Monday, March 4, 2013

Primal/tactical o-tanto

Although nothing I do is particularly traditional, this falls closest under the shobu-zukuri tanto style, with a ridgeline below the spine and no yokote line. With a forge finish, a choil, and a secondary bevel, this isn't a typical tanto, though.

The steel is 5160. There was quite a bit more curvature prior to the quench, but the canola oil quench and the blade's cross section gave a fair amount of negative sori. I wish I had taken a picture before the hardening process to show it, but a couple of other knifemakers who saw it before and after noted how much it had straightened. The blade length, including the choil, is 12 1/2" and the overall length is 19 3/4". The handle wrap is coyote brown paracord for the underlay, black paracord for the overlay and three-strand Turk's head knot, all impregnated in Minwax Wood Hardener.

The sheath is black Kydex, with a coyote brown Kydex belt loop set up for edge-up horizontal carry. More coyote brown paracord is stored on the sheath and helps break up the visual impression of the black.

And it's ambidextrous!


  1. I saw a show on the Discovery channel about samurai swords & the guy doing the research visited a sword making shop/family in Japan. His interpreter said that the swords quenched in water curve upwards; the same sword quenched in oil will bow down(like your tanto knife). It's the water quench that gives the Japanese swords their curviture. Nice job, by the way, on the tanto! Bill

  2. Yep, and it seems that it's always the occasional quasi-Japanese long blade that I make that gets the negative sori from the quench. I put plenty of curvature in when I forged it expecting it would proably straighten up a fair amount, and I think it came out about right.

  3. It came out w/just the right amount of curvature & looks great! Bill