Making a Swordsmith Anvil from Scrap

A Japanese swordsmith style anvil made from junkyard scrap. The two side pieces are cast steel or iron John Deere 8255C rear counterweights from a shovel dozer. They weigh about 200-240lbs each and measure about 2 1/8″ x 14 3/4″ x 25″. There is a ‘T’ shaped face and stem that extends to the ground between the plates made from welded spring or tool steel and weighs about 70lbs.

The face is about 1 3/8″ x 6″ x 15 1/4″ and has a pritchel hole in it and a sharp edge for cutting on one corner. The combined weight of the plates bolted onto the face and stem should be between 475 and 520lbs. The finished anvil should sit 7-7.5 sun from the ground or from the seat height. See the whole forge building process here.

Building a Traditional Swordsmith Forge

Traditional Japanese swordsmithing forges are purpose-built with certain design elements specific to the tasks involved in tanren and hizukuri. This article will discuss several of the features that are common to this type of construction and follow the process of crafting a swordsmith’s forge at a museum on… Continue reading

Testing Scrap Steel for Knife Making

Most of history was forged with steel that had no designated number or specified ingredient list. Historical smiths would interpret the quality and properties of steel based solely on careful observation and simple testing procedures. To this day, Japanese swordsmiths work exclusively with unnumbered steel made with charcoal… Continue reading

Inside look at a traditional kaiken mounting

A look inside the carving of a small kaiken tanto mounting (futokoro-gatana) with additional examples from an Edo period tsuka and an even older shirasaya.

The omote is the “public side” of a tanto or sword, the side that faces outwards both when being worn and when on display. The edge faces upwards and the handle is on the left when displaying nihonto. The ura is the “private side” and faces away from the viewer when on display and towards the body when worn.

More on carving a tanto style tsuka.
Classical tanto geometry series archive.

Soulsmithing part 4

Building the fuigo floor at Pierre Nadeau’s workshop. Read more about the project, or watch the whole soulsmithing series. The three major projects during this visit were focused on getting the forge itself ready for use. In this episode, creating a steel frame and wooden floor to support… Continue reading

Soulsmithing part 3

Laying bricks for the swordsmithing forge at Pierre Nadeau’s workshop. Read more about the project, or watch the whole soulsmithing series. The three major projects during this visit were focused on getting the forge itself ready for use. In this episode, insulating and laying bricks for the forge.… Continue reading

Soulsmithing part 2

Fabricating a combined fuigo/blower manifold at Pierre Nadeau’s workshop. Read more about the project, or watch the whole soulsmithing series. The three major projects during this visit were focused on getting the forge itself ready for use. In this episode, fabricating a custom manifold for combined fuigo box… Continue reading