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David Forsman

Tanto blade 5160

13 posts in this topic

I had a scrap peice of 1/4 " thick 5160 laying around and thought I would give it a shot. Blade is 8.5" long with a thickness tapers from 1/4" at the base to 5/64" at the tip. I will admit making a traditional handle and sia at this point is intimidating. Any sudgestions where to go from here? Its got some scratches that need to be worked out. Currently sanded to 600 grit. It does have a hardening line from edge quenching. 

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I would give the traditional handle and sia a go anyway. Worst case you may learn a thing or two. There are some WIPs around here somewhere.

Edited by Charles du Preez

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Hi david, the blade looks good so far but... Traditional tantos didn't have plunge lines, it was one bevel all the way into the tsuka (handle). 5160 won't get you the hamon you're after, but it will still make for good practice with the fittings. Whatch lots of videos on habaki making. I have some info. About it in my katana WIP. Also, watch alot of videos on tsuka making, and saya making. There is a guy on here that make gorgeouse tantos who's name escapes me. But, he has several pinned WIPs, maybe in fit&finish. I'll get back to you with that.

Edited by Zeb Camper

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Dave J is the guy's name. He has a few pinned Wips. Check them out. Walter Sorrels also has tons of great videos on youtube. Good luck! Can't wait to see how it turns out.

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Thanks for all the advice and encouragement. I think I will give it a try. Just curious what is meant by no plunge and single bevel. Is the blade supposed to be single bevel like some traditional kitchen knives or do you mean that the plunge should be hidden in the handle or should the edge taper into the tang without a sharp transition?

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The nakago (tang) is ground just like the blade so that a habaki can be slid on from the back. The whole thing is meant to be able to be taken apart. Here is a screenshot of what it looks like.

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Got it. I reworked the blade some today and tapered the tang portion like the blade. I think im getting closer to something I can finish somewhat correct. The hardening line is more visible in these pics. Thanks for the info. It was worth the extra work to fix the issue. Next step adding holes for a handle. I have access to some titanium for some components. Might be interesting. Ive also got a 6.5" piece of aromatic cedar I want to try using for the handle. I did an octagonal kitchen knife handle with some cedar that came out really nice. 

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looks great so far! As far as the titainium goes, The stuff is hard to machine. You'll have to use low speed tools. I'm not sure you could make a habaki out of it. Good luck!

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Is copper the traditional metal of choice? As far as titanium I probably wont attempt a hog out. I only have access to scrap plate stock aroumd .125" thick max. I need to find a good example of the individual handle components. 

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Copper, in all its various alloys of which the Japanese have many (c.f. Shibuichi and Shakudo ), is the most common, but you also see silver and gold, often alloyed with copper (the aforementioned two alloys), and sometimes on their own.  Pure copper is preferred because it's the easiest to work and provides the right oomph for the job in traditional construction.  Too hard a habaki will chew up the mouth of the scabbard or will not properly wedge in place. 

Good save on the grind through the tang, by the way!

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I will try to find some scrap copper at work. Thanks. I went easy and watched the heat build up carefully. A wet rag was a lifesaver.

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here is a (slowly) ongoing series with some info on the classical approach: http://islandblacksmith.ca/tag/tanto-geometry/
in particular the tang/machi geometry: http://islandblacksmith.ca/2014/06/classical-tanto-geometry-nakago-tang/
and the habaki 's machigane: http://islandblacksmith.ca/2014/10/classical-tanto-construction-habaki-の-machigane/

i always recommend studying antiques and making kata to get a feel for the finer points of tanto geometry: http://islandblacksmith.ca/2014/04/aizu-shintogo-kunimitsu-tanto-kata/
from here it looks like there is still plenty of room inside your hardened area to create a classical tanto kissaki/tip if you decide to: http://islandblacksmith.ca/2014/06/classical-tanto-geometry-blade-kissaki-tip/

that is a lovely piece of cedar but might be a bit soft for tanto, nootka cypress/alaskan yellow "cedar" is a bit closer to the hardness and workability of hounoki...
keep up the journey towards excellence!

how-to-classical-tanto-geometry-nakago-t

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Thanks for the info. Im definitely checking it out. I briefly looked at some pics from islandblacksmith when initially designing the blade profile. I should have taken a closer look. I think my familiarity with the americanized tanto tip subconsciously bled into the final tip profile. I will take a second look. At this point its worthwhile to me to go for as much authenticity as I can get within my limited expertise. 

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