Most nata are permanently mounted to a hardwood handle because it is faster and easier for production. However, this piece has been assembled using elements of nihonto handle engineering and features swordsmith style hon-yaki edge hardening rather than a thin laminated steel edge. Natural fuki-urushi lacquer brings out the rich colour and grain of the Sapele wood handle and contrasts with the dark forged steel surfaces.
Nata come in various sizes and shapes, but most fit the description of a light brush hatchet or heavy camp knife. Common characteristics include thick spines and heavy blades, often with single beveled edges similar to Japanese wood chisels. This type work well for medium duty camp tasks, carving hatchet work, roughing and shaping, green wood work, and bamboo splitting. Similar to boat builder’s or timber framer’s slicks, they can make controlled straight slices due to their mass and chisel-like bevel. Another common variation has double sided bevels, cord wrapped integral handles, and curved or hooked blades for working in the rice fields.
This nata has a straight blade and tip, was made from reclaimed lawn mower blade steel (exactly half of an older one, stamped “made in USA”), and is mounted in nihonto fusion style. The blade was hand forged in a charcoal fire, shaped with files, differentially hardened using traditional swordsmith style water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with water stones. The ura has a slight forged concave to facilitate flat sharpening of the edge.
A forged steel ferrule and copper lanyard eye accent the hand carved Sapele wood handle. Thin layers of natural urushi lacquer seal the wood and allow the grain and warmth to show through. A friction fit red Bamboo peg secures the entire assembly together. Other than the polished edge bevel, all surfaces have been left as-forged and finished with a coat of natural tung tree oil.
Blade construction is muku/hon-yaki with a kiriha-zukuri profile and hira/kaku mune. The blade is 7.25″ long and 1 7/8″ deep with a 7/64″ spine, overall length is around 12.5″. Accompanied by a Walnut and Sapele storage scabbard.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 185mm (blade length)
元幅 Motohaba: 47mm (blade depth)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 5.5mm (spine thickness)
中心/茎 Nakago: 80mm (tang length)
柄長 Tsuka: 134mm (handle length)
Materials: lawn mower blade steel, steel pipe, copper pipe, Sapele wood, Walnut, natural urushi lacquer, red Bamboo
Read more about the process of making this nata here: islandblacksmith.ca/2015/06/making-a-hon-yaki-nata/