willow leaf dao

kevin - the professor

Well-Known Member
Here is a dao for a customer. It is 24.5" long, .30" thick at ridge at forte, .22" thick at begining of false edge. 1.47" wide at forte, 1.27" wide at false edge.

The handle is curly maple stained with aqua fortis and tung oil sealer. It will look better over time as I buff with cloth and re-oil.

The hamon is very vivid, I don't take great photos. The blade is W2. Fittings are mild steel, blued, or copper.

thanks for looking.

Kevin , very nice work , although it does look a lot like a Katana . I am not to familar with a dao , dont they flare out near blade tip ? still beautiful work .... Bubba
bubba - this type of dao is a lot like a katana. The one you are thinking of is the oxtail dao. The Japanese got their geometry for swords from the Chinese (but then the Japanese curved them). After that, the Chinese had lost some of their own previous technology, and then because of fighting with Japanese pirates (out of work Samurai) the Chinese adopted this sword form again only with a false edge and no kissaki. A lot like a cut-down pole arm.

If you want to learn a lot about daos, play around with Thomas Chen's series of web pages. Here is a link to one, you can get to the rest from this one

Aqua fortis is the traditional stain that has been used on things like flintlock rifles. It has been around literally since the Romans. It is iron dissolved in nitric acid. But, you can buy the aqua fortis in crystal form (ferric nitrate) and then just dissolve a little bit in water. You rub the water on the well sanded wood. It doesn't look like anything. Let it dry for about a minute, and then slowly waive a flame or a heat gun over it. Be careful not to scorch the wood. Suddenly, the iron in the solution will start to rust, and the wood will turn a cool brown. Then, sand just a bit to get off any wood fibers that popped up from the water. Finally, cover with linseed or tung oil. Once a day for about two weeks I buff with a cloth or paper towel and then re-oil. After a time, the stuff looks like glass. This stain just started, so it will build over the next few days.

take care,
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When I was in malaysia , saw some swords as you described with the flared kissaki . Your work is great . I am working on wakizashi right now , having a little trouble with tsuba , cant get it exactly right . The saya is also tough because the blade is a little wider than normal . I just cut down a naginata not sure how to outfit it yet ? tsuka is still 12 -13 " long . like your work, too bad we live so far apart , we could get together and make some nice weapons. your bladework is very good.... best regards Bubba
yeah - I either need to team up with someone or take a year and focus on learning fittings. I only make a couple of sword length pieces a year, the rest are knives. I am thinking of trying to find someone who specializes in fittings. There is a guy named Charles Wu who amazing at traditional Chinese copper/brass work and making fittings for dao and jian. I am considering seeing if I can persuade him to take two blades per year and fit them out. Let him keep his favorite and give the other back to me. That way, we would produce at least a couple of pretty high quality complete swords per year. Maybe more, since it is obvious that blade work is my favorite. If I could persuade someone to do that type of arrangement with me, and even better if they would polish half of them, I would make more sword blades. It's the fittings and woodwork that are the hardest for me.
There is a fellow I know from China who makes the most beautiful jian fittings , His name is Chen ( like smith) He makes about 1 sword with fittings a month , he is very good with chinese and japanese fittings . He has a business agent and relative Bobby Hampton , who is fairly new to the American market . Makes his own steel , swords , fittings, the whole pkg. A few months ago they were looking for an apprentice , with some good skills . to train in fitting mfg. and polishing . I mean you would literally be an apprentice in the chinese/ japanese tradition for 1 year. It also came with martial arts training ! What a great opportunity for a young person . I was trained as a young man ( 17) in japan to forge and Basic togishi / polishing techniques and some martial arts ( Aikido). I had to learn everything else on my own .
Currently I am starting to do some lost wax casting work , starting out with seamless habaki. Also trying some engraving on them . Maybe we could collaborate on a project or two . I have a beautiful piece of Tamehagane about 16"x 1.5" x1/4" that is begging to be forged into something . It was made over a year ago From Japanese black sand ore and missouri hematite ore By myself and my partner in Beaumont, California. we also have a forge press and make most of our own steels , the more exotic steel the better. I have about 6-8 pieces of Hon Sanmai also waiting ? I also know you are never to old to learn , it keeps me young healthy. Take care ....... Bubba-san
here are some better views of the hamon near the tip.
thanks for looking.


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dao with sheath.

Ok Guys, here are pics of the sword and sheath. The curly maple looks much better in person, but you can get an idea.


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