Island Forge: Part 1 – Foundation

This series of photo essays will document the preparation, construction, and set up of a simple swordsmith style kajiba (鍛冶場, forge building) from the ground up. The main inspiration for aesthetic, form, and technique is the humble Japanese inaka naya (納屋) building… Continue reading

Repair broken Natural Waterstone with Urushi

Repairing a broken natural Japanese waterstone using urushi lacquer. Natural urushi lacquer is strong enough to repair the stone but will not interfere with sharpening and polishing as some glues may. Carving a cypress base to hold the stone together as well as using urushi lacquer to reattach the halves provides a double solution. The stone is a Kumamoto binsui-do, approximately #700, from Monotaro in Japan. Urushi is from Watanabe~san.

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