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Hi everyone,

 

I just finished a tanto I had been working on for the last 3 weeks . The blade is W2, uchi-sori with a 7 1/2" nagasa, and the fittings are copper with shibuichi inlays.

 

Here are the photos of the build:

 

csUnRhd.jpg

 

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Profiling:

 

TteCX2V.jpg

 

Hardening:

 

I3ycwek.jpg

 

OKy22kR.jpg

 

Polished:

 

DTQV1U7.jpg

 

Now for the part that's really time consuming, the fittings:

 

k1s1R1A.jpg

 

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mkoDHsO.jpg

 

rzJz7xH.jpg

 

For this blade, I decided on a ginkgo leaf theme, a symbol of peace:

 

DUBTGPn.jpg

 

Ke3KB8P.jpg

 

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(I forgot to take pictures while making the tsuba and the kashira)

 

5AGCFBq.jpg

 

yAxJ04G.jpg

 

4F3u5ZZ.jpg

 

To balance the theme, I decided to go with two small war arrows for the menuki. This will be an "I'm peaceful just don't mess with me" tanto.

 

tas6Zc7.jpg

 

Handle carving:

 

0rdMEJq.jpg

 

IA1ui5n.jpg

 

All the pieces are done (minus patina):

 

srVFXE0.jpg

 

Rokusho bath:

 

M6KtIfo.jpg

 

 

 

 

And finally, the finished tanto:

 

4Kz2wVW.jpg

 

lNN1WiO.jpg

 

dMOTJNH.jpg

 

zuugYQa.jpg

 

srIURG1.jpg

 

 

Cheers!

 

 

Edited by Francis Gastellu
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Super nice work, I could really mistake it for an antique.

The copper fittings look great and the wrap is an amazing color.

 

I guess you've also been watching Ford Hallam's inlay class? That ginko leaf looks a bit familiar ;)

I have too much other projects to do first, but seeing work like this makes me want to get sucked into japanese metalwork.

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I keep coming back to look at this, and I noticed something that you also did on your last Japanese-inspired piece: Rather than a full wrap, you inlayed panels of Same?  I can see there's not a real need for it under the ito, particularly on this piece, but I was under the impression a Same wrap served as an additional layer of strength holding the tsuka together.  Certainly not necessary on a tanto, but maybe on katana and tachi?  Just curious. 

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1 hour ago, Alan Longmire said:

I keep coming back to look at this, and I noticed something that you also did on your last Japanese-inspired piece: Rather than a full wrap, you inlayed panels of Same?  I can see there's not a real need for it under the ito, particularly on this piece, but I was under the impression a Same wrap served as an additional layer of strength holding the tsuka together.  Certainly not necessary on a tanto, but maybe on katana and tachi?  Just curious. 

It is my understanding that using panels of Samegawa was a reaction to material shortages after the closing of Japan by the Tokugawa shogunate in the 1600's. 'Belly meet' and 'overlap' wraps were still used, but only by the wealthy Samurai. Using panels is also technically a lot easier to do than either of the full wrap versions. Late Edo tsuka are often seen with multiple small panels of Samegawa cobble together.

196808680_4145505155534435_3402679904287218721_n.jpg

Edited by MacKINNON
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Posted (edited)

Thank you all for the very kind words, I'm glad you like it!

 

2 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

I keep coming back to look at this, and I noticed something that you also did on your last Japanese-inspired piece: Rather than a full wrap, you inlayed panels of Same?  I can see there's not a real need for it under the ito, particularly on this piece, but I was under the impression a Same wrap served as an additional layer of strength holding the tsuka together.  Certainly not necessary on a tanto, but maybe on katana and tachi?  Just curious. 

 

This is using panels, but my previous blades did not, they were all using full wraps. On this one I used panel because I had a piece of very small same that I had been keeping for a while, which had very small nodes that were appropriate for a tanto. Unfortunately the skin was too narrow for a full wrap. I do wish I had made the panels slightly larger, as they do peek a tiny bit through the ito :(

 

Agreed that on a larger blade I would prefer to to go with full wraps. In fact for any blade that is going to see any real use, and not just for the added rigidity: the same has so much friction that it helps keep the ito in place (something hishigami would also have helped with here).

 

40 minutes ago, MacKINNON said:

I'm wondering why you joined the fuchi in the middle rather than than traditional join on the mune ?

 

The fuchi is joined on the mune, it was only joined in the middle while I was soldering. It's a lot easier for me to do so on the middle, as it makes the butt joint alignment and the square reinforcement piece lay nearly flat rather than heavily curved. The next operation squished the fuchi at 90 degrees on the fuchi stake.

 

31 minutes ago, MacKINNON said:

Using panels is also technically a lot easier to do than either of the full wrap versions.

 

I've heard this too but I gotta be honest, maybe it's because I've done 3 full wraps and only one panel wrap, but I didn't find the panels that much easier :P

 

4 hours ago, Pieter-Paul Derks said:

I guess you've also been watching Ford Hallam's inlay class? That ginko leaf looks a bit familiar ;)

 

I have :)

Edited by Francis Gastellu
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Thanks, MacKinnon!  I know just enough about Japanese stuff to get in major trouble talking about it. :lol:

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Thanks for the explanation.

I do the same thing, but in the round, with soft materials, knocking them into shape after soldering. It doesn't work very well with iron or harder alloys as even a reinforced joint generally can't handle the stresses of hard shape changing.

1 hour ago, Alan Longmire said:

Thanks, MacKinnon!  I know just enough about Japanese stuff to get in major trouble talking about it. :lol:

Me too. I get very sheepish talking about koshirae as invariably my friends in Japan waive their fingers at me and  ' tut,tut'.

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26 minutes ago, MacKINNON said:

I do the same thing, but in the round, with soft materials, knocking them into shape after soldering. It doesn't work very well with iron or harder alloys as even a reinforced joint generally can't handle the stresses of hard shape changing.

 

Thanks, that makes sense. Even though it's still a fairly soft alloy, I've had the same thing happen to me twice on a shibuichi fuchi (though maybe the real reason is my lack of soldering skills :D). I figured I'd try it this way again as this is the way I was shown; I was ready to see it fail but with copper, that worked out nicely.

 

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26 minutes ago, Francis Gastellu said:

 

Thanks, that makes sense. Even though it's still a fairly soft alloy, I've had the same thing happen to me twice on a shibuichi fuchi (though maybe the real reason is my lack of soldering skills :D). I figured I'd try it this way again as this is the way I was shown; I was ready to see it fail but with copper, that worked out nicely.

 

Shibuishi is an awful alloy for splitting seams. I'm not surprised you had some issues. One of the handy things about forming them in the round is that you can then work one edge over a standard ring mandrel to form a slight cone. When you shape this up it forms ' funbari', ( Stradle) , that is, the fuchi takes on some flaring at the seppa. It makes for a more subtle form than a simple parallel ferrule.

No photo description available.

Edited by MacKINNON
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Beautiful!

 

59 minutes ago, MacKINNON said:

Shibuishi is an awful alloy for splitting seams. I'm not surprised you had some issues. One of the handy things about forming them in the round is that you can then work one edge over a standard ring mandrel to form a slight cone. When you shape this up it forms ' funbari', ( Stradle) , that is, the fuchi takes on some flaring at the seppa. It makes for a more subtle form than a simple parallel ferrule.

 

Nice, I will try a ring mandrel next time! In the past, I've used a stake I made, which has this flaring built-in (seen below in one of my ill-fated attempts, before I switched to soldering at the machi). This worked well on my previous piece, though not as pronounced as the examples you gave:

 

HzYF1oi.jpg S2Tghjc.jpg

 

But as you noticed, it didn't work so well this time, where my fuchi is mostly parallel. I'm hoping the ring mandrel lets me control this better, thank you for suggesting it.

 

Similarly, my kashira is lacking a subtle curve at the bottom, which is pretty flat here. Though I did it right before, I think I just completely forgot this aspect while making it this time around.

 

Ah well, I'm learning :)

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You are not alone in chasing nuance. I made six or seven just trying to get a form that suited a new kashira die I had made. I arrive at a example I find pleasing only to reject it a week later. I don't think this little game ends any time soon.

I think your work is pretty impressive. I especially like your inlay techniques. Inlaying and producing a clean ground without surface texturing is no mean feat.

Edited by MacKINNON
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23 hours ago, MacKINNON said:

You are not alone in chasing nuance. I made six or seven just trying to get a form that suited a new kashira die I had made. I arrive at a example I find pleasing only to reject it a week later. I don't think this little game ends any time soon.

I think your work is pretty impressive. I especially like your inlay techniques. Inlaying and producing a clean ground without surface texturing is no mean feat.

 

I was specifically focusing on getting as clean a ground as I could this time around, as I had not done a satisfactory job before (imo). I'm quite happy with the result for myself but It's really nice when connoisseurs also appreciate it :D Thank you for the kind words and the suggestions!

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Really nice craftsmanship Francis.  I find the best work like this calms the spirit.   

If you don't mind me asking...

Did you water or oil quench?

What are you using in place of pine rosin for holding your furniture during inlay work?

Where is your work shop and what brought you to the journey of bladesmithing?

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11 hours ago, Doug Webster said:

Really nice craftsmanship Francis.  I find the best work like this calms the spirit.   

 

Thank you Doug! There are definitely issues that I want to address with my next project by this feels like improvement.

 

11 hours ago, Doug Webster said:

If you don't mind me asking...

Did you water or oil quench?

 

Not at all. The blade was quenched in Parks 50, which gave it its slight uchi sori. I had never used W2 before so I more or less followed John White's process as documented here

 

11 hours ago, Doug Webster said:

What are you using in place of pine rosin for holding your furniture during inlay work?

 

The goop I use is thermo-loc, which I like because it doesn't really smell much at all and is really clean to handle, although it costs a bit more than traditional rosin/pitch.

 

12 hours ago, Doug Webster said:

Where is your work shop and what brought you to the journey of bladesmithing?

 

Thanks for asking. That's a journey I feel only just started (I'm still very much a beginner!).

 

I'm located in the bay area, though I'm a french native; i'm both eager to retire back to France someday and dreading moving the shop overseas... 

 

As for what got me into bladesmithing, that'd be wrought iron. I fell in love with the material a few years ago when I first saw an etched WI san mai knife. For whatever misguided reason I really wanted to make a katana just like that... (what?? scandalous!).

 

At some point along the way I discovered engraving, and then I found Jim Kelso's and Ford Hallam's work, which changed everything. I discovered that this is a type of work that really appeals to me because it forces me to slow down and, as you say, it really calms the spirit... it's a lovely place to be.

 

I also find it very fulfilling to start with fire, white hot steel, and (small) explosions, and finish with tiny gravers under the microscope. It gives me a sense of "completeness" I suppose. Ah well... I just really like it, simple as that.

 

Cheers!

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Thank you Francis.  Jim and Ford would be pleased with your progress.  Maybe our paths will cross some day.  Until then keep on making cool stuff! 

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