Thirty years ago today marks my first day working under Mr. Emmanuel A. Schrock in a former livery stable in Ohio’s Amish country and embarking into the world of traditional blacksmithing techniques. In the spring of 1992, I traveled to Amish country… Continue reading
Talented Vancouver Island photographer Jordan Wende stopped in at the Island Forge in mid-July to document the final forging session. In this installment of the series, using the mukozuchi hammer to perform wakashinobe in preparation for forging sunobe. Photographed and edited by… Continue reading
Talented Vancouver Island photographer Jordan Wende stopped in at the Island Forge in mid-July to document a visit by Tim of Reforged Ironworks during the time he was helping clean up the forge. In this installment of the series, views of the… Continue reading
Talented Vancouver Island photographer Jordan Wende stopped in at the Island Forge in mid-July to listen, learn, and document the atmosphere and some of the work going on. In this installment of the series, candid shots of teaching and instruction along with… Continue reading
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.
One of the most common mistakes when attempting to recreate a Japanese classical style tanto is to caricature or over exaggerate certain design elements while entirely missing others. The Japanese aesthetic is subtle and nuanced, millimeter differences can make or break the… Continue reading
Arashiage is the stage of rough shaping following hizukuri (forging) and in preparation for yaki-ire (hardening). Earlier posts have described tanto kata and the geometry of the tang, machi, blade, and kissaki. Familiarity with these geometry points is a prerequisite to success… Continue reading
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 fuchi and koiguchi are from a reclaimed buffalo horn souvenir, the kurikata is from a reclaimed horn button, the wrapping is rawhide samegawa, the mekugi is copper and silver. All of the parts are first shaped and fit, then the samegawa is wet formed to the handle contours, dried, and then attached with sokui (rice paste glue). After the scabbard and handle are lacquered, the horn parts will be polished and attached with sokui as well. The mekugi cap is soldered on with hard silver solder in the charcoal forge. carving the inside | carving the outside | final work
In this video the tsuka is carved first, starting with the fuchi end and then the kashira area, carving the profile outlines and then removing the material in between before carving the final shape and sculpting the details. The saya is next, first dimensioning the blank is to approximate size and then profiling the koiguchi and then the kojiri, removing the material and carving as close as possible to the final shape using kanna and kiridashi. Finally any remaining high points in the curves are smoothed with a fine rasp. carving the inside | making the fittings | final work
In this video the tsuka is carved first, starting with the omote side and then the ura, carving each half from the mune to the ha. The saya is next, starting with the omote and then the ura, each half beginning with the fitting of the blade (from the mune towards the ha) and then the fitting of the habaki area (koiguchi). Finally the halves are glued together with rice paste glue, wrapped with leather cord, and wedged tightly to dry overnight. The first half is almost real time, the repeat steps edited out during the second half. The wood is hounoki, carve carefully and check often! carving the outside | making the fittings | final work
Traditional Japanese swordsmithing hammers have rectangular eyes with no taper. The handles are not wedged but are held in place by a compression fit involving careful shaping, hand forged wood, and soaking in water. The wood is shaped a mm or two… Continue reading