L6 Bainite Katana
by Howard Clark
28.5" Nagasa Shobu to be in full polish
I purchased a bare L6 Bainite Katana for the express purpose of trying out some new foundation stones I had. I wanted to see how the steel reacted to these new stones without running the chance of screwing up a customer's blade. So, I shelled out the big bucks and bought a brand new L6 shobu katana by Howard Clark so I could try out the new stones.
Anyway, I've satisfied my curiosity about the new stone (cool, works pretty well actually). And so now I have a bare L6 blade that I invested heavily in that as much as I'd like to keep it, well, baby needs preschool payments... And this is one heck of a blade...
The blade is 28 5/8 inch nagasa. Nakago is 10". Wonderful tori sori 18mm (about 3/4 inch). Shobu zukuri (i.e., iris leaf shape). The shinogi is high meaning the shinogi-ji surfaces "slant" back towards the back of the blade making for a more diamond-like cross section (helps keep the weight better distributed). Motohaba (height of the blade edge to back at the notches) is 33mm. It is shobu so it is difficult to say what the sakihaba is, but about an inch and a half or so back from the very point it is about 26mm. That point is about where it starts to get less tall at a faster rate. Kasane (blade thickness measured at the shinogi) at the machi is 7mm. Thickness of the mune at the machi is 5mm so you can see that it does taper to the back. Kasane measured near the tip (about where I measured the height) is around 5mm tapering to 4mm at the mune. So it is a gracefully tapering blade.
The balance point of the *bare* blade is about 8 inches forward of the notch on the mune. Depending on the fittings and tsuka the balance point will end up probably about 2 to 3.5 inches closer to the hands when mounted for use. In other words, even though this is a significant blade, it is still very well balanced and should make a fantastic cutter.
The blade weighs 900 grams (about 2 pounds). Obviously it will be heavier when mounted. But it is also fantastically balanced. So it should make for one heck of a nice cutting sword.
I'll include some photos. But please note that they were taken before I tried out my stone. So it is Howard's "Fresh from the grinder" finish in the photo. On the foundation stone I made the effort to optimize this blade for cutting. Realize this blade is L6 bainite -- it is incredibly tough and will take a ton of abuse (not that I'm recommending it, but it will survive most anyone's bad hair day). So since the bainite structure can take considerably more abuse, I worked hard to flatten out the ji significantly on the stones. There is on-so-slight profile in the ji to ensure proper polishing, but basically I reshaped the blade with one goal in mind -- sharp and aggressive cutting.
Here's a pic of the blade. Please realize the photo is of the blade prior to any work by me. So the edging you see is just the grind from Howard. That has now been redone.
The deal on this one is pretty simple. New L6 blades ordered from Bugei will cost you $3000 unfinished, 7200 polished and mounted. And you are looking at a 18 month waiting list through Bugei for polishing. And my waiting list is now approaching the same level. This blade is being worked in as a personal project of mine and will be available fully polished in shirasaya with silver habaki probably around mid February. The cost will be $5080. I might also just do it with some nice "user" higo style modern fittings from Japan, bamboo motif, gold dragon menuki, black saya, black/brown silk ito, black lacquered same'. The price for that mounting will be $7200 and will be available probably around the beginning of the second quarter of 2004.
So here's the deal. If you'd like this blade it is for sale. You can choose polished in shirasaya for $5080, or fully mounted as described above for $7000. Furthermore, if you want it fully mounted to your own specs, well, we'll need to talk and we'll start talking about my full waiting list. The reason for this coming out sooner is that its my blade, I've been working on it anyway, and the mounts described above are ones I already have on hand and ready to go.
If you want to buy this L6 katana in shirasaya full polished the cost will be $5080. The cost would be $3400 up front, balance on completion (meaning add in shipping/insurance/etc.). If you want it mounted as described above in full mounts, the price will be $7200. I would want $4700 up front, balance on completion (again, insurance, shipping, etc. needs to be added). If you want it fully mounted to your own specs, well, e-mail me. We'll talk. But likely that will mean a longer wait because I can't put a custom order up in front of waiting customers right now. And I'm hesitant to do that anyway because this one is already in process and I"d rather just get it out of my shop (and free up my considerable investment in it already).
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