A pair of outdoor knives forged from a single reclaimed hedge shear blade and finished simply and humbly in the age-old style of farming and foresting tools traditionally used in managing satoyama lands.
Satoyama are the managed forest areas that border the cultivated fields and the mountain wilds in Japan. Historically they provided fertilizer, firewood, edible plants, mushrooms, fish, and game, and supported local industries such as farming, construction, and charcoal making. The interaction of wetlands and streams are an important component of the satoyama landscape.
This project began as an experiment in efficiently turning a scrap of antique high carbon steel into purposeful and functional knives. The small knife takes its inspiration from the tosu, an elegant form of pen knife carried by scholarly nobility a thousand years ago. The large knife is based on the nata, a heavy camp knife or a light brush or bamboo hatchet.
The blades were both made from a very old German hedge shear blade (originally engraved “Made in Western Germany”). One of the benefits of accurate forging is that small amounts of seemingly unusable reclaimed material can go a long ways. The blades were hand forged in a charcoal fire, shaped with files, differentially hardened using traditional swordsmith style water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with water stones.
The handles were forged integrally from the same steel, wrapped with cotton cord, and sealed with several layers of natural urushi lacquer. Other than the polished edge bevel, all surfaces were left as-found or as-forged and finished with a coat of natural tung tree oil. The wooden scabbards were hand carved and lacquered with a natural and black negoro style to simulate natural wear along the edges and carved striations. A double cotton cord acts as a sageo for securing each scabbard as it passes through a belt or sash. Other than the steel, all of the materials used to create and finish these two knives are plant based.
Forging the Knives from Reclaimed Steel
Carving the Scabbards from Scrap Wood