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RDS iaito review

posted 28 Dec 2011, 13:42 by Josh MacDonald   [ updated 28 Dec 2011, 13:48 ]
The pictures above were ones taken by the maker before shipping it out. I've since taken a few more, after having time for iaido training with it.



As part of my quest to find affordable iaito options for my students here in Calgary, I decided to look up Jason again from RDS. I had seen on the kaneie website that they have some stainless steel iaito at the lower end of their price range. I contacted Jason about these stainless steel swords as well as the 1060 line as it was a more affordable option. However, Jason fired back a different option.

He said that they had some factory reject blades laying around. The issue was that each blade had slight hagire - hairline cracks on the edge from the heat treatment process. He suggested that, since I was looking for an iaito with a blunt edge anyway, these would be suitable. The advantage for me would be that the blades are their higher end T10 steel and would get the higher end polish. 
I had a chance to choose the fittings and whatnot, but said that he could decide thinking that this sword would be more of a loaner anyway and I wouldn't have much attachment to it.
Price $380.


Specs:
2.45 shaku nagasa
9 sun tsuka
balance: 4 and a half inches from guard
Not sure about the weight, but it's not light and not heavy.



Blade:
It's a standard width blade with little to no niku. There is a big bohi so there is a very audible tachikaze. Not a ridiculous bohi, though. It is aesthetically very well executed. However, when I am cleaning/oiling it I can feel a few areas of unevenness. Fine enough with me.

here are a few pics of the blade and hamon:





Chu-kissaki with little fukura:


The polish on the kissaki might look a bit wanting, but that's my fault. I was lazy in my cleaning, or lack thereof, and a little bit of oxide built up so I hit it with some mothers mag. Didn't do the best job either.

Saya:
The saya is really well made and the fit with the habaki is perfect. There is, however, a little saya rattle further down.  The sageo is a simple synthetic silk one. It's a little stiff actually, but it looks nice and it's not kinky at all.

sageo


scabbard mouth - koiguchi


The stone pebble finish is quite nice, but I think it was rushed. It probably could have used an extra coat of base lacquer as you can see the wood grain texture if you look closely. You can also tell it was rushed, as it started to chip around the koiguchi. And, this is the only real issue I've found. A shame, but it's not structural so it really doesn't bother me.

chipped lacquer




** EDIT**
As someone pointed out to me, it looks as thought the koiguchi wasn't fully glued down allowing a separation at the edge and some movement there. This is what led to the chipping of the lacquer.

Fittings:
Nice, basic iron tsuba which is well fit to the sword (no rattle). Decent brass fuchi and kashiira and handsome liondog menuki. Well made, well fit habaki. Can't ask for much more.

habaki

guard - tsuba

lion dog kashira

fuchi and tsuka ito maki


Handle:
The tsuka is really well made. It's not too small or too big and is well shaped.
handle - tsuka



The samegawa panels are of good quality and the cotton wrap is very good with a very nice quality cotton ito (japanese I am guessing).

That's the end of the pics, but I can add more. just ask for what you would like photos of.


Performance:

Really good. It's a well balanced sword that has been serving me really well in iai training. It has a bit more sori than I was used to, so that was a bit strange at first - was an issue with noto for a while but now it's fine. When I train with it, everything about it says "well crafted sword". I am really happy with it.

Yes, the lacquer chipping sucks, but it's a minor issue. it's also consistent with Jason's prior work - one or two irksome oversights. I think he's often behind and therefore in a rush to get stuff out the door. Actually though, this one was really quick - 6 weeks or so if I recall.


Would I recommend one? Yes and no. This iaito is as good or better than most Japanese made iaito I've ever used. At $380 it was a super deal.
HOWEVER, I think Jason and RDS are a bit questionable. It seems like many of his customers are still waiting for their items and now his site is effectively down. Maybe I got lucky...


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