Pacific Yew Forest Kotanto

This custom kotanto finds a balance between the humble satoyama style and a classical tanto with a striking combination of forged copper, natural orange hardwood, and black urushi lacquer.

The blade began as a reclaimed harrow tooth and was hand forged in a charcoal fire, differentially hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and sharpened by hand with natural Japanese water stones.

Materials for the custom orange and black hamidashi style koshirae mounting include Pacific Yew for the kataki tsuka, lacquered buffalo horn mekugi, forged copper fuchi, tsuba, habaki, and koiguchi with ring kurikata, and smooth lacquered Japanese Magnolia hounoki wood saya. Several layers of tung nut oil bring out the natural colour of the Pacific Yew wood and the copper is lightly patinated with traditional niage solution.

Blade construction is muku with a hira-zukuri profile, suguha hamon, and a mitsu mune. The blade is 5.5″ long, overall length is just over 10.25″, and the overall length when sheathed is about 11.5″.

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques

Specifications

長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 4 sun 6 bu (140mm)
元幅 Motohaba: 7 bu 4 rin (23mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu 1 rin (6.5mm)
反り Sori: uchizori
中心/茎 Nakago: 2 sun 8 bu 4 rin (86mm)
柄長 Tsuka: 3 sun 4 bu (102mm)
拵全長 Koshirae: 9 sun 6 bu 5 rin (292mm)

形 Katachi: hira-zukuri, mitsu-mune
刃文 Hamon: suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi: ko-maru
中心/茎 Nakago: futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana, signed near the tip
銘 Mei: hot stamped katabami-ken kamon
拵 Koshirae: hamidashi, issaku

Material: Reclaimed harrow tooth steel, buffalo horn, copper bus bar, copper wire, Pacific Yew, Hounoki, natural urushi

This piece is in a private collection in Korea.

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques


Process Highlights

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Handmade softwood charcoal fueling the forge as the blade is formed and shaped with a hand hammer.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Stills from the video taken during yaki-ire, the critical stage where the steel is hardened using clay and water and becomes a blade, if it survives the stressful process.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Tempering over the glowing coals to remove some of the internal stresses from the hardening process.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Ready to begin forging the habaki and other copper fittings.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The tsuba is forged from reclaimed electrical copper, an opening made to fit to the blade, and the rim is raised by carefully controlled hamering to create mimi, which are then slightly polished to catch the light.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The hammer textured fuchi and kashira on either side of the tsuba.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Beginning to shape the outside of the Pacific Yew tsuka after carving the inside to fit the tang snugly.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Three lovely colours of wood from the Yew along with the heartwood and sapwood of the hounoki (Japanese Bigleaf Magnolia) used for the saya.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The copper koiguchi includes an integral ring style kurikata.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The copper fittings will be given a light patina by simmering in a traditional niage solution.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The mekugi peg that holds the knife together is polished and lacquered buffalo horn.

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques


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

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