Howard Clark Bainite Katana

Renown in the knife and sword craft community, Howard Clark pioneered the metallurgical development of “Bainite” sword blades that through his patient innovation became an icon for unrivaled performance, and simple beauty. For two decades, Howard has produced these blades which practitioners and collectors the world over have treasured. His innovation of creating a blade with a Bainite body structure, while supporting a Martinsitic edge was something many thought impossible to achieve due to the contrasting heat treating methods required to achieve either structure individually and uniformly. To my knowledge, he is the first person in the world capable uniting these two very different microstructures on a single sword blade combining both edge holding ability and incredible resilience. It is achieved through a proprietary process that took years to research, develop, and perfect. Each one is a testiment to Mr. Clark’s innovative approach as domestic contemporary smith.

These Bainite swords are comprised of a modern monosteel called Champalloy, which is a modern alloy used for many types of modern cutting tools, but requires skill, experience, and tenacity to work by hand. As a modern monosteel one will not see all the intricate forging features known in traditional Japanese swords like nie, sunagashi, chikei, or other lacing visual elements. The hamon are a long gentle notare, with very very thin habuchi. However, one similar feature that can often be seen in a well polished Clark Bainite is a misty “utsuri” (reflection) similar to that seen in some Nihonto. It is, as a product of modern steel, naturally a modern interpretation of it due both the composition of the alloy, and the unconventional manner it which it it heat treated.

This sword was polished and mounted by me several years ago for my client, whom has decided it is time for it to have a new owner to enjoy. It is a light, fast, and well-balanced sword that would suit both a collector, and a practitioner well. The fuchi and kashira are in the Higo style in iron, and the iron Tosho style tsuba is pierced with the negative silhouette of plum and cherry blossoms with a raft, representing the short impermanence of lives collecting to drift through time. The menuki are also of plum blossoms and the theme is further carried en-suite in the saya with the design of blossoms difting down a shimmering stream. The habaki and seppa are also custom fitted in solid silver. The tsuka is constructed of a fully wrapped high quality samegawa in maedarekise (overlapped seam) with black silk tsukaito.

  • Nagasa: 73.3 cm (28 7/8 inches)
  • Motohaba: 3.25 cm
  • Kasane: 6 mm
  • Sakihaba: 2.1 cm
  • Sakikasane: 4.5 mm
  • Sori: 1.8 cm
  • Tsuka length: (10.5 inches)

There are some fine scratches on the saya from handling over the years which could be easily remediated by polishing the surface, but otherwise the sword is in excellent condition.

It is difficult to find any polished and mounted Clark Bainite swords. Howard will happily discuss a commission to make a new blade, but the forging, polishing and mounting will be years in process as there are just not that many folks doing this kind of work anymore, and those that are tend to be part-time, quite busy, or just unable to accept new commissions. This one is all custom work, and ready to enjoy. A brocade storage bag and fusahimo from Japan will be included at no extra cost.


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