A samurai's sword was his most sacred and prized possession, and weapon collectors still consider it one of the most important weapons in history. To a samurai, his sword was his primary defense weapon, and he believed his soul lived within the sword. With such significance placed upon the sword, it should be no surprise to learn that the same discipline and respect went into the making of the sword.
Samurai swords were not simply cast in a mould and then sharpened. They were made by an intricate process of heating, hammering, and folding the steel. This cycle of repeated hammering and folding would be done as many as 30 times, or until the maker was satisfied the blade was ready.
This labor-intense annealing-layering process eliminated any air pockets that might have developed during heating of the steel, which would create weak spots in the blade. The process also hardened the carbon in the steel and spread any impurities throughout the sword, strengthening the steel even more.
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