Whether it’s Beatrix Kiddo slicing through crazy 88 or Samurai Shinzaemon mowing down invaders, the katana gets plenty of screen time. And it’s a popular choice for sword lovers around the world as one of few weapons they would take into a zombie or martial arts apocalypse (the other being chainsaws, naturally).
Aside from their functional use as a weapon of war, the katana has also become a symbol of status and culture. Its elegant and sophisticated appearance encouraged more ornate designs, and swordsmiths focused on crafting katana with high artistic qualities.
To begin the katana’s process of forging, a red-hot block of steel is struck with a hammer and then elongated using a tsuchi to create its shape. It is then folded back into itself repeatedly, which gives it the name muki-zuchi, or folding method of forging. This process creates a tempered, flexible blade with high resilience.
After the forging is complete, the smith heats the sword and plunges it into water in a process called quenching. This differential cooling enables the spine of the blade to contract more freely than the rigid edge, which results in a durable and functionally gradated structure that is known as the hamon.
The katana’s handle, also called the tsuka, is traditionally wrapped in samegawa, which is a cotton, rayon or leather wrap that protects and secures the tang and hilt. Ito is often added to the samegawa to add a gripping surface. Ornamentation, or mei, is another important component that helps to identify the katana. click on this page