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Everything posted by DaveJ

  1. Touzai Tanto 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 project began with the concept of ideas from different times and places coming together in a specific way. Though this piece is a classical tanto in most respects, there are some elements that reflect a more antique western aesthetic. The seed that began this project was the question of what would result if a historic
  2. Assembling the Touzai Tanto The natural Japanese waterstones used for the final polishing stages reveal some interesting details of the hamon that were hidden before. The completed tanto blade and fusion koshirae ready for assembly. Century-old spring steel, wrought iron from the sea, reclaimed copper bus bar, lightning rod, and waterpipe, Sapele, Nootka Cypress, leather, bamboo, tea leaves, natural urushi lacquer, and rice glue. Specifications 長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 7 sun 7 bu 6 rin (235mm) 元幅 Motohaba: 8 bu 6 rin (26mm) 重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu 5 rin (7.75mm) 反り
  3. Urushi The scabbard is coated with a wiped-on layer of raw urushi lacquer and allowed to cure. Then a leather wrapping is attached with nori-urushi, a mixture of urushi and sokui. Nori urushi is used to attach the kojiri to the tip of the scabbard and allowed to cure for several days. The saya is coated with a layer of urushi and dried tea leaf powder (from reclaimed tea bags) is sprinkled on while wet to create a texture base. When cured, the tea is saturated with urushi and allowed to cure for several more days, creating small lacquer mountain peak
  4. Carving the Saya The inside of both halves of the scabbard is carved to fit the blade and snugly secure the habaki. The two halves are joined with sokui, rice paste glue and tightly wrapped and wedged until dry. The koiguchi is fit in alignment with the fuchi and then the block squared down to final dimensions with a hand plane. The rest of the scabbard is shaped with chisels and planes. As a compliment to the ring-style kurikata built into the koiguchi, an inset area is carved where the sash or belt can rest.
  5. Carving the Tsuka Two Sapele hardwood halves are carved to fit the tang and then joined together with nori-urushi, a mixture of natural lacquer and rice paste glue. When cured, the outside of the handle is carved to shape, beginning with the fitting of the fuchi. When the final shaping is complete, the tsuka is coated with several thin layers of natural lacquer. The fukiurushi technique seals and protects the wood while highlighting the grain and imparting a rich, warm glow.
  6. Shaping the Kojiri Copper water pipe is annealed, split, flattened, cut and bent in a wooden form. Curved are laid out using antique springs and the copper is cut with shears and filed clean. As each section is finished it is bent closer to final shape. After a final annealing, it is soft enough to be fit carefully to the tip of the carved wooden scabbard. All of the copper fittings are given a patina in a simmering bath of copper salts.
  7. Finishing the Tsuba The excess iron is cut away using a hack saw. Note that this is not a common historical pattern tanto tsuba but a fusion style piece with western proportions. Filing the edges prepares the piece for finishing. Note that to employ the benefits of yakite/yakinamashi on the rim and expose tekkotsu (iron bones), the shape should be cut and filed before filing in the notches for sekigane. Soaking for several hours in a vinegar and water solution dissolves the scale and surface slag, highlighting the organic wood grain structure of the metal. Note
  8. Making the Sekigane When working with wrought iron or steel guards for Japanese style takedown knives, small copper inserts called sekigane are often used to prevent contact between the tang/blade and the tsuba. After yakite/yakinamashi, the notches are filed and then chamfered for the sekigane. Reclaimed copper lightning rod is cut to length for the plugs, estimating the approximate volume required for each. The thick wire is cold forged into rectangular billets that just fit into the notches, and then tapped into place. Very thin needle-nosed pliers are
  9. Forging the Tsuba Forging a sea-salvaged rod into a tsuba blank to accommodate the size of the soapstone pattern. Note the visible temperature difference along one edge that indicates a split has partially separated a strip. Drilling, cold chiseling, and filing to open the nakago-ana slightly larger than the tang. Filing to check the flatness and inspect the surface. Next the surface is oxidized using high heat and an oxygen-rich charcoal forge blast, periodically dipping quickly into water and wire brushing the surface. This weathering process is known as yaki
  10. Fuchi, Koiguchi, & Seppa A small slice of thick-walled ~1" diameter copper bus bar forms the sleeve of the fuchi. A large copper washer forms the face of the fuchi. After several rounds of hot and cold forging, the two begin to resemble their final forms. Careful filing creates the proper nakago-ana shape and fits the two tightly together. Oxidized steel wire holds the assembly together for soldering in the forge. The kouguchi is forged to match the fuchi. The outside profile will be filed and polished to refine the shape. A
  11. Forging the Habaki Reclaimed copper bus bar is forged into a tapered jacket that fits snugly around the tang. The jacket is shaped roughly and then a small copper wedge called machigane is inserted for soldering. A reducing atmosphere softwood charcoal oven is built and the copper heated carefully until the solder flows. The piece is removed immediately and allowed to cool slowly. In addition to forming a stand while in the forge, the rusty iron wire provides tension while heating but doesn't stick to the solder.
  12. Forging the Blade Chisel-cutting the bolt and separating the century-old shear steel leaf springs from a horse-drawn carriage. Hot-cutting the end off the bar to create the tip of the sunobe. This technique ensures the grain of the steel layers flows along the edge of the tip. Note the future cutting edge is facing downward in the photo. Forging is finished. The only tool used to shape the blade to this point is the hammer. Clamped in a sen-dai, a sen scraper and files are used to remove the forged surface and clean up the shape. The blade is coated with a thick and thin layer o
  13. The seed that began this project was the question of what would result if a historical Japanese knife maker working at a time when exposure to the west was very limited was asked to create a western style knife based only on a description. The resulting piece retains the lines and techniques that would have been familiar to the maker, but incorporates the most obvious elements of the foreign style which would have been transmitted in that description. The wide guard and hardwood handle would have been immediately recognizable to a western traveler, but the construction of the scabbard and
  14. thanks, @wesley (rougemont), the mune is changing as a function of the distal taper, i like to keep the bottom of the mune in mind (where it touches the bevel) and shape the peak to it, the subtle difference in the turn down at the tip makes a pleasing line and visual "feel" to a blade... @jan, yes, i do agree that it has a very scandinavian feel, with only a few modifications to the tanto parameters...the two are a very compatible crossover/fusion area, perhaps related to the common traits of good and simple design principles found in both places... thanks, @wes, lots to learn but gla
  15. the self-portrait is great, it reminds me of an old ink and brush style painting...
  16. nice work jake! ...preserving history the way it should have been (and will be someday) ^__^
  17. @jan... yes, apprenticeship is so much about the relationship aspect, everything else flows from that...developing one's self/character and learning to be healthy and relational are important ways of preparing for the best case scenario there (and for life in general too!) there are strong limitations to making swords in japan, only those with licenses are allowed by law to do so (owning or making blades of any significant length is very strictly controlled in japan)...there are also rules as to the method, materials, and even the number of blades a smith may produce in a month...bey
  18. Final Assembly When all of the components are complete, the blade is given a final polish using progressively finer natural waterstones and finishing with fingerstones to bring out the character and detail of the steel. A natural waterstone polished hamon is subtle but can be seen clearly at a certain angle of light. There is also some evidence of the shear steel hada on the surface of the blade. See the full specs and more finished photos: Available Work: Fusion Style Kotanto View the full article on the making process: Case Study: Making an Outdoor Knife Yoroshiku!
  19. Making the Guard The guard is forged and then drilled and chiseled to create the opening. The opening is carefully enlarged and shaped to fit the blade, and the back is flattened on a diamond stone. Once the handle block is ready for shaping, it will be sawed and filed to an oval profile. Carving the Handle The Wenge accent is drilled with a kiri and carefully carved and filed to fit tightly to the tang and flush with the back of the guard. This greatly increases the complexity of carving and fitting and is not recommended on a first attempt. A block of Sapele is sawn in half
  20. Hizukuri: Forging the Blade The raw material for this blade comes from a reclaimed shear steel leaf spring taken from a horse-drawn carriage and estimated to be a century and a half old. The steel is forged into a rectangular bar called sunobe. The sunobe determines the volume of steel allocated to the blade and tang and largely the final dimensions. The tip is cut at a 45 degree angle and filed smooth to prevent cold shuts. Note that the edge is facing up in this photo. The tip is then forged to the opposite position, running the layers of the steel along the edge. Note that the edge
  21. It has been awhile since I had photo documentation of a whole knife from start to finish, so I wrote this freshly minted minimalist kotanto project up as an exploration of implementing nihonto geometry and construction into a fusion style edc/outdoor knife. "The Japanese swordsmithing tradition has been in place for generations and many of the design elements have been tested and refined for centuries. With careful study and practice, this can be a solid foundation for today's bladesmiths and knifemakers to build their work upon." Here is where we are headed... ...hang on!
  22. great finish, that is a lovely piece of samegawa!
  23. very much appreciated, all...i added a photo above with the reversible Walnut and Sapele scabbard... @Wes, the bevel took a long while on the stones to get that flat...the ura side is forged hollow so i held the spine off the edge of the stone and did all the polishing along the blade edge. @Jan, that looks like a lovely book, if we were nearer i would stop in and check it out!
  24. nice combination of materials! ...time to update your blog now! ^__^
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