When you look at a samurai sword, you may not even think about the tang. For some of you, this may be a new term. Many may understand the important role a tang plays in the stability of a sword. The tang plays a huge role in a sword’s functionality and whether or not it is a quality weapon deserving of use. Here is a brief overview of the full tang katana and some of the things you’ll want to look for when shopping for your own sword.
What is a Full Tang Sword?
If you are just planning on purchasing a katana to hand on the wall for decorations, you may not be concerned about the tang. But for those who are looking to use the sword, a full tang is important for quality and safety. Even though it is not visible, under the handle is part of the blade. On the Japanese Samurai sword, this is called the Nakago or angel. A full tang sword has a handle built around the part of the blade you’ll hold in your hand. The tang is entirely in the handle, which is what is meant when the term “full tang sword” is used. The term is not unique to the Japanese katana, as many European and Chinese swords are built similarly.
A sword that is full tang is forged from a single piece of steel, with a portion of it being tightly secured inside the sword’s handle. The tang under the handle isn’t welded, screwed, or glued to the blade. It’s actually part of the blade. This acts as a safety enhancement. If the blade is in more than one part and hits something very large, the sword will break in two. This is extremely dangerous.
Partial Tang Vs. Full Tang
The full tang sword has an extended grip covering the entire handle. A full tang Katana is designed to increase the force that can be leveraged through the handle. This allows for an easier and quicker cut through the resisting material, which means the katana cuts through it more easily. The full tang katana is stronger than the short tang katana. A short tang katana doesn’t have the strength of a full tang sword. Most experts consider the full tang katana to be the strongest and best construction. The tang ends up being quite a bit wider, which helps it resist bending during rigid use.
What’s so Special About the Full Tang Katana?
The shape is one of the aspects that makes the katana special. When it’s compared with other types of swords, you’ll notice the blade is curved and measures a little more than 60 centimeters. Additionally, the katana is slender and only single-edged. It has a circular or squared guard (Tsuba) along with a long grip (Tsuka), so it can accommodate either hand.
The crafting of the katana also makes it extraordinary. The steel used to construct a true katana must be folded. The modern craftsman uses two different grades of carbon steel produced by smelters. A katana can be used as an exemplary cutting weapon. The classic katana sword doesn’t have bevels along the edge. This design creates a sharper edge on the katana. Its single-edged design makes the sword more rigid and provides a shaper and thicker blade for cutting. The sword’s point of balance is away from the guard, which is beneficial for this cutting weapon. The full tang katana has just the right amount of curve to make it balanced and light. This means that the force of a single blow is focused on just one portion of the blade.
Constructing the Blade of a Katana
There are many steps involved in the construction of a katana blade. Here is an outline of the steps to forging a partial or full tang katana blade.
- Rough Forging: Heat is applied to high-carbon steel to form the blade. The sword undergoes repeated hammering to help evenly disperse the carbon throughout the steel. This provides a uniform strength in the finished blade.
- Rough Shaping: The steel remains soft in this stage, where the scale is removed, and the blade continues to be shaped into the desired dimensions. During this stage, the blade is still straight.
- Clay Covering: A special clay is used to cover the edges of the blade. This is done by hand. It serves two purposes. Firstly, it will help the edge cool quicker during quenching. Secondly, it helps produce a harder edge and softer back on the sword.
- Quenching: Quenching is a crucial step in the construction of the katana blade. While the clay covering is still in place, the word is heated to a specific temperature and then it is immediately quenched in a water bath. The shape of the blade and its continuity are determined by this stage.
- Sizing: The blade curvature (sori) is adjusted if needed so that the balance and point of percussion are set. Next, the blade is rough polished, and the blade collar is fitted.
- Finish: Careful polishing and fine finishing work are done to define the ridgelines and bring out the sword’s beauty.
Shaping the Katana’s Handle or Tsuka
The tsuka is the full handle of a katana. It is a detailed piece constructed of numerous components. Here is a list of these components as they are applied from inside to outside.
- The inner core is usually made of wood.
- Next, a ray skin (samegawa) is used to wrap the wooden inner core.
- Handle ornaments, called menuki, are added.
- Finally, the outer wrap, usually made of cotton, is applied.
Order Your Full Tang Katana Today!
Are you ready to own your own authentic full tang katana? You have a variety of options and can customize your katana to make it your own unique creation. Take a look at a few of the full tang katanas available and find the one that suits your preferences.