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温故知新 (classical tanto project)

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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.




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/

Edited by DaveJ
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@ScottWright i needed to get it done with a deadline along with some other projects so no videos, only a few photos (more on the website)...but a professional crew came by for some footage of the forge and documented the final assembly so it should be part of a video in the future...




Edited by DaveJ
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@Wes i just added a "before" photo to the page...the antique blade had lost its hamon (likely damaged by fire) and then was abused, poorly reshaped (polished with a belt sander?), bent, and severely damaged for several inches above the hamachi..this tanto is made from the front half, i may get another tanto out of the rest in the future...

so i forged it from shinogi-zukuri to hira-zukuri and forged a tang to maximize use of the steel...delicate work but worth the effort...

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That steel is very very lovely.  Beautiful work David. I would imagine that the original smith would be happy to know his work was "saved" and had new life breathed into it.  I have never been struck by the need to used reclaimed materials, but I understand why you do. This knife is a testament to that.  Cheers to you

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   Thanks for the tutorial, beautifully done,as was the tanto. Could you not have re-quenched that blade and started over assuming the carbon content is still there. I had a chance to see ( and touch ) some of your work in the gallery ( Coombs ) , beautiful work.. Had a wonderful chat with the gallery owner. I found myself in the area and used a phone to look at your site to find the gallery.


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@Jan ...nice! next time let me know when you are in town! that was one approach i considered, but there was too much damage to the blade, particularly to the edge for several inches above the machi...so it would have been a suriage wakizashi at most, however there was some other major areas of damage to the shape so i chose the two tanto route to make the most use of the steel...i certainly could have made this tanto a very slender shinogi-zukuri if i had wanted to tackle a shinogi-zukuri polish this summer though... ^______^

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I always love seeing your work, Dave-san!  And I'm sure you enjoyed the heck out of reforging that blade, the hada is very cool.  The chance to play with real tamahagane is all too rare to miss.

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  • 2 weeks later...

a lovely film made by some talented folks...

In a forge on Vancouver Island, reclaimed steel is turned into tanto.

Directed, Photographed, and Edited by Trevor Komori
Location Sound: Sean Brouwer
B Camera Operator: Liam Leyland
Music Composed by Kurtis So
Production Assistants: Vivian Hu & Judy Zheng

still images | behind the scenes | making this tanto



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wow, very very nice. i loved the video. i think it was actually a vid of yours that popped up on my facebook two years ago that got me into blade smithing, so thank you very much.

i also have to admit, i have found myself going off Japanese traditional blades of late, for no known reason that i can think of. this one just reminds me why ive always loved the Japanese style and attention to detail. 

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