Materials

TFW High Quality Filipino Weaponry
The hands of one of our master bladesmiths, grinding and shaping a custom TFW blade

TFW  Materials & Workmanship
—Unparalleled Anywhere!

The TFW Steel
All the blades are of a 5160/D2 blended steel, nitrate treated and tempered to 58~60 on the Rockwellhardness scale. That is close to the hardest you can get any steel without brittleness setting in. It is the same hardness as an original Japanese Katana. These Swords can easily chop off cow’s head in one stroke! The knives can easily go through a car door. No one has this quality in craftsmanship and durability here in the US for Filipino blades! Unlike the many you see sold in martial art, gun or blade magazines, which are stamped out and sharpened then polished, you will never find anything like it with both, this kind of craftsmanship along with such high quality steel. Also take note that these blades are NOT made with the handle glued or screwed on! Each blade, from the beginning to the end, is one solid piece with a full tang in the shape of the handle!

They are all individually hand made by a tribe in the Philippines the same way these expert blacksmiths have been making them for centuries. Every one of these Filipino historical and cultural weapons are actually combat ready to cut through just about anything! You can see by reading the information on each blade, that they are not made of re-melted spring steel like many other weapons from the Philippines on the tourist market today! We Guarantee, you will not find this kind of quality steel blades from the Philippines anywhere else but right here on the Traditional Filipino Weapons web site!

Handles and Sheath Materials
The exotic woods used in the handles and sheaths of our Traditional Filipino Weapons make them even more special!  Narra and Molave, as well as Gijo Iron Wood are regularly used in the handles of the TFW Products.  Knives and smaller blades incorporate Kamagong Iron Wood.  Sword Canes and some of the newer Moro blades use exotic Adaan. The sheaths for the Traditional Filipino Weapons are individually hand crafted and fitted from Red Pine wood which is light, flexible, and adapts to climate changes so that the sheath fits the blade for a lifetime!

Special interview with our Master Bladesmith…

“There are many ways of grinding and sharpening the edge of every sword. And everything depends on the thickness of the sword, the length of the sword, and the shape of the sword. At first, we used ordinary 5160 steel.  Then later on we used a combination of 5160 and D2 steel which allowed us to grind the edge up to a super sharp condition. However, this super sharp condition is not backed up by toughness and the possibility of loosing it’s edge in a short time is predictable.  Then, later on until the present, we use 5160/D2 with a steady hardness of 59 RC, with a special treatment called “QUENCHING”, and GAS CARBURISING.  Here is where you can witness the “result” of my edges that cutting into metal and penetrating into other steels.”

“I’ll explain further what is going on with our production.”
There are a number of fluids used for quenching as follows (in order of quenching severity):

1)     Brine
2)     Water
3)     Oil
4)     Special Liquids
5)     Air

“Soft distilled water is the preferred medium when using water for quenching carbon steels.  The water should have no impurities such as oil, grease or acids as they could result in uneven hardening if they stick to the surface of the steel being hardened and provide local thermal insulation.    Hard water is unsatisfactory because it may release scale as the temperature is raised.   Soap is sometimes added to adjust quenching rates.  Cold brine or water is used to provide the most severe quench with the consequent maximum hardness.  Extreme care is required in the selection of sections shapes of each blade as they are hardened, as the process can result in severe thermal shock with consequent cracking and distortion.”

“Oil bath quenching is used where extreme hardness is not required and where freedom from quenching shock is needed.  Oils used are mainly mineral oils with the viscosity selected to suit the type of steel to be quenched.   Oil cooling systems are required when significant quenching capacity is required to prevent the oil from breaking down and to maintain the quenching conditions. Air cooling is used when a mild hardening process is needed and when a tough hard pearlitic structure is required.”

“So, what I am doing now is to grind the blades up to their accepted thickness (depending on the sword’s length).  Too thin can break the sword, and too thick will make the sword very heavy.  So I will choose the “right amount of thickness” and apply to it the right amount of grinding.  You will notice that the latest swords of the Moro land that I made are very light.  And this is because I have applied the “quenching techniques” to our already advanced technology. Most blade makers do have “quenching techniques” of their own.  But what makes mine different is the fact that I use special liquids that have special liquid soap agents (not the type we use in the toilet or washing clothes). This special agent is a hybrid and custom made, mixed from industrial chemicals, and is special only for the TFW blades.”

“Swords such as the Kris, and all of the new Moro blades, are not for cutting wood.  They are traditionally made to kill humans and not trees.  Sansibars are flexible steels (like Chinese Wushu  swords) as their function is for slicing and thrusting, and not as tools for the woodsman. However, if customers request a jungle tool that they can use for camping, we can design the Sansibars to be tougher, but… it will be very thick and heavy, and the main function is no longer as a carry weapon, but as a working tool.  The name of the website is Traditional Filipino Weapons We are focusing on the word “weapon.”  In the Philippines, we have traditional Filipino farming tools.  We can make the swords this way if customers wish, but remember the reason why Traditional Filipino Weapons and its bladesmiths are finding ways to evolve… we categorize our swords to function as THE IDEAL WEAPON: Tough but light, and make it function to kill.”

“Explaining further about my production methods: The next process is the involvement of gas.  This is called gas carburizing. Gas carburizing is accurate control of the process temperature and carburizing atmosphere. The components are brought to a uniform temperature in a neutral atmosphere. The carburizing atmosphere is introduced only for the required amount of time to ensure the correct depth of case. The carbon potential of the gas can be lowered to permit diffusion avoiding excess carbon in the surface layer. Gas carburizing uses a gaseous atmosphere in a sealed furnace usually containing propane (C3H8) or butane (C4H10).

Sometimes the generated carbon dioxide, water vapor, and oxygen are controlled at low levels by purifying using activated carbon filters at high temperatures. An alternative carburizing atmosphere is sometime generated by using a drip feed system by feed an organic fluid based on methyl , ethyl or isopropyl alcohol + benzene or equivalent is fed into the carburizing chamber at a controlled rate. In this process there are generally internal fans working to ensure an even gas in the chamber.  In the improvised chamber in my factory I have installed old electric fans inside just to keep the gas balanced. After carburizing, the work is either slow cooled for later quench hardening, or quenched directly into various liquid quenches.

Quench selection is made to achieve the optimum properties with acceptable levels of dimensional change.   Hot oil quenching is preferred for minimal distortion, but may be limited in application by the strength requirements for the products of TFW.”
“The special process of quenching and gas carburizing is what sets us apart from ordinary blade making.  Considering the length of every sword and considering the shape as well, we cannot and no longer grind the long swords of Kampilan into it’s “thinnest edge”.  The length of the Kampilan is too long for blade-thin grinding, and therefore doing so would either break the edge, chip the edge, or worst, crack the parts of the swords.

However, upon the request of Ron Kosakowski, I have ordered the sharpening of the Kampilan into it’s sharpest possible condition.  There are customers who might use the Kampilan to chop wood or chop thick things.  Of course it will be sharp, but not weak.  But the strength that is traditionally called for will have to lessen.  As for history, Kampilans are designed to be carried by respected prince in the old Philippine Islands and will be used only to execute criminals and enemies.  However, the sudden coming of Spaniards pushed the Kampilan to be committed and be used as a weapon.  Note the word “sudden coming”…it was an emergency and Kampilan were available to be called to act and fight as a weapon.  The reason why there is a Kampilan bolo is because it is the Kampilan bolo that is used for battle.  Maneuvering the long Kampilan in the thick jungle forests full of trees is not an easy task.  Shorter Kampilan are the ones being used extensively in battles.  Lapu Lapu’s Kampilan, although a different design, was mostly a symbol of his leadership.  But this doesn’t mean that he didn’t use it.”