Island Forge: Part 7 – Kajiba Tour

This series of photo essays will document the preparation, construction, and set up of a simple swordsmith style kajiba (鍛冶場, forge building) from the ground up. The main inspiration for aesthetic, form, and technique is the humble Japanese inaka naya (納屋) style of a century ago.

Swordsmith Forge

The centerpiece of the kajiba is the forge and associated tools. From a central location the fuigo, forge, anvil, and water bucket are all within reach. In addition to these main items there is also a clay slurry bucket and an aku tray for tanren or forge welding as well as a straightening stump, cut off hardy tool, and water quench tank. Learn more about specific tools on the workshop tour page.

A step away is the western anvil set for standing height without leaving the forging pit. From floor level, the Japanese anvil is low enough for sakite style striking with the mukozuchi and the London pattern anvil is low enough for western style striking.

Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Fuigo at left with dorojiru (clay slurry) jar below it, forge at center, and aku (charred straw) tray to the right.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Right to left: forge, straightening stump, anvil, and water bucket with bamboo water scoop.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Corner with tongs below, kata (historical templates) above, and hammers to the left.

Views of the Kajiba

Racks and storage for tongs, hammers, kata (historical patterns), projects, and reclaimed steel surround the forging area. Elsewhere are stumps for working on, a post drill, a workbench and vise, a sen dai, screens for charcoal, windows for controlling light and air, and the charcoal storage bin.

Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Back window open for air flow, project rack above the historical kata rack, northern light falling on natural tsuchikabe (earthen walls).
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
View out the back window.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Post drill and its vise to the left, low work table in the foreground.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
View of the fuigo through the back window with yakisugi (charred cedar siding).
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Corner view with shutters and back window closed for light control.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Post drill with antique carriage spring steel in the background.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Corner with charcoal screens, scrap steel and wrought iron, and workbench.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Filing vise and reclaimed timber workbench.
Island Blacksmith - Crossed Heart Forge
Afternoon light coming through the door boards (left) and smoke grate (right). Mukozuchi hammers behind anvil to the left, reclaimed steel collection behind anvil to the right.

The next steps will be to chop some charcoal and light the forge!
take a tour of the workshop to learn more about specific tools


Timeline

Gathering materials began in Fall 2018, site preparation in December 2018, the lumber was milled in the first week of January 2019, the frame assembled February 5th, and roofed February 7th. Yakisugi siding and tsuchikabe walls installed during March, and interior wall finishing in April. The goal is to have it operational by Summer 2019.

Thanks to all who were involved in one way or another in helping facilitate this project, providing space, time, materials, assistance, advice, and encouragement.

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