As I visited Thailand after a gap of eight years, I found Bangkok to have very good highways that helped solve the terrible traffic problems and I could once more enjoy the gracious Thai people and their gentleness and kindness.
I checked in at the Montien Hotel, which I have always been to in my previous trips and were able to contact Michael Nguyen and we had dinner together.
Michael would arrange for a wonderful air conditioned van that would take us to Aranyik.

After 90 minutes we arrived at the shop that has a huge dharb as a sign for tourists and plenty of production dha, knives and swords of different types, from wall hangers katana to copies or variations of Criswell blades and a couple of bowies, undoubtedly copied from magazines.

At this first shop I enquired about a bowie type blade which was so polished that I wondered how much of stainless steel it was. I invited Michael to join the lady of the shop and the bowie on top of the counter. Below there were a couple of antiques. But unfortunately for them, in my opinion, they decided to charge so much that it was out of the question to purchase anything.
We then got back in the van and headed for Lung Som's shop. I was a bit frustrated not to have found a dha to my liking.

As we arrived at Lung Som's, about 3 minutes later, we headed to the shop and then saw a smith outside in a coal forge. There was plenty of coal and an electric blower.

The smith totally ignored us as he hammered the dha he was making. Very simple equipment, nothing sophisticated, probably very close to what was a Thai smith's activity in a village centuries ago. The smith was totally concentrated and never looked away from the sword he was hammering.

Only the clothes have changed, plus the cap. The rest seemed to me that it was just the essencial of a smith's needs. The shadow area allowed to see the steel being hammered. It is always a wonderful sight to view the glow and the steel's transparancy revealed.
As I was looking at the smith, I was wondering if I could buy that same blade he was hamering. I wanted to design the fittings and a blank was just right.

As I looked to my left I saw machinnery that I did not recognize right away. It was indeed a village setting benefitting from the open air and the good weather. A man was doing something with his back to us. We went back inside and as I was checking things at the main building, Michael found some blade blanks which increased my hope. I wasn't aware, however that all sword blanks had a very short tang.
There was a lady in a shop and a young girl and I went to the desk and asked for paper. I drew a dha blank with a 25 inches length and a 11 inches tang. Both women looked and they came about with a big dha blank, no carvings, and it was a big blade, about 30 inches.
I got quite excited and took the blade, placed it on the floor.
I measured 25 inches of blade and marked the new beginning of the tang.

They called a worker who understood the faded pencil markings on the oiled steel and went into the grinding wheel and cut the new length perfectly. It is visible the amount of blade that was transformed into the tang.

The work was perfectly done in no time. Very nice grinding and so very straight.

Here I am checking the tang length with a measuring tape.

The young girl most kindly observed and followed my thoughts. Now it was time to ask for the drilling of two holes in the tang. I knew by then that it was not traditional. But no one blinked, there was not a word of disapproval, not a frown.

The same worker helped me to mark the holes to be drilled. They were drilled in a second. I was again thrilled by their openess, their pragmatism. We have mentioned Dan's name by then and in a while Lung Som came in and we again mentioned Dan. He smiled and went to pick up a blade.

Lung-Som brought back a blade with carvings. They were not very clear so he rubbed some white stuff on the carving. Notice the small tang? The Thai have another way to insert the blade. I have a hint of how they do it.

A close-up shows the inscription: Troy, Son of Dan. There are more carvings but Lung-Som did not highlight them.

As the blade blank I had adapted and purchased was wrapped and packed, Lung-Som honored me by choosing the King's portrait as the background for a picture. He had his daughter take a picture while Mike took one for me. This, I sense, was a great honor bestowed to friends of Dan.
The blade blank, a set of fittings and a wooden handle that I asked for, all went for 800 Bath !!! I was ashamed to pay 800 Bath, which is about $20, yes, twenty US dollars !!! I paid 1.000 Bath and when the young girl wanted to give me the change I refused. She went back and came with two stainless steel spoons as a gift. I was absolutely amazed and touched.
They never mentioned heat treating, never pushed anything. Just waited to fulfill my requests !

The blade blank picture taken at home. There is still some work to do, and I might need the tang to be slightly curved. But this is a dha blank, very light, still a bit blunt. But to think that everything was finished in about 20 minutes, it is amazing. Now it is a wonderful blank for a very interesting project.
My thanks to Mike for having the trouble to take me to Lung Som and Dan for his reputation with Lung- Som.
A very superb experience with Lung-Som.

 

 
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