ToraSaya – Tigerwood Kotanto

This is the result of a collaborative project with James Oliver. James did all the woodwork on this piece and created the matching stand and Nootka Cypress storage box.

The clay tempered blade was hand forged from a cultivator tine that was chisel cut into strips as part of a demo at the French Creek School/Coombs 100 celebration. The rough forging of the blade was done a few weeks later during the bladesmithing workshop with Justin of Foggy Mountain Forge. The tsuba (handguard) is forged from a piece of wrought iron dock chain that he brought to the workshop as a gift.

James Oliver is known for his precise fit and finish and his skill with hand woodworking tools and has worked on several other knives, including some of his own design. For this collaboration, he rose to the challenge of working to very specific constraints and the close tolerances of a small pressure pin mounted tanto. The Tigerwood came from some scraps of hardwood flooring, forming the base of the stand as well, and beautifully complimenting the African Blackwood accents. James also created an amazing Nootka Cypress storage box to hold the stand and the knife. It is crafted in the style of a traditional (Paulownia) kiribako, fastened together with bamboo nails with a fit and finish as crisp as that of the knife.

Blade construction is muku with a hira-zukuri shape. The habaki is hand forged from a large copper fuse connector and finished with a stone texture to match the wrought iron tsuba. The handle and stand have been coated with pure tung oil for a totally natural finish. The blade is about 4″ long and the overall length closed is just under 9.5″.

Material: Reclaimed farm cultivator tine steel, reclaimed copper water pipe and fuse connector, reclaimed Tigerwood flooring, scrap African Blackwood, Jinbei fabric bag

This piece is in a private collection in Calgary.

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment

Detail & Construction

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment

Storage & Display

Hand built Nootka Cypress “kiribako” (storage box) with bamboo nails, pressure fit lid, and floating bottom. Tigerwood and African Blackwood tanto kake (display stand) also fits in the box to hold the knife during storage.

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment

Process & Materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment
Old stock low alloy high carbon agricultural steel cultivator tine source material for the blade.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment
Just after yaki-ire (clay tempering), quenched and tempered, ready for final shaping and polishing.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment
Wrought iron chain source material for the tsuba (guard).
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged reclaimed knives made from farm equipment
Edge strength test with a blade forged from the same piece of steel shown hammered through a cold 3/8″ steel rod.

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