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Everything posted by DaveJ

  1. @Matt, one of the best things you can do to prep yourself is to immerse your eyes in examples of antique swords...the subtle details and proportions can make or break the Japanese aesthetic and the old stuff provides a stable foundation of a thousand years of research and design to build upon...i've got lots to learn yet too...
  2. Tsukamaki (handle wrapping) There are generally two components to wrapping a handle, the first being the shikagawa (rawhide) or samegawa (ray skin) layer which adds incredible stiffness and resilience to the tsuka, and the second an optional leather or cord wrapping to add padding, grip, and compression to the tsuka. When possible, the shikagawa or samegawa will fit part way under the fuchi for extra strength and integrity, but in this case stops at the boundary of the leather wrap to allow the rolled leather to sit in the groove. The style of wrapping is called gangi maki, a spiral of le
  3. Tsuka (handle core) Once everything between the habaki and the handle is at finished thickness, the wood core can be made. Tsuka are split and carved to fit precisely around the nakago and then glued back together with sokui (rice paste glue). Then the outside is carved, taking into account the size of the fittings and the thickness of the wrappings. This one is made from a scrap of Yellow Cedar. Bound with leather and wedged overnight to dry. The leather gives a nice even pressure even when the starting block is not square and true. Fit on the tang, the fuchi is used as a
  4. Seppa (spacers) There will be two brass seppa on this mount, one on each side of the tsuba. The final fit to the tang is achieved by using a punch to push out four lobes of metal in the four corners and then filing to adjust slightly. The seppa are cold chiseled and then filed from a sheet of brass reclaimed from a door push plate. Cut with shears, nakago-ana chiseled out, filed to shape. Note the shape of the nakago ana before fitting. The seppa after fitting. They will be given a final polish (around their rims and the front of the one next to the habaki) at the time of
  5. Tsuba (handguard) Tsuba for tanto are usually either non-existant or are very small. This leaves little room for embellishment so the focus is often on the rim, or the material itself. This tsuba is made from wrought iron, an old form of bloomery iron produced up until about a hundred years ago, and will feature only the character of the iron itself. This is a small scrap off the end of a timber bridge spike that came from the forest. You can often spot wrought iron in the wild as it will rust into a wood grain like pattern, whereas modern steel rusts into a moon-crater like pitted surfac
  6. how is this coming along? interesting idea with the brass wire! glad you went for hira-zukuri (single bevel), its pretty standard for tanto and a very clean look for a small blade...
  7. Fuchi (ferrule) This fuchi is made mainly from steel harvested from the Model T fender bracket. Its construction is similar to the Higo style in that the copper tenjo gane is forged in physically rather than soldered to the sleeve. The band was created by forging an existing screw hole in the bracket to stretch it to the size of the handle-to-be. Raw material: Another bracket from the Model T fender from the forest. The last screw hole is cut off with a cold chisel, this little bit will become the sleeve around the handle, can you see it in there already? Second round of forging, using
  8. Kashira (pommel) This kashira was made from steel harvested from a Model T fender bracket. Because of the type of wrapping that will be used for the handle, it is held in place by a combination of kusune (pine resin glue) and steel clips rather than by ito wrapped through shitodome ana. Raw material: the bracket from a Model T (as far as i can tell) rear fender that I found in the forest last year. Cut off with a cold chisel. Hot chiseled to a rough oval shape and hot punched through a ring to start the rounding process. I reshaped an old claw hammer face into a pu
  9. Its been awhile so its time to pull back the curtain again...i am adding these photos to the "process" section of my website as well... The blade in question is the last of my "new old stock" from a couple of years back, forged at an outdoor demo, originally as a scaled down piece but I decided to mount it as a regular kotanto. Unusual geometry for tanto, shobu-zukuri is generally reserved for larger blades but it seemed to be where the steel wanted to go. This thread will document the mounting, working from the habaki, then back through fuchi/kashira/tsuba/seppa/tsuka/gangimaki, etc...I wil
  10. thanks, all...much appreciated! @Rob, keep us posted!
  11. mmm...sounds like a box for your edge...useful if it snaps off during yaki-ire i suppose (^__~) i think the technical and mental processes involved and the approach you decided to take with this project has well prepared your frame of mind for patrick's class...ganbatte! i gotta get caught up with you now on my wip!
  12. stand is cool, a great journey, keep up the rad! yes, being able to assemble and disassemble makes it more than just fun to look at!
  13. don't start with the big and dear ones! you will likely lose a few blades learning this...even once you are experienced it is normal to lose one out of every four or five large blades...(this is a big reason most people choose to use oil for quenching)... one thing i have noticed with modern steels as opposed to traditional steels created from tamahagane is that they are quite a bit deeper hardening (manganese) and the clay must be much closer to the edge than it would for a traditional steel...if the ha is too wide, there is more chance of stress pulling apart the edge, as well as the fac
  14. another name for kaiken (懐剣 katakana: かいけん) is also known as futokoro katana, futokoro means something like "tucked in your clothes" and this is the samurai equivalent of a pocket knife or a hidden knife not usually meant to be carried through the obi (sash) as other nihonto people sometimes confuse aikuchi and kaiken, aikuchi is still a full sized tanto and may have elaborate mounting, menuki, tsukamaki, etc, just no tsuba (ai kuchi = "meeting mouth" because the koiguchi is next to the tsuka)...whereas kaiken are additionally very simple or unadorned, and usually have no kurikata, menuki, o
  15. mune split meaning there was pressure from the sides of the habaki? yes, i have had similar chunks of things do that...purpleheart was the one that gave me trouble... if you still want to use the ebony, you could cross glue two thinner slices so you have strength both ways...the hemp and sokui/urushi will definitely strengthen it but unless you are filling and laquering over it, you will get a look more like a japanese outdoor knife than nihonto...i still think you would be fine with just the osage orange if you play with the fit...
  16. you should not have fracturing issues if the fit is right, most shirasaya are solid honoki, nothing else...reinforcement is important for larger blades, especially for iado/iaito as there will be continuous strain on that area, more so for beginners... pressure should be as the last third/fourth of the habaki pushes in, and not so much that it is a chore to open, just enough that it will never work loose on its own...mainly the mune should be where the pressure is coming from, the sides are just snug without pressure. got a photo so we can see which way the damage occurred? can it still b
  17. yep, would be very interested in some native copper, or even some smaller pieces for smelting into shibuichi or shakudo...will send you an email...we apparently have a lot of metals out here, even the precious sort but i've yet to stumble across any...need to hike more streams i guess! with a kitchen knife ferrule, there is lots of wood left and the horn is thin, but for koiguchi the horn would need to fit quite accurately as any pressure would cause trouble for the habaki fit by compressing the thin wood left around the kuchi...so maybe a hot fit is not so useful in this case...nice, surface
  18. John Tirado's site is hard to access at the moment, but here are a few of the links to his photo essays and articles, it's nice to "watch" him work with traditional tools and methods... project index: http://www.sayashi.com/main%20pages/projects.htm shirasaya: http://sayashi.com/project pages/shirasaya.htm copper koiguchi: http://www.sayashi.com/project pages/koiguchi.htm tanto koshirae: http://www.sayashi.com/project pages/koshirae_saya1.htm ireko saya: http://www.sayashi.com/project pages/ireko_saya.htm reinforced saya: http://www.sayashi.com/images/project images/iaido saya/iaito_saya.h
  19. yes, kitchen knives are pretty quick because they are round...and then the horn is heated in almost boiling water to allow it to flex and fit quite snugly... that's some careful cutting, i have seen it done with a saw and chisels...on smaller and price limited pieces where i am using a modern glue i have put the slab on with little worry of strength issues... here are a couple of great walk throughs from tirado~san, you can see the use of a fine saw to cut the depth for the koiguchi horn/copper ferrule... shirasaya: http://sayashi.com/project%20pages/shirasaya.htm tsuka: http://www.
  20. yep, i would always drill with the nakago outside of the tsuka for sure...generally the nakago in advance of the tsuka, but you could reverse it by drilling the tsuka, then marking the nakago and removing it to drill...first way is the way it is done most of the time (think of all the shirasaya and koshirae that are made for blades already finished and mounted long ago...) ...some useful information on that page.
  21. one of the cool things about bamboo is that it has such flexibility and strength at the individual fiber level that it will often keep the blade in the tsuka even if it is broken...ebony is a bit brittle as far as hardwoods go, but i see no problem with it or other hardwoods on smaller tanto, especially if your fit and tang geometry are good...horn is often used in place of bamboo on tanto as well...it will be a lovely accent... another option, if you are adept at wood trickiness or want to add some more challenge to the project, would be to use the ebony to make a nice contrasting rectangle/
  22. @joe pierre, your eye for detail and willingness to study and learn will serve you well in this pursuit! @Scott A. Roush yes, lots of tweaking and adjusting as you pull everything together, you will find places that are good to leave overages and then remove bit by bit in the adjustment stages...you are already far more on track than i was for my first traditional build...first was many years ago (no photos, trying to track down the owner), second is here, so much improvement between the two and even more since then! _______ i only study and make tanto for the most part, so what i
  23. right on, good attitude! you've got a long long line of smiths and craftsmen standing behind you now!
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