Hand forged katana swords are beautiful items that can enhance the home or office of any collector. Although historically these samurai swords were used on the battlefield, today they are used as symbols of honor and integrity, much like they were for the warrior's that wielded them hundreds of years ago. A hand made katana is a true work of art, and is a "must" for any sword collector.
Since many collectors choose to display their hand forged katana swords in their personal spaces, visitors may have questions about the different parts of the weapon. Most folks can discern what the blade is, but may not be familiar with the scabbard, the guard, the hilt, and various other aspects of a handmade samurai sword.
A scabbard is a piece of equipment that most handmade katana swords have. It is a long wooden or metal piece that is meant to protect the blade. Since most handforged katana swords are crafted with lots of inlays and other artistry, the scabbard is usually crafted to match the sword. Therefore, the scabbard will usually be lacquered and fitted with inlays and other ornamentation. Some hand forged katana have scabbards that feature pockets, and can hold a variety of items, from chopsticks to a skewer to hold a samurai warrior's hair in place on the battlefield.
A guard is also found on most samurai swords, although examples exist without this critical piece of furniture. The guard is found at the end of the exposed blade, above the hilt, and is designed to protect the samurai's hand from an attack from other samurai weapons. A guard, also called a tsuba, is generally made out of steel, copper, or silver and often features very ornate craftsmanship that is of special significance to the collector. An especially ornate tsuba will have engravings or designs on both sides, and often contains the smith's mark. In addition to pockets in the scabbard, some tsuba's contain extra holes for carrying various day-to-day items that a japanese samurai might need. All of these weapons also feature a hilt or handle, which is the section of the weapon that the blade tapers into, and also where the wielder will grip the sword. The hilts of hand forged katana swords are made of wood, but oftentimes will be covered with animal hide and then wrapped in some sort of material such as silk, cotton, or leather, that will allow for the user to get a better grip.
Most katana swords have ornaments on the hilt, called menuki. Usually there will be two menuki on the hilt, sometimes of identical design, while other times featuring companion designs. Another feature of a hilt is called a pommel, which is a small counterweight that provides a balance to the blade. Handmade katana swords generally feature intricately decorated pommels.
Although most people new to collecting samurai swords can identify the blade, it is important to know about the furniture of a sword, because that is was makes it a truly marvelous weapon to display proudly in your home or office.