Process: Making a Futokorogatana

Futokorogatana (懐刀) is translated as “clothing fold sword” and describes a type of tanto mounting meant to be carried in the kimono sleeve or fold. Also known as kaiken, this humble style of hidden mounting is usually unadorned with a smooth profile and lacquer finish. This knife would historically be carried for last chance survival situations.

The kaiken tanto was designed to be carried in the fold of a kimono and is characterized by a smooth profile and unadorned lacquered exterior.


scroll down or jump to the sections below:

Blade
Habaki
Tsuka & Saya
Urushi
Mekugi


Forging the Blade

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Reclaimed steel from a horse-drawn carriage spring is the raw material for the blade.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The blade is forged by hand in a charcoal fire.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
A file is used to clean surface and refine the shape.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
A mixture of natural clay, charcoal, and stone powder is used to prepare the blade for hardening.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Immediately after yaki-ire. Watch a blade being hardened using the traditional process.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
A test polish on the coarse waterstone reveals the hamon.

Making the Habaki

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Silver soldering the habaki in the charcoal forge. Learn more about the silver soldering process.

Carving the Tsuka & Saya

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The interior fit is carved first. Learn more about the internal construction of a tanto koshirae.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The halves are rejoined and the outside is shaped with knives and kanna.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Fine dried tokusa grass is used to sand the outside.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Tsuka and saya completed and ready for drilling the mekugi-ana.

Urushi

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The tsuka and saya are first coated with a thin wiped layer of fukiurushi lacquer.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
When the sealing layer is cured, washi paper is cut and fit to reinforce the wood.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Natural urushi lacquer is used as an adhesive to attach the paper to the koshirae.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
After curing several additional layers are added and polished to build up the surface.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Crushed tea leaves are used to build up an ishimeji texture which will be filed down and filled with black urushi.

Making a Mekugi

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Hardwood is carved and fit as a mekugi peg before the final lacquer is applied.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Final layers of benigara (crimson lake pigment) urushi curing before revealing the textured areas by polishing.

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

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