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Hand forged traditional knives from reclaimed materials.

Island Blacksmith - Autumn 2015

News from the Forge

This year has been marked by an ongoing series of unique projects tied by the theme of personal challenge. Some were focused on the development of specific techniques, and others on the exploration of fusion style forms and mountings that certain clients may find useful. Included in the list are a Muromachi style yari, Ainu-inspired makiri, and fusion style minimalist outdoor kotanto.

Outdoor enthusiasts may be interested in the two part article on antique hatchet restoration featuring a project for a well-traveled client. Part one covers restoration and finishing of the head and part two covers shaping and crafting a handle.

Media visits were fairly steady this summer, including a visit from Japanese Media in mid-July and some additional local and international crews. If you are in Calgary on Oct. 19th, stay tuned to Shaw 10 for a segment in a documentary piece.

Please visit the website at and follow us over on Instagram to see photos of work in progress, life on the island, and things that inspire.

Sounds of the Workshop: Bladesmithing Night Session
Sounds of the Workshop: night session

Sounds of the Workshop

Though it is a wonderful and peaceful time to be in the workshop enjoying the cool night air as well as a good time for doing yaki-ire, I don’t often forge at night. This night I had the camera on a tripod whilst working on the beginnings of a small shear steel bushcraft knife in classical tanto style when a friend came by and offered to take some other angles. Please enjoy a few minutes of the the night session vibe, listening to the rhythm of the fuigo and the breathing of the fire.

Take a quick photo tour of the forge:

Watch the video here:

Learn something new everyday!
Three tanto during rough shaping stages

Japanese Vocabulary

Machi (区) is usually read as "ku" and translates as "town or ward", but in this specific use refers to the notches where the blade transitions to the tang. An older variant is read kei (匸) and comes from the idea of hiding something in a corner.

The notch between the tang and the spine is called munemachi (棟区) and the notch between the tang and the blade is called hamachi (刃区).

The main functions of the machi are as a shoulder for the habaki to rest against, providing a solid compression point for the hilt components. Several measurements including length, width, and thickness of the blade originate at these points.

See finished photos of a tanto shown above:

Yozakura Tanto: a single petal falls
The Bone Knife: artifact series

Artifact Series

This project is the latest installment in the artifact series which tend to have the appearance of far older variations of my fusion style works and possibly come from an alternative history where cultures might have blended at different times and in different ways.

The Bone Knife was forged from a well-worn plowshare. The concept for this project began with the natural shape of a worn piece of farm equipment but has progressed to an exploration of the possibilities of an alternative history and the artifacts it might have produced.

See the finished work here:

Classical Tanto Construction: Habaki の Machigane
Classical Tanto Construction: machigane

'Smithing Secret

Another obscure installment in the series on classical tanto geometry. A standard habaki (blade collar) is actually comprised of two separate pieces, the jacket that encloses the blade and a small wedge called machigane the fills the gap at the hamachi.

Machigane can be a difficult component to study as well as illustrate due to its location and size.

This article attempts to bring some spatial-visual understanding to the relationship of the measurements, tapers, and planes of the machigane to those of the blade and tang.

Read more about the compound triangular prism called machigane:の-machigane/

In the shadow of Mt. Arrowsmith,
deep in a forest clearing,
away from the things of man,
there is a place where blades are born
of earth, and air, and fire, and water.

Copyright © 2015 Crossed Heart Forge, All rights reserved.

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