Nagatsuki (長月, pronounced “nah-gah-tsoo-key”) translates literally as “long moon”. In the ancient calendar it is a poetic name for the time around late September, possibly abbreviated from yonagatsuki meaning “night of the long moon”, or “month of the long night” depending on… Continue reading
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 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
Furusato (故郷, pronounced “foo-roo-sah-toe”) 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… Continue reading
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
The inome (pronounced “ee-no-may”, 猪の目, eye of the boar) name comes from the pierced heart-shape designs of the decorative o-seppa (washers) on either side of the tsuba (handguard). This lovely motif is ubiquitous in Japan, seen often in architecture, furniture, and sword… Continue reading
One of the most common mistakes when attempting to recreate a Japanese classical style tanto is to caricature or over exaggerate certain design elements while entirely missing others. The Japanese aesthetic is subtle and nuanced, millimeter differences can make or break the… Continue reading
This blade began as a segment of reclaimed horse-drawn carriage spring and was hand forged in a charcoal fire, smoothed with files and a sen scraper, hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with natural Japanese water stones. Crafted… Continue reading
In a forge on Vancouver Island, reclaimed steel is turned into tanto.
Directed, Photographed, and Edited by Trevor Komori
Location Sound: Sean Brouwer
B Camera Operator: Liam Leyland
Music Composed by Kurtis So
Production Assistants: Vivian Hu & Judy Zheng
still images | behind the scenes | making this tanto | view on youtube
Simple technology for pouring water on the anvil, takeno mizusashi (竹の水差し) made from a piece of bamboo.
Forging with a thin film of water on the anvil and hammer prevents forge scale or oxide from being hammered into the surface of the steel. The hot steel instantly vaporizes the water and the resulting steam explosion blows the scale off of the work, keeping it clean as it is worked. This type of bamboo scoop is a traditional style tool for evenly applying water to the surface of the anvil or the hot steel. Read more about the process of making one.
Arashiage is the stage of rough shaping following hizukuri (forging) and in preparation for yaki-ire (hardening). Earlier posts have described tanto kata and the geometry of the tang, machi, blade, and kissaki. Familiarity with these geometry points is a prerequisite to success… Continue reading
Sunnobi tanto are larger than ordinary tanto (nagasa above 1 shaku) and may have sori similar to ko-wakizashi. Read more about the process of yaki-ire.
1. Using approximately a 1:1:1 mixture of natural clay, polishing stone powder and ground charcoal to mask the back of a hand forged blade about 1-1.5mm thick to slow down the cooling rate.
2. Brushing on a thin slip layer with extra charcoal added along the exposed edge to speed up the cooling rate and protect from carbon loss.
3. Carefully heating in a charcoal forge supplied by air from a fuigo box bellows until the edge reaches critical temperature.
4. Plunging edge-first into cold rainwater to cool the blade quickly and harden the edge while leaving the rest tough and resilient.
5. Testing for successful hardening with a file and then removing the clay with a mild steel scraper.
6. Slightly reheating the blade over the flames to temper the edge.
7. Test polishing on a coarse Japanese waterstone to check the hamon.