This custom kotanto finds a balance between the humble satoyama style and a classical tanto with a striking combination of forged copper, natural orange hardwood, and black urushi lacquer. The blade began as a reclaimed harrow tooth and was hand forged in… Continue reading
Forging a custom forest kotanto in the swordsmith forge. The starting material was a harrow tooth, the finished blade is hirazukuri, mitsu mune, 140mm / 5.5″ nagasa, with a sturdy 6.5mm motokasane. The finish will be tsuchime (hammer texture) so there was no filing or polishing before yaki-ire, which was done at my forge for the dim and consistent light conditions.
Traditional Japanese swordsmithing hammers have rectangular eyes with no taper. The handles are not wedged but are held in place by a compression fit involving careful shaping, hand forged wood, and soaking in water. The wood is shaped a mm or two… Continue reading
A Japanese swordsmith style anvil made from junkyard scrap. The two side pieces are cast steel or iron John Deere 8255C rear counterweights from a shovel dozer. They weigh about 200-240lbs each and measure about 2 1/8″ x 14 3/4″ x 25″. There is a ‘T’ shaped face and stem that extends to the ground between the plates made from welded spring or tool steel and weighs about 70lbs.
The face is about 1 3/8″ x 6″ x 15 1/4″ and has a pritchel hole in it and a sharp edge for cutting on one corner. The combined weight of the plates bolted onto the face and stem should be between 475 and 520lbs. The finished anvil should sit 7-7.5 sun from the ground or from the seat height. See the whole forge building process here.
Most of history was forged with steel that had no designated number or specified ingredient list. Historical smiths would interpret the quality and properties of steel based solely on careful observation and simple testing procedures. To this day, Japanese swordsmiths work exclusively… Continue reading
The wider profile of the mountain style kotanto is inspired by a kamakura sword and has a more deeply curved tip (fukura-tsuku) and shorter drop point. The simple and humble mounting style is inspired by the age-old style of farming and foresting… Continue reading
A clay tempered blade hand forged in a charcoal fire, water quenched with clay, sharpened with waterstones, and finished simply and humbly in the age-old style of farming and foresting tools traditionally used in managing satoyama lands. Satoyama are the managed forest… Continue reading
The tools are simple and few, but the work is long and hard. A collection of clips documenting the steps and sounds involved at many stages of the process of crafting charcoal forged classical tanto and mountings from reclaimed materials. Footage from several recent projects is included, some extended and some previously unreleased, some from Japan and some from Canada, photos of the finished aikuchi tanto appears at the end of the video.
Touzai (東西) can be literally translated “East West” and carries the idea of spanning across distance or covering and including everywhere. There is also a saying, “kokontouzai” (古今東西) which means for all time and all places, literally “old, now, East, West”. This… Continue reading
Guards for classical Japanese style takedown knives are generally formed as variations of flat discs that slide over the tang. When working with wrought iron or steel, small copper inserts called sekigane (責金) are often used to prevent contact between the blade… Continue reading
A pair of outdoor knives forged from a single reclaimed hedge shear blade and finished simply and humbly in the age-old style of farming and foresting tools traditionally used in managing satoyama lands. Satoyama are the managed forest areas that border the… Continue reading