Yoroidoshi Forest Kotanto

The core of this project is a charcoal-forged blade, water quenched with clay and sharpened with waterstones, an outdoor style knife that has the foundation of the Japanese sword. The hamidashi mounting is in the rustic kura style and includes antique fittings from swords carried generations ago.

Satoyama are the managed forest areas that border the cultivated fields and the mountain wilds in Japan. Historically they provided soil nutrients, firewood, edible plants, mushrooms, fish, and game, and supported many local industries and crafts such as farming, timber construction, and charcoal making. The interaction of forest, arable land, wetlands, and streams are an important component of the satoyama landscape.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

The subtle and rustic appearance of hammer marks on the blade and hand-carved wooden scabbard finished with natural urushi lacquer made from tree sap and coloured with fine crimson lake pigment. A hand crafted tool for adventure that would be very much at home in the field, forest, or mountain landscape.

Forged from an antique rail coupler, the blade profile of the forest style kotanto is based on the tip of a classical yoroidoshi (armour piercing) tanto and has a takenoko shape with slight drop point, a very thick spine, and plenty of haniku. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

The tang is constructed in a similar manner to a Japanese sword requiring only a single bamboo peg to hold the knife assembly together. In addition to the sense of beautiful simplicity, this design allows the knife to be taken apart for cleaning, polishing, or major resharpening work.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

The handle and scabbard are carved from local nootka cypress and finished with natural unfiltered tree-source lacquer combined with ground crimson lake and built up in multiple layers to darken and deepen the surface. A brass antique Edo period sword guard with carved silver inlay is incorporated into the mounting of this knife. The repurposed polished lacquered samegawa (rayskin) handle and copper habaki (blade collar) are paired with a vintage showa seppa (blade washer) and a forged steel ferrule and koiguchi (scabbard mouth). The removable peg is carved from wenge wood, as is the kashira (pommel).

The blade is 5.25″ long with an overall length of just under 8.25″ and 11.25″ when sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is about 7.5mm thick.

Specifications

長さ/刃長 Nagasa (blade length): 134mm
重ね/元重 Motokasane (spine thickness): 7.5mm
元幅 Motohaba (blade width): 24mm
反り Sori (curve): uchizori (slight reverse)
中心/茎 Nakago (tang length): 75mm
柄長 Tsuka (handle length): 100mm
拵全長 Koshirae (overall): 287mm

形 Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi (tip pattern): maru
中心/茎 Nakago (tang): futsu, as-forged jiri, one mekugi-ana
銘 Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
拵 Koshirae (mounting): satoyama kura style hamidashi, issaku (sole authorship) plus 2 antique/vintage parts

Materials: 1912 rail steel, copper habaki, nootka cypress, vintage fittings, reclaimed steel, samegawa, wenge, natural urushi lacquer, crimson lake stone

This piece is available online.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.


Process

This blade was forged and underwent yaki-ire at the museum forge.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
This section of rail coupler has the date 1912 on it.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
A comparison of the coarse original internal grain (bottom) with the fine grain after careful forging (small scrap on top).
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The sunobe (rectangular blade preform) before beginning hizukuri to forge in the bevels.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
After the final heat for the forging stage the steel is heated evenly to normalize.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Hizukuri (forging the bevels) is complete, a small amount of filing around the edges cleans up the profile.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Draw filing cleans most of the scale off of the bevels.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Removing some of the fire scale using part of a repurposed natural stone wheel.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Applying the clay mixture which will slow the cooling rate of the main part of the blade.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Drying the clay mixture over the forge in preparation for yaki-ire.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Immediately after quenching, the edge is very hard but the rest of the blade remains tough.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The clay is removed from the blade and hardness checked.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
At a certain angle the hamon begins to show after polishing on a natural stone.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The harder hamon area of the blade begins to brighten on a natural water stone.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
A lovely suguha hamon line.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
A very sturdy yoroidoshi style spine.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
A look at the ura side.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
A reclaimed habaki from yoroidoshi tanto adjusted slightly to fit.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
(2015) Gluing the nootka cypress handle core together with sokui (rice paste glue).
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
(2015) Wrapping the strips of samegawa (ray skin) rawhide to dry in the shape of the handle.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
(2015) Ready to be glued on to the handle with sokui.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
(2015) After several layers of lacquer mixed with ground crimson lake stone, building up the surface before polishing flat.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
(2015) Carving the pommel from a scrap of reclaimed wenge wood.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Cutting reclaimed steel to forge into the ferrule and koiguchi (scabbard mouth).
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Forged and filed fitting.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Repurposed handle and fittings ready for assembly.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Carving the inside of the scabbard.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Adjusting the fit to the habaki.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Scabbard halves glued together with sokui (rice paste glue).
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Shaping the scabbard with regular handplane and small radiused mameganna plane.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Fitting the koigichi to the scabbard.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Fit and ready to adjust the final details of the scabbard surface.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Scabbard ready for several steps of lacquering with natural unfiltered tree-source urushi.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
One of the internal layers of urushi is combined with crimson lake ground stone pigment and shows through to the surface in a subtle worn negoro/tamenuri style.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Parts fine tuned, sharpened, and ready for assembly.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Comments are closed.