Forest Kotanto II

$950

A 109mm hammer-forged kotanto blade mounted in rustic satoyama kaiken style.

In stock

Description

The core of this project is a charcoal-forged blade, water quenched with clay and sharpened with waterstones, an outdoor knife that has the foundation of the Japanese sword but is finished in the simple and humble style of farming and foresting tools of centuries ago.

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.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.

The subtle and rustic appearance of hammer marks on the blade and hand-carved wooden handles finished with natural urushi lacquer made from tree sap—reminiscent of hand-hewn beams in a kominka farm house that are darkened by years of smoke drifting up from the irori hearth. A hand crafted tool for adventure that would be very much at home in the field, forest, or mountain landscape.

Forged from a reclaimed file, the blade profile of the forest style kotanto is based on the tip of a classical yoroidoshi tanto and has a takenoko shape with slight drop point. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard in order to hold a keen edge for tasks such as wood carving and hand work. This particular combination of steel and heat treatment is well suited to users who require a good edge and are willing to take care of it.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.

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 handle and scabbard are carved from local magnolia and finished with traditional fukiurushi lacquer to highlight the facets of the wood. A forged copper seppa/guard with cord wrapped ferrule accents the handle and 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 blade is just over 4.25″ long with an overall length of about 8.25″ and 9.25″ when sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is about 4.5mm thick.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.

Specifications

Nagasa (blade length): 109mm
Motokasane (blade thickness): 4.5mm
Motohaba (blade width): 22mm
Sori (curve): uchizori/takenoko
Nakago (tang): 77mm
Tsuka (handle): 100mm
Koshirae (overall): 237mm

Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, slight iori-mune
Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
Boshi (tip pattern): ko-maru
Nakago (tang): futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana
Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
Koshirae (mounting): satoyama aikuchi style, issaku

Materials: reclaimed file steel, copper bus bar, Magnolia, cotton cord, natural urushi lacquer, susudake Bamboo

Process

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Shaped from a third of an old file with an anvil, hand hammer, charcoal forge, and hand file.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Hardened using a natural clay and rainwater yaki-ire technique.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
A scrap of copper is forged to thickness, chiseled open, and carefully filed to fit the tang.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
The external profile of the guard is cut by chisel and filed to final shape.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Magnolia wood is split in half and carved to fit the tang precisely.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Fitting the inside of the scabbard to the blade.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
After carving, the halves are glued back together with sokui (rice paste glue) and clamped with leather strip and wedges.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Beginning to carve the scabbard mouth to match the copper guard.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Planing down the handle into an eight sided shape and then sixteen sided before rounding.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Rounding off the final corners before refining the exterior shape and texture with a kiridashi knife.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Using a kiri to drill the mekugi-ana through the handle and hole in the tang.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Mekugi peg carved from smoked susudake bamboo, wood polished with tokusa horsetail grass.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Two coats of natural fukiurushi lacquer seal the surface.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Natural cord reinforces the handle and scabbard before the final coats of urushi.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Ready for assembly.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Forest kotanto (front) shown with Field kotanto and Stream kotanto.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed files.
Detail of surfaces, colours, and textures.