Is "Swords of Northshire" reputable?

I've been looking at buying another custom sword, I'm not saying in detail what I'm having done on here, but I've been checking out their site and not only are there basic customization options I can have it customized down to the last detail.


MY ONLY CONCERN is that while the region of "longquan" is famous for producing the best swords in china, and many of their greatest kung-fu masters purchase their blades from that region, there are so many different shops and makers in the region and many swords even the high end ones from that region can suffer from loose blades or unsecured fittings (mainly due to everyone trying to jump on the bandwagon of the provinces reputation) so my question is do any of you, or someone you know very well, have any experience with SWORDS OF NORTHSHIRE?

If so was your/their experience good or bad? If bad what issues did you find with their work? The price range can be anywhere from $80 to over $3500 dollars. From what I can tell their work is good, but I would like a second opinion before purchase. Any sword I buy must be not only elegant, but fully functional and efficient. I have a great deal of experience with blades of all kinds, I know most forging methods by heart and I know a quality blade when I pick it up. Before I purchase a blade from them I need to know that I'm getting quality. Thanks in advance guys and gal's.

Comments for Is "Swords of Northshire" reputable?

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Short answer, yes!
by: Paul

Swords of Northshire are definitely a reputable company to deal with. They are a relatively new operation, but have an excellent reputation, a strong social media presence (29K fans at facebook) and are listed as one of our recommended sellers in the Sword Buyers Directory and are very transparent in their dealings.

Their return policy is 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can send a sword back in original condition for either exchange, replacement or full refund.

here is a hands on review from one of our forum members, his only complaint was a few scratches here and there.

You can also read reviews on their facebook page, so overall - the short answer is yes, they are reputable and worth checking out.

True enough, you won't get a real Nihonto level of quality for a few hundred dollars, but for the price and the customization options available, backed up by a solid refund policy, you should not have any trouble.

- Paul

Custom Katana
by: Klugmann

I just received my custom Katana from Northshire. The quality was beyond my expectation. It is a beautiful piece of art work as well as a fully functional weapon. I was so impressed that I ordered a custom Wakizashi.

Yes, Very Good Katanas
by: Christopher

I purchased a custom katana from Swords Of Northshire a couple months ago, and I was extremely pleased with the quality. I was very skeptical until I finally saw and held the katana for the first time. Since receiving my katana from them I have purchased a few other, higher priced and higher quality, custom katanas from them and I am so pleased with their work.

Northshire Swords
by: Ronald Sykes

HI,I AM RONALD SYKES FROM THE UK.I HAVE JUST BOUGHT A EAGLE KATANA FROM NORTHSHIRE SWORDS BECAUSE I HAVE BOUGHT SAMURAI SWORDS FROM DIFFERENT MAKES OF KATANA. I PAID $550 FOR THE EAGLE KATANA BECAUSE IT LOOKED LIKE A GOOD SOLID AND WELL MADE SWORD. I HAD A CHOICE OF DIFFERENT COLOURS TO CHOSE FROM FOR THE SAGEO AND HANDLE WRAP, HAND POLISHED.I THOUGHT WAS VERY GOOD FOR A SWORD OF THIS PRICE.I RECEIVED CONFORMATION OF PAYMENT THEN THE SHIPPING DATE, WHICH WAS EXCELLENT FOR THE SWORD ONLY 10 DAYS. THE SWORD WHEN ARRIVED WAS WELL PACKED AND COVERED WITH PLASTIC. THE SWORD WAS EXACTLY AS ON THE WEBSITE AND FINISHED PRODUCT WAS A EXCELLENT SWORD WITH NO MARKS OR DAMAGE TO THE BLADE.THE HANDLING OF THE SWORD WAS VERY GOOD INDEED, ALTHOUGH I SHOULD POINT OUT I AM A COLLECTOR OF SAMURAI SWORDS AND NOT A MASTER SAMURAI. SO MY ADVISE IS ORDER THE SWORD YOU LIKE AS YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED AT ALL. THE ONLY THING WAS THAT I NOTICED ON THE PARCEL THERE WAS A INSTRUCTION BOOK THAT SAID ( RYAN SWORDS) SO I DO NOT KNOW IF THEY SELL THERE SWORDS OR PART OWN THE NORTHSHIRE FORGE.
ALL THE BEST WITH YOUR CHOICE.
RONALD SYKES

Swords of Northshire - a customer’s experience
by: Anonymous

The problem: Kenjutsu is not inexpensive for beginners. It’s always been difficult to equip them during their first year’s training. So a cheap sword that is sharp and doesn’t launch the blade out of the handle into some bystander is a good thing. Gone are the days when you could just drop into a gun show and find a Koto blade for a song, as I did so long ago.

As an instructor, I recommend Swords of Northshire to my students for their first training weapons, and use them myself in class. Why? The short answer is that they acted with integrity when I had a complaint, even though it was one of their less expensive products. There are probably several houses that distribute swords from the same Chinese forging company. I have seem many of them pass through my dojo (most going right back out the door). But Swords of Northshire says they stand for customer satisfaction, and they backed it up with action in my case, and that means everything. It even makes the sword feel different.

The details follow, for those interested in the product. Also, Northshire went very far out of their way in this case.

Recently I ordered a high-carbon blade, 33" nagasa, Bizen sori, and a very active-looking "clay-tempered" hamon that looks like smoke. The price seemed very low at around US$340. I was not concerned with the fittings, but with obtaining a longer weapon, as we are taller than the typical Samurai.

I placed the order and received a confirmation email. After some time, another email arrived stating that the blade could not be manufactured to these specifications at the price paid; my specification would cost another $250. I wrote back that I would like a refund, because the order had been confirmed, and the website had allowed the specs. I expected that the money would never return. Sometimes we must do these experiments for our students.

To my great surprise, the next email offered to make the sword for that price, as their website had let it pass, and they were committed to customer satisfaction. This was the first of two instances in which Northshire acted above and beyond "good enough".

I was given a date by when to expect delivery. My correspondent sent pictures, offering to make right any detail of which I did not approve. It appeared exactly as promised, and I approved. After about a week’s delay while it waited in China, the package arrived.

It was well packed in molded styrofoam and packing tape, and undamaged. The blade was heavily oiled, but not with choji, and oil was beaded all over the metal, and there was of course a lot of oily sawdust, etc., that took some work to remove from the saya.

The story is only about half over at this point. I took the new sword into the dojo and did my usual routines, several hundred vigorous suburi in different kamae. Then I filmed two kata. In the second kata, the kashira popped loose.

I wrote to the company, and received a very forthright response: they promised to provide another sword without charge! I was pleased, and told them that I would write a review (and here it is). This was the second instance in which they did whatever it took to be their word of honor.

They asked for the video, so they could show the smiths what had happened. but they did not ask for a return, or even proof. They just promised to send another blade, correcting the flaws, at no charge, and would I please send a list?

The list was:
-kashira came off;
-tsuka was too long;
-the kurikata was six inches from the koiguchi, which rendered batto and noto very cumbersome;
-the brass fittings fell out of the kurikata when the sageo was untied;
-the sori was not Bizen;
-the tsuka was not much shorter, but a little;
-I was not sure how the "clay-tempered" hamon was made,
-and could not discern any hada in the "folded" metal I had ordered.

As before, about six weeks later, they sent photos for approval, with measurements for reference in some of the pictures. In the interval I had written to ask if I could have different menuki and tsuba and they sent pictures for my selection. I chose an iron tsuba for the balance. The package arrived after about the same delays in China. And indeed, most of my complaints had been heard: the kurikata was now in the right place, and the tsuka is solid as a rock. The rest was not so important. The sori was unchanged, but the blade does have a very different tone when struck; I don't know what that indicates.

While this new sword was enroute, I did my own repair on the original. I unwrapped the ito about half way, and sawed off the end about an inch and a half. I got a rusty old iron military kashira, and cut down the tsuka to fit. Some old samegawa from a gunto filled the openings in the iron. I removed one of the bulky menuki I had ordered originally, but left the other, not wanting to fiddle with the ito more than I had to, and substituted a military menuki, and rewrapped the tsuka. To get the shortened tsuka back on the sword, I had to saw off about an inch of the nakago, which probably explains why the second blade’s tsuka was not shortened as ordered: Northshire probably does not have a hand in production; the nakago is truly full-length. It comes with two mekugi-ana (and some extra mekugi, a nice touch, don’t use chopsticks when they wear out!) The result doesn’t look terrible, and it is very strong now, and suitable for training.

In that process I found that the tsuka on these products, not surprisingly at the price, have cheap skin, ground smooth at the ha and mune, with double-sided sticky-tape there to hold the ito from slipping while being wrapped. There are no paper wads under the twists. The kashira is a small cap that fits over a notch in the wood where one of the ends of the ito pass through, the other passing under the cap and through the same notch. There was glue that failed to hold the kashira tight. But even a loose kashira should fit the wood so well as to be immovable when the ito is finished properly. I ran both ends of the ito through my replacement kashira, and it has a much deeper socket.

The overall shape of the tsuka is straight, although there is a slight taper in the first version. The shape of the swords would be improved if the nakago turned upwards, even a little, but it goes arrow-straight from habaki to kashira. The fit is very good, probably done by machine, and there is no looseness on either weapon other than that first poorly-fitted kashira.

The second sword has more austere fittings, and a very strong kashira and rock-hard wrap. It feels a good deal heavier, and rings like a bell when I use the uchiko, unlike both the original and my Koto blade. It is very businesslike in appearance, and swings like a crowbar, but it is acceptable for training, and after only a few hours, my long Koto blade feels light as a feather, which is enjoyable at my age.

Both weapons are very sharp. Both have this mysterious smoke-like hamon, and I hazard a guess that it is done with a CNC water jet, or some such trick. The yakiba looks the same as the shinogi-ji. Both hamon appear to be fading, but they look like they have some depth, they are not etched in or ground. In the new blade, there seems to be an almost imperceptible difference in the yakiba, some pattern that is probably not hada. I don’t think either blade is "folded" even once.

This is really two reviews, one for the swords, and one for the seller. At this price the products are of expected quality, and what are the chances that they would ever be sold to a practitioner who knows something about cutting? I am not disappointed in either weapon.

I am very pleased with the service. Such retailers must work at narrow and constantly shifting margins. What impresses me is the seller's commitment to integrity. They may have taken a loss on this deal, and kept their word throughout the process. That is the spirit for which we train.

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