A true and accurate understanding of the past is an important step towards a good future. 温故知新 (on ko chi shin) is an expression that most directly translates to, “study the old to know the new”. This one-of-a-kind project represents the current progression of my work based on the study and practice of historical techniques, materials, and aesthetic while preserving a piece of the past.
The blade began as a reclaimed piece of a damaged antique sword and was carefully hand forged in a charcoal fire, smoothed with files and a sen scraper, differentially hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with natural Japanese water stones.
This large tanto consists of nine separate components that began as twenty one individual pieces, crafted and finished entirely with hand tools and traditional techniques.
Materials for the chisagatana style koshirae mounting include Japanese hounoki wood for the handle and scabbard, copper bus bar for the habaki, reclaimed brass from the original mount for the fuchi and kojiri, forged brass kick plate for the kashira and seppa, black lacquered samegawa and kangaroo leather for the tsuka, lacquered steel for the mekugi, buffalo horn for the koiguchi and kurikata, and an iron spike salvaged from thirty feet under the Pacific for the tsuba. The saya is finished with sabi-nuri (rust texture) style ishime-ji (stone surface) made from natural urushi lacquer and tea leaves, the kurikata was carved from reclaimed horn button rescued from a vintage coat, and the sageo cord comes from an outdoor antique market in Kyoto.
Blade has a hira-zukuri profile, hoso suguha hamon, and an iori mune. The blade is just under 13.5″ long, overall length is just under 19.5″, and the overall length when sheathed is just about 21.5″. Accompanied by a hand stitched reclaimed silk obi storage bag and antique silk sageo cord. Pairs well with Driftwood & Antler Tanto Kake display stand.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 11 sun 3 bu (341mm)
元幅 Motohaba: 8 bu 5 rin (25.5mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 1 bu 5 rin (4.2mm)
反り Sori: uchizori
中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 6 bu (109mm)
柄長 Tsuka: 4 sun 5 rin (123mm)
拵全長 Koshirae: 18 sun (545mm)
形 Katachi: hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon: hoso suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi: yakitsume
中心/茎 Nakago: futsu, kiri/suriage, one mekugi-ana, mumei
銘 Mei: mumei
拵 Koshirae: chisagatana, issaku
Material: Reclaimed antique sword steel, ocean-salvaged iron spike, reclaimed buffalo horn button, copper bus bar, copper wire, reclaimed brass fittings and doorplate, Hounoki, samegawa, kangaroo leather, natural urushi and tea leaves, antique silk cord
This piece is in a private collection in Wales.
scroll down or jump to the sections below:
Forging the Blade
Making the Fittings
Carving the Tsuka & Saya
Urushi & Tsukamaki
= 0.1 shaku（尺）
= 1 sun（寸）
= 10 bu（分）
= 100 rin（厘）