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The art of knife forging in Tottori Prefecture, Japan

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Thanks to satetsu iron sand found in the region, Japan’s Tottori Prefecture has enjoyed a long history of iron forging. Today’s meticulous metalsmithing artisans continue to adhere to those ancient traditions to forge cutlery.

From Google Arts and Culture’s Knife Forging of Tottori Prefecture, a description for the process, as seen in the wordless video above:

“A knife blade is made from two materials: steel and ferrite. Sandwiching hard steel between soft ferrite ensures a knife that is tough yet soft.

“The steel and ferrite are softened by heating on a coal fire, and then beaten flat using a mechanical electric hammer to make them easily workable.”

shaping the metal

“Heat is used to cut a deep groove in a piece of ferrite; a pre-shaped piece of steel is slotted into this groove. Iron sand is used to adhere the two metals.

iron sand

“The combined piece is heated and lengthened into a knife form by beating with a hammer. The welding process hones the cutting edge and the spine to a degree invisible to the eye. Beating the metal reduces the size of the particles, which enhances the toughness of the knife.”

sparks
The piece is then cut to the design, and put through a process of intense heating and cooling to temper the metal. Sharpening and a branded wood handle complete the knife.

knives
Next, watch The Sword Maker: A last Japanese swordsmith forges a sword.

Plus, more made in Japan videos on TKSST:
The precise art of Japanese wood joinery
• Making a traditional Japanese wooden Kokeshi Doll
Showzi Tsukamoto demonstrates the art of kintsugi
• The circles and lines of Kamon, Japan’s traditional emblem designs

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