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Project X Japanese was first started in 2012 and was a no holds barred improvement of Ronin Katana’s Elite Laminated swords series – so much so that by 2019 it has REPLACED the elite line entirely. The blades are painstakingly hand made by certified level 1 Master Smiths using the most complex of all the lamination methods – Soshu Kitae – as you can see on one of the earliest models.
Lamination (and differential hardening) are the two main methods of creating a Katana that has the same qualities as a genuine Japanese made Nihonto – that is to say a hard edge with soft, flexible core and two progressively harder sides of steel to protect against lateral impacts.
To create such a blade, several billets of steel, from hardest to softest – 1095, 1060 and 1045 carbon steel are placed in position and then hand forged until each lamination is perfectly positioned for shaping.
Quite often, it takes several attempts to get the positioning just right. But once a valid billet has been made, not one but two Master Smiths work together hand hammering the blade to shape.
Once a basic blade shape has been made, it checked carefully for any flaws and if found, discarded and the process begins again. If they pass the first inspection, they are then hand shaped, clayed, tempered, differentially hardened and sent off to the master polisher who will spend a full day (sometimes more if a flaw is discovered) painstakingly polishing and sharpening the blade to the highest possible standard.
Years of experience (the apprenticeship for a Master Polisher is several years longer than that of a Master Smith – and there are only a handful of them still around) lets the smith know by feel and sight alone when the entire blade is perfectly smooth – for the smoother the blade, the cleaner and easier the cutting with it becomes.
One of the most time intensive parts of the polishing/sharpening process is the kissaki (tip) as the yokote (separation line) and tip have so many angles it takes almost as long to polish as the rest of the blade entirely.
At times, the smith uncovers deep scratches caused during the shaping that cannot be polished out. When this happens, the sword is discarded and we start again from the very beginning. As such, it usually takes 4-5 attempts to make the perfect sword that passes our strict QC standard (with the rejects being picked up by eBay vendors and sold off as brand new and perfect) – and this is one of the reasons why it takes so long to make – Forge about 2-3 times longer than any other custom made swords on the market.
But the end result speaks for itself. Below is a close up of the blade.
And below, all the effort into shaping the kissaki tip pays off, with a very clear geometric Yokote, traditionally hand carved bo-hi (fuller) termination and clean polish so you can clearly see the boshi (part of the hamon that runs to the very tip).
Note the beautiful interplay between the hamon and lamination lines – each sword is 100% unique. But for such a beautiful blade, only the best fittings will do to properly compliment it.
For a start, the handles themselves are wrapped using a FULL rayskin wrap using only the best skins, usually with at least one prominent Emperor node.
And then we just go nuts, using only the best silk ito wrap (limited colors, as the best stuff is only made for the most commonly encountered ito colors) tied using hishigami for perfect triangles, sold iron or work hardened copper fittings (many made in house and not available anywhere else, others purchased from the main Koshirae/fittings supplier) – you name it, no expense is spared – if its not the best around, we don’t want it on our swords..
Same with the saya, double lacquered with buffalo horn fittings throughout – no expense is spared. Click on the image below for a full size version so you can see all the details and how it all comes together.
The focus on the Project X series is traditional construction methods and supreme quality to create a blade as close to a genuine Nihonto as possible. In all honesty, the full price should be the DEPOSIT price..
These blades are powerful cutters, with a Dotanuki style blade profile – one of the so called Torso cutters/Torso splitters that can supposedly bisect an opponent with a single strike.. Traditionalists will also enjoy adding in the optional extra folded steel option for true authenticity – it’s subtle hada, and requires close observation to see it, but combined with the lamination and hamon temper line gives you literally hours of enjoyment as you explore every detail of the active and lively looking blade.
At the end of the day, if you want the most traditional, best quality custom Katana on the market – this is IT. Only our other custom line – Forge Direct – comes close. At an average price of $1000 they are not cheap, but if you knew how much work goes into making them and how much they cost us to make and ship out to you, it would still be great value at double the price..
While there are 9 basic models of Katana and 2 Companion Short Swords available, almost all can be mixed and matched and special requests can often be accommodated – all of which is explained in detail on every product page.
- Stunningly beautiful blades equally at home at the dojo or as a high end, rather deadly ornament.
- Rare blade type – both in geometry and lamination. Extremely hard to make with each sword made with a large amount of blood, sweat and tears going into each and every piece.
- The ability to mix and match between models as well as add your own special requests.
- Underpriced – a sword of this quality should be sold for much more than the asking price. For all the risk and effort involved at our side, as we guarantee 100% satisfaction, they should be priced closer to $2K.
- Folding the steel is available as an optional extra, but is extremely subtle (as were many genuine Nihonto).
- Limited availability – they are made in batches of 20-30 swords at a time, 3-4 times a year. Miss out and its a long wait before a new order can be placed.
- Wait time – unlike many so called custom Katana that are whipped together in a couple of weeks, the standard wait period between ordering and receiving the sword is 3-4 months.
For special deals, notifications of works in progress and insider information not revealed anywhere else, sign up to the Project X newsletter if you are into Elite swords of all types (primarily Katana, but also other high end custom or limited edition swords).