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#291249 - 10/06/06 06:25 AM John Lee blades
Zyranyth Offline

Registered: 09/13/06
Posts: 188
Loc: Finland
Since the name has popped up in a few threads, I thought it might be worth it to dedicate a thread to investigating this brand..

First off, the guy has some cheap iaitos. $100 roughly for an iaito. As an entry level iaito is around $200-300 if ordered from Japan, could it be possible that John Lee has a good _entry level_ iaito at lower price thanks to lower wages in china?
Sadly, when I did some digging around, the only thing I can find in english about his shinkens is a forum post written by someone who apparently is a friend of him. From the post I get the impression that John Lee lives in the US and its in fact his grand father that is the actual sword smith in china.

And finally.. I know there are reasonable quality, traditionally forged shinkens from china for $600-$1000, where the cheaper price comes mainly from lower work rates in china and not lower quality. However, because I'm not that familiar with what separate materials themselves cost, I have no idea whether it's possible for a $300 12 times folded shinken to be of reasonable, or even entry level quality or not.

Here's a link from another thread to one of the swords. The swords I mentioned can be found in the 'handgeschmiedwhatever' and 'iai-do schwerter' categoeries.
"Only a warrior chooses pacifism; others are condemned to it. "

#291250 - 10/09/06 11:35 AM Re: John Lee blades [Re: Zyranyth]
Benjamin1986 Offline

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 611
Loc: Republic of Texas
I still haven't found anything new on him, and what little I've found is in German, one of those languages I'm useless in.

One thing, they are claiming traditional Japanese forging. As they state they start with 1095, that's an obvious lie. However, due to possible translation errors, I'm not ready to say "never buy from them" because of it.

Also, I have found pictures. In the link above, click on the picture for a couple of close-ups. Nothing of much import aside from the close-up on the blade itself. It is definitely folded, but almost as obviously, not with itself. I see that much of a color contrast all the time on pattern welded blades, but never on a single steel that's folded. My question is: what was the 1095 folded with?

The wrap and fittings look good, but that could be a show-piece so we can't judge anything from that.

The price looks low. Very low from the description. Even in China, skilled craftsmen take a decent wage, and folding steel takes time. However, if it is automated enough, it might be possible to make a profit from this price. In short, reading into the price is a dead end.

Also, the claim of 40 RC spine and 60 RC edge is simply unimpressive. If you are going to differentially harden something, do it right (45/65 is decent). The numbers aren't unusual for production katana (woe to the lack of quality), but it still bugs me since they start with such a high carbon steel.

In short, I've come up with a big fat maybe. I've read their descriptions and it might be on the level of a Practical, but might be higher or lower depending on the grip quality and evenness of the heat treatment. We can't tell unless someone wants to drop $375 (at todays exchange rates) to get one from Europe.

Fencing Club at UH


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