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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/
Someone gave me a couple of nice old lawn mower blades...nice because they are from a ride-on and are a little thicker, old because they are stamped,"made in USA"...I figured half of one looked quite a bit like the nata I often use for yard and forest work when visiting family in Japan. Nata come in various sizes and shapes, but most fit the description of a light brush hatchet or heavy camp knife. Common characteristics include thick spines and heavy blades, often with single beveled edges similar to Japanese wood chisels. This type work well for medium duty camp tasks, carving hatchet work, roughing and shaping, green wood work, and bamboo splitting. Similar to boat builders or timber framers slicks, they can make controlled straight slices due to their mass and chisel-like bevel. Another common variation has double sided bevels, cord wrapped integral handles, and curved or hooked blades for working in the rice fields. Most nata are permanently mounted to a hardwood handle because it is faster and easier for production. However, this piece has been assembled in the takedown style using elements of nihonto handle engineering and features swordsmith style hon-yaki edge hardening rather than a thin steel edge laminated to an iron body. Forged from half of an old lawn mower blade, nothing was wasted as the full volume of steel was reshaped into the nata blade. The ura (back side of the blade, in this case towards a right-handed users left side) has a slightly (~1mm) concave shape forged into it for the purpose of flat sharpening, and the omote (front side, to the right of the user) bevel was forged in roughly and filed clean before hardening. The ferrule tapers slightly outwards as the tang tapers slightly inwards. This allows for a snug fit of both parts to each other and to the wood. Getting close to a final fit! Because of the rectangular cross section and flat sides of the tang, all of the carving can be done on one side. The benefit of this method is that the stress will not be on the joint, but fully contained in one of the halves of the wood block. The handle is sapele wood, finished with fukiurushi, a technique of wiping on thin layers of natural urushi lacquer to fill the grain and bring out a rich, intense colour...similar to some types of tansu furniture made with keyaki (zelkova). more info on making a nata: islandblacksmith.ca/2015/06/making-a-hon-yaki-nata/