Forge Direct’s Elite Custom Katana is finally accepting new commissions!

It has been over a year in the making, but we are over the moon to advise our customers that one of our best quality products – our flagship of the Forge Direct Japanese Sword line – the Custom Katana, is finally taking new commissions!

The biggest change between the current version, the Custom Katana 4.70 and 3.0 is we have had to re-release it with a standard blade length of 28″ (measured from the munemachi – the back notch of the habaki to the tip, add around an extra 1.5″ if measuring from the guard) which is pretty much the default for a comfortable feeling sword for the majority of modern practitioners (who are on the average, a fair bit taller than historical Samurai).

While we realize that this may preclude some people with specific blade lengths in mind from ordering this time around, it was either this or order 400 saya just to be able to take the first order, so for those of you requiring different blade lengths, please wait until we release a specific new sword design in a specific blade length (feel free to email me with suggestions as to what blade length you might need).

For everyone else who just wants a REALLY nicely made blade in beautiful custom fittings (now with hishigami as standard, plus buffalo horn kurikata on the saya), the wait is finally over and it is time to fire up the forge..

Some of the biggest changes

We already mentioned it, but there are four main changes between the current incarnation of this sword (version 4.0) and when we closed off on new orders in June 2020 (version 3.0):

  • Fixed blade length of 28″ (this is non-negotiable)
  • Hishigami triangles now used as standard
  • Buffalo horn kurikata on every saya (the higher end ones often have more)
  • And we have narrowed down the saya selection to only the most popular models

To this end, I want to preserve the old pics of the previous saya options in case previous customers need it as a reference, so here it is. The old saya options from the Custom Options Page (which has of course been updated to reflect what is on offer for version 4.0).

FOR POSTERITY: The Old Forge Direct Saya Options

S1 – Maroon Brown (Free)
S2 – Pure White (Free)
S3 – Red with Gold Maki-e sparkling (Free)
S4 – Standard Glossy Black Saya (Free)
S5 – Textured Saya, good for minimizing appearance of knocks and scratches (Free)
S6 – Black Glossy Saya with subtle red ‘claw’ marks at two locations (Free)
S7 – Glossy Black with luminescent green colored bamboo theme engraving (Free)
S8 – Glossy Blue Saya (Free)
S9 – ‘Kill Bill’ themed sword with Oni engraving (Free)
S10 – Glossy Red with Black Speckled Maki-e (Free)
S11 – Glossy Brown with sparkling gold maki-e finish (Free)
S12 – Natural Wood (Free)

Elite Saya (additional charges usually apply)

We absorb as much and sometimes ALL of the extra charges we face with these higher end to truly Elite level Saya. Because of this, they are not sold separately and only one saya can be ordered per sword.

Please also note that the hand painted swords may add additional time to the total lead time as each colored layer is allowed to dry.

S13 – Red Wood Grain Style with Speckled Mother of Pearl (+$39)
S14 – Glossy Black with Gold Leaf Star Patterns (+$39)
S15 – Black Glossy Scabbard with Mother of Pearl Bamboo grove pattern (+$49)
S16 – Wood grain style Red Saya with Mother of Pearl Fire Breathing Dragon (+65)
S17 – Black Glossy Saya with Mother of Pearl Sky Dragon (+$65)
S18 – Black Glossy Saya with Mother of Pearl Branch and Cherry Blossoms (+$49)
S19 – Red Wood Grain Style with Mother of Pearl Bamboo Grove theme (+$49)
S20 – Red Wood Grain Style with Small Mother of Pearl Dragon ($49)
S21 -Red Wood Grain Style with Mother of Pearl Branch and Cherry Blossoms (+$49)
S22 – Medium Sized Mother of Pearl Dragon on Red Wood Grain Style Saya (+$59)
S23 – Gold Saya with maki-e sparkle and real gold floral imprints (+$39)
S24 – Glossy Red Saya with Black Rattan Wrapped upper section (+$39)
S25 -Black Glossy Saya with Speckled Mother of Pearl (+$39)
S26 – Black Glossy Saya with Medium Sized Mother of Pearl Dragon (+$65)
S27 – Glossy Black, Inlaid real gold hand painted Tokugawa style pattern (+$69)
S28 – Black Glossy base saya with hand painted Japanese village and hills scene (+$79)
S29 – Hand painted Autumn leaves (+$79)
S30 – Glossy Black Saya with the Shinto Demon God Fujin (+$79)
S31 – Glossy Black with stunningly detailed hand painted Dragon (+$89)
S32 – Gold and Gold Maki-e hand painted Sakura theme (+$89)
S33 – Black Glossy Saya with Rayskin Wrap and Buffalo Horn (+$89)
S34 – Red Saya with highly detailed Sakura flowers in full bloom (+$89)
S35 – The ultimate (+$99)

While it does seem a little sad to have to reduce the saya options down from 35 choices to only 8 – when we checked our records we found that time and time again, our customers selected almost exclusively from the 8 saya we selected. And so being forced to have to try and make saya ahead of taking orders to keep production times tight, we let our past customers good taste guide us and so what is available is the most popular designs around.

It seems that while the other saya are nice to look at, the 8 we settled on are the ones that people actually want to own..

When I see what they choose from, I have to admit – our customers have good taste!


General Overview (blog page)

High Resolution Pics of all the Custom Options (blog page)

Review and Product Testing (

Project X and Forge Direct Chinese are BACK!

Almost 12 months ago one of our most popular, best selling premium sword lines – Forge Direct Chinese, ground to a screeching halt due to production and shipping issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While worldwide the pandemic continues indefinitely, in the last few months we have been working hard behind the scenes to bring both Forge Direct Chinese and our elite Japanese line from Project X back online. And we are delighted to say that with this post we announce that Project X and Forge Direct Chinese are BACK and taking new orders..!

Project X

For those of you not familiar with it, Project X was founded 10 years ago and grew out of Ronin Katana’s Elite Soshu Kitae Laminated Katana sword series with many extra tweaks and upgrades, eventually supplanting the Elite line in 2019.

With many customization options, there are 9 basic models in the series ranging from normal Katana styles to O-Katana, Gunto and a basic stripped down model known as the ‘Kihon’ – but all have several defining important characteristics.

While every aspect of this sword line is as premium as it gets, naturally the blades are a special focus for extra attention to detail and do not disappoint with a complex lamination known as ‘Soshu Kitae’ complimented by a clear and expertly polished hamon line and option to add elite folding to produce the most traditionally constructed Katana possible outside of Japan – at a fraction of the price it would cost to have it made there.

More information on Project X on the main site here

Due to our policy to providing the best quality at the lowest possible price point, and the fact that we can only make these swords one or two times a year, and it’s no surprise that when we offer the chance to have one made, available spots fill up VERY fast – and the majority are reserved for subscribers of a dedicated Project X newsletter – so that by the time we make THIS announcement, many of the available spots are already taken.

Indeed, this is where we are at in terms of the forges comfortable production capacity at the time of the general re-release of these swords to the sword buying public:

In previous batches when we reach this point and open up to the general sword buying public – it is expected that all available production slots will be used up within the next 3-5 days as demand far exceeds our ability to produce the swords (a common problem with the industry generally right now).

So long story short, if you are a fan of high end production Katana with a lot of great customization options designed to minimize bad designs or unappealing component combinations – you should give this batch serious consideration while there is still time..

Forge Direct Chinese

At the same time we re-release Project X – it’s offshoot, Forge Direct Chinese – has also just come back online, and celebrates its return with a 20% discount on every model until midnight the 9th of June 2021.

In addition to the classic line up from Master Smith Zhangshu Ji from the Baojian Forge and Master Smith Xiaolong Jiang, Master Michael Ye has also partially returned from retirement early in the year with two new elite level ‘Wuxia’ fantasy designs of his own that he has become famous for with the Windsteel blade ‘the Sword of the Monkey King’ and the very unique, one piece forged Damascus Steel Warsword ‘the Sword of the Ancients’:

While we intend to be able to offer Forge Direct Chinese on an ongoing basis for the foreseeable future, the 20% discount sale must end on the 9th of June. So to secure the best deal possible on these swords, now is your opportunity.

Stock levels critically low – two suppliers bow out with no restock in sight..

It’s been a very, very strange time for the sword industry this year. Normally the first few months after Christmas are pretty slow, but due to the general trend worldwide towards online orders – we have seen a double whammy of a massive increase of the number of people trying to buy swords and an unprecedented inability to restock them anywhere near as fast as they are going out the door..

I have just emailed everyone on the official sword store mailing list the ins and outs of this double whammy, so rather than try to reword the same thing, here are some excepts from the newsletter to get you all up to speed as to what is going on behind the scenes.

From the SBG Sword Store Newsletter

Once again it is a mixed bag of news for the sword industry – some good, some bad – though none truly unexpected or out of the blue.

The bad news first? There are not many swords left after the ‘great sword buying frenzy’ of the last few months. Stock levels everywhere are quite dismal – to the point that two of our most important partners are about to close up shop, one temporarily – and one for good..

Ronin Katana is taking a short break from the 15th of this month until June the 9th as their shelves are more or less bare and after months or working at maximum shipping capacity – they are kind of beat.

But sadly, our friends at Cheness Cutlery have become a causality of the inability to restock – and announced late last month that they will NOT be restocking and once they have sold their existing stock – that’s it – there will be no more..
So the next few days and weeks are your LAST CHANCE to pick up what is remaining from stock at both of this suppliers – one temporarily closed and the other preparing to close its doors for the very last time..

Project X and Forge Direct Chinese

While stock levels in the US are for the most part at the bottom of the barrel, Longquan is working overtime to try and restock everyone. And with all this activity – we are finally catching a break and preparing to relaunch Project X Japanese and Forge Direct Chinese, last available in August and June 2020 respectively..!

An early bird special offer will be made for Project X Japanese to subscribers of the Project X exclusive newsletter – so if you are finding it hard to track down a reliable source for a high quality Katana at the moment, your golden opportunity is looming on the horizon – and it will be happening sooner rather than later..

And lovers of high quality traditional Chinese swords will also get an opportunity to secure a master smith forged blade from two premier forges – have a look now to see what is about to be re-released:

The re-release of all these swords is scheduled to occur around or before this time next week, so stay tuned..! It’s great to be able to bring back as many of these awesome swords as possible – especially in a time when many of the best ‘stocked’ swords are all sold out, so it makes sense to have something made to order.

The only caveat – delays are to be expected. But we have prepared and positioned ourselves to minimize any delays as much as possible – but in these all too ‘interesting’ times, a spanner may appear in the works at any time slowing things down – and people need to be aware that the environment is challenging and unpredictable. But we would not offer these again now if we did not think we are 99% clear of the worst of it..

And they are definitely worth the wait..

Talk to you all again soon.

  • Paul Southren, Store Owner

Project X and Forge Direct – the trials and tribulations

It has been a very, very rough 12 months for our flagship custom Japanese sword lines Project X and it’s offshoot, Project X – Forge Direct.

By June 2020 it had become apparent that the Pandemic had ground production to a halt and on the 23rd of June 2020 Forge Direct, which was usually available all year round, had been put on hold and remains on hold to this day..

In addition to shipping issues (when in June, nothing was going anywhere – but now simply limit shipments from the Forge to North America only) supply chain issues have been a MASSIVE headache. On top of everything else, the regions only major supplier of sword parts was temporarily shut down, and when it re-opened it found itself – like almost every business in the Sword Making Capital of the world – Longquan, overwhelmed with new orders as online sword sales exploded, draining stock levels down to never before seen levels.

Here’s an Infographic that clearly shows the quadruple whammy we have been experiencing..

As you can plainly see, it is less than ideal..

We have taken quite a few steps to try and get back in the saddle – and while there is nothing we can do about the direct shipping issue, behind the scenes we have been preparing as best as we can – so here is where we are up to now..


In late August 2020 the shipping situation had cleared enough for us to resume North American orders – and at the time we confirmed with the Forge that everything would be complete within the usual 4 month time frame..

Well, this is what the orders look like running 2 months behind schedule (the reason why is that for a handful of blades a few cracks were found during the polishing stage, and the swords had to be re-made, but first Chinese New Year, and now the sheer number of orders the forge is dealing with – have pushed it back so the last few swords are running 2 months late).

Because it is STILL not quite completed – and yet due to open for new orders around, well, around NOW – we have decided to simply focus on getting these last few orders completed and wait until the forge is not so swamped with production sword orders..

Exactly when this will be is unknown but I would estimate it will be sometime in late Summer/early Autumn this year..

In the meantime:

Forge Direct

Once again, we still have around half a dozen orders that are trapped in a kind of Limbo – mostly due to the ‘great saya shortage of 2021’ and the fact that we need to get these orders addressed before we can take new orders with a clear conscience (we always prioritize existing orders over future ones, business 101 is taking care of your existing customers first – we believe in lifelong customer service, not ‘churning’ and always fishing for new ones!).

Steps have been taken to address this as best we can – for our Forge Direct Custom Katana – we have dramatically decreased the number of available saya options to only the best and most popular our customers have actually ordered in the past – and of course, this means that if we want different blade lengths, we will have to create a dedicated product based around the different length – and so we will start with a fairly generic blade and expand as we go..

Forge Direct Chinese has also been trimmed down – first due to the retirement of Master Michael Yi, who was quite prolific for our project, and then from shortages in parts and supplies. But the good news is that other than the limitation of only being able to ship to North America – Forge Direct Chinese is only held back by the ‘straggler’ orders that are still blocking up the whole thing..

To say it is frustrating for everyone involved is an understatement – after all, this project was a culmination of many years of experience dealing with custom made items – but I must thank our customers for being so patient and understanding..

The good news is that we do seem to be on the home stretch for Forge Direct – and if all goes well, we could see it return next month. But for now, our priority remains on getting those last orders fixed up – and when we do, I think a celebration will be in order as we re-launch.

So as we are fond to say, stay tuned..!

Project X Japanese – Update

Despite the pandemic, the batch of orders for Project X Japanese taken in late August this year have been quietly taking shape and are not just on schedule for completion and shipping next month, but are (at least at the time of writing this post) slightly AHEAD of schedule..!

This means that the next planned batch in February 2020 is almost certainly to go ahead as we had hoped – but in the meantime, here are some pictures from the forge showing where we are up to! Hope you enjoy this sneak – behind the scenes peek.