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Making of a tanto (lots of pics)


Saul Kokkinos-Kennedy
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Hi all, i thought i'd document and share my attempt at making a tanto. this will be my second knife if it ends up with a handle. i should add that i've made a few blades before, but they weren't worth handling.

 

i'm hoping that by sharing this, you guys with more experience will be able to tell me what i'm doing wrong or right, and point me in the right direction. It may even be interesting to someone completely new to this.

 

i'm not particularly (or at all) familiar with Japanese terminology yet, so please don't bombard me with too much :)

 

a major shout out to you guys on here!! as pretty much everything i've learned has been off this forum! and thanks Don and the admins FOR the forum!

 

1.jpg

an old annealed wiltshire file with the teeth ground off, and some sketches

 

2.jpg

end of file cut off to form tip, and profile roughly ground

 

3.jpg

texter to show up scribed grind line, and ground down to 2mm edge thickness

 

4.jpg

rough ground up to line

 

5.jpg

draw filed and cleaned up a bit

 

6.jpg

rough sanded to 120 grit and shoulders for habaki filed in

 

7.jpg

clay applied. it is a mixture of clay from the garden, crushed coal and sand. probably not ideal but i just used what i had due to impatience

 

8.jpg

the blade was heated to just above non-magnetic and quenched in slightly warm water. i think the patchy colouring was due to the clay mixture being not quite ideal and it cracking, plus i don't think i put quite enough on the edges of the spine. still pretty pleased for a first time. i was expecting it to crack.

 

9.jpg

a crappy photo trying to capture the colour i tempered to. i tempered it in a gas oven at 200c for 30mins twice. it looks a fair bit darker in the photo than it is.

 

next the fittings... :/

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The temper colour looks about right, I normally give it two one hour cycles at 150 C. You can judge the hardness with an oilstone, it will slip across the stone if it's too hard, it should 'bite' if it's correct...if in doubt do the brass rod test!

Looks good so far...

To become old and wise... You first have to survive being young and foolish! ;) Ikisu.blogsot.com. Email; milesikisu@gmail.com mobile: +27784653651

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Cheers Miles, i'll have to give the oil stone a go. i might try the brass rod test with some aluminium?

 

I've also been wondering is it the habaki that holds the blade in the scabbard? and if so does that mean the habaki needs to taper slightly larger towards the handle?

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nice looking blade - you need to completely finish the grind and foundation polish before you start the fitting, as the habaki needs to be a very good fit for it to work - it would also be worth giving the blade a test etch to check the hamon - it looks like it should be fine, but you never know until you see it... you are right that the habaki provides the fit in the saya, and tapers in both width and thickness. you need to make sure the nakago (tang) is properly tapered before you start fitting the habaki as well...

Jake Cleland - Skye Knives

www.knifemaker.co.uk

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."

 

Albert Einstein

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Thanks Jake, good to know i should get it to a light polish before doing the habaki, as i wasn't going to do that until you mentioned it.

 

can you use vinegar, salene or lemon juice for the etch? as it's all i have available at the moment...

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Vinegar and lemon juice will etch but you will have to be patient with them. I cant say about saline, the only etch with it i know about is electro-chemical and i dont know if id try to etch the whole blade that way. I think it would work if you put the power leads on right but I've never tried it.

Michael Cochran

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Allu rod is cool, it'll do the same job... I think 1000 g should do, I've heard that what is 1000 g in S. Africa equals +- 800g in USA, not sure...it seems the Metric system makes a differance as it's 'particles/ square inch or centimetre, an inch is a bit bigger... Anyhow, looking forward to seeing the completed package!

To become old and wise... You first have to survive being young and foolish! ;) Ikisu.blogsot.com. Email; milesikisu@gmail.com mobile: +27784653651

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Personally, I etch a couple of fast times with dilute ferric chloride (to start things off). Then, I etch slowly in a tank of vinegar. 3-5 times. At least an hour each time if the temp is above 50F. longer if colder. 3 hours is best. 8 won't hurt.

 

remove the oxides above the hamon with mother's mag and aluminum polish

 

below with pumice (I use FFFF now, but have used FF for years previously). Rub it with pumice dry and feel for where it bites. it takes a little bit of work to see if there will be anything on any given spot, but after about 30 sec of rubbing you will see the area become whiter and you will feel the bite. The feeling is most important, and anywhere you feel a bite along the hamon, rub like hell. You will improve the activity in that spot a lot by rubbing it with pumice.

 

looks great so far.

kc

please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/

 

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

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Miles interesting point about grits being different in metric and imperial, probably worth bearing in mind, cheers.

 

Thanks for sharing your method Kevin, i'll have a look at getting some mothers mag, alu polish and pumice when i have some spare cash...

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10.jpg

i ended up regrinding the profile and going for a full convex as i wasn't happy with the lack of crispness on grind lines. i also annealed the end of the tang to allow me to drill the pin hole.

 

11.jpg

section of copper pipe for habaki that was flattened and the notch for the spine filled in.

 

12.jpg

habaki roughly fitted around blade

 

13.jpg

tapered triangle to sit against shoulder of blade edge inside habaki

 

14.jpg

together and ready for soldering after a bit of fine tuning...

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Thanks for your "recipe" for the clay. I have white clay about 2 feet down all over my place. I've tried mixing some with steel dust from my grinders, but never thought about adding coal or sand. I want to try that next time I have a blade that gets that far.

B)

 

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i got the clay recipe from Dave J Friesen. he has some awesome tutorials on his site islandblacksmith.ca definitely worth checking out! he recommends a 1:1:1 ratio of clay, ground sand/stone and charcoal powder

Edited by Saul Kokkinos-Kennedy
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15.jpg

i decided to try out something i'd been thinking about for a while with the habaki. i filed grooves around it to half the depth of some brass wire i had, and then wrapped it with the brass wire sitting in the grooves. in the photo it is wrapped and fluxed. i wrapped two lengths of silver solder onto the top and into the forge it went

 

16.jpg

probably used a fair bit too much solder, but better safe than sorry

 

17.jpg

the results after some rough filing

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  • 1 month later...

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...

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Davej - Crossed Heart Forge * islandblacksmith.ca * instagram * youtube

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thanks for the comments! Dave your website was my main inspiration for trying a tanto, so thank you for sharing your process.

 

as for how this is coming along, well i sanded the blade up to 1200 grit and then etched it in warm vinegar for 4 hours, but as i went over it again with 1200 grit paper i noticed that it had lots of dark lines through it. i have had this problem before caused by not fully removing scratches from the previous grit of paper, but i alternated sanding direction each grit and was very careful to remove all scratches from previous grit this time, so not sure what i did wrong? any advice would be nice!

 

anyway i ended up back at 120 grit, by which time i was quite sick of sanding the same thing, and so decided i'd have a go at forging a billet of damascus, which to my joy seems to have welded up quite nicely and is now at 60 something layers. i will get back to the tanto when i get some time off work in a few weeks...

 

thanks for looking

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good to hear! the tang blade conjuncture looks well formed and nicely aligned, good to see in a first round...i can tell you have been studying!

 

often when you think it's time to move to a finer grit/new angle you can only spot the leftover scratches by turning and tilting various angles in a direct light source...for good measure spend some time looking hard for them and then go a little extra even beyond the point of being sure you got them all...if you are tempted to move on too quickly it might be enough polishing for one day, as you now know, there are no shortcuts \(--)/ マイッタ

 

ε-(´・`) フー ganbatte!

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Davej - Crossed Heart Forge * islandblacksmith.ca * instagram * youtube

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