The core of this project is a charcoal-forged blade, water quenched with clay and sharpened with waterstones, an small knife that has the foundation of the Japanese sword but is finished in the simple and humble style of farming and foresting tools of centuries 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.
Forged from a fairly old file that was made in Canada, the blade profile of this stream style kotanto is based on the tip of a classical yoroidoshi tanto with a thick spine and a slight drop point. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard in order to hold a keen edge. The handle was made from a small scrap of antique hockey stick which appears to be constructed with vertically laminated Maple held together with hide glue. The shirasaya (storage scabbard) is carved from Magnolia and shows a slight live edge, both have been coated with 100% natural tung oil. The removable peg is carved from susudake, a piece of bamboo that served for a century or more as part of the ceiling or roof in a kominka, darkened and hardened by decades of smoke wafting up from the irori hearth.
The tang is constructed in a similar manner to a Japanese sword requiring only a single hardwood 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, oiling, detailed cutting tasks, or sharpening work.
The blade is just under 3.5″ long with an overall length of just over 7″, and just under 8″ sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is about 5mm thick.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa (blade length): 88mm
重ね/元重 Motokasane (spine thickness): 5mm
元幅 Motohaba (blade width): 21mm
反り Sori (curve): muzori (straight) with slight drop point
中心/茎 Nakago (tang length): 80mm
柄長 Tsuka (handle length): 92mm
拵全長 Koshirae (overall): 202mm
形 Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon (edge pattern): rising suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi (tip pattern): yakitsume
中心/茎 Nakago (tang): futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana
銘 Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
拵 Koshirae (mounting): shirasaya, issaku (sole authorship)
Materials: reclaimed file steel, antique hockey stick wood, Magnolia, susudake bamboo
This piece is in a private collection in Australia.
This blade was forged from a piece of an old file as part of a demonstration at the museum forge.