Historical Knifemaking: keep it simple, do it the hard way...
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Historical Knifemaking: keep it simple, do it the hard way
Traditionally crafted knives for folks who wish they could take things home from museums.

Island Blacksmith - Spring 2017

In this issue: plenty of behind the scenes information, a look at what is happening inside a handle core, testing reclaimed steel for knifemaking, and visit to the nearly operational traditional forge project at the museum.

Please visit the website at to see the newly added testimonials page, subscribe on Youtube, and follow on Instagram to see photos of work in progress, life on the island, and things that inspire.

Inside look at a traditional kaiken mounting

Inside a Kaiken Tanto

See how things fit with a look inside the carving of a small kaiken tanto mounting (futokoro-gatana) with additional examples from an Edo period tsuka and an even older shirasaya.

The omote is the “public side” of a tanto or sword, the side that faces outwards both when being worn and when on display. The edge faces upwards and the handle is on the left when displaying nihonto. The ura is the “private side” and faces away from the viewer when on display and towards the body when worn.

Watch the video

Testing Scrap Steel for Knife Making

Testing Steel for Knives

Most of history was forged with steel that had no designated number or specified ingredient list. Historical smiths would interpret the quality and properties of steel based solely on careful observation and simple testing procedures.

To this day, Japanese swordsmiths work exclusively with unnumbered steel made with charcoal and iron sand in traditional smelting furnaces. They are trained and practiced in the art of understanding steel by studying it closely under different conditions.

Read the article

Building a Traditional Swordsmith Forge
Explore the process of building a traditional swordsmith forge.

Western Canada's Only Traditional Swordsmith Forge

The previous issue unveiled the first photos of the full sized sword forge building project and it will soon be time to fire up the new forge. The current plan is to conduct working demonstrations at the museum forge during the Friday artisan markets that take place through the summer.

This project was quite a challenge in terms of materials and time and is a ground breaking first for Vancouver Island. Natural materials and traditional construction techniques were used to create a working forge that doubles as an engaging historical exhibit even when not in use.

The next goal is to increase charcoal production to fuel the large forge. Stay tuned for more about Japanese charcoal kilns and their surprisingly long historical role in the area.

See the full process in photos and video

Tools for Satoyama Project
from $700
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Custom Classical Tanto
from $2500
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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 © 2017 Crossed Heart Forge, All rights reserved.

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