Charcoal forged classical tanto & fusion style takedown knives crafted by hand from reclaimed steel and natural materials using traditional techniques.
Process of Mounting a Tanto Blade
Once the habaki is made, it is time to consider the handle mounting furniture to complement the blade. Depending on the final vision, this may include several metal parts such as tsuba (hand guard), fuchi (ferrule), kashira (pommel), and one or more seppa (washers or spacers). In addition, the wood core of the tsuka (handle) may be wrapped in layers of rawhide and leather or silk cord. While the main purpose is functionality, the style of each of these components may range from austere to decorative and each should harmonize with the overall work.
Fittings may be made from steel, iron, silver, copper, or one of its alloys. A combination of forging, chiseling, soldering, filing, and polishing or hammer planishing is used for each component and then patina is applied to the final surface. Once this process is finished, the blade is ready for Saya, a scabbard.
The kashira contributes to balance and protects the end of the handle from damage. In larger swords it also serves to contain the wood core of the tsuka against splitting from the back. This kashira was made from steel harvested from a Model T fender bracket. Because of the type of wrapping that will be used for the handle, it is held in place by a combination of kusune (pine resin glue) and steel clips rather than by ito wrapped through shitodome ana.
The fuchi is an important part of the strength and integrity of the tsuka, encircling the front of the handle where the stress from the tang is greatest, it helps prevent the wood core from splitting. This fuchi is made mainly from steel harvested from a Model T fender bracket. Its construction is similar to the Higo style in that the copper tenjo gane is forged in physically rather than soldered to the sleeve. The band was created by forging a screw hole in the bracket to stretch it to the size of the handle.
Seppa are used as spacers or washers between components of the koshirae. Most often next to the habaki, but also on the other side of the tsuba. The basic construction is simply a flat sheet of copper, silver, or an alloy, an opening slightly larger than the tang, and is shaped to match the finished fuchi and saya outline. They may be thin or thick, and can have fileworked or chiseled rims. The final fit to the tang is achieved by using a punch to push out four lobes of metal in the four corners and then filing to adjust slightly.
Tsuba for tanto are usually either non-existant or are very small. This leaves little room for embellishment so the focus is often on the rim, or the material itself. They can be made from either ferrous or non-ferrous metals, but should have seki-gane (non-ferrous spacers) to keep them from contact with the tang if they are made from iron or steel. This tsuba is made from wrought iron, an old form of bloomery iron produced up until about a hundred years ago. This is a small scrap off the end of a timber bridge spike that came from the forest.
Tsuka are split and carved to fit precisely around the nakago and then glued back together with sokui (rice paste glue). Then the outside is carved, taking into account the size of the fittings and the thickness of the wrappings. This one is made from a scrap of Nootka Cypress.
There are generally two components to wrapping a handle, the first being the shikagawa (rawhide) or samegawa (ray skin) layer which adds incredible stiffness and resilience to the tsuka, and the second an optional leather or cord wrapping to add padding, grip, and compression to the tsuka. When possible, the shikagawa or samegawa will fit part way under the fuchi for extra strength and integrity, but in this case stops at the boundary of the leather wrap to allow the rolled leather to sit in the groove. The style of wrapping is called gangi maki, a spiral of leather with a rolled front edge wraps from fuchi to kashira beginning and ending on the ura side. The kanji for gangi means a shape like steps, or the terraced shoreline near a seaport.
As the parts are finished, they are polished, cleaned, given a patina, and coated with ibota wax or tung oil to stabilize and protect their surfaces. The blade is given its final polish and then the tanto is ready for final assembly.