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Simple Hamons – Clay Hardening Made Easy

Hamon / Temper line in 1095 Steel

In sword and knife making, the hamon (刃文, hamon) (from Japanese, literally “blade pattern”) is the visual effect of differential tempering.  The hamon is the visual separation between the hardened edge and the softer portions of the blade.  In the case of a traditional Japanese clay hardening (Yaki-Tre), the process is be better termed ‘differential hardening’ as it is achieved during the quench / hardening of the blade.  A similar effect can also be achieved in the tempering stage by deferentially heating the spine.  The term ‘differential temper’ references the result of each method, while the term ‘differential tempering’ refers to the method used.  For this discussion, we will focus on clay hardening.

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Wrought Iron San mai on a Budget

Wrought Iron

Real wrought iron differs from steel in that it has a texture. Often called the bark, it is easily seen when split. It can also be seen in the surface of a blade when properly finished. When simply polished with a buffing wheel, it tends not to show much of a pattern. When hand sanded, the bark shows to a degree. When hand sanded and lightly etched the bark / pattern really shows. However, it is far too soft to provide a good edge, So we use a proper steel for the edge and put the wrought iron on the outside / jacket of the blade. The process is nothing new.

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