The Kukri, or more traditionally named, Khukuri is the national weapon and utility knife of the Nepalese people. It holds symbols of national pride, valor in battle, and personal bravery; although it is all of these things and more.
With its wickedly curved edge, the khukuri is known as one of the most the most renowned fighting knives in the world. However, the khukuri was also commonly employed as multi-use utility tool, rather like a machete. In this familiar role, it is used for the peaceful, daily tasks of chopping firewood, cutting meat and vegetables, skinning game, and opening cans of food.
The khukuri also is also an important spiritual talisman to the Nepalese people as well. The shape of the blade represents the Hindu trinity – Brahma – the creator, Vishnu – the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer who clears away the old to make way for the new.
The notch in the blade is a stylized representation of the character “Om” – the core mantra of all mantras (the “sound the universe makes”) – embedded indelibly in the steel and denoting prosperity and fertility; or alternatively a cow’s hoof, which to us is a sacred symbol. So the khukuri is deeply spiritual to us – a sacred object with which a warrior may face death itself, unafraid.
RavenCrest Tactical Kukri:
Below you will find two different examples of the Kukri, both designed, tested and offered by RavenCrest Tactical. The first is an assist open folding Kukri which is a pocket sized, and the second is the more traditional, larger fixed blade Kukri. Please click on either image for more details.
It has been said that the samurai’s sword was his soul. Perhaps this deep attachment had something to do with the perfect melding of form and function found in the katana, as the famous curved sword is known in Japan. Invented a millennium ago, the katana remains a marvel of aesthetic beauty and skillful engineering. While most bladed weapons over the centuries were designed to either pierce or slash, the katana’s two different types of steel gave it optimum qualities for both, making it a highly versatile weapon in battle.
Let’s look at the steps taken by traditional Japanese swordsmith’s to create these blades of legend…
Step 1: Smelting the Steel
The traditional katana sword is fashioned only from the purest steel, which the Japanese call tamahagane (“jewel steel”). Over three days and three nights, smelters using ancient techniques shovel roughly 25 tons of iron-bearing river sand and charcoal into the mouth of a tatara, a rectangular clay furnace built specifically to produce a single batch of tamahagane. Composed of carbon, the charcoal is as much a key ingredient in steel as a source of fuel for the furnace. The tatara will reach temperatures of up to 2,500°F, reducing the iron ore to steel and yielding about two tons of tamahagane. The highest quality tamahagane can cost up to 50 times more than ordinary steel made using modern methods.
Step 2: Dissolving Carbon
While fired at high temperatures, the tamahagane is never allowed to reach a molten state. This is to ensure that just the right amount of carbon will dissolve into the steel, and that the percentage of carbon will vary throughout the tamahagane (between 0.5 and about 1.5 percent). Katana-makers use two types of tamahagane: high-carbon, which is very hard and allows for a razor-sharp edge, and low-carbon, which is very tough and allows for shock absorption. A sword composed simply of one kind of steel or the other would either dull too quickly or be too brittle. On the third night of smelting, when the tatara masters break open the clay furnace to expose the tamahagane, they use the degree of ease with which the pieces of newly made steel break apart to discern their carbon content.
Step 3 : Remove Impurities
The best pieces of tamahagane are sent to a swordsmith, who heats, hammers, and folds the steel repeatedly in order to further combine the iron and carbon, and to draw out any remaining undissolved impurities, or “slag.” This step is as vital as it is tedious, because if other elements besides iron and carbon remain in the resulting sword, they will weaken it. Once the skilled smith has removed all of the slag, he can judge the carbon concentration of the tamahagane by the degree to which it yields to his constant pounding. One expert has likened eliminating slag from steel to squeezing liquid from a very hard sponge.
Step 4 : Forging the Sword
After the smith hammers all slag from the tamahagane, he heats the hard, high-carbon steel and shapes it into a long, U-shaped channel. He then hammers the tough, low-carbon steel, which he has shaped so it will make a snug fit into the channel and forges the two metals together. Both types of tamahagane are now exactly where they need to be: the hard steel forms the sword’s outer shell and deadly blade, while the tough steel serves as the katana’s core. This perfect balance of properties is what made the katana the samurai’s most durable and prized weapon.
Step 5 : Coating the Katana
While the katana’s body is now complete, the swordsmith’s work is far from over. Just prior to firing the sword a final time, he paints a thick, insulating mixture of clay and charcoal powder onto the blade’s upper sides and dull back edge, leaving the sword’s sharp front edge only lightly coated. This serves both to protect the blade and to give it its signature wavy design called the hamon, which later polishing will reveal. The swordsmith then places the katana back into the fire to be heated to just below 1,500°F; any hotter and the sword might crack during the next step.
Step 6 : Curving the Blade
Next, the smith pulls the katana from the fire and plunges it into a trough of water in a rapid cool-down process called “quenching.” Because the sword’s back edge and inner core contain very little carbon, they can contract more freely than the high-carbon steel at the front edge of the blade. The difference in both the degree and speed of contraction between the two forms of tamahagane causes the sword to bend, creating the distinctive curve. This is a tricky stage, in which as many as one in three swords is lost.
Step 7 : Polishing the Blade
The katana, fully forged, now goes to a skilled sword polisher, who may spend more than two weeks honing the sword’s razor-sharp edge. He meticulously rubs the blade with a series of grinding and polishing stones, some valued at more than $1,000 each and often passed down through families for generations. Sometimes called “water stones,” these tools are typically composed of hard silicate particles suspended in clay. As the clay slowly wears away during use, more silicate particles are revealed, guaranteeing excellent polishing quality throughout the life of the stone. Each consecutive set of polishing stones contains finer and finer silicate particles and removes less and less of the steel.
Step 8 : Adding Final Touches
In the final stage, metalworkers add a decorated guard of iron or other metals at the sword’s hilt. Next, carpenters fit the weapon with a lacquered wooden scabbard, which artisans then decorate with various adornments. Fashioned from gold or exotic leathers and stones, the katana’s handle is as much of a work of art as the blade itself. Finally, the katana is returned to the swordsmith, who examines the weapon one last time. It has taken 15 men nearly six months to create this single katana sword. Though fit for a samurai warrior, this sword will likely sell to art collectors for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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D2 steel’s popularity began during the “Rosey the Riveter” days of World War II. Back then, D2 steel was used to make dies for production lines. A die is pressed down to cut and create shapes out of softer steel.
To sum it all up, D2 steel was created to “punch” out large military vehicle/ airplane parts, that would then be hand assembled on an assembly line. D2 steel was not just designed to easily cut through other steels, it was designed to cut through other steels repeatedly, in a factory setting without major wear and tear. This work history enables us to determine the strengths of D2 knife steel. Most importantly, D2 steel is hard and resistant to heavy duty use.
D2 Steel Scientific Properties:
The D-series of the cold-work class of tool steels are considered high Carbon-Chromium Steels. D2 steel is air hardened and contains between 10% and 13% chromium (which is unusually high). D2 steel has a hardness in the range of 55 to 62 HRC, which makes is a very durable and high- end knife steel. D2 steel will retain its hardness up to a temperature of 425 °C (797 °F).
The chromium-rich alloy carbides in the D2 steel create excellent resistance to wear from sliding contact with other metal or abrasive materials. This steel has a high wear resistance and creates a tough knife that holds an edge. The very high chromium content provides better corrosion resistance than most tool steels and enables it to be semi-stainless.
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