Sunahama Kotanto

This piece was named for the way the natural spalting design of the saya is reminiscent of an ink painting of waves washing on a sand covered shoreline. It also commemorates the fact that the woods used for the handle and saya are among the most recognizable of the West Coast woods, and the common experience that ties it to its final home over on the East Coast.

The concept was to create a very small kaiken style tanto but to bring in the proportion and aesthetic of a formal aikuchi mount so the knife could serve well as in daily use and as a display piece. The design was a collaboration with the client and, in addition to meeting the small size requirements, includes elements of a favorite aikuchi style and the Vancouver Island native woods hint at another area of his aesthetic study and artistic pursuit.

From start to finish, this small tanto was created with hand tools using centuries old techniques. The stages of the process are detailed beginning on the process page for forging a blade.

The spalted Alder saya has lots of activity and is reminiscent of a traditional line-art ink painting. The hi-do fire patina and hammer texture on the reclaimed copper habaki and seppa tie in with the Pacific Yew ki-fuchi and kashira and the urushi coloured mekugi, carved from a piece of deep red Cocobolo.

The blade construction is muku with a hira-zukuri profile in yoroidoshi proportions and a ko-maru mune. The blade is 3″ long, overall length is just over 6.75″, and the overall length when sheathed is just over 7.5″.

Specifications

Nagasa: 2 sun 6 bu (78mm)
Motohaba: 6 bu 3 rin (19.2mm)
Motokasane: 1 bu 8 rin (5.5mm)
Nakago: 2 sun 3 bu 5 rin (70mm)

Construction: hira-zukuri, ko-maru-mune
Sori: straight/slight uchizori
Hamon: notare, o-maru sagari, slight hakikake ? ?
Nakago: futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana, signed near the tip
Mei: hot stamped Crossed Heart logo

Material: Reclaimed sawmill blade steel, reclaimed copper water pipe, Nootka Cypress, Pacific Yew, samegawa, spalted Alder firewood, Cocobolo chopstick

This piece is in a private collection in New Hampshire.

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials


Process

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
A 24″ circular sawblade retired after many years of service in a West Coast sawmill.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Hand forged in a charcoal fire and ready to be shaped with files and a sen scraper. More about the process: Forging a Tanto Blade
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Coated in a clay mixture ready to be differentially hardened through heating in the forge and quenching in water. More about the process: Yaki-Ire (Clay Tempering)
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Forging and soldering the habaki in the charcoal forge. More about the process: Making Habaki (Blade Collar)
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Measuring out and marking the seppa.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Carving the inside of the Nootka Cypress Tsuka with saya nomi.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Pacific Yew ki-fuchi in place, ready for carving to shape.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Rough shaping with a chisel.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
The final form of the handle, ready to be wrapped in samegawa. More about the process: Carving a Tsuka (Handle)
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Planing the block to shape.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Carving the final profile with a chisel.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
Finishing by sanding with tokusa blocks. More about the process: Carving Saya (Scabbard)
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged kotanto made from reclaimed and natural materials
The final steps for polishing the blade, using natural Japanese waterstones to reveal the hamon.

A more detailed account of the process begins here: Forging a Tanto Blade

3.03022 cm
= 0.1 shaku(尺)
= 1 sun(寸)
= 10 bu(分)
= 100 rin(厘)

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