Introduction: Riveted Sword of the Monkey

Picture of Riveted Sword of the Monkey

I present to you the "riveted katana of the monkey"!

I  will walk you through the untraditional way of makeing a 100% real katana

The Quality depends upon you!

making swords in some countries is illegal without an arms license, and you can get fined and possibly charged for wielding a weapon if someone sees you in public with this

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

  Two vice grips, you can probably get by with one pair and a friend.
  Pliers with cutting edge

  Carpenters hammer
  One handed sledge hammer

  Power drill with a drill bit(s) as wide as the nails and dowel rod you have.
  Vice with anvil on the back
  Anvil if you don't have a vice with one.
  Large sledge hammer if you don't have the two above.

 Power grinder or belt grinder

 Sharpening stone

You can get great steel deals at

20 gauge sheet metal for Tsuba(Guard) ,habaki (blade collar) ,and for the pommel witch I have not figured out how to make.

1/4 inch by 1 inch wood for handle

Steel pictured in thumbnail 5.

Flat and wide shoe laces black are best but you can use any color.

Step 2: Plan.

Picture of Plan.

Draw out some sketches of the size shape and design of your blade.

Step 3: Building Your Forge

Picture of Building Your Forge

you'll need a wide variety of bricks and the best sword forge I've seen that is easily assembled is made by [tom] this is his forge

You may want to put bricks or concrete slab over the top that you can take off to feed the fire to keep most of the heat in.

I just re built my forge yesterday and built it a bit taller with a top on it and a small chimney like hole in the top.
pic 2 is a forge I just made i havent tested it yet but it think it'll work really well.the air comes up through the bottom thus not blowing the coals everywhere. it's smaller for concentrating on only 3-6 inches of the sword at a time.  it's basicly a box of bricks a piece of metalth holes in it and a little hood on top. (powered by a fan or a hair blow drier)

Step 4: Decideing What Size Your Blade Will Be.

Picture of Decideing What Size Your Blade Will Be.

First off we gotta  decide what size our blade will be.

My blade is 27  inches long discluding the metal that's in the handle.

Your handle should at least be 10 inches long 12-14 is great , note you'll need one extra inch for the tsuba and habaki to go.

So you know your blade will have to be as long as the handle, chose your handles length then wright it down. then decide how long your blade should be. Wright that down add them up and vwala! That's how long you have to cut your metal strips.

You will probably end up cutting off a bit off the tip unless your a good blacksmith ,so factor that in.

Cut the metal cut the length of metal you want 4 times over maybe 5 times if you want a thick sword. and 5 would help because then it would have  center cutting edge. if you hammer it enough it gets a lot thinner too so keep that in mind.

Step 5: Riveting

Picture of Riveting

If you decided to go with one solid  piece of metal skip this step

1.Drill holes in the blade trough the 4 pieces of metal don't zigzag like I did just go strait.

2. insert a nail

3.cut nail

5.slowly pound it down hit the nail very lightly.

Step 6: Forgeing!

Picture of Forgeing!

Now comes the part where you literally turn into a blacksmith.

From my first day of hammering with my sledge hammer my wrist was sore for a weak so this is pretty tough work.

Now that we're all riveted and have our forge going full throttle stick the tip in the hottest part of the fire.

wait for it to turn bright red/golden....

Don't hammer too hard or you'll cause blemishes that are very hard ,near impossible, to work out Just take your time consecutive softer hits are more effective.

Then take it out and hammer the middle of the blade don't hammer the edges or it will cause it to curve. make sure you flip it over and hammer it equily on both sides.

It may/will start to corkscrew this happens a lot it's from making one side longer than the other from hammering  thus causing it to be pushed into a circular shape. try to stay on top of the problem and you'll be good.

Don't worry about hammering the shape into the metal just yet at first we want to just fuse the metal all together.

Now move on to the next 6 inches down the blade and repeat the proses.

1.hammer (middle)
3.hammer (middle)
5.hammer (middle) until flat You may need to flip several times.
7. move to the next 6 inches.

Repeat when you get to the very bottom of the handle.

Picture 3 is the shape your going for.
you can ether cut the handle to be shaped like that ,or if you have mad skillz you can do it just with your hammer and heat.

Step 7: Curving the Blade.

Picture of Curving the Blade.

To give the sword it's traditional curved appearance, you first must heat up the art of the blade you'll be working on until it turns light red.

Then use the same proses as before but on the edge instead of the center.

1.hammer (edge) lightly we only want a slight curve and we want it t take 2 passes.
3.hammer edge
4. straiten the blade if it cork screwing at all.
5. move to next section

if it is not curved enough start over and do it again.

Step 8: Annealing.

Now it is time to anneal the sword.

This will involve first heating the entire thing up to a uniform heat about 660*C or 1400*F degrees I think is what you want ,usually called critical temperature.

Then we will be sticking the blade into an insulated box maybe build a brick  box that it can fit in with a few blankets over it.

I've heard boiling it in 600*F oil is best.

Second best would be wrapping it in gauze and then wrapping it in an old blanket then a in a box.

The goal is to keep the blade hot for 18-20 hours to let the metal soften for ease of sharpening , polishing ,and to relieve stresses in the blade.

Step 9: Grinding and Cutting.

Picture of Grinding and Cutting.

If you have a grinder  pic one or a belt grinder you're in luck.

If not, well it was nice knowing ya lol the second best way is to get a grinding wheel for a drill and then use that.

You'll also need some kind of saw... hack saw works great.

First off we need to cut the tip into the katana.
2. while you have your saw out cut off some excess form the handle.

3.You want want to try to grind just one angle into the blade all way to the tip don't worry about it being sharp just try to get this shape throughout the entire blade.

4. use this picture to help with grinding the tip don't grind away from the tip or it will cause it to become rounded only grind on a 35* angle downward. See the line that points to the word Boshi  that is the angle you want to grind the very tip on. Away from the top not the handle.

You may see the HI  witch is the grove that is usually ground down the katana they do this for 3 reasons 1. it's looks 2. it makes it weigh less ,and 3. it improves cutting somehow.

5. polish the blade using various grits of sand paper start with 400  down to 100 grit paper change the angle of your stroke with each change of sand paper.

400 / diagonal 300 | up and down 200 \ diagonal 100 grit -- left and right or up and down the blade. Maybe go back with even lower grit paper and sand left and right if you're not satisfied.

Step 10: Heat Treating

It is now time to heat treat the blade! Heat treating is the proses of heating the entire blade to where it looses its ability to hold a magnet on it ,then dunking it in water to cause all the atoms bonds to become stronger.

1. Prepare the forge get some charcoal and light it in the forge with the fan on low or off wait till they get very hot then add more turn the fan on high

2. stick the entire Blade in the coals then add wood on top of the forge don't let it get less than an inch or 2 away from the blade it needs space for air circulation to get hot enough.

3. When the blade becomes orange allover dunk it in water very quickly.

4. Pray that the blade doesn't crack... It shouldn't with this metal but there's that chance.

Step 11: Sharpening and Pollishing

Picture of Sharpening and Pollishing

it's now time to polish the blade start out with rough sandpaper ,or a wire wheel on a drill.
That  should get all the brown stuff off.

Then go back with less course sand paper and so on stop sanding it when it gets shiny.

Sharpening it depending on how much you have to sharpen it you may need to use the grinder or you can use a hand sharpener. Use the coarse side first if it has a coarse side then switch to the smoother side.

Step 12: Carve the Hilt

Picture of Carve the Hilt

The hilt for me was a lot of fun because i got some wood that I could carve very easily.

1. carve out the inside of the wood enough for the blade to fit in very snugly with with both layers of wood on top of each other. Outline the hilt on the blade to the handle to carve out only where you need to.

I used this knife to put a 35* angle on each edge of the wood ,then filed it smooth with  a course and smooth file.

lacquer the wood with 4-5 coats , if you want a very nice shine.

Don't put your handle on yet this is not the step for it.

After you carve it all out and you're sure you can get the blade in without the handle parts coming apart epoxy the handle together //WITHOUT\\ the blade in it.

Step 13: Habaki or (Blade Collar)

Picture of Habaki or (Blade Collar)

The habaki can be built from a strip of sheet metal bet at 4 points.

1. a great diagram of what the habaki does looks like and how it functions.

2. my habaki image result.

4. My new  katana modeling the habaki an showing that it holds the entire thing together.

Step 14: Tsuba (guard)

Picture of Tsuba (guard)

1.Get an electric panel from home depot.

2. Plot out a center point , by messureing both sides. then drawin lines throught hte mid points on each edge.

3. cut it out and clean up.

4.drill a hole in the center. makes sure the hole is skinnier than your habaki

5.cut  a rectangle out with your a jig saw. then go shape the rest with a metal file until you can fit it on to your blades handle section.

6. add design to it however you like.

7. mine 6 holes in a  hexagon arrangement and some side edging

Step 15: Put Yor Brand New Katana Together!

Picture of Put Yor Brand New Katana Together!

Guess I'll complete this when I make a new habake and tsuba.

but it should be pretty self explanatory. if you manage to get here before I finish then wow.


follow the lil gif i made of the katana magically assembling itself

Step 16: More Parts of a Katana That Were Not Included

Picture of More Parts of a Katana That Were Not Included

pommel a counter weight that helps balance the blade usually 4- 10 ounces.

1.A seal that goes on the top of the handle ,to give it a nice appearance ,that is usually engraved.


Run4st (author)2012-11-13

if you want to curve this a little easier, you can do with some controled cooling, heat a few 'wedge' areas and then apply a wet rag. (use gloves) This will make the cooled edge pull, creating a curve. You do not have to get it extremely hot. As you are anealing this, it will remove the stresses across the back edge using this system.

i kinda no-longer take credit for this intructable cause i was a royal idiot with a forge back then.

parsifaldruddle (author)2014-06-03

I must say I find it deeply refreshing in this age of techtronics to see so many folk taking up fire and steel. Never, ever stop. Don't rely too terribly much on 'proper ways' - you learn more making 'mistakes' and even though the subject is deeply discussed and researched there is nothing that says you may not find a better way. It happens all the time in every field, so follow any hunches you may have. I gave up three hobbies I had twenty years ago when it started to seem as if I knew the results before I finished the plans - too much study, too much adherence to 'the ways' - no horizons left. I've taken up all three again, following only the most necessary rules, and it is very rewarding, even when a project skews, even when the voice in my head mutters "that's not the way you do it...". I only started doing so because of 'Instructables' and my wife (who shuns convention and succeeds).

Inspiration is a precious gift, and (many of) you have given it freely. You're doing good works and sharing the results - sincerely, I thank you. You keep the world young and interesting. Peace & Good Fortune, all.

While that is true, research is also important, much of the process that is involved can be learned quite more easily its not always worth ruining a peice. Traditional Japanese blacksmithing methods are very helpful and I have learned a lot from that. Research can help more than trial and error in most cases.

tokuta (author)2015-06-04

this is really good but have you been doing your full research most katanas are bent using a method of rapid cooldown to one side then it bends to the shape usually this is achieved through a clay of some sort being put on the back before it is fired for the second time

john tierney (author)2013-03-04

you really do have a good way with steel there man, the only thing i'd say is the wine handled one, you could polish the blade and make it even nicer than it already is, just a thought

freshnessninja (author)2012-04-27

i love it, this is a great instructablem, got to be the first time (although i have known about it) i have read anyone talk about the anealing process in a diy. i don't know exactly how it's done but if you wanted to make the arc the traditional way i know it involved splitting open the back of the blade and putting in a softer piece of metal. then rapidly cooling it. this causes the soft metal to pull the rest of the steel into that arc. although i am not sure, i think that this is done after the first shapening (which is it's own process), that way when the arc is made the steel on the front of the blade is drawn into an even finer edge.
if you try it you gotta msg me so i can check how you did it :D

The softer piece of metal they addin the middle of the blade isnt there to make the blade bend back that's to improve toughness on the inside and hardness on the outside.

The curve comes from a special trick during heat treatment insulating the backbone of the blade with a clay charcoal powder mix. and keeping the blade more lightly insulated. Heating the blade up to critical temperature evenly and submerging it evenly and quickly in water.

I get my curve simply during the process of putting the edge into the blade I only lightly straiten the blade so eventually it's going to curve.

well that information came from a sword buff friend of mine, either way this is a great instructable.

Kaiven (author)2012-04-01

I thought there was info in the comments about how to add the pommel, but I guess not. Any info on how the pommel is made and attached the handle? I know the handle is held on with pins.

Woops wrong link in that comment down there. Just watch like all the video's he's got u'll learn a lot. Here's what i wanted to link you.

well a legit katana the pommel is simply a cap on the end it's kinda just half a sphere of metal that's hollow, and it has a slot through the center do put the laces through. it's actually the laces that secure it on.

The way I made mine is, I took a large chunk of cast iron and cut out what i wanted and then fine tuned the shape.

if you don't need too much extra weight use the first method if possible. That link will help big time with the handle and fittings.

shakeval (author)2011-10-10

yeah that is a well make casting, looks like a katana guard should, a thick cast iron guard that will protect your hands.

Haven't gotten around to making a legit one yet, and actually they're usually a copper/tin alloy,

where did you get the idea that the hand guards were a copper/tin allow? i could understand if some was used to coat the outside for aesthetics, but not for use with the whole thing, that would be amazingly soft in comparison to the blade and a liability to anyone who chose to wield said blade.

Some one told me to melt down like 2$ of pennies and some tin cans and pour that in a mold , I know pennies are mostly zink now but. yeah.

$0m3_0n3 (author)2011-05-16

Could you explain the point of the habaki? i don't see why it's needed. Awesome sword tho, you should try to make one with a hamon.

Sorry for the late reply, but it does quite a few things.

For one it makes things look nicer, it helps keep the hardware snug, it secures the blade into the sheath, and also helps match up the blade with the handle.

OK, thanks. would it matter much if a sword didn't have one?

you can make one easily out of a copper pipe and a bit of hammering.

some swords don't tho not katana's usualy.

shakeval (author)2011-10-10

if you wanna go with the traditional practices that a katana was forged with then make a mixture of clay and metal filings, cover the blade in this mixture and bake it in your forge.
afterwards place it in a bed of ash, leave it overnight.

_Scratch_ (author)2011-07-10

Lol, love the gif

brandon_a_boyer (author)2011-05-27

Not to rain on your Parade, but this entire guide is useless if you just used steel your dad had laying around. Steel with less than .3% carbon content CANNOT be heat treated, period.

jamesona (author)2011-04-27

Hate to be a joykill here, but you can't claim this is "the traditional way." This is the way European blades and Maru Katana were made, but Damascus and traditional Katana steel (Tamahagane) are both laminated. In Damascus Steel alternating layers of different steels are welded together in the forge using a natural mineral flux, and the resulting billet is twisted, folded, re-welded, and finally shaped into a blade.
In Tamahagane each of the individual steel layers are first folded repeatedly to purify the steel, and raise the carbon content; a side effect of which is providing the ability to be honed to only a few atoms thickness. Different steels are then selected for their relative hardness, color, and spring. Then chosen steels are arranged or layered in a pattern based on the intended use, and welded together prior to forging. In a final step, varying layers of clay are applied to the back of the blade prior to quenching, to introduce variable hardening.

On the positive side, this is a pretty good instruct for beginners, and I applaud your ventures into the world of bladesmithing. Keep it up. I recommend you take up Kobuse or even Gomai in future blades. Both are relatively easy, and will dramatically improve the quality of the finished product.

Thank you for your comment this is exactly what I was hoping for, altho ive done almost 15x the research that I did before making this instructable, i still know very little.

I'm pretty-sure I said the untraditional way, haha.

I'm still polishing my second sword but I'd say it came out like 100x better than this one. I'll still need to heat treat it then re polish it, it takes a long time because i don't have the proper polishing supplies. I have a very low grit grinding stone but the sword grinds through it haha and the one that actually works is around 1000 grit so i cant do the polishing job very quickly, I'm thinking about buying a diamond hone block.

Jaycub (author)2010-09-07

Hey how do you get rid of the spiral? While trying to curve the blade I accidentaly hammered the wrong edge toward the tip of the blade. I think this started a spiral that seems to be working it's way down the blade as I make the curve.

To flatten it you just start at one end and gently hammer from tang to tip lightly over and over. If it's like curving like a C shape you try to get it bright red/orange and lay it on top of your anvil and just hit that section flat. There might be some blemishes then just hammer them out,. your katana should be perfectly strait when you finish forging it. It will be curved later when you apply clay to the back side of the blade and then heat treat.

Be very conscious about creating large dips and dings in your blade they'll take quite a lot more effort to grind out than it will take to just go slow.

Jaycub (author)2010-08-30

To your heat treating section, I think you should add a tempering step. It will make the sword less likely to break. See this website:

General Eggs (author)2010-08-26

I'm a little confused about the annealing process. Some pics would help quite a bit. Should you heat the blade up to 1400* F then put it in a brick box and boil it in oil? I'm confused :-/

Jaycub (author)General Eggs2010-08-30

Heat it up really hot and let it cool slow.

Ive never done it myself.... I guess just get the whole thing deep red hot, wrap it in something non flammable ,idk what, then wrap it in a towel, and then put it in a box made of bricks ; hope it stays hot for a long time up to 12 hours. I've heard people repeat this process 3-4 times.... You should read up on annealing, as should I...

182515 (author)2010-07-29

How hot did you get your forge to? I had mine at 980 C , or 1800 F ( the blade was glowing bright orange/yellow).

I don't know exactly but i never got my blade past red. What were you using as fuel ,coal ,or wood? I'm working on a new sword and I need to get it a lot hotter than red to work with it so id like to know what you're doing.

I was using wood. I chopped up old branches (1-4" diameter) into 3" lengths, built up the walls on my forge and poured them in. They burn hot and fast so have a lot of them ready. I also use a shop-vac as a blower.

hmm ,nice that would solve all my problems the annoying huge chinks off wood. the uneven fire, and not having any coals to work with. Id still love to have some coal tho, but if you're getting orange and yellow it sounds like there's no need. Can I see some pics of your progress it's always nice to see what people are doing with my ibles ;)

here's my sword I'm working on.

Sorry for the late reply. Right now my sword is only a semi flattened pry-bar ( my dad had a old one that the claw was broken on., so i used that) and not much to look at. when It is further along I will post pictures.

Wow my new forge works pretty awesomely i just forged like the entire sword in 3 hours. it's so much easier to work with. if you haven't cemented your forge together you should build it. It's basically a brick box with a few 1/4 inch holes in a piece of sheet metal that fits over the top.

Oh ok sweet. I'll just show you some of my progress then :P I just built a new style forge today if you' played horde on WoW I made a forge that looked like their forges. I think it will help close in on specific spots for forging the sword. sofar I've forged about 10 inches into the sword.

skimmo (author)2010-08-15

i think the hold blood suction this is a myth the groove is called a "fuller" and it strenghths and lightens the blade.

the_burrito_master (author)2010-06-28

yeah that's what I think but I've also heard it's to lighten the blade.

the groove on a blade as well as the pommel are there to give the sword as a whole a center of balance. when made properly you can balance the sword on one finger either on or right above the blade collar.

Most katanas have a balance point about 2-6 inches from the habaki since they're 2 handed they don't need to be perfectly balanced. Sofar my newest katana with a makeshift pommel rests at like 7 inches.from the blade collar. I'll probably end up carving a groove out if I can. I'm not sure if it's the best idea for this sword because it's blade is fairly thin.

amtdude (author)2010-06-21

dang! it looks perty now. iv gota come over and see it. did u get those bars of steel and the leds yet?

haha thanks no I haven't gotten my steel yet. (as you already know)

182515 (author)2010-06-11

Nice. Using a hairdryer. LOL. All i use is a coffee can and a piece of cardboard to fan the fire to melt copper.

Well for my forge i actually used a big 3 speed fan.

Do you think that it worked better?

Yeah more oxygen= more fuel=Biger flames.

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