Pavel Bolf - Katana Kaji
Japanese swords maker
Welcome to Katana-kaji website presenting activities of Jswords company. We mainly deal with custom made Japanese swords and knives. Our swords are made mostly by traditional technologies. These include steel making, smith-like folding, and welding of the steel, hand-forging of the blade, hardening of the blade to HAMON. Then follows a hand-making of koshirae for the sword and a traditional way of polishing of the blade on stones.
Besides the traditionally made swords, we also make swords from homogenous modern steel suitable for Iaido and Tameshigiri practice.
To a certain extent, we also make kitchen knives and hunting knives.
On this website you can visit a gallery of finished swords, you can have a look at the current offer of swords for sale and also find a source of information on a Japanese sword. There is a glossary with pictures, authorial articles, photo gallery about making Japanese sword and its accessories and many others. In the future, we will extend the content and by adding more information and photos.
Thank you for visiting and sharing.
Katana kaji Pavel Bolf and colleagues.
About my work
I was born in 1973. My interest in Japanese swords began when I was like 14, firstly as a user when I started to practice Iaido. I was more and more fascinated with the production of the swords itself. In the beginning, I only collected basic information about the technology of the production but later I tried to make some swords. Making Japanese swords became my profession in 2000. In the beginning, I made swords only for Iaido and tameshigiri practice from homogenous modern steel. However, a deeper study of the subject and technology of the traditional making process of Japanese swords led me to melt and process my own steel.
I got more and more interested in swords made 11th to 14th century. The way the steel of these swords is processed and metallurgical activities on Japanese swords from these times eventually led to my focus on the production of swords of Ichimonji School. The main focus of my study and transition of the results into practice became discovering original methods of making steel, its processing and technics of hardening. My goal is to find processes allowing origination of metallurgical effects typical for works of the Heian period through to the early Muromachi period - finding procedures which would allow me to reproduce effects, such as utsuri, koshiba, nie and techniques enabling hamon line in the style of Ichimonji School. During the past few years, I started to experiment with techniques of other schools in old Koto style, mainly Soshu, Yamato and Gassan. I repeatedly visited Japan to study traditional schools and Koto swords. My friends in Japan allowed me to study excellent works of old masters. In 2013 I was invited to Ichinoseki district in Iwate province to make sword in Mokusa style and tanto in Ichimonji style. These works present in Japan my effort to understand Japanese swords and the journey of the swordsmith to making a perfect blade.
From the wide selection of traditional swordsmiths´ schools got the most of my attention works of the ICHIMONJI School. Its tradition reaches all the way back to the roots of Japanese swordsmithing. I consider its natural hardening line the most interesting feature of this school. CHOJI hamon of ICHIMONJI School is one of the most impressive hardening patterns and furthermore it is accompanied by other metallurgical effects, especially UTSURI. Therefore, ICHIMONJI School and reproduction of blades in its style is the main focus of my work. I was also successful in reproducing blades in of other schools, such as YAMATO, SOSHU, GASSAN and MOKUSA.
These schools have different constructions of the steel composition, different structure of the folding pattern HADA and also different hardening line HAMON. Also, the other hardening effects, such as KINSUJI, SUNAGASHI, UTSURI or NIE differ. Therefore, when making a blade of a certain school I try to maintain the characteristic features of that school. It is, therefore, possible to ask for a different folding structure from ITAME to MOKUME, MASAME or AYASUGI and their combination.
As to the hardening I prefer CHOJI of ICHIMONJI School, but based on the requirements and school I can also produce different types of hamon like SUGUHA, MIDARE, CHÓJI-MIDARE, GUNOME and other.
The signature I use is a character of a wolf - Okami. It has originated from semantic transcription of my surname Bolf that comes from the German Wolf. The signature is read Borufu (Bolf)
Due to my interest in Japanese swords also my knife production is strongly influenced that way. As well as with the swords it is possible to choose from knives made of homogenous carbon steels, folded carbon steels and folded steels of my own production (oroshigane).
With folded steel it is also possible to choose knives forged from hagane (folded high quality steel forming the cutting edge) in full profile, or from sandwich where hagane is only in the middle and the edge and the sides are formed by damask steel. Damask steel is folded steel with very distinctive structure after folding.
All blades are partially hardened (to hamon). My knives are hardened without using clay and so the hamon lines are natural.
The blades of my knives are signed on the side using my swordsmith´s sign. There is my name in Japanese characters - PABERU BORUFU (Pavel Bolf). The sign on the blade is made using a die.
The design of my knives is a subject of functionality and usefulness. I deliberately avoid decorations and complex constructions of handles and accessories. I am trying to let the beauty of the steel express in its natural form. The unpolished areas are left with a patina that originates when forging the blade. I believe my knives address those who see beauty in naturalness, simplicity and prefer functionality rather than decoration.
You can either choose from the knives in the galleries or go for an order based on your own design.
Using and maintaining the knives from carbon steel with partial hardening
Partial hardening is a technique where the cutting edge of a tool, knife, sword etc. is being hardened faster using higher temperatures than the rest of the blade. Thank to this method the edge of the blade is formed by martensitic structure of the steel and is significantly harder than the other parts which cooled down slower. This allows the blade to get very well sharpened and the edge to last even after longer use.
A disadvantage is that better sharpening tools are to be used. Suitable for knives are combined tools with ca. 800/1200 grain or so. The higher grain we use for final sharpening the sharper blade we get.
Another disadvantage of a hard martensitic structure is its fragility. Knives hardened with this technique are not to be used for throwing, neither for stabbing into tables or stumps nor used as a screwdriver or crowbar. These practices could result in chipping the edge or breaking part of the tip.
Protection from rust. Carbon steels do not content alloys, such as chrome, which prevent it from rust. Therefore it is necessary to grease the blade. When cutting greasy materials like sausages for example that is greasing itself. Longer use of the blade results in patina that does not influence its functionality or durability in any way. Should you not use the knife for longer time, it is recommended to clean the blade and preserve it using oil or other greasy substance before storing it.
Sheath for individual knife + 900,- CZK.