Inome Tanto

$5000

A tanto with antique parts incorporated in chisagatana style mountings.

In stock

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Description

This tanto was forged from an antique horse-drawn carriage spring in 2016, was used at several demos as an example of the forged surface as it comes out of the fire, made a cameo in a short film in 2017 as one of the filing stages, was finished with geometry inspired by a visit to Japan in 2018, and is the first of my blades to incorporate antique sword parts in its mounting.

The inome (pronounced “ee-no-may”, 猪の目, eye of the boar) name comes from the pierced heart-shape designs on the decorative o-seppa (washers) on either side of the tsuba (handguard). This lovely motif is ubiquitous in Japan, seen often in architecture, furniture, and sword mountings. In this context, the inome symbol conveys the idea of the focused, forward-moving wild boar of Japan’s forests and mountains, never giving up or retreating.

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

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

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

The blade began as a reclaimed carriage spring and was hand forged in a charcoal fire, smoothed with files and a sen scraper, differentially hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with natural Japanese water stones.

This tanto consists of ten separate components that began as twenty-two individual pieces, crafted and finished entirely with hand tools and traditional techniques.

Materials for the chisagatana style koshirae mounting include Japanese hounoki wood for the handle and scabbard, copper bus bar for the habaki, reclaimed brass doorplate for a seppa, buffalo horn for the mekugi and kurikata, and an iron spike salvaged from thirty feet under the Pacific for the tsuba. The centerpiece of the mounting comes from an outdoor antique market in Kyoto, a gold-accented Edo-era fuchi made from nanako-ji (魚子地, fish roe) textured shakudo (a traditional alloy of gold, silver, and copper). The first antique sword I ever saw in person twenty-some years ago had nanako decoration and nanako is one of the first sword vocabulary words I learned. The tsuba sits between two Showa-era zouheitou (officer’s sword) o-seppa with pierced inome (猪の目, eye of the boar) motifs. The saya is finished in black sabi-nuri (rust texture) style ishime-ji (stone surface) made from natural source urushi lacquer and ground tea leaves, and the koiguchi band is also antique.

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

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

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

Blade has a hira-zukuri profile, suguha hamon with artifact on the omote, an iori mune, and an ubuha (unsharpened portion near the hamachi). The blade is 8.75″ long, overall length is just under 13.5″, and the overall length of the koshirae is just over 15″. Accompanied by a handsewn reclaimed silk storage bag. Pairs well with Yakisugi Antler Tanto Kake display stand.

Specifications

長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 7 sun 3 bu 5 rin (222mm)
元幅 Motohaba: 9 bu (27mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu 3 rin (7mm)
反り Sori: uchizori
中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 6 bu (109mm)
柄長 Tsuka: 3 sun 2 bu 5 rin (98mm)
拵全長 Koshirae: 12 sun 6 bu (382mm)

形 Katachi: hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon: suguha, with ubuha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi: ko-maru
中心/茎 Nakago: futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana, signed near the tip
銘 Mei: hot stamped katabami-ken kamon
拵 Koshirae: chisagatana, issaku (with the addition of four antique parts)

Material: Reclaimed carriage spring steel, Edo-period gold and shakudo nanako fuchi, antique brass koiguchi and Showa-era zouheitou o-seppa, ocean-salvaged iron spike, copper bus bar, brass doorplate, buffalo horn, Hounoki, leather, natural urushi and tea leaves


Current price for a similar work: $7000
(however, please note that due to the unique nature of the antique components this is a one-of-a-kind work)

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

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


Process Highlights

scroll down or jump to the sections below:

Blade
Fittings
Tsuka
Saya
Polishing
Assembly


Forging the Blade

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The raw material for this blade spent the last century as a leaf spring for a horse-drawn carriage.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The horse drawn carriage spring and pivot assembly as found on a homestead.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Chisel-cutting the bolt and separating the century-old leaf springs for sorting and inspection.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Potential blade steels are tested using several methods to determine their suitability and the best approach for heat treatment. The older, lower alloy steels are preferred by our inspectors.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Forged to within ~1mm of the final shape (including bevels) and filed only around the profile.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
This tanto was used at several demos as an example of the surface as it comes out of the fire. Using water on the anvil during the final stages of forging keeps the surface clean and smooth.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Smoothing the surface with sen (scraper) and draw-filing in preparation for application of clay for yaki-ire.

Habaki & Tsuba

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Habaki forged to shape, fire soldered, fit and cold hardened by hammering, and finished using hand files.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
A custom made tang shaped punch is used to create the opening in the iron tsuba and it is shaped, textured, and rust patinated before carefully hammering in copper sekigane (責金) to protect the blade.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The rust patina is polished using an antler tip, boiled in water to convert red iron oxide to stable black iron oxide, then given a thin layer of natural fukiurushi lacquer and baked to cure.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The weathering process used during forging, called yakite or yakinamashi, involves oxidizing the surface using high heat and an oxygen-rich charcoal forge blast, periodically dipping quickly into water and wire brushing to reveal naturally occurring hard and soft areas of the iron.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The exposed high areas of harder iron that remain after wear and weathering are known as tekkotsu (鉄骨, iron bones) and compliment the hammer textured (槌目地, tsuchimei-ji) surface.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The habaki is patinated using a blend of copper salts similar to rokusho. When just the right shade is reached, old and newly crafted parts begin to work together as a team.

Tsuka

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
After carving and shaping the tsuka, ink stone (made from charcoal and hide glue, for Japanese calligraphy) is used to stain the wood that will be under the handle wrapping.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The leather wrapping is secured using nori-urushi, a mixture of natural urushi lacquer and sokui (rice paste glue). The wrapping is fit between an Edo-period fuchi in shakudo and gold and a newly carved and lacquered horn kashira.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The horn kashira has a tenon made from horn that fits into the wood core of the tsuka and is attached with sokui.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Keeping the length of the tsuka within traditional proportional constraints was very close given the length of the tang and the thickness of the horn kashira, less than 1mm to spare!

Carving & Lacquering the Saya

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
After carving the inside to fit the blade the halves are rejoined with sokui and the scabbard is shaped with kanna and smoothed with fine rasps.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
An antique koiguchi band is fit while carefully preserving the natural patina of the centuries.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
A horn kurikata is shaped and fit to the saya using a carved sliding dovetail.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The joint between the halves is reinforced with washi paper and sokui along both sides.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The first layer of natural fukiurushi seals the wood and prepares the surface for the following layers.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
A second layer is used to adhere finely screened ground tea leaves and allowed to cure, a third layer (shown) saturates and seals the tea and is filed down to create the desired surface texture.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
After wiping clean, the rough filed lacquer with tea showing through the surface resembles a true sabi-nuri (rusted steel surface), similar to an old cast iron tetsubin tea kettle.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
A fourth and final layer of very thin black urushi is wiped over to seal and darken the surface. The black fukiurushi highlights the combination of smooth peaks and pitted valleys and turns the look to ishime-ji (stone surface).
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
A look at all the koshirae parts before assembly (with the exception of the kashira already glued in place)
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The horn parts are polished and sealed with black fukiurushi before being installed on the tsuka and sabi-nuri style ishimeji lacquered saya.

Polishing

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Once all the parts are made and fitted the blade can be taken through the final polishing stages using Japanese waterstones.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Several fine natural stones make up the last steps, right down to small fingertip-sized stone flakes with washi paper lacquered to the back for strength.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The omote (front/display side) with interesting artifact midway along the hamon.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The ura (back/private side).
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Omote (public/display side) with angled natural window light.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Ura (back/private side) with angled natural window light.

Final Assembly

Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Koshirae ready for assembly.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The combination of antique and newly crafted parts lends a feel of timelessness to the mounting.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Inome tanto forged from reclaimed antique steel on Vancouver Island, Canada.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The thick yoroidoshi style spine with peaked iori mune.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Antique shakudo nanako fuchi and zouheitou seppa together.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
At the right angle the individual punch marks around each raised nanako dot can be seen.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Angled top view showing the proportions of the tsuka (handle) and tsuba (handguard) fittings along with the kurikata (cord loop) and saya (scabbard).
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
View of the edge showing habaki fitment and slight ubuha edge (unsharpened portion next to hamachi), used to indicate freshness of a blade.
Island Blacksmith: Hand forged tanto made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
View of the spine showing some of the subtle curves of the handle. Note how the single brass seppa balances the gold rims on the shakudo seppa.

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

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

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

**Please note that in order to preserve the patina and texture of the antique components involved in this mounting there will be minor scuffs, variations in colour, and other indications of their story over the centuries.


3.03022 cm
= 0.1 shaku(尺)
= 1 sun(寸)
= 10 bu(分)
= 100 rin(厘)