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Scott A. Roush

small Moroha-Zukuri tanto design...

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As I've written elsewhere... I've been trying to get into the proper mind-set for an upcoming with Japanese metal work course (with Patrick Hastings at Ric Furrer's) so I've been playing with the idea of using sumi ink brush for design.   I have not yet done a traditional mounting of a Japanese style blade.. i.e. peg disassembly.    The blade was forged from Aldo 1075 with 15n20 core in san mai construction.  The mounting/saya will be osage orange with ebony spacer and ebony pin.   The habaki will be mokume-gane from nickel, copper and bronze that I plan to deeply etch for strong wood grain... but give dark brown patina across all the alloys. I'm hoping I can achieve this with the nickel in there.

 

So.. the challenges I'm anticipating will be the proper fitment of the blade into the saya via the habaki. Not to mention doing the fitment of the habaki to the blade.  It is nice that I have in my possession an actual Edo period habaki (along with the blade) to help with this.. but if anybody has any advice for this I would appreciate it!

 

1622784_645357995505625_1329241081_n.jpg

Edited by Scott A. Roush

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the fit of the habaki is just a matter of repeatedly hammering the soft metal (copper is what i use) until it is snug. it's the machigane part that is a p.i.t.a.

fitting the habaki inside the saya is a matter of careful carving with a good sharp curved arm chisel (aka saya nomi).

 

check out jesus hernandez's habaki tutorial on his site. pavel bolf also has excellent youtube videos on all of these topics (though they're not listed under his name). search "habaki component" and i think it will come up. both of those were extremely helpful in my efforts.

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I can't see the images.

hmmm... maybe my server was down for a second? They show up for me... ???

 

Here is the mokume I'm making for the habaki. I'm hoping for a uniform patina across both alloys. Seems like cold blue may work for this as it does darken the nickel.

 

1239363_645837442124347_308376093_n.jpg

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I made a few habaki last year. Most information I gleaned from watching Jesus' katana making video and additional research. Shameless plug though, I made a video making my last. Note that while my starting material was thick for my purposes, most advise using thicker material so bevels can be ground in and still have sufficient material. Don't mind the blade, it was not created with a traditional sense in mind at the time of creation. Watch in HD. EDIT: Forgot to mention that a few steps were not done traditionally. Did not have a jewelers saw at the time and had to improvise. It worked either way.

 

Edited by Daniel Cauble

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Thanks for posting this Daniel. I will be watching for sure. I have the mokume ready to shape into the habaki.. all the info I can get is appreciated!

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Weird. I can't see the pictures using Chrome but I can on IExplorer.

Looking forward to seeing the progress on this blade, Scott.

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Jesus, everboby is having trouble with chrome! If you are running XP you will have a problem!

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Huh. I've started using Chrome and things have never been smoother.

 

Anyway.. I have the blade almost ready for heat treat. I still need to finish shaping the nakago. And.. would file work be done on the nakago before or after heat treat?

 

Here it is right now. The lighting (to me) makes the blade look hollow ground. But it is not. Completely flat...

 

1013752_646279748746783_2014439206_n.jpg

 

I'm really enjoying this. It is so nice to start thinking of the entire blade, tang and all, as a stand-alone piece of art.

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Weird. I can't see the pictures using Chrome but I can on IExplorer.

Looking forward to seeing the progress on this blade, Scott.

Jesus.. do you have any recommendation for patinating the nickel/copper mokume? I want a fairly uniform dark brown across all the alloys. I don't want to see the color contrast.. only the texture contrast. From a very quick experiment.. it seems like regular old cold blue will work. But I haven't tried it for extended soaks and I haven't tried it on a highly polished surface. I've been finding that the degree of finish really effects the look of the patina.

Edited by Scott A. Roush

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it is very hard to find video of traditional habaki making, but mext has put out some snippets and even subtitled them for us...wish they were longer and documented every second of the process but there are some helpful hints here...

particularly of interest are how noguchi~san forges the taper on either side of the machi before bending, and the way she solders, heating from below, and that it is finished slightly undersize and then cold forged to its final size and resting place:


check the long, smooth chisel strokes ishizaki~san employs for saya making:


a playlist with more interesting snippets (links to the english subtitled versions are in the descriptions for each video):

 

 

 

...yasurime (filemarks) last, just before you sign then polish the blade...
(you may need to do some adjustment and shaping yet after heat treatment during the rough polish)

Edited by DaveJ

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Anyway.. I have the blade almost ready for heat treat. I still need to finish shaping the nakago. And.. would file work be done on the nakago before or after heat treat?

 

Here it is right now. The lighting (to me) makes the blade look hollow ground. But it is not. Completely flat...

 

in my limited experience yasurimei should be done last since you will be grinding down the edge after heat treat and you should be grinding the nakago along with the edge to maintain the same planes.

 

as an aside, i think it's also better luck to sign it after yaki-ire too, but i have noticed that with short pieces there seems to be more hardening in the nakago than before yaki-ire (which is perhaps not surprising), which makes this somewhat more difficult. i haven't quite found the right chisel yet for nakago mei.

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Thanks Dave... that is going to be very useful.

 

And Joe.. I guess that was what I was getting at.. wondering how much hardening I would get into the nakago for any chisel/file work.

 

I'm also experimenting with mei chisels. I have some blanks I bought from Patrick Hastings when I spent a couple of days with him last year. I just ground one down to an extremely fine katakiri and I'm liking it. But everytime I see Ford Hallam's signed tsubas I stare in envy at the mei (still called mei on tsuba?)

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so glad you will do a course with patrick, a great foundation from a craftsman who knows his business!

i guess there might be tang hardening issues with kiln heating, even if the clay fully coated the tang...but you can leave the tang out of the bath, or heat with a charcoal forge so you can control the heat in specific areas...

you can see a pretty good shot of the super obtuse angle of a mei-kiri chisel at the beginning of pierre's video, also note that the mei is cut with the chisel almost vertical, quite different from a katakiri or kebori chisel:

Edited by DaveJ

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This is great stuff guys! So glad I started this thread.

 

Well my last session with Patrick was only 2 days.. one-on-one.. but just a teaser. In April I will be taking his longer class at Ric's (Door Couny Forgeworks).

 

Another question.. What is considered a suitable polish done by the bladesmith before sending to a polisher? Or..maybe a better question would be... what would be considered a good finish .. that shows the hamon.. but is a suitable foundation for somebody to send to a professional polisher if they choose?

 

edit: just watched that video. wow.... yes. That is quite different! I just assumed that to get the nice flowing look to some of the beautiful mei that I've seen.. that they were done the same way as the art work in the engravings. Great.. this gives me something to play with...

Edited by Scott A. Roush

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Thanks Dave... that is going to be very useful.

 

And Joe.. I guess that was what I was getting at.. wondering how much hardening I would get into the nakago for any chisel/file work.

 

I'm also experimenting with mei chisels. I have some blanks I bought from Patrick Hastings when I spent a couple of days with him last year. I just ground one down to an extremely fine katakiri and I'm liking it. But everytime I see Ford Hallam's signed tsubas I stare in envy at the mei (still called mei on tsuba?)

 

none of the mild hardening has ever interfered with filing yasurimei. it seems like more of an issue with the signature. i suspect it is just an issue of the right tools.

 

i also have some fine tagane chisels that i picked up from a member here (saign c.) that work great for small mei such as what is used on tsuba, but they are too fine for the wider strokes that are used on nakago. i have tried a cold chisel from home depot that looks a lot like the one pierre nadeau uses in that video, but it doesn't seem to bite in so well on the nakago. maybe it isn't hard enough. i also need a better set up to clamp the blade down for more powerful hammer blows.

 

as for foundation polish, that depends on you and the polisher. some smiths are very good at foundation work even off the grinder (rick barrett comes to mind), which saves the polisher a lot of work (and saves the smith money). some other smiths require a lot of correction by the polisher to get the geometry set properly. the more you can do yourself, assuming you do it right, the less you have to pay the polisher. i have sent blades for polish in all different states of foundation -- it was just a matter of how much more work the polisher had to do and how much i had to pay.

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Thanks again Joe. I'm sure I will learn a little more about some of this in April in Patrick's course. Rick can get foundation polish off the grinder? What is he up to...

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Last May when I was in Japan, I was lucky enough to make a kogatana with a sword maker outside of Odawara. As a little keepsake he gave me a mei chisel that had fallen in the fire and lost it's temper. I attached some pictures but the business end is almost exactly the same as in the video posted above.

 

IMG_1751.JPG

 

IMG_1752.JPG

 

The angle of the chisel is about 60 degrees each side.

 

As in the video, always elevate the edge in the direction you want the chisel to go. So in the picture below, when the chisel is struck, it will not only make the mark on the steel but move a little to the right. The goal is to get the angle and hammer strike just right so that the chisel "walks" along the desired path.

 

IMG_1754.JPG

 

The result is more of a series of individual marks that blends into a continuous line. The mistake I made was trying to fix a line after it had been cut once, it doesn't work. Also, katakana is harder than kanji due to the more acute angles used.

 

IMG_1753.JPG

 

Anyway, that is my little experience with these chisels!

 

Jared

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@J Broddrick that's it! very nice shots...yes, the edge angle is very different than any standard chisel one might come across...

did you reharden and temper it?


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Thanks a ton J... very helpful. I made one similar today... as well as my saya chisels.

 

1012288_647311621976929_159588622_n.jpg

 

And... had good luck making the habaki. I still need to finish soldering as one side popped off. Might have to wait until I get some hard solder...

 

1546174_647311628643595_1991848262_n.jpg

 

75618_647311625310262_1561693662_n.jpg

 

I'm really excited about this. Everything feels so clean and tight.

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nice work on the saya nomi! yes, it is a good form to study and practice...1000 years of research and design is a good foundation! the blade is looking good.

 

too bad about the solder joint...was it during soldering, filing down, or final cold fitting? hard solder should help...maybe the malleability of nickle is affecting the way it cold forges too...

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nice work on the saya nomi! yes, it is a good form to study and practice...1000 years of research and design is a good foundation! the blade is looking good.

 

too bad about the solder joint...was it during soldering, filing down, or final cold fitting? hard solder should help...maybe the malleability of nickle is affecting the way it cold forges too...

 

It was during cold fitting. I've used soft solder for habakis in the past... but... well wait. No. This is the my first habaki. The others were habaki-like-objects. Anyway.. hopefully it won't be a big deal once I get a stronger solder.

 

Again... I'm so excited about this. I think this might one of those projects that are turning points in methodology...

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That's looking seriously good, Scott!

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