TLDW #27 – Forging a Saya Nomi (鞘鑿)

Saya-nomi (鞘鑿) are a type of Japanese chisel with several unique features designed for carving the inside of a wooden scabbard or handle. Hand forged from a reclaimed harrow tooth, the elongated neck is slightly curved for clearance and the bottom and side corners are slightly rounded and the tip is slightly bull-nosed to facilitate cutting inside a concave surface without leaving corner marks. A scrap of magnolia makes a clean, simple handle for use as a push chisel. more about the process of carving saya (scabbards)

TLDW #26 – Traditional Yaki-Ire, Hardening a Tanto

During the hardening process the clay layer causes a split second difference in cooling time which creates two different hardness areas in the same piece of steel. The edge cools faster and forms a very hard steel structure called martensite while the body cools slower and forms a very tough steel structure made of ferrite and pearlite. The boundary between these two areas is called hamon and is commonly seen as a frosted line down the length of a polished sword blade.
more about the process of yaki-ire

First Lighting of the Forge & Antique Habaki Utsushi (写)

First lighting of the newly rebuilt charcoal forge in the island kajiba followed by stamping the tang and then hand forging and filing a classical tanto style habaki, silver soldered in the charcoal forge and closely based on an antique Edo period habaki. An utsushi (写) is a closely based study of another work for the purposes of professional development. Polishing and patinating will be done after the saya has been carved. information about the machigane | habaki making process

SOTW #20 – Assembling the Furusato Tanto

This discarded block of wood from the Congo/Zaire sat for several years waiting for the right blade to make the best use of it. This precious dark chocolate coloured hardwood is locally called Tshikalakala or Dikela, meaning turn around or circle back, and this particular piece has a slightly curving grain that follows the line of the saya. The name Furusato (故郷) means home place or hometown and contains the ideas of being rooted or grounded wherever one may sojourn, and a confidence and longing for return. more about this project

TLDW #24 – Making an Ireko (nesting) Saya

An ireko saya (入れ子鞘, nesting scabbard) is a lining inside the saya which protects the blade from the hardwood. Furusato (故郷) means home place or hometown and contains the ideas of being rooted or grounded wherever one may sojourn, and a confidence and longing for return. This tanto has a simple and elegant form with a natural and humble mounting that reflects the rustic satoyama lifestyle and suits the aesthetics of the way of tea. more about this project

Precision cut tanto kata

A look at some precision cut steel tanto kata based on historical japanese swords from 1200s-1500s…order a set of kata here: soulsmithing.com/product-category/kata/

A kata is a pattern or form used for appreciation, study, or for reference. The exercise of accurately making kata based on the work of historical smiths is an excellent way to train the eyes, mind, and body to create proper tanto forms. Learn about making your own kata.

Installing the Higuchi (tuyere)

Installing/repairing the higuchi (tuyere), the point where the air enters the forge and temperatures are very high. In this case the fire clay to form the tuyere and fit it to the brick construction Japanese swordsmith forge is a traditional brasque recipe consisting of 6:2 charcoal powder/fines to natural clay, mixed with just enough water to stick together well. The forge must be allowed to dry fully before lighting or steam will crack the clay. see more of the island forge kajiba project

Repair broken Natural Waterstone with Urushi

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.

Building Simple Charcoal Forges

Building two examples of quick and simple sideblast charcoal forges with found and reclaimed materials to demonstrate that lack of equipment and materials should not be a major obstacle.

Ways to improve and expand on these concepts include: mixing copious amounts of chopped straw or charcoal powder (6:2) into the clay to make it refractory, using high temperature kiln bricks, making the walls higher and longer, using the clay to narrow the tuyere to about 1sun/3cm right where it enters at the bottom side of the forge, putting a barrier up to protect the fuigo (and allowing a shorter pipe), allowing the clay to dry before lighting the forge, etc.

Learn more about fuigo, a full traditional swordsmith forge build, or a smaller tanto forge design.