Back To Bandon

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.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Totally off topic but if you live in Pennsylvania and Dragon Forge is in Oregon (blast it US states are hard to spell) how do you drive “down’ to Dragon Forge.

    Stupid question but I have been interested in “up”, “down” “over” directions for years. Where I grew up one went up to one town, over to another and out to another.

  2. says

    Totally off topic but if you live in Pennsylvania and Dragon Forge is in Oregon (blast it US states are hard to spell) how do you drive “down’ to Dragon Forge.

    I fly to Portland, where Mike lives, and we drive “down” the coast to Bend/Bandon.

    Although, since I live on a mountain-top (well, 2200feet up – for us East Coastians that’s a mountain) I default to thinking of anywhere else as “down” because it involves going down. Unless I am going to Denver or Switzerland, because I’ve been there and it’s “up.” Um. … yeah.

  3. jonmoles says

    I always think of going “up” somewhere if it is north of where I am and going “down” if it is south of where I am, unless I am changing local elevation then up means to increase elevation and down means to decrease elevation. If I was heading to Asheville, NC I would say I am heading down there because I live in Ohio, but when I got there if I wanted to hike a mountain I would say I was going up the mountain. In Hawaii they say “up mauka” or “makai side”, mauka meaning the mountain side (usually the mountain side of the road) and makai meaning the ocean side, because pretty much every location is between a mountain peak and the ocean. ;)

  4. jazzlet says

    Marcus I hope you have another great learning time, it sounds as if it will be both a lot of work and a lot of fun for you :)

    Regarding ‘up’ and ‘down’ in directional terms I tend to agree with ‘up’ being north and ‘down’ being south of wherever I am in relation to another town or city. Although if one is talking more locally I’d go ‘down town’ here, and most places I have lived, if I was going into the town centre; while nearly every where I have lived one would be decreasing in elevation to do so, one would still say it even if you were staying at the same height. Hence the Petula Clark song The main exception to that would be that from most places in the southern half of England you’d go ‘up’ to London regardless of where they are in relation to London, so eg one would ‘go up’ to London’ from Oxford which is west of London. Another exception would be if one was a student going to university, particularly Oxford or Cambridge, when one would eg ‘go up to Oxford’ regardless of where you came from and if one was expelled one would be ‘sent down’ again regardless of where one was being sent geographically, which leads to the possibility of going up to Oxford, then up again to London :)

  5. ridana says

    Doesn’t the TSA flip out when you put these in your luggage?

    Hmm, directions… the closest small town we went “into,” the next larger towns were “up” and “down” (north and south), Columbus and anything east of that, whether in or out of state, was “over,” Cincinnati and parts south were “down” following similar rules, Akron, the northern end of the known world, was “up,” and Cleveland we did not speak of, as if it were merely myth. It might as well have been in Michigan. Oddly enough, the village where my grade school was, though only 3 miles away, was also “over,” as were many other similarly tiny villages with one or two streets, if they were within a 10-15 mi radius. Anything west of Indiana and north of Oklahoma was “out” while anything east of West Virginia (and maybe western PA) was “back east.” But now that I live in California, everything east of the Mississippi is back east. But San Francisco is still going “into” The City, just as that small town was in my childhood. Which is kinda weird, now that I think about it. :) Sorry, I could go on all day about this kind of stuff.

  6. jrkrideau says

    @ 6 ridana

    This sounds familiar though some of our directions seemed based on altitude even if we were only looking a 1 metre difference. One could go down to Montreal which was down stream but like Cleveland it was more or less mythical.

    Sorry, I could go on all day about this kind of stuff.
    Ah yes, we might bore some of the less directionally literate.

  7. says

    Stupid question but I have been interested in “up”, “down” “over” directions for years. Where I grew up one went up to one town, over to another and out to another.

    In my native language it is impossible to say “I’m going down to wherever.” It is only possible to say “I’m going to wherever.” Theoretically, it is also possible to say “I’m going south/north/east/west to wherever.” However, doing so results in a longer sentence construction, therefore people say this only when it is essential to emphasize the direction where you are going. Someone could say “I’m going north to Alaska,” but nobody would ever say “I’m going north to a grocery store.” This influence from my native language has resulted in me never saying “I’m going up/down/over to” also when I’m speaking English. I always say simply “I’m going to.” I know English well enough; of course I’m familiar with the phrase “to go down/up to wherever.” I know what it means and I understand how people use it. Yet I personally never say that, because that’s not how I think about directions in my head. In my mind I never think that “I’m going down to somewhere,” instead I’m always “going to somewhere.”

    I find it fascinating how languages and their peculiarities influence our thinking.

    Some languages seem pretty interesting in this regard. For example, in Guugu Yimithirr (Australian aboriginal language) words “left,” “right,” “in front of,” or “behind” do not exist. Instead, speakers give all their descriptions and directions based on the fixed four cardinal points of the compass: north, south, east and west. For example, instead of saying “the light switch is to your left,” people would say “the light switch is north.” Languages also differ in how many words they have for colors. For example, in some languages blue and green are considered shades of the same color instead of two distinct colors. Occasionally it gets even more interesting, for example, in Pirahã there are no words for individual colors, they only have words for “light” and “dark.” So something red might be called “blood-like,” something green “grass-like,” something blue “sky-like,” and so on. I’m assuming that such peculiarities of languages ought to influence how people are thinking and perceiving the world. Probably. Linguists have attempted to do some scientific studies and they tried to come up with experiments that could demonstrate any differences in thinking and perception.

    My personal experience (I speak six languages, but all of them belong to the Indo-European language family, thus they all are pretty similar to each other) is that using one or another language influences my thinking in some very slight and minor ways, but it’s very subtle and, in my opinion, hardly matters and doesn’t make a difference. Like, for example, “going down to” vs. “going to.” Another peculiarity of my native language is that words “the” and “a” does not exist. There is no difference between “a book” and “the book.” It took me years of using English on a daily basis until this differentiation of nouns started feeling natural for me.

  8. John Morales says


    Another peculiarity of my native language is that words “the” and “a” does not exist. There is no difference between “a book” and “the book.”

    Really? (I do believe you :) )

    Interesting. My native language is Spanish, and ‘un libro’ vs ‘el libro’ exists. Definite vs. indefinite.

    (Mind you, my wife has been learning Spanish and still finds the difference between ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ incomprehensible, so there’s that)

  9. says

    Doesn’t the TSA flip out when you put these in your luggage?

    I usually make a small plywood clamshell box and bolt it together at the corners, then toss in a camera tripod with heavy metal legs, and they always examine the tripod. I do have lead foil and occasionally I think about adding a sheet of that to the bottom of my bag, but it might be an EPA violation.

    Who am I kidding? The EPA doesn’t exist anymore.

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