We’ve come to Hirata Blacksmiths to see how Japan’s rarest steel is processed to produce knives of unrivaled quality.
How are Japanese knives made? With the same techniques used to craft katana (samurai swords), modern Japanese knives are of some of the highest quality in the world. They don’t break or bend, they can slice through anything like butter, and they’re a beauty to behold.
This video was filmed at Hirata Blacksmiths (平田鍛刀場) on the outskirts of Tokyo. Sukehira Hirata and Nodoka Hirata are a married couple who craft Japanese blades made of the rarest steel in Japan. In fact, this is one of 3 workshops in the whole country, still producing the legendary Tamahagane steel (玉鋼).
Hirata Blacksmiths (平田鍛刀場):
The process of making Japanese Knives
1) Choosing the ore
2) Prepping the furnace
3) Melting/separating the rock and ore
- Start with the raw material Tamahagane (玉鋼)
- The tamahanage is then stamped into a flat sheet.
- The sheet is then broken into smaller pieces
- The pieces are sorted into either hard (kawagane) or soft (shingane)
- Pieces of similar quality are then stacked together.
- The stack is placed into a coal furnace at 1300 degrees
- Incisions are made for folding
- Each piece of steel is folded around 10 times
- The shingane and kawagane are shaped to fit together.
- They are then joined and welding together
- While the steel cools, the shape of the blade is hammered out
- The shape is further refined to include the tapered edge
- The blade is then filed down with a whet stone
- The blade is quenched using a mixture of clay and ash
- It’s heated again to 800-900 degree
- Quenched again
- Minor distortions in the metal are hammered out
- Polishing on the whetstone
- Even more refined polishing
- The blade is finished
- The name of the blacksmith is stamped onto the handle
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