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Swords, Knives &

Product FAQs

Where are CAS Iberia’s products made?

Each brand we carry is made in a different place. Paul Chen / Hanwei swords are made by the Hanwei forge in China, in their Dalian facility. Our GDFB and SAY line of reenactment products is made by GDFB in Delhi, India. Our line of Synthetic Sparring Swords and HEMA Gear are made in England by Red Dragon Armoury. The Kizlyar Supreme brand of knives are designed in St. Petersburg and made in the town of Kizlyar in Dagestan, Russia. Citadel's high end knives and swords are made in a small workshop in Cambodia. Legacy Arms hand forges their swords and hilt fittings in the Philippines.

How many folds are in a folded katana?

It varies, dependant on the number of steel plates forge welded together to form the billet from which the blade is forged and the type(s) of steel used. The number of plates will determine the number of “layers” in the billet, and when this billet is folded over on itself this number will double. Repeating the process will double the number of layers again, and so on. The process is further repeated until the layer pattern is close enough to provide maximum blade performance but still be discernable (further folding would render the pattern very difficult to see without improving the performance).

What is ASSAB K120C steel?

ASSAB K120C is a powder steel, made in Japan under license from SSAB of Sweden. It is similar to Uddeholm UHB 20.

Are your Katana full tang?

Our katana, and other Japanese-style swords, have traditional tsuka (handle) and tang construction. The tang extends to almost the full length of the handle, is wide at the base with a slight taper towards the end, and is the same thickness as the blade.

Are your products “battle ready”?

We regard “battle ready” as an unfortunate choice of words, as our products are designed for many different applications. Are they as tough as the originals? Certainly, and in most cases tougher – the smiths of old were good but they didn’t have the steels that we have today. Our reenactment swords hold up very well in battle reenactments, our cutting swords cut and hold edges very well, our practice rapiers are flexible and resilient and so on.

What is the difference between a “Performance” katana blade and a “Classic” katana blade?

Primarily blade geometry. “Classic” blades generally follow the geometry found in traditional katana, which evolved from the requirements of the Samurai in terms of quickness and cutting ability. Samurai battles have, to a large extent, been replaced by Tameshigiri, the cutting of rolled and soaked grass mats. These targets vary in thickness, thicker targets requiring heavier swords, and rapid multiple cuts on thinner targets require quicker swords. “Heavier” and “Quicker” are rarely available in the same sword, so the Performance Series was created to cater to the needs of the moment in Tameshigiri.

Do your katana have real hamons?

Yes, all of our katana are differentially hardened (sometimes referred to as differential tempering) using the traditional claying and water quench method (except when traditional methods do not work as in our line of L6/Bainite katana or in the case of through hardened blades such as the Raptor Series Katana). This process creates the two steel structures (martensite / pearlite) that make a differentially hardened katana blade and the characteristic hamon of the Japanese katana. In some cases a chemical etchant is used to approximate the look of a hamon without differential harding, this is noted in the description and/or key features of the sword and at present represents only our range of iaito and two models in our Zatoichi blade series have etched hamons.

How do I tighten the fit on my saya?

Repeated sheathing and unsheathing of a katana, as in Iaido, will invariably cause the fit between the habaki and the saya to loosen. Our maintenance kits contain wooden shim stock that is specifically intended for use in maintaining the correct fit, whereby the katana will not fall from the saya under gravity. If the sword becomes loose in the saya, simply take a small piece of the shim (about 1” long by 1/8” wide) and superglue it into the mouth of the saya at the point where the back (mune) of the blade slides into the saya. If, at some point, the fit becomes very loose it may be necessary to glue a piece of shim (about 1” square) into one side of the mouth of the saya, but this will rarely occur.

Can I sharpen my sword?

This very much depends on your skill level and the availability of the right equipment. Fine high-end katana generally fall under the “do not try this at home” rule, as more damage than good can be done to these blades by untrained attempts at sharpening and, unless they are used for cutting very, very regularly they should rarely need sharpening. If, over time and use, the edge does deteriorate it’s best to contact a trained polisher (we’ll be happy to recommend one if necessary).

For less expensive katana, where the appearance of the blade is not a prime concern, an edge can be restored if done carefully and with strict regard to safety. Obtain a 6” x 2” ultra-fine diamond whetstone – this will do the job reasonably quickly and efficiently. Lay the sword on a table, with the edge facing away from you, and, holding the handle with the left hand, take the whetstone in the right hand. Adjust the angle of the stone so that it is laying on the edge, angled towards you (at the habaki end of the blade) and is slightly above the ridge line. Gently stroke the stone along the entire cutting edge three or four times. Always keep your fingers away from the edge. Then turn the sword so that the grip is to your right (again with the edge facing away from you) and, holding the stone in your left hand, repeat the process. Turn the sword to its original position and stroke the stone along the blade, at the same angle, once. Test the edge on a piece of copy paper – if it slices it cleanly, you’re done. If not, repeat the whole process until a clean cut is obtained. Be careful with that stone angle – if the stone touches the ridge line the blade will be scratched, if it is too far away from the ridge line the edge angle will be too steep and cutting ability will suffer. Above all, keep your fingers away from the edge.

The same procedure can be used for European swords but, in the case of double-edged swords, you will have edges both facing you and facing away so even more care is necessary. You should wear a pair of thick leather gloves and exercise extreme caution.

What is the strongest steel CAS Hanwei uses?

All of our steels are strong in the general sense of the word, but for sword applications we have to consider the various properties that make up “strong” in the context of the requirements that a particular blade must meet. The suitability of a blade for a certain application is determined by not only the type of steel used but, equally importantly, the heat treating process that the blade undergoes. Cutting swords require high edge hardness and resilience (the capability of absorbing a shock force without breaking or bending). Sparring and fencing swords do not need hard edges but need to be tough, flexible and again resilient. Knives very rarely see shock loads but must be capable of holding a very sharp edge for extended periods but not be difficult to re-sharpen when necessary, at the same time maintaining a high degree of corrosion resistance. All of these different properties are achieved by careful steel selection and precise heat treatment. Hanwei is now making some of its own steels, the use of which is so far limited to special katana blades (HWS-1S), that combine closely guarded chemical compositions with very sophisticated heat treatment processes, all directed towards superior performance.

What can I cut with my katana without voiding the warranty?

Just be sensible. Tatami mats, bamboo up to a couple of inches in diameter, pool noodles, plastic water bottles and the like are all fine. Trees and 2” x 4”s are not. Basically anything that will cause the sword to stop on impact must absolutely be avoided – the part of the blade extending out beyond the point of impact wants to keep moving and will do so if sufficient force is exerted, causing at best a bent blade and at worst an uncontrolled projectile that can result in serious injury. Of course small-diameter tree limbs can be cut but the temptation is to move up to increasingly larger diameters “just to see what it will do” – until it doesn’t.

How do I keep my sword from rusting?

Basically keep it dry, cleaned and protected. Details can be found in the product maintenance section of the site.

Are all of your swords hand made and forged?

With few exceptions, yes. Certain specialized blades (typically such items as fencing and practical rapier blades) are produced in a roll-forging machine and then polished by hand, but the majority of blades are hand-forged.

Are your swords razor sharp?

Only razors are razor sharp but we do have some swords that are shaving sharp. Our swords are edged as required by the application for which they are intended. Katana intended for target cutting (Tameshigiri) have a very fine edge angle, European-style cut-and-thrust swords generally have a steeper edge angle, developed in history as effective against mail. Sparring and reenactment swords have blunt edges for safety.