This is a dagger named “Beast Mode.” It’s not quite finished, yet, but it’s close. The handle’s done and that was the hard part.

Since that picture was taken, I changed the leading angle of the bottom of the habaki, so it won’t jam in the scabbard that I am more or less slowly making.

The blade’s name comes from the unfinished forge-scale covered bare metal along the back of the blade. I sort of made this thing spontaneously out of a chunk of wire rope that I had welded, and started messing around with. When I forged it out, I made the spine (mune) too thin which meant there was not enough “meat” on the back to clean the scale down to bare metal which I could then shape. Faced with a choice between turning it into a letter opener or something, I decided to experiment and fell in love with the raw look.

When I quenched it, I did some funky moves with the clay, including pulling it way back at the maximum cutting part of the edge. Of course the hamon also wraps around the tip to the spine, but you can easily see where the hard part of the blade is.

Everything was made by me. The blade collar (habaki) is argentium that I cast and hammered out, then wrapped, shaped, soldered, etc. The guard is a piece of wrought iron, which is why it’s thinnish – it’s hella strong. The iron is a piece of victorian boat anchor chain, which I heated and flattened out then ground and shaped and drilled and fitted and yadda yadda yadda. “Lots of fiddly filing” is the Japanese tradition. Which, of course, this tanto breaks all over the place.

Behind the guard is a ring. Normally, a Japanese dagger would have an inletted profile wrapped with stingray skin (which is tough like rawhide) and hide glue, to keep the two pieces of the handle from coming apart. Then, that would be wrapped with cord. I came up with a different design, based on my handle for my spear (not posted about, yet) which is a fitted damascus steel collar forge-welded into a single circular piece. That handle is not going to pop apart any time soon. A similar ring on the rear is tightly fitted onto the wood (“lots of fiddly filing”) and epoxied in place. I considered (briefly) drilling through both sides with a wee little carbide drill, then pinning it with a piece of silver wire, but I didn’t want to weaken the steel ring. Who am I kidding? I have not yet run this architecture past my sensei but I think he’ll approve; he’s remarkably open minded for someone raised in the Japanese tradition.

You can see the peg where I did my first ever mekugi (handle pin!) which involved some very careful drilling through one side, then marking the tang of the blade, drilling that with carbide, then through the other side, filing the hole so it was slightly conical and shaping a piece of bamboo chopstick and tapping it in with the butt end of a machinist’s wrench. I did think hard about making the mekugi out of ebony with a thin wire of silver through it, but I don’t think that would be as strong as the chopstick. That handle fits perfectly if I dare say so myself. Here’s a view from the beastly end:

You can see there are some flaws here and there: scratches on the habaki, a mis-edged part of the guard, sanding lines on the washer (seppa) etc. Remember, that whole architecture at the collar of the blade is designed to smoothly and reliably transfer the energy of a strike into the handle and the wielder’s hand, without anything coming apart and without the weilder’s hand sliding up the blade and also coming apart. It’s still at the “lots of fiddly filing” stage but when I have the scabbard done and fitted, I’ll do all that, sharpen the blade, and do a final polish.

Youtube is trying to compete with TikTok in the “short video” department, i.e.: zillions of little dopamine hits that say nothing, so if you upload something off an iPhone it automatically puts it in shorts and renders the quality as crap. But, here’s a simple cutting test against a pool noodle. As you can see, I was holding the knife loosely and not attempting an intense cut, more of a quick flick. [I wonder if I should get some melons and do some internet-style cutting tests, as if any decent blade can’t slice through a jug of water, or whatever. It might be fun to hollow out a melon and fill it with a gallon of blood gel. Water, PVA, borax, and red food dye!]


I didn’t keep a detailed build log of this thing because it was just an experiment, then it sat kicking around on the bench for a long time until I decided to finish it. I’m sure that somewhere I have images of shaping and polishing and all that, but it looks pretty much like everything else being shaped and polished.

In the course of making the handle rings, I did a bunch of experiments, including making some bracelets and other sizes of rings. It’s a pretty cool and reliable process once you figure it out. One thing I had to learn the hard way was that I was wrapping a piece of yellow-hot steel around an eye drift (the thing that is used to shape the hole in the head of a hammer) held upright in a vise. So far, so good. Well, it turns out that every forge weld I have ever done before was horizontal and these were vertical. The first time I hit the lap-over to set the weld, the flux shot out vertically instead of horizontally, which meant I got some ~1500F stuff in my hair and on my shirt. Yipe! Naturally, I poured Gatorade on my head then I grabbed a face shield and got back to work.

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Lately, I have noticed youtube is becoming almost unusable. For one thing, the quality of the ads continues to drop; now I am getting dick pill and Asia bride ads. Also a lot of really creepy ads touting all sorts of “home defense” garbage. I suppose that’s a result of Google knowing about my occasional searches for Tactical(!) stuff. One of the ads is particularly funny: concealed carry insurance. You know: insurance for your insurance? USA! USA!  Anyhow, I have ad blockers in my browser, naturally, so it seems that some of the ads aren’t getting the response they expect (probably my entire contacts list!) and are timing out. So sometimes I click on something and it tries to feed me 2 or 3 ads before finally playing something. It is so sad and pathetic that humans have built this amazing technological marvel, just to have it serve up ads for dick pills. The massive bandwidth of the internets hangs there, waiting with bated breath for some dick pill ad’s socket callback to fail before playing me a different dick pill ad.


  1. Jörg says


    I have noticed youtube is becoming almost unusable … I am getting dick pill and Asia bride ads … I have ad blockers in my browser …

    I don’t understand. You are a computer expert, and you have ad blockers. Why are you getting ads in YouTube?
    I use the Brave Browser with uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger. (And DNS gets filtered via zero.dns0.eu.) I don’t get ads in YouTube.

  2. mikey says

    Adblock works pretty good for me with Firefox. Occasionally, YT tries to force a disable, but Adblock (so far) always adapts.

  3. Dennis K says

    [I wonder if I should get some melons and do some internet-style cutting tests, as if any decent blade can’t slice through a jug of water, or whatever. It might be fun to hollow out a melon and fill it with a gallon of blood gel. Water, PVA, borax, and red food dye!]

    Only if they continue to make that cool, spaghetti-western gunshot sound.

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    Chain steel, argentium, wrought iron – this thing has a lot of different metals. If it ever gets dropped in salt water, it will dissolve like cotton candy from electrolytic action.

  5. xohjoh2n says


    So, err, don’t drop it into salt water?

    (Alternatively: if you’re planning to challenge Marcus to a duel, take a bucket of salt water with you.)

  6. dangerousbeans says

    @xohjoh2n eh, it won’t dissolve that fast. Also Marcus cheats, I don’t recommend dueling him

    Nice dagger!

  7. VolcanoMan says

    God, the YouTube Adblock ban has been driving me nuts. Like, first-off, something like 20-30% of people were using Adblockers on YouTube (the exact number depends on the source, but that’s probably an accurate range) before they began their insane war of attrition with their users, but since they did, plenty of people have figured out for the first time that ads are optional (a key realization given the kinds of ads, and the frequency, that YouTube is going with at present). YouTube just told over a billion users that they could avoid ads…for free (and with minimal effort, so far)! Secondly, YouTube may believe they’re invincible and that if they make it impossible to use their site while blocking ads, people will inevitably either allow ads or pay for Premium, but if it came down to it, I’d probably go Nebula over YouTube (and I KNOW I’m not alone). If I’m going to pay money for a streaming service, it’s going to be a streaming service that is actually owned and operated by its content creators (and I still don’t think of YouTube as a streaming service, as they get free content from probably hundreds of millions of people by now, and while they can legally sell ads on all of that content, only a tiny fraction of those users are in their Partner Program, sharing in the revenues). Thirdly, sure they have server costs, but YouTube already makes money off of their users (be they blocking ads or not) by selling our data, and they don’t release their financial numbers, but I expect that business is lucrative enough to offset their server costs several times over. A lot of people (morons, really) see this as a moral issue (like, pay them, otherwise it’s like you’re stealing), but if anything, denying Google additional money is probably the more moral course of action at this point in time. And fourthly, it may be in YouTube’s interest to have us all watching ads (and it’s certainly in their interest to make the ad experience so bad that Premium is the only viable option), but how successful can ad campaigns be if they are being watched by a bunch of extra people who have been deliberately avoiding ads on the internet for a decade now (and likely much longer, in many cases)? Advertisers should be vehemently against this development, because they’re effectively going to be paying money to show ads to people who will never spend a cent on their products (for the most part).

    Anyway, I currently use FireFox with Adblock Plus, plus a script manager add-on which fools YouTube into thinking that I am watching their videos embedded on other websites, but I’m not sure that last part is effective anymore. I also had JavaScript disabled on YouTube for the longest time, but they fixed that hole in their defences – YouTube no longer functions without JavaScript. From what I’ve seen though, the Adblockers are fighting back against the Google machine, and it is their tenacity which is enabling me to enjoy a sane YouTube experience. For example, there was just an update to ABP released, and videos which weren’t playing before are now working again (you can see the little yellow bar and the beginning of the ad, but it skips immediately). That said, YouTube knows that FireFox users are doing things like this, and have been actively slowing down video loading in FireFox (net neutrality? what net neutrality?) for months now. I wonder if the same thing is happening in Brave? Their in-built adblocker no longer functions on YouTube, but plenty of people are using add-ons with great success.

    Personally, this seems like a great way to destroy a company. But hey, what do I know?

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