European- Few people know
that Francis actually started doing sword work on European swords.
In 1969 he was encouraged by Helmut Nickel to pursue his passion
for bladed weapons. Mr. Nickel was the curator for the Arms and
Armor Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
for over 30 years until his retirement in 1988.
Klockars/Blacksmith- In 1971
Francis was looking for something that would help him build his
understanding of metallurgy and pay the bills at the same time.
He found a position available at the now famous Klockar's in
San Francisco. He worked the forge and hammers as a blacksmith
learning everything he could. The owner of the shop, Edwin Klockar,
recognized Francis' skill and enthusiasm. Shortly after his arrival
in 1971, and continuing to1980, Mr. Klockar took Francis on as
his own apprentice. Because of this close relationship, Francis
was able to draw on the decades of skill, and understanding of
metals, that Edwin Klockar had developed.
Japanese- Francis had already been working on his
own, attempting to create a traditionally made Japanese blade. He tried
the construction method described in John Yumoto's book, "The
Samurai Sword - A Handbook" and had successfully completed a wakazashi. In
early 1972 he heard through the grapevine about a man in the San Francisco
area named Nakajima Muneyoshi who was
doing traditional polishes and restoration work on Japanese swords.
Francis was excited to meet Mr. Nakajima since
had been described as an expert in the field. To say that their first
meeting didn't go well would be an understatement, to say that it was
be more accurate. The next few encounters did not go much better. Finally,
Mr. Nakajima relented and started to teach Francis how to make habaki.
Francis also worked on his own forging blades during this time, and
after several attempts, made a tanto that he felt had finally incorporated
elements of a well-made folded and forged blade. Nakajima looked at
the tanto and started to polish it. At this point he told Francis that
it was too hard, when Francis argued, he snapped
half over a polishing stone with
With a newfound sense of humility and determination, Francis tried
even harder, the rest is history. Francis trained under
the end of 1979, learning
manufacture, and restoration. One interesting note about Francis' time
with Nakajima; even though there were several apprentices who were
learning the different aspects of this kind of work, there was only
one person that was taught fully in all of the necessary skills. Whether
it was coincidence, a well thought out plan, or just dumb luck, Francis
Boyd was the only apprentice of Nakajima Muneyoshi who was taught fully
in all of the skills that are needed to create a traditionally made
Japanese sword. Francis continues to make some of the highest quality,
traditionally made Japanese swords, that are currently available.