Forging a custom forest kotanto in the swordsmith forge. The starting material was a harrow tooth, the finished blade is hirazukuri, mitsu mune, 140mm / 5.5″ nagasa, with a sturdy 6.5mm motokasane. The finish will be tsuchime (hammer texture) so there was no filing or polishing before yaki-ire, which was done at my forge for the dim and consistent light conditions.
The first night turned out to be quite an event as there were three forges and six blacksmiths/strikers operating in the museum workshop. Thanks to Tim of Reforged Ironworks, and Josh for their energy and charcoal chopping to get the forge up and running, and their assistance swinging the big sledges to finish drifting and shaping the smaller hand hammers as the first preparatory projects in the charcoal forge. Read more about the museum forge project or watch a more detailed demonstration of lighting fire with bamboo.
A clip from yesterday’s work: silver soldering a habaki with the charcoal forge & fuigo box bellows. Watch the machigane area and you can see the solder begin to melt and flow around 0:40 until it is pulled out to stop the… Continue reading
The tools are simple and few, but the work is long and hard. A collection of clips documenting the steps and sounds involved at many stages of the process of crafting charcoal forged classical tanto and mountings from reclaimed materials. Footage from several recent projects is included, some extended and some previously unreleased, some from Japan and some from Canada, photos of the finished aikuchi tanto appears at the end of the video.
A pair of outdoor knives forged from a single reclaimed hedge shear blade and finished simply and humbly in the age-old style of farming and foresting tools traditionally used in managing satoyama lands. Satoyama are the managed forest areas that border the… Continue reading
We had a visit from a crew filming for TV Tokyo today. They were interested in some footage of the workshop and a brief interview. A great group of guys to meet and work with, we covered a lot of ground in… Continue reading
…a.k.a.: the *even* quieter edition. The final stages of finishing the aikuchi tanto. This is a collection of clips documenting the steps and sounds involved at most every stage of the process of hand lacquering a traditional aikuchi tanto mount made from reclaimed driftwood. Several of the layers have been omitted from the video when they were exact repeats of the previous ones. The process spanned a month and a half including curing and drying time in between each step. Each layer is allowed to cure in a warm, humid box for two to three days and then polished with charcoal and water before the next is applied.
Urushi is traditional Japanese lacquer made from the sap of a specific tree. The natural colour is a milky brown that oxidizes to deep chocolate and the black colour is created through a reaction with red iron oxide. The lighting was not optimal for several of the steps here, but at least the general process is demonstrated.
…Sounds of the woodshop, that is…a.k.a.: the quiet edition. Sit back and chill to the sounds of sharp blades and smooth wood. This is a collection of clips documenting the steps and sounds involved at most every stage of the process of hand making a traditional aikuchi tanto mount from reclaimed driftwood. The project began as a large piece of Nootka Cypress driftwood and is worked entirely by hand through each step, employing tools and techniques as they would have been used centuries ago when this style of knife was developed in Japan.
The blade is made from century-old shear steel from a horse drawn carriage spring and based on design elements of the 13th century Aizu Shintogo tanto. Read more about the process of making this work on the photo essay page and watch the blade edition of sounds of the workshop here. The next step will be to finish the surface with natural urushi lacquer.
A quick clip of the final assembly of the Tsukimi Tanto. All parts of traditionally constructed tanto and koshirae fit together tightly and the assembly is locked together with a single bamboo peg. Each part fits only one way, even the bamboo peg has a specific alignment for maximum strength. Tsukimi means “moon watching” (in the autumn).
View the finished work: islandblacksmith.ca/2014/09/tsukimi-tanto/
See the process of making this piece: islandblacksmith.ca/process/making-the-tsukimi-tanto/
Just for fun! This is a collection of clips documenting the sounds involved at each stage of the process of making a traditional tanto blade from reclaimed steel. A little slower the second time in case you missed anything in the intro!
The blade is based on design elements of the 13th century Aizu Shintogo tanto.
Until it survives the hardening process, a tanto is only a piece of steel, not yet a blade…read more about this transformational stage: Yaki-Ire (Clay Tempering)
Full Length Version
**The heating time has been edited out and some of the tang work is missing due to battery issues.
The blade shape is based on the Aizu Shintogo kata: islandblacksmith.ca/2014/04/aizu-shintogo-kunimitsu-tanto-kata/
Making the most of the fire, hammer, and anvil to prepare the steel to be refined and smoothed…read more about this foundational stage: Tanto Blade (Forging)