Sword thickness, what's it do?

by Darian

QUESTION: I've been pondering what the optimal thickness of a katana should be. All things being equal (blade geometry, sharpness/polishing, weight, steel, differential tempering etc...) Would the blade thickness determine a katana's cutting ability (light or heavy duty cutting)? Some manufacturers boast about their blade being 1/4 an inch thick, wheras many other do not. Are manufacturers that fail to state blade thickness merely omitting this bit of information because they don't believe it is important? or because theirs is thinner than those that boast about a 1/4 inch thickness? Just how important is thickness and what is the ideal thickness?

ANSWER: Hi Darian,

That's quite a tricky one - mostly because it can't really be taken in isolation... In other words, the thickness will effect the weight, the kind of bevel it should have (and thus the sharpness), etc...

Generally speaking, the thicker the blade, the more durable it is. But even this is a generalization, because that depends on the steel used and the tempering...

No easy answer to this one I am afraid, and there isn't an ideal thickness as personal preferences definitley come into play...

As such, the only way to see how it all comes together is by examining each sword on a case by case basis.


- Paul

Comments for Sword thickness, what's it do?

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by: James Lanson

Most samurai swords have an average of .28" thickness. The thicker the blade, the greater the weight depending on the forging process of the steel. Traditional swords are thicker, durable, and hold up better in combat. The thicker the blade the more shock absorption.

Modern forging processes use various metals that reduce the need for thicker blades because thinner blades are meant for cutting bamboo rolls or skill training.

Generally speaking, the thickness and the weight of the blade affects the form, and form affect how you will cut. If you're a big person, a thicker blade would probably be the way to go. Speaking from experience go with a thicker blade that has quality steel, and moderate amount of weight that is not too heavy.

Sword thickness is tricky!
by: Anonymous

One must consider the types of metal that the blade is made with in order to do the topic justice.

Katana thickness
by: Alex

So as an actual steel forgeman id say the thickness is entirely down to the alloy of steel you are using , the molecular structure of certain steels allow them to be almost as thin as standard cardboard a couple of MMs thick.

For a really good sharp Katana you wont to be using a low carbon steel so you can black it without it becoming brittle. id say a good thickness is about 2.55 mm thick so that the folded edge is thick enough to contour and be sharpened

sword thickness
by: Anonymous

i have an old samurai sword with a thick blade it cant cut bamboo but i can slice thick pallet boards easily and 4 inch wood it depends on what you want a sword for a thiner blade will cut soda bottles and bamboo but a thicker one wont

Katana Blade Thickness
by: Lyle D. Yates

Personally, and from experience, I would not use a Katana, Wakizashi or Tanto for Tameshigiri with a blade spine any thinner than 1/4" at the Habaki and 3/16" just before the taper at the Kissaki (Yokote), regardless of the blade configuration or blade steel type. Lyle D. Yates-Master Instructor

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