Building Simple Charcoal Forges

Building two examples of quick and simple sideblast charcoal forges with found and reclaimed materials to demonstrate that lack of equipment and materials should not be a major obstacle.

Ways to improve and expand on these concepts include: mixing copious amounts of chopped straw or charcoal powder (6:2) into the clay to make it refractory, using high temperature kiln bricks, making the walls higher and longer, using the clay to narrow the tuyere to about 1sun/3cm right where it enters at the bottom side of the forge, putting a barrier up to protect the fuigo (and allowing a shorter pipe), allowing the clay to dry before lighting the forge, etc.

Learn more about fuigo, a full traditional swordsmith forge build, or a smaller tanto forge design.

Yoroidoshi in Shirasaya

This blade began as a segment of reclaimed horse-drawn carriage spring and was hand forged in a charcoal fire, smoothed with files and a sen scraper, hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with natural Japanese water stones. Crafted… Continue reading

Short film release: 温故知新

Last summer Komori~san and a talented crew came to the island and spent a couple of days getting footage in the forge and of the final assembly of a tanto. Take a look at these beautiful stills, his latest creation is set… Continue reading

Louie Mills (1944-2018)

I just received word that Louie Mills (Yasutomo – 康友) has moved on to the next stage of life, passing peacefully in his sleep this morning. A friend to many and generous with his knowledge and craft. He will be missed on… Continue reading

Making a Bamboo Scoop for Water Forging

Simple technology for pouring water on the anvil, takeno mizusashi (竹の水差し) made from a piece of bamboo.

Forging with a thin film of water on the anvil and hammer prevents forge scale or oxide from being hammered into the surface of the steel. The hot steel instantly vaporizes the water and the resulting steam explosion blows the scale off of the work, keeping it clean as it is worked. This type of bamboo scoop is a traditional style tool for evenly applying water to the surface of the anvil or the hot steel. Read more about the process of making one.

Japan Photo Essay: Chashitsu-goya

Building a small farm shed in an inaka area of Japan. The materials were mostly reclaimed and from what was on-hand on the farm. Incorporating elements of local architecture, the design allows farming tools and materials to stay on site at the… Continue reading