Forging Japanese Swords

This site is a window into the world of Traditional Japanese Swordsmithing through the experience of Apprentice Pierre Nadeau and his mentors.

« In the end a job is not just a job,
It’s who you are
If you want to change who you are
You have to change what you do »
- Repo men

Originally from Canada, Pierre Nadeau is a fifth year traditional swordsmithing apprentice in Western Japan.

Follow up the making of a sword on the Soulsmithing Blog!
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A small scale high-furnace is operated at Les Forges de Montréal. It is supplied with charcoal and iron ore. In order to improve the furnace’s efficiency, the ore is prepared into pellets. This ingenious tool facilitates the making of those pellets.

Iron smelting pellet maker

Video

The teko is the tool — a plain bar — that is used to hold the steel block to be forged. The said block is welded onto one end of the teko. This video shows Manabe Sumihira performing such a forge weld.

Teko-zuke

Video

In early April 2011 I had the opportunity to visit a traditional village blacksmith while in the Fikkhal area, Eastern Nepal.

In both India and Nepal craftsmen are still considered as the lowest cast and I could see this man lives simply. He was extremely peaceful and very pleasant to be around.

He produces mostly tools and farm implements for locals, but when I asked him to make something for me, he obviously suggested the Gurkha’s khukri. The order is placed…

Nepalese village blacksmith

Video

Aku, or charred straw, is used as a coating when forging traditional steels at very high temperatures in the processes of japanese swordsmithing. The charred straw is both a light source of carbon for the steel, as well as an anti-oxidizing coating when it liquifies near welding temperature.

Making aku – Fabrication d’aku

Video

Sumi-kiri, the cutting of the charcoal by japanese swordsmith apprentices, as poorly performed by me. In this video, one strike out of ten is ok, while all others made me frown… size wrong.. size wrong.. swing wrong.. size wrong.. strength wrong.. size wrong.. wrong angle.. and so on.

It is said it takes three years to learn this properly. I think they’re being optimistic.

Sumi-kiri – Charcoal cutting

Video

There are several ways to wrap a tool handle, usually with plain rope. I’m presenting one here, used on the teko, the bar used for tanren.

Tool handle wrap

Video