Custom Katana Fans – the time has come..

Okay, I’ve been working around 14 hours straight with only coffee and the occasional snack to keep me going, but we made it..

Project X Japanese is live and ready to order. Indeed, subscribers to the Project X newsletter have already jumped in and out of the 30 pre-order spots available, 20% have already been snapped up!

We only just opened and already have reached 20% of our total order capacity

And then, the one that gave me the biggest headache – changing the pricing and options on Forge Direct Japanese. After much number crunching, some prices are slightly higher than we anticipated and others slightly lower, but when you consider what you can get for your money with even the basic options, well – the value for money factor is off the charts..

In addition to this however, I have also been spending countless hours creating pages explaining all about the two product lines, both the pros and the cons of each, and then a mammoth of a page for Forge Direct here which lists full size images of all the available components so you never have to squint to figure out what the design looks like again.

For your ease of reference, here are the new relevant pages:

Forge Direct – overview

Forge Direct – all the components, huge images

Project X – Overview (just written today)

Project X – component pics

Project X – large images from various angles of the elite fitting sets

These pages are not 100% complete yet and will need to revamp the page about the differences between the various custom lines we have and create a few more helpful pages, as the more info you have, the easier it is to make a clear decision right?

So enjoy the new prices, products and sword buying opportunities. Like I said, its not perfect yet – there’s still more tweaking to do – but right now even coffee number 18 won’t keep me up any longer, time for a rest and then we get back into it! Phew..

If you notice any errors, PLEASE contact me directly so I can fix them. I will be going over everything a second and third time, but as a typical male can quite easily miss small details that are glaringly obvious to a casual visitor but completely invisible to me because I am seeing what I expect to see, not necessarily what is actually there.

Now its over to you.

Have a look at both lines and see what you think. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I stake my reputation on both of these swords as being some of the best if not THE best custom Katana anywhere near the under-priced point we are offering them for..

Time for a little nap and then straight back into it so that I can be ready for business as usual on Monday. Hope you like what you see – it’s been months in the making, and with so many different options available all based on the very best Katana around, I’m pretty sure it won’t be all that hard to make a design from one series or the other that you will fall in love with..

Talk again soon!

Project X and Forge Direct

A date has been set and the countdown begins – both for round 2 of Project X Japanese and a price reduction and new optional extras and modifications to Forge Direct Japanese.

October 5th onwards, 2019

We were originally planning this for late September, but delays getting information on some possible new options for Forge Direct Swords and preparing three new models for Project X took up more time than I had available (end of the month is always crazy busy – and is usually taken up writing each edition of the Sword Buyers Digest Online Magazine).

So let’s get down to brass tacks.

PROJECT X JAPANESE

Round one of the customizable Project X Japanese was a resounding success – so much so that we have several customers wishing to order a second sword! Only 30 places are available, and once filled it will take 3-4 months before they are complete and so after this, the next opportunity to buy them will be sometime in February 2020.

What we learned is that with complex lamination, you can’t rush the process. As with in Japan, it often takes 4-5 swords to make one good one (with the scraps being picked up by the eBayers) but from the feedback we have been getting so far, 3-4 months is not a long time to wait for such a quality item.

But that’s not all, for as I believe I mentioned in a previous post – three new models will be joining the round 2 line up. Whether or not they are permanent additions or one off’s remains to be seen, but here’s a sneak preview..

From left to right, the Miyamoto Elite has several FREE upgrades in exchange for less custom options. For even less options, and for those who like to keep it simple and save a few extra $, there is the Kihon which only has a few sets to choose from and cannot be mixed and matched like the other lines. And finally the unique Black Crow Kogarasu with its double edged tip.

No matter what happens, the launch date begins on midnight Eastern time, 5th of October – only 30 pre-order slots are available and as per last time, we will show you how quickly the spots are being taken up so you don’t have to wait until February if you miss out on this round.

FORGE DIRECT JAPANESE

Meanwhile, the biggest reason for the delay launching Project X Japanese is we needed to make some big changes to our previous top of the range Custom Katana, the Forge Direct line.

The base price of all models will be coming down significantly, but at the same time we are also offering MORE optional extras to make up for it and allow you to take your forge design sword to a whole new level. Plus I am also in the process of creating a page on the blog showing large resolution pics of EVERY custom component so you can see it up VERY close and make out every detail. And then there will also be more custom options like with Project X and the soon to be discontinued SBG Custom Katana.

For example, one popular custom option we have been asked for many times is a leather wrapped tsuka. Here’s an example of one about to be wrapped at the forge (and yes, they too will have hishigami).

An example of the leather used – note just how wide the rayskin ‘panel’ is. Literally only an inch or so away from being a full wrap!

And then there are the saya. Forge Direct Japanese will have even more saya than ever before for the standard custom Katana, though we will be forced to charge extra for the most ornate ones, many – especiallu those that are hand painted – worth more than many entry level swords alone.

And finally, a folded steel option and maybe even a laminated version too (we aren’t 100% on the lamination yet, but here is an example of what the folded version looks like).

Some prefer a subtle ‘hada’ others a richer, easier to see one. The Forge Direct version is most certainly in the latter category of the two and really makes the sword ‘POP’

As mentioned, confirming these modifications, pricing them and making sure we don’t hurt the reputation of either brand is what has been slowing things down so much.

CONCLUSION

Regardless and come what may, at the stroke of midnight on the 5th, Project X opens up come hell or high water. And if it all goes to plan, so does the lower priced Forge Direct Custom Katana with more options than you can poke a sword at..

At the end of the day, the Forge Direct Katana will be more affordable and with more options and take only around 2 months to make, while the Project X series have far more complex blades and higher price, higher quality fittings and take around twice as long to make (and is only available in batches until we are 100% confident we can run it all year round like we can with Forge Direct).

The countdown to the best deals and the best Katana designs ever made at SBG has begun.

In the meantime, we STRONGLY recommend you sign up to the exclusive Project X Newsletter. If you knew the bonuses and extras available to subscribers, you would sign up in a heartbeat..

More updates coming soon!

Two HUGE Updates for Custom Katana fans

Two Great bits of news and one not so great..

Until Project X Japanese revived itself with its new premium Soshu Kitae Laminated Custom Katana line – our premium offering for custom made Katana were the T10 blades made by the Master Smiths at a different forge. Well known for exceptional handling, effortless cutting on a wide variety of targets and excellent build quality and QC control – priced so close to the Project X blades, they are feeling the pinch (basically, this is the two best forges in Longquan with their best Katana going head to head!).

As such, we have negotiated a serious price reduction in the entire Forge Direct Katana Line and trimmed down our prices as low as they can go WITHOUT sacrificing the quality and the QC this line is known for (99% satisfaction rate!)

The Forge Direct Price Mark Downs

The Master Smith Forge Direct Katana, was $899.99 now $749.99!

Each sword in the series has been permanently marked down, and as usual, every penny of the savings are passed on to you guys. So now it’s $799.99 $699.99 for the Laminated Muramasa $899.99 $749.99 for the standard custom Katana, $999 $879.99 for the O-Katana and $699.99, $549.99 for a Wakizashi or Ko Katana (sorry, we don’t have good enough fittings available to make a decent matching Tanto as well).

The only bad news is that because some of the saya in series are considerably more ornate and expensive to make than others (Some cost us over $150), the high end ones will have to be made as optional extras.

Painstakingly hand painted, saya like this are worth close to $200. We will absorb as much of the prices of these ornate blades as possible but have to choice but to charge extra.

The good news is though is that from now on every saya will have buffalo horn components. (We would love to be able to keep these high end saya in with the price reduction, but the margins are so thin now we require an additional charge so we don’t end up losing the shirts off our backs).

In addition to lower pricing and the more custom options generally, the other major difference is lead time. From ordering to completion, the turnaround for a Forge Direct Katana is 4-6 weeks and is available almost all year round. Project X on the other hand still needs to be made in batches that only come around 3-4 times a year as they are so complicated to make that there will be a maximum of 30 swords per batch and the lead time will be 3-4 months..

So a longer wait and only available 3 times a year, but that’s what it takes these days to make the very best possible custom swords (and still quite reasonable when the waiting lists alone for some smiths is years)..

This will make choosing which custom sword to go for easier. Our very best blades take longer and a lot of patience is required – but because of what you end up with and all our quality guarantees – for those with the patience it is well worth the wait.

The ever popular Forge Direct Custom Katana on the other hand will be readily available almost all year round, has more custom options and boasts a simpler but incredibly beautiful and refined cutting blade that has to be seen in person to truly be appreciated.

And of course, with the the new price adjustments, they are several hundred dollars more affordable.

And of course, for those of you who want INSTANT gratification, there is the Ryujn Custom Katana line. All the blades and components are imported into the USA and assembled within a day or two based on what custom options you select.

The only sad news in all this is the original SBG Custom Katana series.

Started well over a decade now, they were the original custom katana concept and model we hoped more honest businesses would follow and was originally designed as a valid alternative to the rip offs and fake custom swords being offered on eBay at the time..

Well, over the years the eBay sellers have gotten craftier, stronger and bolder with their claims to the point where the truth falls on deaf ears. Our attempts to underpromise and over-deliver simply cannot continue to compete with the aggressiveness of the China based sellers who overpromise and underdeliver (sometimes shockingly so – if you haven’t already, read THIS article on some of the hi-jinks these companies get up to – every dirty trick in the book and then some).

We can’t and won’t stoop to that level of lying about the steels used or promising something which we know we can’t make. So instead of going out with a whimper we will be going out with a bang. Later this month will be the FINAL Batch of the SBG Custom Katana.

Anyone who was ever on the fence about getting one or long thought about getting a matching blade of some type but never quite got around to it, the final opportunity to do so is coming very soon.

After this final batch is done, the only swords we will continue to get from the forge are some of our stocked designs like the Black Dragon Elite and other swords of my own design like my Yakuza tribute ‘Oyabun’ Shirasaya.

One of my favorite personal designs, the Japanese Gangster inspired ‘Oyabun’ Shirasaya

So that’s the situation!

In a few days time – the prices on the Forge Direct Katana line will drop, Project X will open up the second and last batch for 2019 and as Project X orders wind up, the final hurrah on the SBG Custom Katana line will begin accordingly. So stay tuned!!

Project X Katana – Delays

One of the reasons we ran a trial run of the Project X Katana rather than just offer it as a new custom sword available all year round is to make sure the customization process goes smoothly and to identify and bottlenecks or delays in production.

And indeed, it appears it was a wise choice, as to date only 50% of the orders placed in late May came in on time, the other 50% are now running a couple of weeks behind the original maximum quoted lead time..

Why?

Well, there are a couple of very good reasons.

The first is that laminated swords generally have a high failure rate. Its a complex procedure – made even harder because of all the various lamination methods, Soshu Kitae is by far the most complex..

To make one good sword, it usually takes 4-6 attempts. Many fail at the heat treat and hardening stages, for a when a dreaded ‘ping’ sound occurs, the blade has cracked and cannot be salvaged – the smiths need to start from the very beginning again.

However just because a sword survived the heat treat okay doesn’t mean that its out of the woods. Many flaws are only revealed during the polishing stage – sometimes after 4-5 hours of hard work has gone into the blade.. In these cases, either the lamination line or the hamon have run off the edge of the blade (fatal flaw) or there are some grind marks or scratches that occurred during the grinding phase before heat treatment that are too deep to completely polish out.

When this happens, there are two options – either abandon the blade and start again or keep going to try to get it as smooth as possible, as it is a non-fatal flaw.

Flaws like these are called ‘kizu’ and even high end Nihonto made in Japan may have ‘kizu’ that are deemed to be fatal (i.e. make the sword dangerous to use) or non-fatal (just not so pretty to look at). You can find an excellent list of the most common ‘kizu’ that will occur with a Katana here on Richard Stein’s excellent Japanese Sword Index.

For Project X Japanese, we subject our swords to a standard above and beyond even what is considered acceptable for a $10,000 Nihonto. None of these flaws are acceptable to us – but sadly there is a long line of eBay sellers and other local suppliers who are quite happy to snap up the rejects at bargain basement prices and flog them off as brand new, quality blades rather than scratch and dent them as they should.. Indeed, they even go so far as to sell swords that were failed heat treatment as functional cutters – and sadly as a rejected sword is no longer our property, there isn’t anything we can do about it..

Anyway, the point of this post is to explain why these swords take a bit longer than usual to make as its often the case that the flaws are not found until several days of hard work have already been applied – so moving forward we have revised the lead time from 4-6 weeks to 3-4 MONTHS with some coming in slightly earlier and others slightly later, but all in all considering just how much work goes into making them, even 3-4 months is something of a miracle..

Quality like this takes time..

Anyway, the swords that are awaiting completion will take another couple of weeks max before they are finished and we are ready to start a second trial run (along with a few new models including a Kogarasu) – so if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up to the Project X Newsletter to be notified when the next opportunity to get these opens up..

As you might expect, demand is pretty high for these swords and its very easy to miss the boat – so when the time comes, the faster you can secure your order the better..


P.S. In the spirit of full disclosure, I hate to admit it but the flaws you see above were on a sword that was sent to one of our customers.. It should go without saying that we kicked up quite a fuss with the forge about this, saying it is totally unacceptable for this line, and the sword in question is being remade for the customer and the point has been driven home – nothing but the VERY best is acceptable for Project X, and even flaws that are acceptable on Nihonto will not be tolerated here..


Project X – Completed Custom Sword Example

The original swords from Project X Japanese were and still are what we feel are well balanced and aesthetically pleasing designs – but with the ability to customize them it’s possible to create a truly unique, one of a kind personalized sword using one of this swords as a base.

One of our most popular swords is Model # 006 (the Dragon Blade) as it has a wide range of very attractive and original themed Koshirae (fitting sets: Tsuba, Fuchi, Kashira and Menuki) as well as great looking saya.

Mixing and matching just a few of the components and we get, well – we get this stunning original sword designed by one of our customers from the first trial run of 20 swords..

Click any of these pics for a very high resolution image:

$1000 Price Tag, all inclusive
Sword and Saya
Side view of the fittings and blade
Now THAT is what a geometric kissaki should look like
1 Full Day of Polishing
The stunning interplay between the lamination, the hamon and in this case, folded steel
Substantial and thick tsuka due to the use of a FULL rayskin wrap
Close up of the Buffalo horn Koiguchi and Kurikata with premium sageo
The Gold Leaf, Double Lacquered Saya
Bottom half of saya with gold leaf and buffalo horn kojiri
Close up of the blade showing the bo-hi (fuller) option
Side view shows the hamon pattern
Great choice of tsuba and fittings
The classic Samurai warning, a partially drawn blade..
Great choice of Menuki (handle ornament) and vibrant fittings.
The use of Hishigami (paper triangles) is time consuming and expensive, but when combined with alternating wrap and full rayskin results in the tightest fit possible
A couple of final glamor parting shots
And that’s all folks

While the first run of 20 swords is taking just a little longer than we anticipated – as you can see from the pics above they are well worth the wait..

Another trial run will commence as soon as the last sword from the first trial is safely delivered. To be informed of when they are next available – as well as get access to several special deals and offers not available to non-subscribers, sign up to the Exclusive Project X Newsletter Below.

In the meantime, you can see all the current main designs and custom options HERE with 2-3 NEW models in the works behind the scenes..