View Full Version : Last legend swords for tameshigiri

27th January 2006, 02:54

Not maybe the first time asking this... but does anyone have any experience what comes in last legend swords for tameshigiri? How about iai?

By many thanks.


Charles Mahan
27th January 2006, 03:31
If you haven't already, you should probably search the archives both here and over at http://www.swordforum.com There has been a great deal of discussion on these blades already.

Chris Brown
4th February 2006, 03:48
After being a longtime lurker, I have finally begun posting. My great regret is that my first post has to be something, well, less than positive.

Before you spend your money on a Last Legend product, please allow me to tell you of my personal experiences (read: I tried multiple times to buy a Last Legend upper end sword) with them. While there are many who swear by LL, I can but say that if ever a case of "let the buyer beware" existed, a LL deal is it. They have some great retailers selling their products, but when it comes to dealing with Al and the LL staff, that's a different story altogether. ( I don't want to say anything against my retailer here, because they are good people, but my sword never passed through them. They just passed my order along to LL, and everything was handled by them, not my retail dealer.)

It would eat up far too much bandwidth to fully detail my experiences with them, however, I will gladly fill in any interested parties who wish to PM me or email me. I have kept pretty complete records of transactions, promises made, results, etc.

I wish I could be of more assistance in telling you how well their blades perform in tameshigiri, but in my first attempt at ordering, I never got my sword due to exponentially increasing delay times, far from what I was quoted at time of purchase, and finally cancelled the order after the 3rd or 4th "revision" to my delivery date. (Three weeks became three months, which became "We don't know when you will get your sword...")

On second attempt, a year later, my sword arrived on time with multiple flaws, some cosmetic, some quite serious (Indeed serious enough pattern welding flaws/cracks that I would not feel safe using that sword to cut anything, to cite one example).
Despite multiple attempts to get a suitable sword, and multiple promises from Al at LL to make that happen, suffice it to say that I never got a replacement sword. (For the record, Al promised me a replacement sword ASAP, that would be thoroughly checked before it was shipped for any kizu. I waited weeks, and no sword. I checked my bank statement and saw a refund for the purchase amount. I called LL for an explanation, and their customer service people said Al never placed a replacement order. This is typical of my dealings with them. In my discussions, I was nice, I was professional. and I was reasonable. I didn't demand free swords or other such nonsense. The only concession I asked for was, since 1) I was having to essentially order a replacement sword due to my sword being fatally flawed, and 2) the fact that I placed my order only 2 business days before they announced their 20% off holiday sale on all swords, would Al be amenable to replacing my sword with one free of defects at the then current sale price. Al stated that he thought that was a fair proposition.)

They did, at least refund my money, I'll grant, along with a note stating that they just can't do business with me anymore. I have to assume that the reason for that is that I called Al's hand on quality control. I don't know why for sure, because it has been a month since I wrote Al, and asked him to explain why he did not keep his promises. I am still waiting for an answer, and I suspect my wait shall be a long one.

So, if you buy from LL, it is at your own risk. They have, in the end result refunded my money, but please don't risk ordering if you must have your sword by a given date, or if you intend it for use by a given date. You may find yourself sorely disappointed.

On the SwordForum boards, you will find an awful lot of discussions concerning whether LL is all hype or not. My 2 cents: pure hype, based on personal experience.

Again, feel free to PM me for any in depth detail. I will be happy to provide any documentation I can in order to help someone else avoid what I went through in dealing with them.

FWIW, I have decided not to bother with the Chinese copies anymore. I will just keep practicing, save the money I would have spent on multiple pieces of recycled Manchurian railroad track, and invest in a genuine Nihonto. Sure it costs more, but as I learned with LL, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Good Luck.

4th February 2006, 16:00
does anyone have any experience what comes in last legend swords for tameshigiri? How about iai?
I've cut with a pair. They worked fine. I've cut with better and I've seen/heard about worse.

I don't really understand your question. You aren't asking about metallurgy, are you?

4th February 2006, 18:55
Sorry my bad english and understanding.....=)

What I ment, was that how well LL blades are balanced, how well they cut, quality of koshirae...and so on...Because I think that (and I have been told also) those things all can affect that how well it cut`s etc.

I have also heard lot of good from fellow practitioners what comes in LL blades, so I decided to order the sword. I have no hurry with it...so time will tell what IŽll get. =)

5th February 2006, 00:51
Well your english is better than my suomi, so please don't apologize.

There are some very strong opinions both for and against these swords. For me, it seems a bit too much like asking if Ford is better than Chevy, and it seems to get the same sorts of responses. Personally, I am not a heavy cutter and don't really care about lots of technical things. I have cut through mats with LL and that was that.

Some people I respect have had a poor experience with the blades, so I might have saved for another sword. But that would be something like several hundred dollars more than a LL anyway. I have a good friend who has been happy with his LL, but is able now to get some very nice custom blades. We all have to start somewhere, and as long as you have good instruction and are safe, I think you will enjoy the sword. If you ordered it already, I guess you should just write back with your own opinion...

Here is a link to some threads on SFI that may be interesting, as Charles mentioned. Read the links in the second post of the post (http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=61747)

5th February 2006, 16:03
Our dojo cutter is a last legend. It has worked great and gives good feedback to a new person performing tameshigiri. I bought it because of the replacement guarantee, but, I am leery now that they won't honor the warranty, since I've had such a crappy time with their customer service.

I bought one for myself and the blade is fine. I was a little pissed at their customer service since the ito was a little loose and the kashira not seated properly so it has unwrapped after being used twice. Since I cut with the blade, they said they wouldn't fix it.

I have a student who ordered a stock blade 7 months ago, and it still hasn't come.

I like (not love) the blades, hate the customer service.

That alone will keep me from getting anything else from them.

9th February 2006, 04:37
I have cut with 15 different LL blades.
They have all cut very well if not the best I have used for cutting.

I did get one with a blade problem and it was fixed ASAP by LL without any questions.

Over all I'm very pleased with the product understanding I have cut with 15 different LL katana.

I enjoy them for battojutsu as well.

ralph severe, kamiyama

11th February 2006, 00:20
I bought a mid range LL and it had problems. I had a hell of a time with the customer service and they wouldn't reply to me, I had to make a big deal of it on their forums to get someone to finally notice. When they did notice they tried to minimize the problems I was experiencing until I finally made a video of myself sliding my hand down the hasaki and rattling the sword in the saya - dull as a butterknife and enough rattling to drive me nuts. The hamon on the blade they shipped me also runs off the blade which in my opinion makes it a useless sword. The tsuba had a bunch of metal gunk in it from someone at the foundry trying to work too quickly.

To top it off, they wouldn't pay for shipping either when I told them I wanted to return the blade and saya for a proper one without so many flaws.

The real sad part was that I talked to the man who sold me this sword for about an hour (on my own dime, long distance) and asked that he make sure he did not send me a sword with problems, as I would be writing a review the moment I got it. I don't think he liked the negative publicity.

I don't think I would order from the same place I ordered from again due to the poor customer service, but I must say I am dissapointed at last legend's quality control. I understand that you can't catch everything but it seems that some of the blades they put out are so screwed up it's unbelievable. It makes you wonder if they even have any quality control at all.

If the blades were to come without flaws I think that they would be very nice. You can have them customized to be more traditional as well, which is the main thing sword snobs whine about when they speak of last legend.

Chris Brown
11th February 2006, 03:53
I second the previous poster's comments about "customer service" at LL, and I use the term loosely. That's why I ended up having to go to Al in the first place. When you can actually get customer service to answer your question, their only response is that they are powerless to do anything. So, by default, you have to have every question whose answer is not printed on the website answered by the company president.

I think what finally did it for me was speaking with LL's official sword tester, who also assists with quality control and inspections of incoming shipments. I was attempting to describe the types of flaws in the blade, and my assessment of how they most likely got there. (I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a metallurgist, nor am I a smith, but I do happen to have a decent layman's knowledge of both subjects.) I was attempting to uncover whether this was a recurring problem, a problem just limited to this shipment, of if my blade was an isolated case. His reply (bearing in mind that this is the official tester who also participates in quality control inspections) was, "Hey, I just use them. I don't know anything about how they are made." I kid you not. How in the world can you purport to engage in quality control over a product about whose manufacturing process you know nothing? If you don't know how it was made, how are you qualified to judge with full competence if that process went awry? He's a really nice guy, and obviously up-front and honest, but his answer just floored me.

This pretty much told me everything I needed to know about LL. As I said earlier, in my opinion, it's all hype. They may indeed produce some blades that are real cutters. I won't argue that. (I can't, because I never got one that was usable for cutting.) Despite Al's promises, despite returning the flawed sword in the condition specified and within the time limits specified by LL, despite complying with every term of my end of the bargain, LL failed to hold up their end of the deal. They didn't even have the spine to call me and tell me they were backing out after I had done my part. (That is another sticking point. Al promised to call me on the day the blade arrived via UPS so we could discuss it after he had seen it. Like every other promise, he broke that one as well. That would have been a perfect opportunity for him to tell me he was backing out of his agreement to replace my sword.) I had to figure it out myself. Only after I called them did Al send me a post-it not attached to a copy of the refund order stating that we couldn't do business anymore. Why? Al wouldn't say. To this day, I have yet to receive an answer from anyone at LL concerning their failures to live up to their bargains and to communicate with me as promised, and Al won't take any more of my calls.

The bottom line is this: even if you produce a great cutter, if you have an inept organization that treats customers like an inconvenience rather than the reason for your company's existence, and you don't keep your word, it will eventually catch up to you, and your business will suffer. That's the way the market works. Making a good sword doesn't matter if you decrease your customer base with unprofessional and unethical conduct. Ignoring a customer who has a legitimate complaint, and then backing out of your end of a verbal contract is no way to do business. Word does tend to get out when you do things this way.

The ironic thing is that, when you get your sword, you also get a large packet of printed materials which prominently feature a "welcome to the Last Legend family." I couldn't help but think that, if this is how family gets treated, what happens if they really don't like you?

Caveat Emptor, when dealing with LL, and thank you all for tolerating my venting. It has been a very frustrating experience.

13th February 2006, 15:02
It turns out they deleted the thread I made on their website.

Anyway I finally broke down and started fixing all the problems with the saya after I nicked it pretty hard on some furniture. I don't think they'd take the saya back even though it was defective to begin with.

Filed down the inside of the saya between koiguti and kurigata, the sword fits properly now with a good 'lock' (but not too locked) when pressed in all the way. Removed some excess iron (I think it's iron but may be brass?) from the tsuba.

Next thing I'm going to do is buy some sandpaper and polish up the blade to either 2000 or 3000 grit. If I had the money I would buy proper uchigumori fingerstones and polish the hamon for a nice effect, but I think after that I will just etch the blade in vinegar until I have an extra 50 bucks lying around for finger stones. Then I'll be able to see if this blade actually has nioi gire (hamon runs off the blade) or if it's just very close to running off the blade.

If the hamon does run off the blade well I guess I'll just have to make a bad cut and tell LL to invoke the blade waranty they say is on all their mid-high range blades...

I fully agree that LL has some organizational issues. I think that some of their retailers do not have a very tight rein kept on them and as a result they may or may not suck. My advice to anyone buying an LL is to get the sword you actually want to buy in your hand first, only then should you buy it. If you need to order a custom, tell them that you are going to return the sword if there's any major flaws on it, bar none.

If there's any large problem with the blade, furniture, saya, etc. the sword will be returned immediately to be fixed. If this does not stop them from screwing up your order I don't know what will.

It's really too bad because I like the geometry of the sword I have. But I had to sharpen, polish and redo a bunch of the furniture myself.

9th March 2006, 18:57
I have a sword, from KRISS cutlery they claim that it was hand forged and it is deffinately carbon steel...it will pit unless oiled the price was resonable and it is very sharp. anyone who has used this blade for cutting let me know what you think I've never tried it.

10th March 2006, 18:14
I have an old(-ish 8 or 9 years) blade of theirs that is okay for cutting with (though it does have an extra long custom tsuka that is glued on; this leads to some vibration when hasuji is less than good).

It has held-up pretty well though for kata overall, but the steel is softer than the higher-end Hanwei blades that we use now, resulting in some damage to the mune (good practice for doing noto w/out dragging on the sayate though!).

Be well,

10th March 2006, 23:25
Thanks for your response I've never trained with mine.

2nd April 2006, 02:30
looking for good...well balanced sword for cutting.....try here Angelsword.com I personally have their BK katana...and its nice....their higher end ones are impressive.

Vince Inglhofer

3rd April 2006, 18:30
I've used a couple of swords by Angelsword. Personally, I think that there are better swords available for much less money. I can think of several places off the top of my head whose swords are a much better value.

As for Kris Cutlery, I really do not like their handles. Their swords are not bad, although they are a little soft. Unless they've changed their handles recently, they are pretty poor for a Japanese style sword.

3rd April 2006, 19:33
Thanks for everyones feedback.
In june I'm going to Canada to take a blade smithing course taught by a Japanese sword smith, I have a ten year goal of being able to make blades so this is the begining of my education.

JJ Simon