Nagatsuki Tanto

$4200

Antique parts incorporated in chisagatana style mounting.

In stock

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Description

This tanto was forged from an antique horse-drawn carriage spring in 2017, is mounted in a tasteful old style koshirae inspired by a visit to Japan in 2018, and incorporates an antique sword tsuba and matching fuchigashira fittings.

Nagatsuki (長月, pronounced “nah-gah-tsoo-key”) translates literally as “long moon”, in the ancient calendar it is a poetic name for the time around late September, possibly abbreviated from yonagatsuki meaning “night of the long moon”, or “month of the long night” depending on the reading. The idea is associated with the time of late September, season change after the hot summer begins to cool down, and the activity of moon watching at that time of year. There is an additional play on words as this knife is long in measure, was long in coming, and may be a milestone marker of a coming change of seasons.

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

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

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae 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. There is a visible kizu behind the boshi on the omote side (discovered in the final polishing stages), the blade is included without charge for this reason.

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

Materials for the chisagatana style koshirae mounting include Magnolia wood for the handle and scabbard, copper bus bar for the habaki, reclaimed brass doorplate for the seppa, lacquered samegawa for the handle wrap, and carved buffalo horn for the koiguchi, kurikata, and mekugi. The centerpiece of the mounting is an antique Edo fuchi and kashira pair made from iron, inlaid with copper, and accented with gold. The iron tsuba is also antique, Edo or earlier, from Japan. The saya is finished in rustic textured red and black negoro crafted from natural source urushi lacquer and sawdust made by carpenter ants.

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

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

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae 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 about 11.25″ long, overall length is around 16.5″, and the overall length of the koshirae is just over 18.25″. Accompanied by a vintage Japanese storage bag. Pairs well with Yakisugi Antler Tanto Kake display stand.

Specifications

長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 9 sun 4 bu 5 rin (287mm)
元幅 Motohaba: 7 bu 5 rin (22mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu (6mm)
反り Sori: uchizori
中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 2 bu 7 rin (100mm)
柄長 Tsuka: 3 sun 7 bu 7 rin (114mm)
拵全長 Koshirae: 15 sun 3 bu 5 rin (465mm)

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 three antique parts)

Material: Reclaimed carriage spring steel, Edo-period iron fuchigashira with copper inlay and gold accents, Edo-period iron tsuba, copper bus bar, brass doorplate, buffalo horn, Magnolia, samegawa, natural urushi, and carpenter ant sawdust


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 crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques

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

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


Process Highlights

scroll down or jump to the sections below:

Blade
Habaki
Tsuka & Saya
Fittings
Samegawa
Urushi
Polishing


Forging the Blade

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae 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 crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The carriage springs being removed from the pivot assembly with a cold chisel.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Final forging for this piece was done at the museum forge, more about building this traditional forge.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Forged bevels, note the reverse curve anticipating the effects of the clay hardening process.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Checking the hamon placement with a coarse waterstone after yaki-ire.

Making the Habaki

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae 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 crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The final shape is hand filed and a decorative groove is added.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The habaki design is closely based on the study of an antique.

Carving the Tsuka & Saya

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Planing the Magnolia wood blank smooth after sawing in half lengthwise.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The halves of the tsuka are carved to fit the tang, the offset along the edge minimizes stress on the glue joint.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The halves of the saya carved and ready for gluing with sokui (rice paste glue).
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Carving the rough handle block to fit an antique fuchi (ferrule) before shaping the rest of the tsuka.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Approaching the final shape of the tsuka and saya after carving and planing the exterior surfaces.

Making & Preparing the Fittings

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Seppa are cut and chiseled from a reclaimed doorplate, filed to fit the tang, and hammered flat.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Carefully hammering copper sekigane (責金) into an antique tsuba to fit and protect the tang.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The rough shapes for the scabbard fittings are sawed from water buffalo horn.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Using a sawfile to sculpt the rough shape of the kurikata (cord loop).
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Kurikata and koiguchi finished with fine files and polished with fine sandpaper before fukiurushi lacquering.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Carving the saya with a tenon shoulder and sliding dovetail to receive the fittings.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Washi paper is used to reinforce the seams along the joint of the saya.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Using scrap copper wire to fabricate the small inserts for the kashira.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Using an antler tip to polish away the loose rust but leave the patina from the centuries.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Using a special clay blend to repair the patina in the scratched or damaged areas.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
After boiling in tea to convert remaining red iron oxide to stable black iron oxide, the surface is polished with a soft cotton cloth and the patina is restored evenly to its proper antique colour and condition.

Preparing the Samegawa

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Samegawa (rawhide rayskin) is cut to match a washi paper template based on the tsuka surface.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
After wet forming to the handle, ready for gluing with sokui (rice paste glue).
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The tang is drilled and the tsuka is marked for the mekugi-ana (peg hole).
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The holes are carefully aligned and placed with functional and aesthetic considerations.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The samegawa is glued in place and the mekugi-ana cut through in preparation for lacquering.

Lacquering the Tsuka & Saya

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The samegawa is sealed with thin layers of natural urushi made from the sap of a certain tree.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae 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 crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
A second layer is used to adhere natural sawdust made by carpenter ants to the surface of the saya.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Two shades of crimson lake blended lacquer are used to saturate and seal the wood dust, creating a texture of small peaks and valleys.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Multiple layers of black lacquer are used to fill in the valleys, each requiring several days to cure.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The peaks are filed off and then the surface is polished with charcoal and water, revealing the crimson texture. Final layers of very thin natural urushi are then wiped on to seal and darken the surface.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
The horn fittings are permanently installed into the saya.

Polishing the Blade

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae 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 crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Each successive stone is finer and progressively refines the geometry of the blade and smooths the surface.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae 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 crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Omote (public/display side) with angled natural window light.
Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae made from reclaimed and natural materials using traditional techniques
Ura (back/private side) with angled natural window light.

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

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

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

Island Blacksmith: Hand crafted tanto koshirae 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)