Forged titanium alloy miao dao

Discussion in 'Sword Discussion' started by Mecha, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    Hi sword folks,

    Been a while since I had a good sword to post, but here's the first of the year! I have another one coming down the pipeline soon, as well. This is posted in the custom/handmade section as well:

    Here is a sword I'm calling a miao dao, the type I had in mind when it was being made. The miao dao was made in China in response to Japanese pirate squads who were raiding an area of the coastline, so I read. The miao dao, or "sprout sword" was a large katana-like object with a bit of an up-kick toward the tip, like a sprout. I mean what better to combat raiding Japanese pirates with katanas, than with a bigger katana thing, right? Makes sense to me. :D

    This one is quite small for a miao dao, with 26.5" of stiff blade protruding from the habaki. It is mounted in Japanese style. The mount was made for the blade by a professional of the Japanese sword arts, and the titanium alloy handguard was a gift from Dan Keffeler that complimented the blade well, I thought.

    The narrow blade is forged from Titanium-Niobium alloy bar stock, still my favorite alloy to use for a sword. The bare blade weighs 12.6 ounces, and has a steep distal thickness taper, and does get narrower as it approaches the tip, although it doesn't look like it. It's too light and skinny to be tackling large mats, but does well on stiffer, narrower targets. It's extremely quick in the hand. The scabbard mounter, who tested it, even commented that it handles like a Chinese sword. So it's not a katana and may #tr1gg3r a katana purist or two, but that's ok because it's not a katana - it's a miao dao!

    The mount is meant to be a combo of a resting mount and a battle mount. It's a "reinforced resting mount on steroids" that can be used to cut. Parts are wood and copper, and the saya includes a horn kurigata.

    Here is a short vid clip of cutting a cardboard tube with the sword:

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B8Z8lJnHwRw/

    And without further ado, some pics!

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    Thanks for looking, I hope you like the sword.


     
  2. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    826
    May 3, 2005
    Fantastic!
    I would like a l lot more details including the saya construction.
     
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  3. LEGION 12

    LEGION 12 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 8, 2009
    That's freaking beautiful .
     
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  4. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    Thanks LEGION12!


    The saya was made by a pro who makes Japanese mountings, and teaches and practices Katana martial arts. The idea we came up with was to make a wood "resting scabbard" that was reinforced with copper bands so that it could be used to cut. I think it's a type of alder, and was stained then lacquered. The saya has a horn kurigata so it may be carried in an obi like normal. Simple copper habaki with a nice fit. It's made more or less in the traditional fashion of a Japanese sword, but with better glue. Everything is wood and copper, except the handguard which is grade 38 titanium alloy.

    It would be neat to make a titanium spacer that takes place of the guard and smooth copper spacers to replace the normal seppas so that it is all smooth like a normal resting scabbard look, but I probably won't get around to that.

    The Ti Nb blade had a great heat treatment, and the blade is stiff. The gray finish was done at the last moment, I thought it would look dramatic, and it's fairly glossy-looking. It was meant to be a slim blade.

    The entire package is so light that when it returned from the scabbard-maker, I thought the box was empty. HA! I won't name the maker of the mount, as he does not want his name thrown around on the internet. So he will remain [CLASSIFIED]. He did a great job, and the sword draw-cuts well despite having the extra up-kick at the blade tip which complicates that sort of thing.
     
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  5. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    826
    May 3, 2005
    That's really nice. Love the lacquer.

    I'm planning some tantos. I was looking at ones by Matt Gregory where he skips the whole habaki and guard, and puts a Turks head knot, but then has to grind a plunge. When I did my katana, I found it so nice just to grind right over the whole length. The habaki wasn't too bad so overall it seems easier not to worry about messing up the plunges.
     
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  6. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    I like making nearly all blades without plunges, especially on something that can flex from end-to-end.
     
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  7. mross

    mross

    335
    Nov 10, 2003
    That second pic looks like a hada in the blade? How did you do that?
     
  8. BitingSarcasm

    BitingSarcasm

    Feb 25, 2014
    Way back in the 90s I took a seminar in the miao dao. It's a fun blade to use, and on a scholarly note it's wielded quite differently from a katana despite the similar shape. At the time, the only guy promoting them was Adam Hsu, and I had never heard of a miao dao before. The only ones available were wooden trainers or really sketchy "wu shu style" models out of China. It's awesome to see one come out of the Mad Science Forge, and it looks great. I like the choice of tsuka, leaving it in a usable resting mount sets it apart thematically from a katana and I always prefer to leave wood showing whenever possible.
     
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  9. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    Very cool, BitingSarcasm. I would like to make another miao dao, and this time make it proper size, which would be a blade length of say, 40"+ HAHA!

    Kinda hard to resist making something that gives one so many chances to say "meow." More meows than a Siamese cat.

    Glad you like the tsuka. There were several reasons for having it made this way, and not gonna lie, one of them was, "...otherwise it will just look like a fake katana in a mall." I think this is a more interesting setup that doesn't take itself too seriously. And the wood is quite pretty in person.
     
  10. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    I'm glad you asked. There are several effects of work that can happen to ti alloys that look sort of like hada. However there is an actual unique hada in all of the blades, especially the ones made from Ti90 Nb10 alloy, which is my favorite and what this one is made from. It has the most "life" of all the ti alloys.

    They each have their own hada, each is forged by hand, subjected to many heating and cooling cycles, heat-treated and tempered by eyeball in a dark room, the whole works. The hardening is differential, and if it is polished just right, a low hamon appears. A real hamon that indicates crystal phase transition from the hard edge into the softer body.

    This Ti Nb alloy is very beautiful in person. Perhaps I can send you a little piece forged out, heat-treated and polished on one side, and you can look at it closely and let me know what you see.
     
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  11. mross

    mross

    335
    Nov 10, 2003
    THAT would be very cool. I would love to see what it looks like in the hand.
     
  12. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    I have some little drops around. I'll prepare a piece tonight before I instantly forget to do it. HA! :D:confused:
     
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  13. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    Do you think that G.E. alloy would show activity with a polish?
     
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  14. SouthernComfort

    SouthernComfort Gold Member Gold Member

    478
    Dec 8, 2011
    Well, as the purest of the purists, all i can say is I LIKE IT!

    I discussed this with my girl and she liked it too.

    Girl-n-Sumo copy.jpg
     
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  15. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    It would show something, I bet. With ti a lot of times what you get is something like a very thick case-hardening that penetrates in maybe 1/8" or so, so the blade must be fairly close to its final dimensions before HT. That isn't all that happens, though...
     
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  16. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    Holy moly, screenshotted. :D Thanks SC. One of these days, I'll somehow pull off a katana blade with really proper shape.

    A handsome couple, indeed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
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  17. clearytja

    clearytja

    Oct 17, 2002
    Wow. I always like your stuff but this really seems next level! Amazing design and execution!
     
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  18. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    Thanks very much. :>)

    Still working on the sample. It took on a life of its own.

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Mecha

    Mecha Titanium Bladesmith Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 27, 2013
    I was mistaken about hada. It's not just the grain of the metal visible at the surface, it's the pattern created by the folding and welding process of the sword billet. Since this is a mono alloy, it won't have real hada, per se. It does have an interesting grain, though, so the sample will get finished and sent if you'd still like to take a look. Maybe @SouthernComfort or others would like to see it as well.

    Here is an example of the grain pattern of one of my big brother's polished titanium alloy knives, in a different alloy:

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bl1okWZnIlo/

    You can see the swirls and wood-like pattern; it's much more clearly visible in person. Looks like the surface of Jupiter.
     
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  20. JParanee

    JParanee Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    You’ve come a long way buddy
     
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