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Michal Plezia

[WIP] Tanto style blade

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Hello,

 

I want to share my new project. It will be a tanto style knife. I am not an expert in Japanese blades, only basic knowledge. However, I like the aesthetics and elegant design of those weapons so I decided to make one myself. I hope that real experts won't have a heart attack after seeing my version ;)

The blade is forged from NCV1 steel. Differential hardening was successful- the edge is hard and the spine is much much softer. I hope there will be a hamon visible.

 

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Edited by Michal Plezia
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Just a quick cleaning and dip in a hot vinegar. There is something... probably not the most spectacular hamon in the world ;) However I hope it will be a bit more visible after decent polish and ething.

 

DSC04842 (2).JPGDSC04843 (2).JPG

Edited by Michal Plezia
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On 4.02.2018 at 10:26 PM, Zeb Camper said:

Nice! Making the habaki is easier (for me at least) if you use thinner stock. 

You are right.  I've never done habaki before so I wanted to stay on a safe side. It is easier to file some material than to add it after all ;) 

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Since I am no expert on Japanese blades I feel that I mix all the styles possible and impossible :D I hope there is no Nihonto Police around ;)

Anyway, there is finally some progress.

I filed down the habaki to more elegant size.

I also tried to cast my own shibuichi (copper + silver alloy) for the tsuba.

 

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My original idea was to be smarter than Japanese masters and cast a ready plate rather than the ingot. But with no success :P

So I finally used traditional water casting. This is the result:

 

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I had to cut off an edge because of the crack.

 

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I also plan to make some decorative inlays on the tsuba with pure silver.

 

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The handle is made of walnut wood. I haven't decided yet if I'll cover it with ray skin.

 

20180408_091410.jpg

Edited by Michal Plezia
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that groove is a place for the knot of the handle wrap to sit. It has a functional purpose, and probably has a specific name, too.

great work, though!

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Coming together very nicely.  I'm looking forward to seeing the finished knife.

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How warm do you make the vinegar and is it plain white or apple cider? I was working on my second attempt at a hamon and after sanding at 2k grit with apple cider for about 25 minutes I still I had no activity so was just curious. Also blade looks good

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6 hours ago, ScottWright said:

How warm do you make the vinegar and is it plain white or apple cider? I was working on my second attempt at a hamon and after sanding at 2k grit with apple cider for about 25 minutes I still I had no activity so was just curious. Also blade looks good

White vinegar is more acidic. Warm white vinegar will work the fastest, but patience is a big part of hamons. polish is equally (if not more) important than etching. 

It's looking awesome Michal!

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Looking good man, can’t wait to see the final finished knife.

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For hamons, I would include polishing with powdered abrasives. Some people use pumice powder, I use pre-polish from a rock tumbler kit, others use automotive type polish. 

The suspension of abrasives helps define the hamon prior to etching. It's been my experience that any activity will be visible prior to etching and the etch just helps it pop.

For the vinegar, I go just below boiling, for several short baths cleaning oxides off the blade between.

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I used warm vinegar only to check if there is any hamon at all. It was after I removed scale from heat treatment. More recent pictures show blade after 320 grit with no etching at all. The hamon is visible at certain angles. I plan to polish the steel to et least 1000 grit and use ferric chloride for several seconds and than polish it with a paste made from oil and ferric oxide. My fellow makers had good results with this technique on this steel.

By the way -  I have to choose how to finish the saya. I consider 4 options:

1. Matt laquer - the structure of wood will not be visible. I have no pic to show ;)

2. Structural finish made with tea powder + mat laquer

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3. Linseed oil finish

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4. Black wood stain + oil finish. The structure of the wood will be visible.

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+1 for ishimeji finish, I love that texture. I think it would go well with the black ray skin.

I've been watching this thread for a while seeing the blade develop, I've gotta say I love the form and lines on your blade. Very graceful and streamlined, awesome work!

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On 5/23/2018 at 7:38 PM, Grant Saxman said:

+1 for ishimeji finish, I love that texture. I think it would go well with the black ray skin.

You may be right :) 

Since I am no expert in Japanese blades I need an advice. I originally planed to make a cut in a tsuba (kozuka hole?), but now I like it how it is. Is that hole necessary? Most tanto tsubas I've googled have them in one form or another. What do you guys think?

 

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Edited by Michal Plezia

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I agree, I prefer it without the cutout. Unless you are planning on making the small utility knife that fits into that hole (kogatana it's called if I remember correctly??), I would say that it's unnecessary and you should do what you think looks/feels right for the blade :)

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11 minutes ago, Grant Saxman said:

I agree, I prefer it without the cutout. Unless you are planning on making the small utility knife that fits into that hole (kogatana it's called if I remember correctly??), I would say that it's unnecessary and you should do what you think looks/feels right for the blade :)

Believe me or not but it supposed to be a quick project. Just to practice making a blade with a hamon :D The project somehow grew bigger and more complicated. So I don't plan to make the kogatana, because it will never end :blink:;)

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It sounds like a metaphor for a lot of bladesmithing : " I was just going to......."

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Quick update.

The blade is etched. Except for the hamon, there is also a strange pattern visible. Something like parabulat / false wootz. Didn't expect to see that.

The saya still needs some black laque, but it already looks nice in my opinion. I also added some pure silver stars on the tsuba.

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Pattern close up

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Edited by Michal Plezia
added close up pic

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That activity in the blade is alloy banding, caused by thermal cycling.  It's a cool effect!  And I love that tsuba.

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Finally I finished the tanto :)  It was demanding project for me,  because I have limited knowledge about Japanese weaponry :) Thanks for all your help and support.

Blade length: 25,5 cm (habaki included)

Total length: 37 cm

With saya: 38 cm

Differentially hardened ncv1 steel, tsuba is homemade shibuichi with silver inlays, ;) handle wrapped in ray skin.

Some pics:

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