View Full Version : Just Finished Kogarasu Maru

11th September 2011, 04:07
I’ve been away a bit due to a reoccurring hand problem so I am basically on light duty until that is resolved, so in the meantime I am doing a lot of little stuff here and there and one of the activities is getting myself caught up on my polishing.

I am currently busy polishing a Kogarsu Maru Tachi made from steel that I smelted myself using the locally available ore from my area, via direct reduction for the smelt. For the ore itself I used Nevada Desert magnetite, which I obtained from the sands that's all around here.

During the smelt I added a small amount of graphite to the mix in order to raise the carbon content. The bloom came out really clean, not many voids and felt very "heavy" mass wise for its size... It was flattened then it was triple cut and re-welded using triple cuts each time for 5 times in order to refine the grain structure. Worked smoothly and was very "solid" under the hammer. No problems with crumbling or anything. Welded great..one of the smoothest refinings I have done so far.

It sparked like a 60 t0 70 pt C steel but the sparks were very "white"..not the golden/reddish yellow like most carbon steels...

The sword blade was then forged out of this material, rough shaped under hand hammering, rough ground and then shaped, the two Bo-Hi started and then heat treated. ( I’m not going to tell you, yet,, how I got that little arrowhead shaped termination at the Kissaki, as that will in book No. IV. I got that idea for that type of termination from several pieces I have seen what I was doing research for a book IV).

The blade was clayed using A P Green High Al furnace repair/cement with concrete tie wire used to hold the clay in place during yaki ire. The quenching medium was warm brine ( my own mix of sodium hydroxide and ammonium nitrate, which is basically caustic blue salts) at a temperature of 265°F. Horizontal quench.

The blade came out of yaki ire with no cracks, warps or bends, and with a graceful amount of sori. I then started the polish after I scraped clean and base polished the Bo Hi…

While I was polishing I noticed that the Hamon was taking a much "smoother finish" than the unhardened areas of the blade. Now this is not all that unusual, as it is harder but for some reason the colors were little “ off” than what I usually see, more "darker grey", almost a bit "greasy" in colour in the softer areas.

This was becoming more noticeable as I progressed up in the polish into the finer grits. Once I got to 2500 grit, I did a very short etch in ferric chloride for approximately 30 to 45 seconds. Upon the removal of the blade the entire surface was black, which for me is more or less normal for the way I work.

As I was wet rubbing out the blade with 2500 grit wet/dry paper to get off that black crud I noticed that the Hamon was very smooth and silvery white with a cloudy transition line between the hard and soft areas of the blade (Shibuchi line) The softer area displayed a surface that had an "open" grain that looked like either some flavour of wrought iron or Wootz. Now I have never seen this happen before and I am stumped, maybe alloy banding but I doubt that....

Now let me backtrack a bit, the area where I obtained the magnetite is downwind a little ways from Ti-Met, which is a titanium foundry located here in the Henderson area. Now since titanium is paramagnetic, I feel that some of that material may have piggybacked onto the magnetite‘s surface, being picked up along with it as that is the only way it could have been “picked up“, or maybe my adding the graphite to the smelt may have caused the effect illustrated in the below photographs. Maybe it’s a little both, I do not know.

The finish was totally smooth and hand rubbed out to 2500 grit before the etch.NO scratches visible, almost to a full mirror polish.

The resulting finish after the etch, on the non-hardened areas of the blade is very similar to, at least to my eyes,as I said before, WI or Wootz. Now I was wondering if any of you fine folks have any idea as to what happened and why I’m getting this effect and result. I’m also wondering if I could of accidentally violated Mr. Daniel Watson’s so-called “Techno-Wootz” patent. Either way I am at a loss as to what happened either during the smelt or the hardening process. So does anyone have any ideas at all?

I was thinking as I am continuing to study that the grain looks alot like a wrought iron type of structure, but then,thinking a bit more why wouldn't the grain then be visible in the hardened areas of the blade as well, instead it being only seen in the un-hardened areas?

Here are the specs...

Nagasa: 32"...(measured from habaki to kissaki)
Ha-Mune (Back edge) length is 14"

Bo-Hi..One is full length (down the shinogi-gi) and the other Naginata-Hi..running along the Mune "back edge"..."Diamond Point" terminus of the full length Bo-Hi..which as I said I WILL explain in book IV...wha-whah -wha ha....heh heh heh....the hard part was getting it down to clean metal and polished....

Blade type: Kograsu-Maru AKA "Little Crow"....

Tsuka length 14", black samegawa under black and gold chevron silk tsuka-ito. Kashirae theme- Temple Lions/Chi-Chi Lions/Fu Dogs.....they are called by all three names..same critter...

Siya: Magnolia wrapped with split rattan for the first 1/3 of the siya length...Amber Horn siya fitings and the whole finished in red gold leaf under black cracked lac.

OAL: 47 3/8"...The Tsuka-Ito is black base with gold chevron woven in silk...I love that ito....makes even my work look good....

Any and all ideas are welcome so enjoy the photos.

Thank you


12th September 2011, 21:51
Hey Jim,
That is just a really wild effect! I'm sorry that I don't have anywhere near the metallurgy knowledge to even guess what might have caused it. The sword came out looking very nice though.

So did Watson really give up his magic energy steel for technology? :)

12th September 2011, 22:56
So did Watson really give up his magic energy steel for technology? :)[/QUOTE]


You referring to his so called "Living Steel" with the "Magical Powers that can actually be measured" from a few years back?? What a hoot..had a good laugh at that one...

I did not believe that he actually got a patent on a process that causes alloy banding in steel..but he did...Oh well...

Now methinks I may have this figured out after consulting a few other metalheads I know....One who is up at UNR....

What appears to have happened is when I added the graphite I set up more C (which is WHY I added it in) into the smelt...and by my repeated normalization after the last weld/drawing course and working at a sub critical temps I got some carbide banding going on...

Applying the clay and carefully and slowly bringing it up to temp...the parts of the blade that were not covered with the refractory never got above crit...those areas exposed did get hot enough to go into solution and this is one theory why I got the grain that I got... Now I am not 100% behind this one, but I did work a bit cooler on this piece cause it moved so nice at a lower temp..why risk it being red short and ruining all that work???

I feel that I should send this puppy out to a pro polisher and see what he can do to bring the hamon and shibuchi out a bit more and enhance the structures in the blade...there is alot of fun stuff going on in there

Maybe I did accidentaly violate that Techno-Wootz patent on this one, but Watson's patent is on one process only and well, there usually is more than a couple opf ways to get things done....Some just work better than others...

I sent a cut off to a friend at Sandia and he's going to spark it for me....should hear back from him in the next weekish...that should tell me a bit more...I am still scratching me head on this one....I am pretty sure that there is some Ti in the melt as the sparks coming off the steel were very "white" in colour...

So more info will be posted as it comes in...either way it sure is interesting...


13th September 2011, 16:33
I sent a cut off to a friend at Sandia and he's going to spark it for me....
That would be very cool. I was wondering if you would, just to find out what else ended up being in that sand. Getting an art polish on it would be really interesting except that it costs an arm and a leg.

Looking forward to hearing whatever you find out.

21st September 2011, 10:43

I just got an e-mail back from my associate at Sandia Labs in NM..

They conducted a series of tests in the pieces that I sent...(the " cut off"..both the "Before" and the "After" as far as HT treat goes and this is what came back to me..well it was an eye opnener...

The C content was 70 points as an "overall "average", plus or minus ..The identifiable trace elements combined were 15+ or so.... points... which includd Si, Ti and traces of of other minerarels plus a bit of irridulum in there to boot..

So all I can say is as more information comes available...it will be posted here...


28th September 2011, 21:02
Iridium? Interesting...must have been some meteorites that impacted at some point in time where that material came from.

28th September 2011, 23:16

I am sure that the Ir was a "hold over" from a previous smelting as I used some pieces from both the Odessa and the Campo de Cielo falls in it. Still the Hada shown is very unique and I am really considering talking to a decent polisher (if I can talk one into doing it..they all seem to be back logged out the wazoo) and seeing what can be done to bring out all the activity that is happening in the blade. Would be very interesting.


18th October 2011, 07:24
Jim, I heard some time back that using meteoritic materials in a blade would result in a total lack of hamon because of the nickel content. But your blade obviously has a a well-differentiated hamon. And this article (http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9910&L=iaido-l&P=23876) indicates that meteorites were used in at least some Nihonto.

Can you help with my confusion?


18th October 2011, 22:54

Whatever amounts of meteoric material that are in this particular piece is simply "remanent" from a previous smelt. I did not intentionally use any meteoric iron in this piece..just the magentite I gathered as well as some graphite to raise the C content a bit.

The banding I feel is a result of my working the material at a lower than usual temperature once I had the bloom consolidated and refined. You do get banding when the temp and the time is "right" which is what I feel happened. Add to that the several normalization cycles that I did during the drawing processes... that is also probably a good reason why I have that banding on the unhardened sections of the blade and not in the hamon as it (the Hamon) was the only part of the blade that got above crit and the carbides went into solution during yaki-ire and once quenched I got what I got....

Still I am really thinking hard about getting this professionally polished cause there is all sorts of stuff going on in the blade that a good polisher just might be able to bring out better than I can...