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Friday, October 19, 2012

Custom Katana Update

Hi everyone,

It's been a while between posts, primarily because we have been busy concentrating on some stragglers from batch 19 and ensuring that batch 20 goes along as smoothly as possible.

I won't try to pretend that the last 2-3 batches have not been difficult. Customs gave us a very hard time due to the increased size of our shipments. And the forge slipped up on batch 19 with many more mistakes than usual when putting together everyone's orders (naturally with a project like this, there will be one or two swords made to the wrong specs or with the wrong fittings in each batch. But this time, because batch 19 was larger than usual due to the projects increased popularity - the error rate shot up, and we are now working feverishly to fix anything that has been incorrectly made).

Anyway, despite all this we are getting everything back on track - batch 20 is completed on time and preparing to ship from the forge as we speak, though sadly we are expecting customs delays again like the previous batch (everyone has been forewarned that around 50% of all orders go out fast, and the others we have to fight tooth and nail for customs to dribble them out a few swords at a time until they all clear)..

So because of this, the much anticipated batch 21 is going to be much smaller and tighter than previous batches, we will only hold it open for a few days at the most and once we fill up, that's it. This way we can keep the shipments size down so that customs does not cause us such a headache (as part of the issue is, a large shipment with so many different swords and so many different prices combined with the nature of the product, makes them especially stubborn and slow to process) - but also just tighten things up at the forge.

I'll be posting again in a few days when we will open up on batch 21 - so if you are waiting, please bear with us just a little longer - we don't like to have the forge twiddling their thumbs for long in between batches, but they need to remake a few swords from batch 19 as top priority, so once these are done we will open up again.

In the meantime, here's a few pics of some of the swords from the most recently completed batch 20 which are right now being packed up to go to my agent in Canada for inspection and reshipping.

Wearing 'socks' to protect the sayas.

Some of the different tsuka combinations

A Chokuto and a battlewrap
Also, before I sign off - a couple more changes to this batch. First up, since the beginning we have been working hard to improve a part of the blade that is often neglected in production swords - the kissaki (tip).

The reason it is often ugly is because it is VERY intensive to polish, almost as time consuming as the rest of the blade - so to keep costs down most swords at around $300 forgo a refined polish and just do it rough. But even though it hurt us financially, we spent extra money on each and every sword to give it a real yokote and a decent polish, but there was still an area that looked scratchy.

But this recent photo of a random sword from batch 20 compared to an older sword shows that we are getting pretty close to our goal of a good polish on both the blade and the tip.

The old and the new polish side by side. As you can see, the new polish is highly reflective.
 The next change is also a positive one, but unfortunately not one that we can absorb the price increase on - and that is the optional extra leather ito upgrade, which is now done by only the most experienced cutlers using the much slower, but much more even and nicely wrapped, Hishigami process.

The jump from $25 to $60 is a big one, but as you can see the end result is much better and we would rather scrap the option than have it less than impressive.

Top, the new wrap - bottom - the old.

Top, new wrap with Hishigami.
Ok, that is enough for now I think! There are a mountain of emails and inquiries to go through (as mentioned elsewhere, I prefer to only answer inquiries for new orders as a batch gets closer to opening up because each batch is slightly different) - and we need to oversee batch 20 going out and get any issues from 19 cleared up as top priority. But once I am satisfied, I'll make one more post to let you all know and then open on 21.

Talk to you all again soon.

- Paul

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