Tuesday, August 5, 2014

First step- "Point of sword" knife

I am a reader, not a writer, so the process of constructing these posts takes far too long. There is too much stuff bouncing around in my head, and it needs to get out! To that end, I am trying to increase my writing out put, but that will be at the expense of what negligible quality that there is. As if my photos aren't bad enough....... This might turn into a sort of "stream of consciousness" kind of horror show.

I bought a Japanese plane, a hiburka-ganna. This was a while ago.....


This is one of those few tools that, if you don't have one..... Get one. How often does a groove need just the tiniest bit of trimming, to get the proper fit? This will do it like nothing else.

The problem with my plane was that the iron was too loose of a fit and seemed to protrude too far from the sole.... So what is the proper way to adjust one of these guys? I couldn't find the info in English. I couldn't find the info in Japanese, either, which leads me to another thing......

I don't read or speak Japanese. I use Google chrome and it's automatic translation function. It's far from perfect, but it helps. Almost every bit of what I know has been inferred from trying to decipher the translated info, and from watching whatever video I can find. There are quite a few Japanese documentaries about traditional crafts, so YouTube is a great help.

Lots of the Japanese guys know as little about their tools as we westerners do. Any information is a help. Hopefully we don't get it too far from correct!

I couldn't find any first hand info. I suspect that it's one of those "Just make it work" things, and that's what I did. But it would be nice if there was more info.

I began writing this blog, mostly to get some new information out there, but also just to help me remember what I was doing at a given point in time. My mind (and enthusiasms) jump from one topic to another with alarming frequency, so the subject matter will change over time, probably. One of the more useful services that I can provide, is to document my mistakes. Too many people only print the good stuff. That makes it hard to learn. Mistakes can be as informational as a success!

I AM NOT A "PRO "! I am an enthusiastic amateur! I am figuring this out as I go, and with alarming frequency, I am finding MY images and information popping up in Google search results. What was I expecting?!! Frankly, I find that awfully troubling. Still, more information is always a good thing. That I do believe!


Japanese tools are leading me to into blacksmithing. My first real project is a " Point of a sword " knife. Here are some real examples.....


Chohiro, I think....I like this one best

It looks like a very large, double edged marking/scribing knife, but is actually used for trimming and fitting joinery. Pretty cool, but kind of rare. I think that it's a good first project for me. No way in hell am I gonna make a plane blade!

Yesterday I hammered out the blank.

The edge steel is Nicholson O-F, slightly misaligned. The urasuki back hollow is roughly forged.

I took the remaining section of file steel, ground it to a gentle arc, then quenched for full hardness. This will be my ghetto style "Sen" (a type of scraper), for carving the hollow to a more refined shape.

FYI, there is baling wire under the tape....

I drew an outline of the desire shape, then got to work. The hard steel hasn't been hardened yet, so it can be scraped using normal means. Once it's been quenched, though....... TS!

This is also my first foray into sen land. More learning is needed. The cutter has a tendency to gall the metal. A little bit could be seen as evidence of the makers hand, but this tool will have enough of that as it is. The ura is VERY important!

It needs more work. I found that initially grinding the hollow using a bench grinder is nerve wracking, but established a good groove pattern, a base to begin the hand work portion. An evenly textured surface made it less difficult to "start" the sen.

The tricky part, for me, will be to guess the amount of curvature that the quench will cause. The tool will bend towards the hard steel side, so I need to induce with a slight reverse curve, in hopes that after quenching, the blade will be straight/flat. I should've tested, but all of this is good practice.

In between, I'm still filing. This is this morning, at start.

After thinking about this last night, I have decided to work on the urasuki more. It can be better. I will make a new sen.

There is curve, it's not just camera lens distortion.

A problem. I have high standards, but low personal expectations. I fully expect to horribly botch these early attempts, but have been getting lucky, which presents it's own concerns.

If too much time is spent trying to achieve perfection, less gets accomplished. This can be detrimental to the whole. I could make ten of these tools this week, but is that better than making one good one? I would choose the one.... If it was good. This is close to being decent, but will not be perfect..... How good is good enough?

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Like all of us, I am figuring this out as I go, so when you see something that is incorrect or flat out wrong (and you will!), let me know. This is a learning process. Real people and names, please. Constructive comments and questions are very welcome, but hate speak/politics are not! Life (get one!) is too short.

Thanks, Jason