A blade’s hamon is perhaps its most visually appealing aspect of any Japanese sword. Any katana with a hamon is instantly remembered, and a true, beautiful hamon line can create an instant difference between an average and an exquisite blade.
Any real, natural hamon is created in the cooling process of forging a Japanese sword’s blade. It is in this process that the blade gets “Clay-Tempered”. This means that the edge portion of the blade is covered in clay as it cools down, helping its edge cool slower than its spine.
The blade is quenched during this procedure to make the edge tougher than the blade’s spine or body. A clay mixture is applied on the blade’s spine, which is subsequently heated and quenched. The thick clay layer on the spine works as an insulator and slows down the cooling of the blade’s coated area (the slower the cooling, the softer the steel).
There is a lot of internal tension between the clay and the metal, which causes the “hard” effect, as the high temperature crystal structure rapidly cools, locking carbon atoms in the grain and creating the metastable state. This process results in the production of a grainy hamon that resembles silver sand at the intersection of the blade edge and blade surface. These minuscule white spots collectively create white fog lines, which is a crucial foundation for understanding the calibre of a Japanese blade.
Due to the extremely high technical requirements in this stage, even the slightest carelessness could result in the blade cracking, which would be disastrous for the entire blade. The beauty of a hamon might be diminished by even a minor crack. True, natural hamon costs a lot to make, with our store selling it at around 140$ on our custom swords products.
A sword’s high edge hardness combined with good flexibility extends its service life and improves performance. When compared to the other swords in the world, Japanese swords that are created using this technology are deemed to be of the utmost quality.
Fake Hamon: Pitfalls to avoid when buying a katana
Some business owners desire to save money and make personal gains by scamming their customers.. Obviously they aren’t thinking long-term, so they use fake hamon on blades.
The wire-brushed procedure is the most popular. Because it is simple to recognize this type of false blade by grinding the oxide deposit, profiteers have largely abandoned this technique.
Fake Hamon #1: Wire-brushed Hamon
The most popular kind of faux hamon is wire brushed hamon. They can be seen on inexpensive wall hanger swords, hand-forged functional swords, and also iaito produced in Japan.
A wire brush wheel is used to scrub the metal’s surface to achieve this. The thin lines from brushing make it simple to identify. Additionally, search for a consistent pattern that periodically arises through the employment of a stencil.
In fact, we can make this type of hamon for free for any of our swords. However, we do not offer it inside our custom swords products because we do not like to sell fake hamon. If you’d like one, you can always contact us.
Fake Hamon #2: Chemical Hamon
Acid etched hamon can really trick a novice because it resembles real hamon in terms of colour, cloudiness, and lack of wire brushing scratches.
To make a chemically etched hamon over a non-differentially hardened blade, a variety of chemicals, such as mild acid, vinegar, and ferric chloride, can be employed. The blade is then polished with a cloth buff to make the etched hamon on the steel’s surface appear smooth.
Although it appears better than a wire-brushed hamon, this fades a little after the blade is polished. We offer this type of hamon for free on any blade, but heavily recomment real, clay-tempered hamon styles.
Hamon types: Which patterns are the best?
There are a lot of different clay-tempered hamon patterns which can be created on any katana. Here are some we use here, at Swords for Sale.
Sanbonsugi (Three Cedars)
Between Wave and Straight
Boshi types: What endings are possible on a blade’s kissaki (tip)?
More than the hamon, we have gone a step further and let you customize your own boshi on the kissaki, the extension of your natural hamon. Here are the different types possible in our custom swords products.