The geometry of a tanto blade is simpler to describe than the tang, though it has more subtleties and nuances. The three main characteristics I want to focus on are tip shape, spine thickness, and bevel geometry. While kata document the profile… Continue reading
The geometry of the nakago (tang) is very important as the assembly of the knife hinges on the correct form and construction of the tang. Viewed from the spine, the thickest part of the blade is at the machi (notches) and there… Continue reading
In a sentence, thermal cycling, or normalizing, is the metallurgical technique of reducing visible grain size by repeated cycling of steel from near its critical temperature to ambient temperature. Several years ago I wondered how traditional Japanese smiths were able to produce… Continue reading
1. Never pull or jerk the blade out with the power of your arms or you will lose control of the blade and possibly damage the saya (scabbard), yourself, or others. Use only small hand muscle movements to loosen it before drawing.
2. When unsheathing, make sure the edge is up, then pull just enough (a few mm) so that the habaki (blade collar) disengages its tight hold on the saya, then the blade may be easily and smoothly drawn, resting on the mune (spine) as it slides out.
3. One way to accomplish the initial part of the draw is to place a hand loosely on either side of the joint, topmost thumb knuckles together and then squeeze. The knuckles push against each other for only a short distance but it is enough to start the blade out in a controlled manner (this way is slightly more difficult and may take some practice)
4. Another method is to grasp the tsuka (handle) and saya tightly with a little space between your hands and then use your saya thumb or forefinger to push against the other hand or against the tsuba (handguard), if it has one, until the release.
5. To replace the blade in the saya, make sure the edge is up, rest the tip in the koiguchi (mouth of the scabbard), and slide it in smoothly, keeping the edge up and resting it on the mune (spine) until the habaki engages again.
**Do not force all the way closed if it is very tight due to climate or humidity, close until just tight enough to safely stay closed and monitor carefully as conditions change.
***Loose scabbards may be corrected using a small rectangle of washi paper attached with rice glue inside the scabbard where the spine of the habaki rests.
more knife use and care information
A kata is a pattern or form used for study or reference when creating an utsushi blade. 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… Continue reading
This is an experiment I did as part of a prototyping project, and was intended to satisfy my curiosity on the performance of sokui (続飯) or rice paste glue. The natural glue contains nothing but delicious Japanese rice and a little bit… Continue reading
A two day collaborative invitational metalworking event hosted by Red Cod Forge in Nanoose Bay. We had the privilege of being on the demonstrator’s list for the first annual M.I.A (Metal artists In Action) event hosted by Dave Kasprick of Red Cod… Continue reading
Watch video clips of making, repairing, sharpening, and forging. More to come! vimeo.com/islandblacksmith and more recent content here: youtube.com/user/CrossedHeartForge
Three reasons why *you* need a Japanese swordsmith’s hammer for forging knives. Size – the small face is better suited for working on a narrow target, keeping the hammer from hitting the anvil as the bevel gets thinner Weight – though the… Continue reading
Davej will be a guest presenter at PechaKucha Nishinomiya #16 on April 19, 2013.
A demonstration for a group of homeschool students and families at the Craig Heritage Park and Museum.
A collaborative instructional blade forging session with a Vancouver Island Blacksmith from Foggy Mountain Forge