I’m going back out to Dragonfly Forge at the end of this month, and I plan to do like last time – I’ll post notes as I go along, stream-of-consciousness style.
This time I’ll be going along with someone I know, which should make things extra cool. Mike P is a penetration tester and a computer security techniques instructor who also has an interest in Japanese blades. We’re going to meet up in Portland and drive down to Bandon, where I found us an airbnb on the coastline.
The process we’ll be learning is “kajioshi” – blade shaping (pre-polish) [dr]
This course, which is a combination of the curriculum of our two-day weekend Kajioshi and Habaki Courses, was created due to interest by alumni of Tomboyama Nihontō Tanren Dōjō in continuing their studies in the Japanese sword arts by beginning to mount, the blades they forged here during a Basic Forging Course. And the first piece in a completely mounted Japanese sword is a habaki.
However, to make a well-fitted habaki, the portion of the blade underneath and around where the habaki slips into place at the machi, known as the habakimoto, must be completely shaped . This meant that in order to take the Habaki Course, a student had to either provide a old blade in need of a new habaki or have already performed kajioshi, the initial shaping performed on water-stones by the smith, on their own blade. Given that our Kajioshi Course is a two-day weekend course as well, students, who are traveling from across the country, or internationally, were interested in coming for a longer stay to study the Art.
By combining our Kajioshi and Habaki Courses into a five-day week-long class, students can bring their unrefined grinder shaped blades to class and, using the blade as a firsthand lesson, help to develop the aesthetic eye, shaping the blade on traditional Japanese water-stones.
The extra day of classes will give students time to properly prepare and refine the habakimoto, where the habaki will fit, with water-stones, laying the good foundation needed to make a well-fitted and ascetically pleasing habaki.
Once the student has properly shaped the nakago and habakimoto area with the waterstones, the final two days of the class will be spent forging, soldering, and shaping habaki of copper fitted to the student’s blade.
About the Kajioshi Course
Kajioshi means “smith shaped” and is the grinding of the blade prior to its being sent to a polisher. It has been observed that Western craftsmen, although comfortable with the technology, have a difficult time shaping the blade into a harmonious form. This course is designed to teach how to see and correct deficiencies in shape and geometry. Students should bring a sword blade where the shape is “just not right”. These will be studied and corrected, either by grinder or by water stone. Tools will be provided.
About the Habaki Course
A two day hands-on weekend course where the student will make a copper habaki. Skills learned will include forging and annealing the metal, hard-soldering, filing, shaping, polishing and decoration. All tools and materials required are provided.
Mike has decided that he’s going to bring a couple of bars of homemade shibuichi alloy to make the fittings from. So Mike went out and got a couple of bars of silver and melted them down with the correct amount of copper, and is now hammering on his own piece of shibuichi. I am vaguely envious, I must admit! You can see some of his work here [insta] Pouring liquid yellow-hot copper and silver into a sheet of cheesecloth suspended in water – it’s quite a trick.
Since we’ll be driving down in Mike’s truck, I am going to ship my drone out later this week, so I can hopefully get some footage of the beautiful country around Dragonfly Forge.