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… 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 (責金) are often used to prevent contact between the blade… Continue reading

Sounds of the Workshop: Aikuchi Tanto Urushi Lacquer

…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.

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.