You don't need to be an assassin on the quest for vengeance to get your own Hattori Hanzo katana sword from Quentin Tarantino's " Kill Bill."
In the latest video from " Man at Arms: Reforged" posted last week, Matt Stagmer and Kerry Stagmer of Baltimore Knife & Sword and their team of talented blacksmiths construct a lookalike of the "Kill Bill" blade from scratch.
In the movie, Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba) tells the Bride (Uma Thurman), "It will take me a month to make the sword, I suggest you spend it practising."
Luckily, the video shows the process from start to finish in about 20 minutes, revealing the tools and materials used to complete the weapon so "Kill Bill" fans might be inspired to make their own (without having to train with a surly sensei or make friends with a secretive sushi chef).
The crew begins with smelting raw North Carolina limonite iron ore -- which has been mined since 2,500 BC -- using 600 pounds of charcoal. This process was done with a Japanese-style furnace called a Tatara. For this sword, the crew used a construction characteristic from the pre-Edo Period, which lasted from 1603 to 1868. The Tatara allows for the ore to flow down the charcoal where the iron separates from the molten slag and slowly picks up carbon before settling at the bottom as a lump of bloom.
It's interesting to see the folks at "Man at Arms" use ancient techniques to smelt the ore rather than use a hydraulic press to flatten the ore into something they can work with.
"On this build, we had to build almost every tool from scratch starting with the cold forge straight down to the hammers we were using," swordsmith Matt Stagmer says in the video.
The bloom is heated up and flattened again using a hammering technique to make tamahagane, a kind of high-quality Japanese steel used to make blades. After hammering the bloom, the swordsmith is able to determine the carbon content of the steel by breaking the metal tiles.
After breaking each piece, the tiles are stacked, coated with paper and clay, then returned to the heat to consolidate the materials.
The clay keeps the tile from falling off into the fire, as well as preventing the oxygen from decarbonating the steel. This is then removed from the heat, and brought over to an anvil, where the swordsmith flattens the metal to make the material more solid. A power hammer helps finish off the flattening process to solidify the material further.
The steel is then reheated, folded and hammered repeatedly. "The job of the smith is to recognize the heart of the material and work with it," master armourer Ilya Alekseyev explained in the video.
Next up is the shaping the blade. The smith begins hammering the spine of the blade, then the back bevel which defines the central ridge, and then from there the cutting edge of the blade.
"One thing to note about katanas, every part of the geometry is very specific and one cannot stray away from the tradition," Alekseyev said. After filing and using a heavy duty scraper, the sword's shape becomes more refined.
Finally, the Menuki process involves the carving and hammering of ornamental elements of the sword. The handle is given just as much attention as the sword's blade.
It's a hot, laborious and dangerous process, but the "Man at Arms" gang construct an impressive weapon worthy of a battle against the Crazy 88 gang or a one-on-one duel with Bill himself.
In past episodes, "Man at Arms" built a Legend of Zelda shield, Loki's staff, Predator's blade gauntlet, an Assassin's Creed hidden arm blade, Arya Stark's sword Needle from "Game of Thrones," a "Star Wars" lightsaber-katana, and even a set of Final Fantasy kitchen knives, just to name a few.