patterns in the steel. Unique or intrinsic to tamahagane? I dont think so... Monosteel blades (honyaki) can produce intricate banding... and my tamahagane razors have zero interesting features beyond a boring hamon!
I have no doubt you are more versed in the matter than me! So I am going to challenge you at my own perilnope, totally disagree
this is what I am talking about when I say:depending on how the steel was folded and forged and how the hamon is clayed. how the hada appears is up to the skill of the smith in folding and forging and how the polisher is able to bring out those characteristics.
It is the master and not the material...Blacksmiths and polishers will deliberately work to allow for creating/exaggerating patterns in the steel.
Perhaps. As I understand it, raw tamahagane is a good quality steel with high slag content. Folding was necessary to work the slag out of the bloom material. I believe this is the main contributing factor to hada (what choices were made during folding). Would the aesthetic affects be similar in bloom steels from other cultures? Probably. Could this be emulated with modern steels (even though folding them to work out slag is not necessary).... Probably!with modern steels, you can only get banding
tamahagane is steel made with the traditional method of pouring and burning charcoal and iron rich sands in a "tatara" clay smelting chimney kinda. this is usually a 36-72h or so process.Oh and can someone explain me the relevance of that tamahagane spark test? To me that looks really medieval. The physics behind sparks while grinding is that particles of iron ans steel are broken in the process and catch fire due to friction burn. The more britle the steel the more particles break loose ..the cleaner the iron the more fire it takes. If the steel has other compounds than iron and carbon these might form oxides that prevent burning.
What does this say about tamahagane? That is has less aloys and that it's very brittle. Is it better? Not relevant from this test.
My thoughts exactly,. Under assumption it's really being used for a yearThey are beautiful knives, no doubt. What's stopping me is that they are white #2. What is such a knife going to look like after a year of daily use? How much of the Hamon and the mirror finish will still be present then? (That's a genuine question; I have never owned a honyaki.)
and michi! white 2 rusts i think the fastest of any steel, and also discolors fast. and if you were to take a kitchen sponge to it to clean it up every week that "temper line" will definitely disappear sooner or later.My thoughts exactly,. Under assumption it's really being used for a year
What's it mean for a cutting edge to be dense? Are you saying something besides high hardness?i could give two sh*ts about hamon and clouds. i like honyaki because of the dense cutting edge and soft spine, it really makes a difference in how a blade feels in use (feedback, edge stability, etc).
Is that actually a thing, then? I tried searching google for a correlation between steel density and hardness, but didn't come up with anything. It would seem strange to me if there was an actual correlation that made a noticeable difference to the user, since I doubt the total volume of the steel changes that much depending on the heat treatment, but not sure, of course.All the harder steel feels denser and heavier to me too compared to San mai and lower hardness mono.