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Found 5 results

  1. Back to some projects that were on pause for a few months while I relocated my workshop...here's the first: The inome (pronounced “ee-no-may”, 猪の目, eye of the boar) name comes from the pierced heart-shape designs on 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 mountings. In this context, the inome symbol conveys the idea of the always forward-moving wild boar of Japan’s forests and mountains, never giving up or retreating. This tanto was forged from an antique horse-drawn carriage spring in 2016, was used at several demos as an example of the forged surface as it comes out of the fire, made a cameo in a short film in 2017 as one of the filing stages, was finished with geometry inspired by a visit to Japan in 2018, and is the first of my blades to incorporate antique sword parts in its mounting. Here's where we are headed... Materials for the chisagatana style koshirae mounting include Japanese hounoki wood for the handle and scabbard, copper bus bar for the habaki, reclaimed brass doorplate for a seppa, buffalo horn for the mekugi and kurikata, and an iron spike salvaged from thirty feet under the Pacific for the tsuba. The centerpiece of the mounting comes from an outdoor antique market in Kyoto, a gold-accented Edo-era fuchi made from nanako-ji (魚子地, fish roe) textured shakudo (a traditional alloy of gold, silver, and copper). The tsuba sits between two Showa-era zouheitou (officer’s sword) o-seppa with pierced inome (猪の目, eye of the boar) motifs. The saya is finished in black sabi-nuri (rust texture) style ishime-ji (stone surface) made from natural source urushi lacquer and ground tea leaves, and the koiguchi band is also antique. The blade is 8.75″ long, overall length is just under 13.5″, and the overall length of the koshirae is just over 15″. Specifications 長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 7 sun 3 bu 5 rin (222mm) 元幅 Motohaba: 9 bu (27mm) 重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu 3 rin (7mm) 反り Sori: uchizori 中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 6 bu (109mm) 柄長 Tsuka: 3 sun 2 bu 5 rin (98mm) 拵全長 Koshirae: 12 sun 6 bu (382mm) 形 Katachi: hira-zukuri, iori-mune 刃文 Hamon: suguha, with ubuha 帽子/鋩子 Boshi: ko-maru 中心/茎 Nakago: futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana, signed near the tip 銘 Mei: hot stamped katabami-ken kamon 拵 Koshirae: chisagatana, issaku (with the addition of four antique parts) Material: Reclaimed carriage spring steel, Edo-period gold and shakudo nanako fuchi, antique brass koiguchi and Showa-era zouheitou o-seppa, ocean-salvaged iron spike, copper bus bar, brass doorplate, buffalo horn, Hounoki, leather, natural urushi and tea leaves ...and here's where we started... Forged to within ~1mm of the final shape (including bevels) and filed only around the profile. This tanto was used at several demos as an example of the surface as it comes out of the fire. Using water on the anvil during the final stages of forging keeps the surface clean and smooth. Smoothing the surface with sen (scraper), files, and draw-filing in preparation for application of clay for yaki-ire. Habaki forged to shape, fire soldered, fit and cold hardened by hammering, and finished using hand files. ...on to the koshirae (mounting) next... A custom made tang shaped punch is used to create the opening in the iron tsuba and it is shaped, textured, and rust patinated before carefully hammering in copper sekigane (責金) to protect the blade. The rust patina is polished using an antler tip, boiled in water to convert red iron oxide to stable black iron oxide, then given a thin layer of natural fukiurushi lacquer and baked to cure. The weathering process used during forging, called yakite or yakinamashi, involves oxidizing the surface using high heat and an oxygen-rich charcoal forge blast, periodically dipping quickly into water and wire brushing to reveal naturally occurring hard and soft areas of the iron. The exposed high areas of harder iron that remain after wear and weathering are known as tekkotsu (鉄骨, iron bones) and compliment the hammer textured (槌目地, tsuchimei-ji) surface. The habaki is patinated using a blend of copper salts similar to rokusho. When just the right shade is reached, old and newly crafted parts begin to work together as a team. After carving, the leather wrapping is secured to the tsuka using nori-urushi, a mixture of natural urushi lacquer and sokui (rice paste glue). The wrapping is fit between an Edo-period fuchi in shakudo and gold and a newly carved and lacquered horn kashira. The horn kashira has a tenon made from horn that fits into the wood core of the tsuka and is attached with sokui. After carving the inside to fit the blade the halves are rejoined with sokui and the scabbard is shaped with kanna and smoothed with fine rasps. An antique koiguchi band is fit while carefully preserving the natural patina of the centuries. A horn kurikata is shaped and fit to the saya using a carved sliding dovetail. The joint between the halves is reinforced with washi paper and sokui along both sides. The first layer of natural fukiurushi seals the wood and prepares the surface for the following layers. A second layer is used to adhere finely screened ground tea leaves and allowed to cure. A third layer saturates and seals the tea and is filed down to create the desired surface texture. After wiping clean (shown above), the rough filed lacquer with tea showing through the surface resembles a true sabi-nuri (rusted steel surface), similar to an old cast iron tetsubin tea kettle. A fourth and final layer of very thin black urushi is wiped over to seal and darken the surface. The black fukiurushi highlights the combination of smooth peaks and pitted valleys and turns the look to ishime-ji (stone surface). A look at all the koshirae parts before assembly (with the exception of the kashira already glued in place). Once all the parts are made and fitted the blade can be taken through the final polishing stages using Japanese waterstones. Several fine natural stones make up the last steps, right down to small fingertip-sized stone flakes with washi paper lacquered to the back for strength. ...on to assembly next...
  2. A true and accurate understanding of the past is an important step towards a good future. 温故知新 (on ko chi shin) is an expression that most directly translates to, "study the old to know the new". This blade began as a reclaimed piece of a damaged antique sword and was carefully hand forged in a charcoal fire, smoothed with files and a sen scraper, differentially hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with natural Japanese water stones. Materials for the chisagatana style koshirae mounting include Japanese hounoki wood for the handle and scabbard, copper bus bar for the habaki, reclaimed brass from the original mount for the fuchi and kojiri, forged brass kick plate for the kashira and seppa, black lacquered samegawa and kangaroo leather for the tsuka, lacquered steel for the mekugi, buffalo horn for the koiguchi and kurikata, and an iron spike salvaged from thirty feet under the Pacific for the tsuba. The saya is finished with ishime-ji (stone surface) made from natural urushi lacquer and tea leaves, the kurikata was carved from reclaimed horn button rescued from a vintage coat, and the sageo cord comes from an outdoor antique market in Kyoto. Specifications 長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 11 sun 3 bu (341mm) 元幅 Motohaba: 8 bu 5 rin (25.5mm) 重ね/元重 Motokasane: 1 bu 5 rin (4.2mm) 反り Sori: uchizori 中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 6 bu (109mm) 柄長 Tsuka: 4 sun 5 rin (123mm) 拵全長 Koshirae: 18 sun (545mm) 形 Katachi: hira-zukuri, iori-mune 刃文 Hamon: hoso suguha 帽子/鋩子 Boshi: yakitsume 中心/茎 Nakago: futsu, suriage, one mekugi-ana, mumei 銘 Mei: mumei 拵 Koshirae: chisagatana, issaku 3.03022 cm = 0.1 shaku(尺) = 1 sun(寸) = 10 bu(分) = 100 rin(厘) More photos and info: islandblacksmith.ca/2017/08/on-ko-chi-shin-tanto/
  3. Seeing as it has been awhile, here is a recent custom koshirae for a small antique tanto blade belonging to a client. Crimson lacquered samegawa handle, fukiurushi horn fittings, a silver mekugi, and polished black lacquer scabbard in a classical aikuchi style. Materials for the custom red and black aikuchi style koshirae mounting include lacquered samegawa over hounoki for the handle, a silver and copper mekugi, and lacquered buffalo horn fuchi, kashira, koiguchi, and kurikata. Overall length when sheathed is about 11.5″. Specifications 柄長 Tsuka: 3 sun 3 bu (100mm) 拵全長 Koshirae: 9 sun 6 bu (291mm) 拵 Koshirae: aikuchi, issaku Material: Hounoki, samegawa, reclaimed buffalo horn, reclaimed copper wire, silver, natural urushi
  4. The nightime viewing of cherry blossoms by moonlight is cherished for the unique perspective and focus it brings to the experience. The dark tones of the sky and the gentle light of the moon provide subtle variations in colour, texture, and detail that cannot be fully appreciated by day. This kotanto is made from reclaimed shear steel from a horse-drawn carriage leaf spring and is housed in a koshirae that is somewhat reserved in its combination of materials and colours, evoking the feeling of a familiar and treasured object. The raw material for this blade spent more than the last century as a leaf spring for a horse-drawn carriage. This "secret source" pile is located on a former homestead of a blacksmith so it has a high proportion of carbon steel, saved for its value and usefulness in making tools and implements. A comparison of the steel before and after forging, the area between the chalk lines was forged into the blade. The material to the left of the chalked area is rusted too thin to be forged, and the material to the right will become a larger tanto. There is a divot on the spring which can still be identified as a dark line in the tang just behind where the habaki sits. The clay mixture dried on the blade in preparation for traditional yaki-ire style hardening. The thicker white layer delays cooling and the thinner charcoal-rich layer speeds up cooling, causing the blade to form two types of steel crystal, harder for the edge and tougher for the rest of the blade. Immediately after hardening, the blade has been heated to critical temperature and then plunged into a hot water bath to cool. Once the clay is removed it will be tempered slightly to remove some of the stress along the edge.
  5. I don't often have enough footage to follow right on through, but this project gets close...there are a couple of exceptions, the main one being the blade forging which is actually footage of the sister blade, forged around the same time from the other half of the same spring, to a similar kata...others will be noted as i go...enjoy 100 some hours in 22 minutes ^__^ This style of koshirae is a first for me. Though there are examples of several variations right up through Edo and beyond, the lines on this one are inspired by a muromachi piece, the clean, austere "boldness with restraint" makes me think of a gentleman's tanto. Normally I would want to add a very slight bit of embellishment on the saya, but because of its next stop I left it unadorned for now. The blade is forged from a reclaimed horse-drawn carriage spring made from century-old shear steel. Materials for the koshirae include copper bus bar for the habaki, driftwood Nootka Cypress with natural urushi lacquer finish for the tsuka and saya, reclaimed Congolese silver jewelery for the mekugi pin, and local Oceanspray ironwood for the ki-fuchi, koiguchi, and kurikata accents. going from here: to here: Charcoal Making (may or may not be the actual charcoal used for this blade) Forging the Blade (the sister blade, forged just before this one, from the other half of the same shear steel leaf spring, full 28min. version is here: ) Yaki-ire (this is a montage of several blades, possibly including this one) Blade Overview (this is another montage, but starts with the sister blade--same spring, and shows more of the stages involved after forging) Koshirae (the real deal, starting from driftwood) Urushi (the real deal, with several repetitive stages omitted...apologies for the low lighting in some of the shots) The full photo essay with far more detail and info is here: islandblacksmith.ca/process/making-aikuchi-tanto-kuro-urushi-koshirae ...i don't have blade photos without reflection yet, "kimono fold" double mizukage, suguha hamon with small turnback, lots of blistery shear steel hada...(shown with tsunagi and ki-habaki)
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