Stream Kotanto with Laminated Handle

$650

An 88mm hammer-forged kotanto blade in shirasaya.

In stock

Description

The core of this project is a charcoal-forged blade, water quenched with clay and sharpened with waterstones, an small 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 steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.

Forged from a fairly old file that was made in Canada, the blade profile of this stream style kotanto is based on the tip of a classical yoroidoshi tanto with a thick spine and a slight drop point. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard in order to hold a keen edge. The handle was made from a small scrap of antique hockey stick which appears to be constructed with vertically laminated Maple held together with hide glue. The shirasaya (storage scabbard) is carved from Magnolia and shows a slight live edge, both have been coated with 100% natural tung oil. 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 hardwood 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, oiling, detailed cutting tasks, or sharpening work.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.

The blade is just under 3.5″ long with an overall length of just over 7″, and just under 8″ sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is about 5mm thick.

Specifications

長さ/刃長 Nagasa (blade length): 88mm
重ね/元重 Motokasane (spine thickness): 5mm
元幅 Motohaba (blade width): 21mm
反り Sori (curve): muzori (straight) with slight drop point
中心/茎 Nakago (tang length): 80mm
柄長 Tsuka (handle length): 92mm
拵全長 Koshirae (overall): 202mm

形 Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon (edge pattern): rising suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi (tip pattern): yakitsume
中心/茎 Nakago (tang): futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana
銘 Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
拵 Koshirae (mounting): shirasaya, issaku (sole authorship)

Materials: reclaimed file steel, antique hockey stick wood, Magnolia, susudake bamboo


Process

This blade was forged from a piece of an old file as part of a demonstration at the museum forge.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
The raw material for this blade is a piece of a very old file that was made in Canada.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
The rest of the file was used for a larger project.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
Hammer work makes efficient use of almost every bit of the steel.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
A bit of hand filing cleans up the machi (notches) and tang geometry.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
The final bevel angle is set using a hand file in the sen dai (staple vise).
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
Applying the clay for yaki-ire, it will delay the cooling effect and produce a hardened edge with a tough spine.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
A thin slip layer along the edge protects the steel from carbon loss during heating.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
A small section of antique hockey stick that is just large enough for this project.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
The block is split and flattened inside.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
Carving the halves to fit the tang exactly before glueing them back together with nikawa (hide glue).
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
Drilling the mekugi-ana in the tang with a hand cranked post drill.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
Drilling the mekugi-ana in the handle to match the hole in the tang.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
Carving the inside of the Magnolia scabbard to fit the blade before glueing together with sokui (rice paste glue).
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from reclaimed steel.
Using a kanna (hand plane) to shape the handle and scabbard.