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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
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.
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• The circles and lines of Kamon, Japan’s traditional emblem designs