Introduction: Making a Samurai Sword From Scrap Metal
Ever Since I watched the first episode of forged in fire, I have Wanted to make a Samurai sword. A few things holding me back, however, were Limited materials, as well as the difficulty of forging a blade that long. While I was bored though, I decided I would give it a try and see how it would turn out out, because the worst case scenario is that I waste a small bit of steel. (The specific Samurai sword is called a Wakizashi, and it is essentially a smaller version of a katana. Also, the TV show Forged In Fire is great to learn to forge, so I recommend it if you want to learn to forge)
30" Or More of Steel (2 1/2" width)
1 inch diameter wooden cylinder
5 cm by 6 cm steel rectangle
polishing, cutting, and grinding disks (Angle Grinder)
Grinding and Polishing Belts (Belt Sander)
Step 1: Finding the Right Steel
This is By far the most important step in the process of making this sword. The reason it is important is because It is where you decide if you want your sword to be mild or high carbon steel. In other words, if you want your sword to be for function, or for show.
Mild steel is used for show because it is unable to be hardened. High carbon steel, on the other hand, is able to be hardened by a process called heat treating, which is where you put a red-hot blade in oil, which cools it down quickly, hardening it. I chose to use mild steel, mainly because I didn't have a quench tank that was large enough to heat treat the entire sword, but also only planned to used this sword for show, not function. This is completely up to you though, and a sword can be functional as well as look nice.
Step 2: Cutting Out the General Shape
Before I started this part of the build, I mistakenly assumed that I wouldn't need to bend the blade, because I thought the piece of steel that i was using would be wide enough to put a decent bend in the blade by grinding. If you don't have a forge, then use a piece of steel that is 2 1/2 inches wide or more, and grind in the bend. (always remember to wear eye protection, ear protection, and a dust mask while using angle grinders, belt sanders, and other power tools.)
Step 3: Grinding/Sanding to Shape
After you cut out the General shape on the angle grinder, you can refine the shape more on a belt sander, using a lower grit sanding belt. (I used 40 grit.) I Guess you could also forge out the shape with a propane forge and a hammer, but I figured more people had access to an angle grinder and belt sander than propane forges and anvils. (This step will most likely take the longest out of all the steps)
Step 4: Putting the Bend in
(If you ground the bend in, you can skip this step)
The bend in a samurai sword is very important, because it is what makes it unique and different from other swords. To put the bend in my blade, I used a propane forge to heat it up to red hot heat, then bent it around the horn of an anvil until I thought that it was the same bend as a traditional samurai sword. (I compared it to an image of the same kind of sword online.) I don't really have much more to say about this step.
Step 5: Quenching (Optional)
(if you chose mild steel at the beginning, you can Skip this step)
Because I used mild steel, I didn't quench my blade, so I will not have any photos for this step, but I will try to explain it as best I can.
The process of quenching involves heating a blade or blade edge up to red hot heat, then putting it in oil to cool it down quickly, which hardens it. To heat the blade up you can use a propane forge, a charcoal forge, an oxyacetylene torch, or a propane blowtorch. For a full blade quench, you can use a propane or charcoal forge. A full blade quench is where you heat up the whole blade to quench it.
An edge quench is where you heat up only the edge of the blade, rather than the whole thing. To do this, you would need a concentrated heat source, such as a propane blowtorch or an oxyacetylene torch. Advantages of doing edge quenches include a reduced risk of warping or cracking while quenching.(Cracking can cause a catastrophic blade failure, which can be dangerous to the user)
Step 6: Sharpening
Sharpening is a very important step of sword making. A sword is effectively useless if it cant cut.
There are two ways to sharpen a blade. You can use a sharpening stone or a belt sander. I personally choose to use a belt sander because I think it is easier to use and faster to put an edge on a blade with. It is also much faster to use for tapering the edge. An advantage of a sharpening stones is that you can usually get a sharper edge with one. In full honesty, I don't know much about sharpening stones and their advantages, so I recommend looking them up online. A decently sharp blade should be able to cut through paper, and a very sharp knife should be shaving sharp.
Step 7: Adding the Handle and Tsuba
Making The Tsuba
The Tsuba is the guard of the sword. I chose to use steel for my guard, but you can also use brass or copper if you want. (Copper and brass are easier to work with than steel.) To make it, I cut out a 4x5 cm rectangle from an extra piece of steel I had, and rounded off all of the sharp corners. After that, I found the center of the rectangle with a ruler, and marked out the shape of the tang at the center point. I then drilled out holes with a drill press, while making sure to stay inside the box that marked where the tang was going to go. After the holes were drilled, I connected and smoothed the edges with a Dremel and files. I gradually used these tools until I had a really good fit around the tang.
Making the Handle
To Make the handle, I used a 1 inch diameter wooden dowel, then sanded down opposite sides of the dowel until it felt like it fit well in my hand. Then i marked out the shape of the tang on one end of the handle, and slowly removed material with it until it had a good fit on the tang. After i had done this, I put the Tsuba and the handle together on the tang to make sure they fit right, and glued them with 5 minute epoxy. After the epoxy had hardened, I used olive oil to finish the handle. (Another finishing method is charring, which is where you char the outside of a handle to darken it.)
Wrapping The Handle (optional)
If you Aren't satisfied with how your handle looks by now, you can wrap it. There are a ton of handle wrapping techniques, but the one that is most common for samurai swords is the traditional samurai sword wrap. It is very hard to explain how to do, so I recommend looking up how to do it, as there are people that have way more skill than me online. A few other common handle wrapping types include fishtailing, simple looping, cobra wrap, and spiral/DNA wrap. You can look up how to do all of these online.
Step 8: Finish Work
There are a few things you can do to finish your blade and make it look nicer. To polish my blade, I used an orbital sander with a higher grit sanding disk, and sanded with it on high speed until I liked the polish of the blade. If you want an even higher polish on your blade, you can hand sand it using very high grit sandpaper, or use a high grit belt sander belt. The reason polishing is important is not only to make it look good, but also to keep it from rusting.
After you finish this step, you are done! I hope you enjoyed reading this instructable, and I hope it was helpful for making it if you chose to do so. Thank you for reading!