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

Making a Mountain Tanto

The wider profile of the mountain style tanto is inspired by a kamakura sword and has a more deeply curved tip (fukura-tsuku) and shorter drop point. The simple and humble mounting style is inspired by the age-old style of farming and foresting tools traditionally used in managing satoyama… Continue reading

Sounds of the Workshop: Tanto Overview

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.

Touzai Tanto

Touzai (東西) can be literally translated “East West” and carries the idea of spanning across distance or covering and including everywhere. There is also a saying, “kokontouzai” (古今東西) which means for all time and all places, literally “old, now, East, West”. This project began with the concept of… Continue reading

Making Sekigane for a Wrought Iron Tsuba

Guards for classical Japanese style takedown knives are generally formed as variations of flat discs that slide over the tang. When working with wrought iron or steel, small copper inserts called sekigane are often used to prevent contact between the blade and the tsuba. This photo essay will… Continue reading