An interesting challenge to forge a knife to fit an existing sheath. The leather sheath was part of an estate sale and was hand crafted by a custom knifemaker. With some careful planning and accurate forging it can once again serve a useful purpose. This knife should probably be considered the first official satoyama bowie, though there was one other potential contender in the past.
Satoyama are the managed forest areas that border the cultivated fields and the mountain wilds in Japan. Historically they provided soil nutrients, firewood, edible plants, mushrooms, fish, and game, and supported many local industries and crafts such as farming, timber construction, and charcoal making. The interaction of forest, arable land, wetlands, and streams are an important component of the satoyama landscape.
The core of this project is a charcoal-forged blade, water quenched with clay and sharpened with waterstones, a satoyama bowie style knife that has the foundation of the Japanese sword. The steel for the blade came from a large file from my personal collection and the fittings are forged from a large electrical washer and reclaimed copper pipe. The removable peg is carved from susudake, a piece of bamboo that served for a century or more as part of the ceiling or roof in a kominka, darkened and hardened by decades of smoke wafting up from the irori hearth.
The tang is constructed in a similar manner to a Japanese sword requiring only a single bamboo peg to hold the knife assembly together. In addition to the sense of beautiful simplicity, this design allows the knife to be taken apart for cleaning, polishing, detailed cutting tasks, or major resharpening work.
The blade is about 8.25″ long with a 4.75″ handle, an overall length of 13.25″, and around 14″ when sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is 4.5mm thick.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa (blade length): 209mm
重ね/元重 Motokasane (spine thickness): 4.5mm
元幅 Motohaba (blade width): 38mm
反り Sori (spine curve): uchizori/bowie
中心/茎 Nakago (tang length): 108mm
柄長 Tsuka (handle length): 119mm
拵全長 Koshirae (overall): 360mm
形 Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, iori-mune, with ubuha
刃文 Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi (tip pattern): ko-maru
中心/茎 Nakago (tang): futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana
銘 Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
拵 Koshirae (mounting): satoyama style bowie, issaku (sole authorship) except leather sheath
Materials: reclaimed file steel, Sapele wood, copper electrical bus washer, copper water pipe, susudake Bamboo, vegetable tanned leather sheath
This piece is available online.
This blade was forged and yaki-ire performed at the museum forge. It began as an old file, waiting in the forge stockpile for years for a project of this exact size.