I had my son customize his katana one day and then months later I bought it for him and surprised him for his birthday. This katana is the talk of my house. He loves it. The craftsmanship on this was extremely good. Had it engraved and even got the stand for it. I will be purchasing another smaller one to fit his stand. Great customer service and fast delivery.
My Background: I practice Aikido about 3 times a week, and I take an Iaido class once a week (But practice Iaido about three or four times a week).
I ordered this sword as an Iaito, in other words, unsharpened, so I can't comment on cutting or blade sharpness; obviously.
I currently have a beautiful Japanese made Iaito made for me by Minosaka that I use in my class etc. It has an aluminum /zinc blade, but I wanted something a little heavier for home practice on some days. Something just a little different than what I am used to, so I took a chance and ordered from Swords of Northshire. I especially liked being able to pick saya color, sageo, tsuba etc. I went for a Koi or carp theme. Turned out quite beautiful.
First off; I am very impressed with the quality of this sword vs. the cost. It literately cost less then half the price of my Minosaka sword.
I have practiced quite hard (Kata and general cutting, suburi) with this sword a few times now; and it seems to be holding up fine. The ito is nice and tight, no issues. The hardware all seems tight; no rattles or anything weird. The saya and sageo are holding up. I probably have done over 200 nukitsuke and noto with this sword so far. I have had this sword for less then a week as of this writing.
All in all, well worth the price. I highly recommend one of these for any Iaidoka looking for a first or "back up" training sword, or any Aikidoka looking to try the feel of a "real" sword. If you are thinking of taking an Iaido class, this sword (unsharpened) will serve you well. Absolutely fine.
My only complaint; the saya seems to be a little lower quality. The little bushings (shitidome) in the kurigata had to be reglued, (no big deal really) and there are a few scuffs from the sageo on the saya as if the sageo was tied on before the lacquer was completely dry. No big deal, really. Just buff it out a bit. Also the sageo is functional but not the highest quality. May eventually replace. BUT...all in all a really nice sword worth more then I paid for it. I honestly really like this sword and the service I received. I will order again from this site soon. I am already planning a sharpened version of this sword.
Bottom line: Good deal! A !
This is sword #3, and I love it!
I went with no hamon this time and 1095 folded steel, which took a little longer to forge, but well worth the wait! From initial order to delivery took about 2 and a half weeks, still well within the approximate 2-3 week estimate. As always customer service was excellent and even provided me with additional sample pictures of sayas because I couldn't make up my mind about which one I wanted. I'm very satisfied with my choice. The darker non-lacquered wood is beautiful. I also didn't know that you could request the same color Ito for the Sageo as well, so that was nice. The engraving reads as "shizukesa" or "tranquility".
Excellent quality as usual and you can't beat Northshire prices. I have recommended this site several times since discovering it.
Overall a positive experience. Any questions I had during the time my order was being built, were answered promptly. It took longer than expected for me to receive my sword because customs shipped it back to Swords of the Northshire for some reason...
Also there are small blemishes on either side of the blade near the tip of the sword as well. These should not affect function but aesthetically the blemishes definitely bother me.
The sword feels great in my hands and the fit and finish are great (other than the marks on the blade). This is my first katana so I do not have much to compare it to. I am not sure I would purchase again because what ever quality control measures are in place, lets blades with blemishes get sent to customers. This error should have been caught and never sent out to me.
When I ordered My First Katana, I was very Skeptical about ordering a Sword Online, Knowing that there are so many makers that could be fraudulent and that make swords that could and would break of the first swing, I was quite Fearful, the ones on Ebay look good but who would know if they are true, after looking around for a bit i was unsatisfied with what I could find and what I wanted, In this world Good quality is hard to find.
Superb Quality is what I found, Swords of Northshire, with their Customization options, Showing a High Quality Rendition of the Sword during the Customization Prosess, did not leave me wondering what the whole Sword would look like and being disappointed by the piece of junk i did not want, but made me secure with my purchase.
When it arrived, before I expected it to, seeing it wrapped ever so Lovingly, it was a good feeling knowing that it was not damaged, pulling the blade in its saya out of the Beautiful box that the blade sitting in within the packaging and drawing the blade and seeing the piece of art the blade is, I had a deep inhale and a sense of shock as i felt the weight and gave it a swing to see if it was the real deal.
Later on, when I mustered the curage to defile the blade on a tree, I tested it on a tree About an Inch and a Half thick, it nearly cut through on a half worked swing. Although I do have one complaint Probably my fault is the engraving near the Tsuka. I meant it to say "Devout in Life and Death", But the shear beauty makes that problem seem, like it is not there, the engravement still makes it look really good!