Fake Tamahagane Kamisori

Discussion in 'General Straight Razor Talk' started by HunterBlades, Aug 7, 2014.

    So I sent this guy a message telling him that razor is not Tamahagane. As it is labeled "Yasuki Steel" like a ton of razors, I assume it is Blue or White steel.

    He is trying to argue and say it is tamahagane, they just write yasuki steel because they made it.

    Sounds like 100% bull to me. Tamahagane is so rare, made in such small batches, and increases value so much that it is ALWAYS marked as such.

    He refuses to change the listing and lower price.
    Edit: I didn't know we can't link

    Unless there really is tamahagane marked just "Yasuki Steel", in which case i'd like to see evidence. And i'll eat my words.

    Opinions y'all?
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  1. iirc Yasuki is made from refining the steel ball known as tamahagane... It's made from iron sands like tamahagane... So yasuki is an industrially made tamahagane... Unlike the traditional process

    So technically it's not tamahagane if you're thinking the traditional process, but for all intents and purposes it'll produce the same types of steel
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  2. So do I have to apologize? Or do you mean the white/blue is refined from it?
     
  3. Well tamahagane is graded from the desirable highly oxidized pieces that are silver in color and lower grade pieces that are not... Yasuki is graded the same way... I don't think an apology is needed... But if you're being picky, it's not traditional tamahagane... It's steel made from the same type iron sands in the by hitachi
     
  4. So all the blades marked yasuki steel are like that, or just this?

    I'm curious if this razor is really a $2600 blade.
     
  5. No razor IMHO is worth 2600 unless it had diamonds in it...

    All yasuki steel blades are made from this technique
     
  6. Not worth $2600, but most certainly not worth your time to try to convince the seller of that. The blade says Yasuki, but the box says Tamahagane…….maybe he gets somebody to bite, and I say more power to him, but it won't be me.
     
  7. Just because a razor is stamped Tamagahane - doesn't make is a great razor.

    Not only are there several grades of Tamagahane, for that stamp to matter, the steel had to have been worked correctly by the smith.
    Low grade Tamagahane, intended to be made into common hardware items, may not make an excellent razor or sword.
    Untrained smiths working any grade of Tamagahane can stamp their goods as such, but that doesn't mean they 'aced' it.

    Over time - the lack of high grade Tamagahane caused smiths, including sword smiths, to use other materials that involve other techniques to manufacture their products. As time progressed, the art of using Tamagahane was more of a theory to most smiths.

    When the Tantara forge was opened in the 70s they manufactured (still do) Tamagahane in the traditional manner, but what they produced wasn't a hot topic because the smiths weren't all that familiar with using it correctly. That's how/why the workshops started. Before that - their inventory was not selling and now they can't make enough of it.

    In short - Tamahagane is a 'thing' - a steel that is produced in one specific place in a triaditonal manner.
    Yasuki steel is a different 'thing' made in a different place using different methods, but it's possibly a 'better' steel.

    It is entirely possible that a razor/sword/door hinge made from Yasuki is 'better' than one made from Tamagahane.

    The grade of Tamagahane used, combined with the competency of the smith is what would determine the quality of the item in question.
    I'd suppose that a Kamisori forged from Tamagahane by Iwasaki is pretty special, where another Kami made by an unknown smith might not be quite as special.

    I've not owned/used any razor made from any grade of Tamagahane, but I have owned, honed, and used an Azume made from Yasuki white. Finicky steel to hone IMO, but damn - that thing shaved and I seriously doubt that any Tamagahane blade could shave better.
    The Kami I have now was forged from blue steel - hones nicer, shaves just as well as anything I've used. I don't use it enough to comment on edge retention, and I really don't care much to be honest, but I'd suspect that it's not as high what the white steel would offer.
    But that's just a guess.

    I didn't see the razor because the link was (rightly so) removed by the Mods - but I'd guess that it's not worth nearly the asking price and that the Tamagahane stamp on the box mignt not mean a damn thing.
    Hitachi made a version of Tamagahane in the 60s and the smiths didn't love it - I think that stuff was sold off to whoever for whatever. The buyer could (I think) call products made from that steel 'Tamagahane' but it's not the traditional 'gem steel' that we associate with tradtional sword manufacture.
     
  8. I have owned a few razors made from Yasuki steel and cannot speak highly enough about that steel and it is used very much in some of the very best Japanese razors.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. +1!
     
  10. Yasuki isn't necessarily all that expensive - my kitchen knives are made from Yasuki White steel, and they didn't cost anything remotely close to thousands of dollars!
     
  11. That was my point. Yasuki is great steel, but common and not that expensive.

    The razor is question is just your average gold kanji kamisori made of yasuki steel. A nice razor, probably specially made(maybe ancient watetsu? I thought watetsu was tamahagane at first), but definately not even a $1000 blade.
     

  12. Well knives are not razors? and knives are far easier to produce compared to razors I know personally if the razor I've show in the post was a set then they would cost way more than a $1000 as that razor retails for $586 dollars I have owned enough western style Japanese straights to say Yasuki steel isn't cheap and it's certainly not that common, and whenever I have come across the steel while looking for western style Japanese straights they all tend to be the most expensive and Japanese sellers tend to put a premium price on them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  13. You can buy Yasuki Kamisori's starting from around $30 on the bay.
     
  14. Surely anyone who would consider dropping $2,600 on a straight would inform themselves enough to know these fine details. As always with eBay, caveat emptor.

    Great discussion of Japanese steel, guys. I appreciate the education and I am always impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge among the posters here.
     
  15. That was my point with the "inexpensive and common" comment. You see them a lot.
     
  16. As said, Yasuki is great steel but I think that it's a strech to call them Tamagahane although that description might technically be right. They are made from iron sand as opposed to iron ore but aren't made in the traditional method of the clay kiln.
     
  17. I personally think it's irresponsible for someone to call common yasuki steel tamahagane, but there are a lot of old tools that are described as tamahagane by their marks. I can't read or speak japanese, so I can only suppose it was a mark made on them to let the buyer know the tools were some kind of high quality plain high carbon steel vs. a european steel or something else with more alloying elements in it.

    I would be surprised if traditionally made tamahagane was better than hitachi/yasuki white steel, though. I'd be more concerned if I were buying something new and expensive if the smith making it was just forge welding at very high temperature and then just putting stuff in a gas furnace and doing things in batches, or if they were actually doing low temp forge welding and hammering and then walking the tightrope of keeping the temperatures as low as possible during heat treat to keep a compact structure.

    Just my opinion. it makes a difference with toughness in two chisels made of the same steel, one carefully and one less carefully. How much difference it makes with razors, I don't know, but I never heard complain about steel having a grain too fine.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
  18. It is a known fact that some vintage blades (tools, knives, razors) from the 20th century were ascribed with a "tamahagane" stamp as a marketing tool. No fault there as it was pretty much known to tool users that "real tatara created" tamahagane, even the higher grade portion of the tatara, is inferior steel for tools when comparred to Yasuki and Swedish steels, and that anyway the tamahagane made pre 1980s was reserved for swordsmiths. Since about 1980 there has been a resurgence in interest in antique and boutique steels so making tatara formed tamahagane for bladesmiths and some hobbiest for their own amusement or their small business was a trend.

    They can call this tamahagane if it was created in a tatara furnace using hardwood charcoal and black sand in a smelting process that by definition keeps the steel below melting/liquid state. The resulting metal form is mostly slag plus two or three useable grades, one for nails or historical iron fittings, the better grade for edged tools or weapons. For a 36 hour process of constant monitoring, huge percentage amounts of sand and charcoal you end up with a pretty small piece of high quality of steel that when the tatara is broken apart looks like a black fossilized sponge or volcanic rock, it is more a labor of love than anything else.

    Hitachi moved into Yasuki, not a convient place to go to, in the late 1900s by buying an already existing steel operation. This older company was what was left of a tamahagane operation that went back hundreds of years. This area had at onetime a source of black sand in the mountains above and lots of forests for charcoal making. Carrying swords was outlawed in 1876 so the tamahagane business was highly regulated, Hitachi was interested in moving into this area in part because the town of Yasuki sits conviently on a bay of the Japan Sea facing China and Korea making it a good location for producing industrial steel. Hitachi did however right from the start use this facality as a research center and was competing with the fine English and Swedish steels of the day.

    From what I can understand, the Yasuki steels that were thought of as tamahagane were always the #1 white paper steel (#1white steel) because it was the finest grain and the purest formula without the additives that blue paper steel (#1 or #1blue steel) has. Blue is easier to forge as the temperature tolerance for forge welding the hard steel to a softer iron backing is wider, white steel has a very narrow temperature range where the two metals will stick together to make the bi-metal blades we all know and love. The Hitachi company does not advertise this a "tamahagane", but some blacksmith call it tamahagane on their own as a reference to the purest steel they can buy that is similar in "spirit" to the old sword steel.


    I got a little heat a few years ago by bringing up the question if Iwasaki-san uses actual tatara tamahagane in his razors that are marked as such. I was only asking and I do not know if his are actually that steel. But in thinking about it if anyone is capable of forge welding, or even has a supply of true tatara tamahagane it would the that same Tokyo University Phd. graduate Iwasaki-san of Sanjo.

    Hopefully Truthful Content over Comment.

    Alex
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014

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