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Since no one else has started a WIP I guess I will start things off. 


When Emiliano proposed this it really got my gears going, and this is what I came up with, its still just in design phase as I am getting my shop setup this weekend finally after nearly 2months of being down. 


I chose spring, and to go tanto with cherry blossom motif. The house I just sold had Cherry Trees in the back yard and every spring we had light pink petals everywhere for weeks. Its the one thing I will miss about that house besides the forest of Aspens we also had on the other side of the yard. 


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Cool design, I like the theme. 

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  • 7 months later...

Ive started serious work on this finally, the deadline being November really helped me out because this year has been a bit of a pain when it comes to work. 

but I am working on things. 

Will be heat treating this one tomorrow, need to clay it up still ( W2 steel ) so that hopefully I get a good hamon out of this one . 

I totally screwed up the tang area, and the bevel does NOT match the blade, but I was able to save it somewhat and ensure that the blade end of things at least is semi correct. 








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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, so here is where I stand on this.... 


So now some questions. 

I have some .250 thick copper on hand currently that I was thinking of doing the Habaki out of, however it is not thick enough as the blade at the spine is just a hair under .250 thick. Which presents a problem, the design has already been modified slightly from the original ( I was actually working off the picture from this post because the original drawing was destroyed in what I can only assume was a violent rage, breakups suck ) so I find myself in a position where I have to make a choice. 

I have some thin sheet copper and brass, do I take the leap and try to do a Mokume style Habaki on this, or do I cut two pieces of copper and fuse them together to give me a half inch thick wad of copper to mess with. The sheeting I have is too thin ( .025 ) to just do a traditional fold over and soldered piece, and I really want to take my mill for a true spin and make a part with it.  Part of me is going KISS principle and just diffusion bonding two chunks of copper, but part of me is considering going the Mokume route. 

I have already decided that the large cherry blossom shaped tsuba is not something I will be able to complete in time for the deadline. So instead I am wanting to go more of a carving route on the saya to maintain the Cherry Blossom motif ( Saya and handle will both be from actual Cherry wood ) which is still pushing my limits as I have never carved anything before. 

If this were your project, where and how would you go with it given the items I have said. 

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Was your thought with the mill to start a slot for the tang then finish it with filing/ drifting? It seems like that might actually involve more hand work than folding the 0.25" copper (though with an accurate drift could be pretty quick). If I were using a mill to help out with a habaki, I might bend a piece into a U, use a 0.250 flat end mill to square up the inside and cut the spine-side notch (mune machi?) as those are two things a mill could do quickly which can be a pain to do with tiny files/cold forming tools. One slightly wacky idea might be to mill out half of the pocket in two pieces of copper (maybe use an angle block/sine bar to match the angle on the tang) then solder the two pieces together. With some careful planning, you might also be able to cut a flat blank that would form a finished 1-part habaki when folder closed, with no need for the little piece of metal on the edge side. I've never done mokume gane, so I can't speak to the difficulty of doing that.


On the carving front, maybe you could play around with a "flat" style (not sure what to call it) where the lines are shallow v-shaped grooves made with a skew-chisel type tool, in a similar principal to Saami style carving? Might work better to get started with than more 3D carving, I've had an ok time doing it on antler, though that has been fairly flat jewelry and practice pieces, not curved knife handles. If I were doing this, I might also consider something with lacquer to incorporate the blossoms. If you're good with a brush you could paint them on, you could also cut out pieces of paper/foil/whatever else and glue them on under some layers of clear lacquer. Just some possibilities to think about.

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Impressive polish, even if the beer choice is questionable :)  (OK, I kid and enjoy the occasional Mich Ultra...)


Unless you have done some mokume gane before, I think you are likely to run out of time trying that.  The learning curve is pretty steep if you want to make pieces that you can actually form into a shape rather than simple flatish pieces.

Edited by Brian Dougherty
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Aiden: I was going to mill in a narrow slot, and then heat it and wedge the tang in so it was a tight fit from the get go, then do shaping and thinning down to where it should be.  As for your suggestion on carving, that is almost exactly what I was thinking of doing, I kind of like the idea of carving a cherry blossom bunch onto both the handle and saya, then burning the wood with a torch and then lightly sanding it so that the cherry wood color comes back out, but leaves the carving lines charred.  Then perhaps a glossy clear lacquer.

Brian: Thanks, the beer is because myself, my sister, and her boyfriend are all technically on diets,  I have lost about 20 lbs so far since April ( now that I am single, I need to somewhat care about my appearance ) and a large part of that is just switching from heavy good beer, to this stuff. 

once I figure out where I am going with the Habaki ( might just break down and order reasonable thickness copper to do a fold and solder ) I will get this blade etched, it does have a hamon hidden in there, its a bit lower then I normally would be comfortable going, but not to the point the blade is non functional. And then its just handle and saya work after that methinks. 

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at the moment I totally lack any form of Anvil, its sitting in storage at the moment and I would need to enlist the help of someone with a truck to get it, and we dont really have room for it in the garage I am working in. 

So its looking more and more like I will have to go with thicker stock and do the bend and solder method, no biggie, just need to find the right size copper now. 


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On 10/26/2020 at 8:39 AM, Robert D. said:

( now that I am single, I need to somewhat care about my appearance)

???  Why?  ;)

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  • 4 weeks later...

So here is where I am on it, As I mentioned before due to some issues and time, I had to change around my design for the finished product. 

Tomorrow I am going to cut out some brass sheet for a spacer under the habaki and get that sanded out so I can solder it Monday.  Once that is done I should be able to get the saya fully carved out and everything shaped up. 

Then ill draw in the cherry blooms and carve it into the saya and handle, torch it and lightly sand the charring off and then seal her up. 

I love having this mill, its such a dream to use. 

And BillyO, even if I am not in the market to fill the current open position in my family, I dont mind it when potential applicants look my way.... 



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